WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Brent Briggeman, who covers Air Force men’s basketball for The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo., about Wednesday’s game with the University of Wyoming at the Air Force Academy. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
Follow on Twitter: @BrentBrigeman
Air Force’s roster turned over quite a bit from last season, but the team has played solid at 9-8 overall and 3-3 in the Mountain West. Who has stepped up their game or role the most so far?
Tre’ Coggins is the obvious answer, as he has turned into something of a revelation as a scorer at the point guard position. But Kamryn Williams has been the biggest difference maker. Wyoming saw the best game of his career last season (25 and 10), so it’s probably not as shocking for the Cowboys’ fan base, but Williams ability to rebound, disrupt shots and defend has helped Air Force compete in ways that it could not last year.
WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Brent Briggeman, who covers Air Force men’s basketball for The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Wyoming (18-9 overall, 4-9 Mountain West) plays at Air Force (15-10, 6-6) at 7 tonight at Clune Arena at the Air Force Academy.
Question: Air Force won’t win the Mountain West regular-season title, but remains in the hunt for an upper-half finish. Are the Falcons one of the best stories in the conference after being picked to finish last in the preseason?
Answer: The team clearly thinks it is. Coach Dave Pilipovich has used those conference predictions as a constant motivator throughout the season, posting them in the locker room where they are an ever-present reminder of what others think of the team. The improved performance has led to some of the biggest crowds since Air Force’s NCAA Tournament teams of the mid-2000s. It’s always tricky to build programs at the academy between the academic standards, the disadvantage of not being able to add transfers and the post-graduate military commitment, so anytime a revenue sport can enjoy a resurgence it tends to be a big deal around the institution.
Air Force men’s basketball beat writer Brent Briggeman of the Colorado Springs Gazette exchanged email questions and answers with WyoSports about tonight’s game with the University of Wyoming at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.
Look for Q&As with writers who cover UW’s Mountain West foes throughout the conference season.
Question: What are some of the biggest differences in the program now with Dave Pilipovich as coach, compared to former coach Jeff Reynolds, and how have the players accepted that?
Answer: Pilipovich has sped up the offense. In the past, Air Force would intentionally wait until 10 to 12 seconds remained on the shot clock to start looking to score. That slow-down mentality has been scrapped. “We still run the Princeton offense; we just run it faster,” Pilipovich said. The results have been obvious on the scoreboard, with Air Force scoring 90 points in consecutive games for the first time in 14 years. The players, naturally, seem to like it, but what college basketball player would object to being told to play faster and more instinctively?
I have really enjoyed the comments and feedback on my weekly MW men’s basketball power rankings. Here’s what I got heading into this week’s MW Tournament.
1. No. 21 San Diego State (24-6, 10-4): The Aztecs won back-to-back road games at Boise State and TCU to capture the first seed in the conference tournament. Impressive late-season run by the Aztecs with only seven scholarship players that see playing time.
2. New Mexico (24-6, 10-4): The Lobos should have and did easily defeat Air Force and Boise State last week. This team isn’t far back from San Diego State, and this is the week their depth should help by having to win three games in three days to win the MW Tournament. I still think this is the team to beat in the tournament.
Three teams tied for first, two teams tied for seventh and a mess in between.
That’s how the Mountain West men’s basketball standings look heading into the final week of the regular season.
“This conference is crazy. You have three teams tied for first when at the start of last week you didn’t think that was feasible,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said during Monday’s MW coach’s teleconference.
Here is my power rankings this week, and as always, would love to hear your feedback: