Ball security again a focus as Air Force braces for second game without its point guard

January 31, 2014 Updated: January 31, 2014 at 11:31 pm
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Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds talks with Justin Hammonds in the second half of AFA's 68-54 win over Chicago State Friday, January 6, 2012 at Clune Arena at the Air Force Academy. Mark Reis, The Gazette

Kamryn Williams gives interviews with the same confidence in which he plays basketball for Air Force, rarely hesitating the slightest bit.

But he gave a long pause after being asked how the Falcons, missing their point guard, matched their lowest turnover margin of the conference season.

"I feel like we really took care of the ball because J-Hamm (Justin Hammonds), really wanted to do a good job with the point guard position," Williams said, choosing each word with careful precision in an effort not to implicate his missing teammate. "He did a great job taking care of the ball. He valued the ball."

Hammonds took the bulk of time at the point as Air Force went to a committee approach to the position with Tre' Coggins missing the game at Boise State for disciplinary reasons. The junior forward responded with 12 points, five rebounds, one steal and just one of the team's 10 turnovers.

Coggins will be gone again for Saturday's game at Nevada, but the question mark of how the team - without a true backup point guard - will cope isn't quite as glaring. Of course, Boise State had little time to prepare for a Coggins-less Falcons squad, learning of his absence just hours before the game, whereas Nevada had days to prepare. The Broncos did very little pressing and trapping in a 69-58 victory, but the Wolf Pack won't likely be so kind.

Air Force doesn't seem concerned with factors outside its control.

"We got better today than we were yesterday," coach Dave Pilipovich said after the game at Boise. "We're going to go to Nevada and get better tomorrow and we're going to have to compete and get a win on Saturday."

The biggest difference without Coggins proved to be shot selection. The Falcons had averaged 21 3-point attempts per game in the first seven conference games - led by 46 from the sophomore, who had hit 46 percent of those attempts - but took just six against the Broncos as they instead made a concerted effort to get the ball to the rim.

The problem just came in making those layups; and in containing big man Ryan Watkins.

Of Air Force's 10 turnovers, five came in the game's first 11 minutes. At that point the deficit was already eight points.

"We were a little confused, especially at the beginning getting into spots," Williams said. "We had to get used to one another and the chemistry on the court was different. It was a little harder for us to get into our flow on offense."

Having now played a game and completed two practices without Coggins, that feeling-out period shouldn't take as long.

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