Air Force Falcons
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #119
Conference Rank: #7 Mountain West
Air Force Team Page
Air Force struggled during the 2011-2012 campaign and only managed to win three games in Mountain West play. That poor performance cost Coach Jeff Reynolds his job. However, that was a very, very young team and the conference was pretty tough. Dave Pilipovich, an assistant at Air Force for the last five years, has taken over the head coaching job and inherits a pretty talented club that is now senior heavy. This should be a much better squad than last season and the Falcons could certainly use a boost with a senior heavy squad to help pave the way for success down the road. Otherwise, this could turn into one halfway decent campaign followed by a couple years of more struggles.
2011-12 Record: 13-16, 3-11
2011-12 Postseason: None
Coach: Dave Pilipovich
Coach Record: First season at Air Force, 0-0 overall
The guarded optimism is because the only major contributor not returning is Taylor Stewart. Stewart was a starter in all 15 games he played in last season, but he only played in those 15 games and Air Force knows what to do without him. Stewart was a decent scorer and a good all-around wing player, but the Falcons replaced him on the fly last year and will have little trouble replacing him with an entire offseason to prepare. The other departure is that of Chris Carter and he averaged less than ten minutes per game last season.
The Falcons have eight newcomers who will suit up this season. Ethan Michael redshirted last season and the power forward now has the strength to compete for quality playing time. The other seven all played at USAFA Prep School together last season and that chemistry, unique to Air Force, is never a bad thing. However, Coach Pilipovich will not have to rely too much on the freshmen for now. Cam Michael is a good shooter and this is a team that can always use consistent shooters. Tre’ Coggins and Alex LaLonde are a couple more guards who can do some scoring and Phillips Mays could eventually turn into the point guard of the future. Conner Litt, Zach Moer and Daniel Salomon will add depth to the frontcourt, but none of them are ready to make an impact on the offensive end, although this is a squad that could use some frontcourt depth even if it is not in the scoring department.
Who to Watch:
Air Force is a small, perimeter orientated squad so the bulk of the scoring load will fall on the shoulders of the backcourt. It starts with point guard Todd Fletcher. The senior is a great floor leader and can do some scoring when the team needs him. Fletcher is a capable outside shooter, but he could score a lot more points if he got to the charity stripe more often. But as long as he finds the scorers and keeps the turnovers to a minimum, Fletcher is doing his job. Michael Lyons is the most prolific of those scorers who benefit from Fletcher’s playmaking ability. Lyons knocked down two three-pointers per game last season and easily led the squad with 15.6 points per game. Wing Mike Fitzgerald will start opposite of Lyons and is the other dangerous shooter and double-digit scoring threat on the Falcons squad. Fitzgerald is not as aggressive attacking the basket as Lyons, but both are 6-6 and that size on the perimeter helps out immensely on the glass. Justin Hammonds, Kyle Green and Max Yon will battle it out with the freshmen for playing time off of the bench.
Kamryn Williams may be listed as a forward, but at 6-4, he is shorter than both of the wings. At 195 pounds, the sophomore is not very big either. Air Force can switch things around as needed defensively to get the best matchups, so they can do perfectly fine with a 6-4 forward in the starting lineup. Having a couple versatile 6-6 wings certainly helps in that regard. Williams only averaged 15.0 minutes per game last season, but he was just a freshman too. His versatility will be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses if he can continue to improve and avoid a sophomore slump. The true post player for Air Force is Taylor Broekhuis. The 6-10, 220 pound senior has developed into a quality interior scorer and a presence on the defensive end. If Broekhuis is having his way with the opposing defense, the shooters will get a lot more open looks. Perhaps just as importantly, Broekhuis is a fine shot blocker and, along with the athletic Williams, the Falcons can swat some balls and play some pretty good defense. This is a group that needs to improve all around, but a year of experience should help and the coaching transition is as about as smooth as it can be, so the Falcons will come out ready to go in 2012-2013.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Todd Fletcher, Senior, Guard, 8.1 points per game
Michael Lyons, Senior, Guard, 15.6 points per game
Mike Fitzgerald, Senior, Guard, 10.4 points per game
Kamryn Williams, Sophomore, Forward, 4.1 points per game
Taylor Broekhuis, Senior, Center, 9.0 points per game