UW at Air Force men’s hoops Q&A

Here is my question-and-answer session with Brent Briggeman, who covers Air Force men’s basketball for The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colorado, about Tuesday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Tip off is at 7 p.m. MT at Clune Arena at the Air Force Academy.

Follow on Twitter: @BrentBriggeman

What’s gone wrong for the Falcons now at 10-12 overall, 1-8 in the conference and losers of eight straight games? 

What hasn’t gone wrong, that would be a better question. First, the team hasn’t been able to complete athletically in the league. Nevada and UNLV simply overwhelmed them

Brent Briggeman

Brent Briggeman

physically. Fresno State clogged passing lanes with its length, forcing 17 turnovers and turning that into a 28-6 advantage in points off turnovers. Wyoming, New Mexico and San Jose State shot well. It’s been something different every game, though a consistent theme has been the Falcons’ shooting woes. Beyond that, Air Force has been playing with an injured point guard in Trevor Lyons (shooting hand).

 

Has this recent spiral surprised you, and are there signs or hopes that it will end? 

I don’t think it has been stunning. Air Force started the season 10-4, but other than an overtime victory over New Mexico State, the wins weren’t against Mountain West-caliber teams. When it played up against Ohio State, Colorado the results were lopsided. It was obviously going to be a season where a lot of things had to go right, and they haven’t. As for signs of a turnaround for this season, I’m not sure they’re there.

Continue reading

MW men’s basketball power rankings

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings this week.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. Only two MW teams have RPIs in the top 100, and seven are ranked between 113 and 196. As a league, the MW still has an RPI of 12 out of 32 conferences. The Summit, Mid-American and Colonial leagues are currently ahead of the MW.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. San Diego State (16-6 overall, 9-0 MW, 47 RPI): An impressive week for the Aztecs with road wins over Nevada and UNLV. They have won nine in a row, and they shot less than 30 percent and still won at Nevada. If only this team was consistent on offense.

2. New Mexico (13-8, 6-2, 122 RPI): The Lobos moved into second place in the MW standings, as well to second in this week’s power rankings thanks in large part to their win at Boise State Saturday. We’ve seen a lot of ups and downs from New Mexico, but it has won four in a row.

3. Boise State (15-7, 6-3, 87 RPI): A tough week for a good team after losses at UNLV and at home to New Mexico. This didn’t do the league a lot of good, but the Broncos are still a veteran and solid group. It needs to bounce back Tuesday at home against Utah St.

Continue reading

MW men’s basketball power rankings

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings this week. Figuring out the third through eighth or ninth teams once again was a challenge.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. Only two MW teams have RPIs in the top 100, and seven are ranked between 112 and 176. As a league, the MW slipped a bit this week with a RPI of 12 out of 32 conferences. It has been at 11 the last few weeks. The Summit, Mid-American and Colonial leagues are currently ahead of the MW.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. San Diego State (14-6 overall, 7-0 MW, 64 RPI): The Aztecs remain the only undefeated team in the MW, and have the league’s longest winning streak at seven. The team will be tested this week with two games in the state of Nevada.

2. Boise State (15-5, 6-1, 60 RPI): The Broncos are more like 1A in the rankings, but its three-point home loss to San Diego State on Jan.16 is the difference. They responded well with two double-digit wins this past week.

3. Nevada (12-7, 4-3, 112 RPI): Some thought I was nuts for having UNLV third last week, and many may think the same having the Wolf Pack this high. But remember, these are weekly power rankings, and Nevada earned the jump up with wins over Wyoming and UNLV last week. Do I think Nevada will finish third in the MW? No, but for now it earned the jump up the rankings.

Continue reading

MW men’s basketball power rankings

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings this week, and there are some changes near the top.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. Only two MW teams have RPIs in the top 100, and eight are ranked between 121-193. As a league, the MW still has a RPI of 11 out of 32 conferences.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. San Diego State (12-6 overall, 5-0 MW, 68 RPI): The Aztecs are the only undefeated team in league play after an impressive 56-53 road win at Boise State last Saturday. San Diego State has won seven straight conference road games going back to last season. It is showing why it was picked as the preseason favorite to win the MW.

2. Boise State (13-5, 4-1, 52 RPI): The loss to San Diego State snapped a 17-game home winning streak, and the Broncos were just 1 of 17 from 3-point range. Look for this team to bounce back, but for now, it drops from the top spot in these power rankings.

3. Utah State (10-7, 3-3, 129 RPI): After starting 0-3 in league play, the Aggies responded with two wins last week at home against Air Force and at Colorado State. Senior guard Chris Smith, the MW Player of the Week, averaged 27 points and nine rebounds in the two victories. Stiffer tests await this week with a home game with UNLV and a road game at San Diego State.

Continue reading

MW men’s basketball power rankings

We enter the third week of conference play, and while there wasn’t a lot of movement among the top teams in my power rankings, there was some among other teams.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com, and nine of the 11 MW teams have RPIs of between 100 and 181. As a league, the MW has an RPI of 11 out of 32 conferences.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. Boise State (12-4 overall, 3-0 MW, 49 RPI): The Broncos remain the top dog in the conference. They’ve won nine in a row. Junior forward James Webb III has won back-to-back MW Player of the Week honors, and three this season. Boise State made nearly a 30-point rise in the RPI from last week.

2. San Diego State (10-6, 3-0, 100 RPI): We will see this week if the Aztecs are worthy of being ranked this high with road games at Colorado State and Boise State.

3. New Mexico (10-6, 3-0, 116 RPI): A four-game losing streak prior to league play seems a distant memory after winning three straight to open league play. The defense has improved, which has led to better offense.

Continue reading

UW-Air Force men’s basketball Q&A

Here is my question-and-answer session with Brent Briggeman, who covers Air Force men’s basketball for the The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colorado about Wednesday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Tip off is at 7 p.m. MT at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

Follow on Twitter: @BrentBriggeman

Brent Briggeman

Brent Briggeman

At 10-4 so far, is that where you thought Air Force would be record-wise? If not, what has surprised you — good or bad?

I think this would have been an optimistic forecast. Air Force challenged itself in the nonconference, going to Colorado and Ohio State and playing NCAA tournament regulars like Robert Morris and New Mexico State. It won two of those games, and went on the road to notch wins over Denver and UC Davis. Given Air Force’s struggles on the road in recent seasons, those wins were no minor deal. I think it’s particularly surprising that the Falcons have done this without finding a shooting touch as a team, shooting 64 percent from the free throw line through the nonconference and 32 percent from 3-point range.

Continue reading

UW’s young bigs learning as they go

The season has been an up-and-down one for Wyoming men’s basketball so far with a 7-8 overall record.

Same can be said for the Cowboys’ young post players — sophomores Jonathan Barnes and Hayden Dalton and true freshman Jordan Naughton. Dalton and Naughton are in their first years at UW. Barnes is in his second.

I’m not including sophomore Alan Herndon here, even though this is just his second year in terms of playing for the Cowboys and third year in the program. He, too, has had is ups and downs, but for now we will consider him the veteran.

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shays

Coach Larry Shyatt knew the youth and inexperience in the post would be “challenging” this season.

“Watching their development has been outstanding for us in practice,” he said. “In games it’s been a different guy on a different night stepping up or struggling. Nothing has been a surprise, but what need to do is develop a little more consistency.”

The 6-foot-8 Dalton averages 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. He’s pulled down five or more rebounds in six of UW’s 15 games, but at 185 pounds it is evident that Dalton struggles against bulkier guys inside. That was evident in last Saturday’s 71-68 loss at Nevada where Dalton was 0 of 5 from the field, with many of those misses inside.

Continue reading

MW men’s basketball power rankings

One week into conference play, and the Mountain West is just as baffling as the nonconference portion of the schedule was.

A decent amount of movement this week, and I would expect more in the coming weeks. But here is how I think the MW ranks this week.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. Nothing really stands out as far as the RPI goes, but it does indicate that from top to bottom, the MW is a solid league. Its RPI of 11 out of 32 conferences isn’t all that great, and it looks like the MW could be a one-bid league to the NCAA Tournament as of now.

Call it mediocre or poor, but this league isn’t as bad as many national people think.

I still think the league will get at least two teams to the NCAAs, and possibly three if all works out well.

As always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Boise State (10-4 overall, 1-0 MW, 70 RPI): The Broncos have the longest winning streak in the league at seven, and may have the Player of the Year in the MW in junior forward James Webb III. A tricky game awaits at Utah State Tuesday.

2. San Diego State (9-6, 2-0, 81 RPI): The Aztecs played like the Aztecs last week in a home win over Wyoming and an impressive road win at Utah State last week. The offense is still an issue, but the defense is not.

Continue reading

UW at Air Force football live game chat replay

Here’s the replay of my live chat from the University of Wyoming 31-17 loss at Air Force Saturday night.

UW fell to 0-6 overall and 0-2 in the Mountain West. Air Force improved to 3-2, 2-0.

For more UW and high school sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and log on to wyosports.net.

Live Blog Wyoming at Air Force football live game chat

Wyoming at Air Force football: notes, quotes and video

My top key for Wyoming in its football game Saturday night at Air Force:

Convert scoring chances: Wyoming hasn’t had a problem moving the ball offensively at 396.4 yards per game. But it has had trouble scoring at 19.4 points per game. The Cowboys are last among 127 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in red zone offense as they’ve scored 10 of 19 times. Negative plays (penalties or plays that lose yardage) and turnovers all have been factors in UW’s futility. It must be cleaned up if it hopes to win this game — or any game the rest of the season.

Of course, there are several other things UW must do well in this game. For more of those, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and log on to wyosports.net

I delve into some of those other keys in my video preview of the game:

Continue reading