Updated: December 17, 2009 at 12:00 am
Air Force freshman Michael Lyons is “extremely quiet” and “low-key,” according to coach Jeff Reynolds.
And during the Falcons’ first seven games this season, Lyons often played that way. He admitted this week that – in large part because he’s a freshman – he didn’t want to step on any toes by trying to do too much.
“I didn’t want people getting on me for missing shots,” Lyons said. “So once I’d miss a couple, I was like, ‘I don’t think I should shoot any more.’”
But coaches have been after the talented and promising Lyons to shed that attitude. And if last Saturday’s game against Washington State was any indication, the 6-foot-6 guard has.
Lyons missed three of his first four shots but kept firing and made nine of his final 11 attempts en route to a career- and game-high 25 points. He scored 12 straight at one point as the Falcons stayed close but eventually lost, 75-68.
“I think he’s finding out where his points are going to come from, where his shots are going to come from,” said Reynolds, whose team faces Northern Arizona at 7 p.m. Saturday at Clune Arena. “And as he gathers more confidence, I think he has the tendency to relax and play a little bit.”
Lyons, who led the academy prep school team in scoring last year with 17.5 points per game, said his confidence “definitely has gone up,” since his performance against Washington State. And that’s a good thing for a Falcons team that will be without leading scorer Grant Parker (17.1 points per game) for the second consecutive game. Parker has a groin injury, and Lyons again will be counted on to pick up some of the scoring slack.
Reynolds called Lyons “probably our most versatile player,” and noted he can score in many ways – in transition, off offensive rebounds, on drives to the hoop and from the perimeter with jump shots.
“Mike’s a really good player,” senior forward Mike McLain said. “And he’s gonna be a great player.”
If Lyons continues to play like he did against Washington State, that transformation will happen sooner rather than later.