FORT COLLINS • The risk-reward nature of Air Force’s offense didn’t seem worth the risk on Tuesday.
The Falcons saw the ball stolen away 15 times in a 87-64 blowout loss at Colorado State, many of those coming on errant passes trying to fit it in a tight spot.
The Rams turned that into a 27-11 edge in points off turnovers — and 24-0 on fast breaks — and Air Force (5-10, 0-3 Mountain West) didn’t stand a chance. And for its efforts, the Falcons had just seven assists on their 27 field goals.
So, it begs the question: Why risk it? Particularly with juniors Lavelle Scottie (20 points) and Ryan Swan (10) able to score inside (they were a combined 12-of-22 shooting), might this team be better served by eschewing the low-percentage back-door passes in favor of a traditional look?
“Some of them were there,” coach Dave Pilipovich said of the passes in the offense he still prefers, “but they were a half-step quicker than us and got some deflections.”
Added Swan, who committed six of Air Force’s 16 turnovers, “I feel like I’ve been in this offense for so long I can tell if someone’s going to be open off the back cut. I’m willing to throw it. You’ve just got to trust the offense and cut harder. We’ll be all right.
“We can score on the inside, but if we just rely on that, teams are just going to start doubling me and Lavelle on the inside and that will be obsolete. We’ve still got to look for it, but lean towards me and Lavelle on the inside.”
It’s not as if Air Force’s lone issue on Tuesday was in the turnover column in a game it trailed by 16 in the first half, came back to within 8 a few times in the second half but didn’t challenge in the final 10 minutes or so. Colorado State (6-10, 1-2) predictably had a distinct advantage in 6-foot-11 center Nico Carvacho, who scored 27 points with nine rebounds. But the surprise piece was freshman Kendle Moore, who scored 23 points with five assists. Moore shredded the Falcons off the dribble, using quickness the Falcons didn’t anticipate to open each piece of the offense as the Rams shot 56.5 percent.
“We couldn’t contain him,” Pilipovich said.
Air Force also dealt with the fact that Swan (concussion) hadn’t practiced in a week and wasn’t cleared to play until an examination that included a 30-minute treadmill test Tuesday. The Falcons were also without forward Caleb Morris, who woke up Tuesday with flu-like symptoms.
“Just one thing after another,” said Pilipovich after falling to a Rams team that had dropped nine of 10. “Come on. Come on. Oh my gosh. We’re better than that. We’ve got to play better than that, but we’ve got to practice better than that. We’ve got to go back old school Thursday and Friday, beat the crap out of each other in practice and come back ready to fight on Saturday.”