Air Force put itself in position to pull off the upset of the college basketball season Saturday at then-No. 12 New Mexico.
But the Lobos did something that the Falcons haven’t been able to do the past two seasons.
“They found a way to win,” Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said at his Monday press conference. “And part of winning is learning how to win, and I don’t know that we’re there yet. We’re getting closer.”
The Falcons, who are 1-9 in games decided by five points or less the past two seasons, were extremely close Saturday, leaving them to wonder what might have been had one or two plays gone the other way. For instance:
With 3:35 left and the Falcons up, 52-49, junior guard Evan Washington drove into the lane and then kicked the ball out to senior forward/center Grant Parker for a 3-pointer. Parker, who had drained a 3 on the Falcons’ previous possession, took aim and fired. The ball circled the rim but did not go down.
“If he makes that 3, we’re up six,” Reynolds said. “Now the onus is on (New Mexico) even more. … Those are the shots we’ve got to be able to make in order to take the next step.”
Another tough play was Avery Merriex’s scoop shot in the lane with less than 10 seconds to play and the Falcons down, 57-56.
“If you watch the tape closely, Avery Merriex’s last shot, he gets two-handed pushed in the back, and it was a no-call,” Reynolds said. “Now, whether or not that would have affected the outcome of the game, who knows?”
It appears likely the 2009-10 campaign will be a lost season for sophomore center Sammy Schafer.
Schafer has been out since the Falcons’ third game with headaches that are the result of a concussion.
Asked Monday if Schafer was probably done for the year, Reynolds said, “I can’t answer that. His headaches could subside tomorrow, and he could show up and 10 days later they might release him to play.”
However, when asked if that scenario played out whether Schafer would be ready to play after he was cleared, Reynolds responded, “probably not.”
Freshman center Taylor Broekhuis is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Utah. Broekhuis, who sat out Saturday’s game because of a broken nose he suffered in Thursday’s practice, was re-fitted for a protective mask Monday morning. He was set to practice Monday without contact.
“Don’t know yet about Wednesday,” Reynolds said.
Fow needs to ‘D’ up
Junior forward Tom Fow has played just 2 minutes and change in the Falcons’ past two games after averaging 21 in their first 10 league contests. Reynolds said Fow played only a few seconds against New Mexico because the Falcons “had a better rotation with guys that were working real hard defensively.”
“Defensively, I’ll tell you first-hand, I’m not the best defender in the world,” Fow said Monday. “And at New Mexico, we needed defensive stoppers. We needed a good, solid foundation of defense, and that’s what happened. It gave us a great chance to win the game. It didn’t matter to me whether I played or not, but if we won the game. It was good for us to be that close, and I would rather not play and win than to play and not win.”
Asked if he expected to play more in the coming games, Fow said: “I think so. I hope so. I just need to keep getting better in practice and show coach and show all my teammates that I can defend up to my capabilities and do that.”