Quick starts no laughing matter
Air Force has made a habit of jumping ahead of league opponents in the opening minutes, and it may be the result of a joke-telling coach.
“I just try to keep them loose, try to have fun with them,” coach Dave Pilipovich said. “Sometimes you’ve got to break up the tension and say something off the wall. I’m good for that, ask my wife. I can say something goofy or wrong at times.”
The Falcons jumped ahead of Fresno State 6-2 in the opening minutes Wednesday, continuing the trend. They led Nevada 4-2, UNLV 9-8, Colorado State 6-5, Boise State 6-2 and Wyoming 8-0.
Starting with an advantage has obviously been a factor in jumping to a 4-2 record in the Mountain West.
Are Pilipovich’s jokes a part of that?
“He’s kind of corny, to be honest,” senior Michael Lyons said. “That lightens the mood, I guess — if you laugh at cornyness.”
Buzzer-beater propels Falcons into half
Todd Fletcher caught an inbounds pass on the opposite free-throw line with 3 seconds left in the first half, quickly sprinted down the court and lofted a 3-pointer about halfway between half court and the 3-point line. The shot went in, giving Air Force a 30-23 lead.
Fresno State was never closer than seven points the rest of the way.
“Kyle (Green) set an incredible screen,” Fletcher said. “I wouldn’t have gotten the shot off if it wasn’t for Kyle.
“I just knew I had a few dribbles and the first open look I was going to take it.”
No shots for you
Three times in the first half — including on back-to-back possessions — Air Force forced Fresno State into shot clock violations.
The final one of the half set up Fletcher’s 3-pointer just before the half. Had Fresno State converted instead of handing the ball back to Air Force, the halftime deficit might have been one or two instead of seven and the game could have been much different.
“That was just a collective effort out there,” Fletcher said. “We were just trying to take them out of what they were trying to do and it just happened.”