Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Tre' Coggins keeps finding looks in Air Force's unique offense

By Brent Briggeman Updated: January 14, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Tre' Coggins wasn't a big fan of the Princeton offense when he first arrived at Air Force.

The offense requires constant, exhausting motion, it spreads around the shots and it doesn't work without trusting your teammates.

"I didn't like it when I was at the prep school," Coggins said, before offering one of his relaxed smiles. "But it's growing on me."

The 6-foot-2 Falcons point guard has put up three consecutive games of at least 20 points - no Air Force player has had four consecutive 20-point games in 19 years. He is hitting 46.5 percent of his 3-point attempts (fourth in the Mountain West) and he's averaging 17.8 points.

The 35 points Coggins scored against Jackson State were the most for an Air Force sophomore since 1957.

"I thought he was capable of putting some numbers up," Falcons coach Dave Pilipovich said. "I didn't think he'd do it to the extent he is and the percentages he's doing it."

The question naturally arises if Coggins can keep this up, particularly since he is not a player tall enough to release a shot over many defenders. Thanks to that offense, he probably can.

"That's one thing about the Princeton is you don't have to create your own shot; it creates shots for you," Coggins said. "Being able to create your own shot just adds to the niceness of the offense, but I don't think it will be difficult to get shots."

The obvious comparison for the season Coggins is having is the one put up by Michael Lyons for the Falcons last year, as the then-senior earned first-team all-conference honors.

Through 15 games last year, Lyons had scored 265 points for a 17.7 average. Coggins has scored 267 through 15 games this season.

"We've got to remind him to get his scoring opportunities out of the offense," Pilipovich said. "He's been able to get his 3s out of the offense and he's been able to get his drives out of the offense. Now if you see them try to guard him maybe with a bigger perimeter player, he's going to have to stay within the offense and get those opportunities and then other guys will have to get the opportunities as well.

"He's not the bigger, more physical guard who can go ahead and get those type of scores, where Mike was able to do that."

Coggins was a freshman last year, watching Lyons from the bench. He saw him create plenty of shots, but he also saw him accept what the offense created for him.

"When both were clicking, that's when he was dropping 40 points," Coggins said.

More and more, Coggins is showing the ability to get the ball to the rim. In conference games Max Yon is the only Falcon with more free-throw attempts than Coggins.

Perhaps the biggest problem for Coggins will be weariness. He has played 40 minutes in each of the past two games and is averaging 35.6 minutes overall as Air Force hasn't found a true backup point guard.

Coggins doesn't seem overly concerned with the minutes or much of anything else. He had no idea he had scored 20 points in three straight games, but he does know that he has become a go-to scoring option and that his team's unconventional offense is at least partially responsible.

"I didn't know exactly how it was going to play out," he said, "but I always knew I had the ability. It's nice to be able to have the numbers to back it up."

Quick ascension

Air Force knew Tre' Coggins would need to handle the bulk of the point guard responsibilities this season, but there was no way of knowing how quickly his scoring would take off.

G FG-A Pct 3-pt FG-A Pct. FT-A Pct. Pts. Avg

2012-13 31 26-64 .375 11-36 .306 14-19 .737 73 2.4

2013-14 15 90-179 .503 41-90 .456 46-57 .807 267 17.8

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