Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Next Year Means Nothing

Somebody recently said to me, "Well, with all the struggles the Air Force Men's Basketball team is having this year, they should be better next year." I was a little offended by that. I've had several people tell me the Falcons are simply playing for next season. I don't like that one bit. And I don't believe it. Tell Seniors Marek Olesinski, Justin Hammonds, De Lovell Earls and and the soon-to-return Max Yon this year doesn't count and the Falcons are simply preparing for next years campaign. That's insulting. Its crap. Air Force is trying to win NOW. These aren't exhibitions. Nobody else in the conference is playing for next year, not even San Jose State. They have a bevy of problems. The time to win is NOW. I get Air Force is young, and will have more experience next year. In sports, its not even "What Have you Done for me Lately" anymore. Its, "What are you doing NOW to Win?" This season isn't a dress rehearsal for 2015-16. It's about finishing the season strong, getting healthy and winning some damn games THIS YEAR. Marek, Justin, De Lovell and Max are gone in under 3 months. They don't care about next year. The guys coming back next season better not be worried about NEXT YEAR. Start Winning NOW!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Close Doesn't Count

The Air Force Mens Basketball Season has been a trying one for Head Coach Dave PiliPovich. 4 players are out for the year with injury, and now we learn Senior Max Yon has taken a leave of absence for personal reasons. Air Force has tried to fight through all this, but the results, with a young team, have been predictable. To the Falcons credit they have been in every conference game, save 1, and with better play late in games, would not be 1-5 in the Mountain West Conference as of today as they prepare for San Diego State. But you are what you are. Air Force has lost a 4 point game to San Diego State, a 5 point game to CSU, was down 2 with 6 minutes to go against New Mexico, and lost 60-48, and last Saturday had a chance to make 2 free throws and tie Utah State with under 7 minutes left. They only made one. The Aggies would go on a 17-2 run and win easily. Now, to be fair, even some of the Falcons who are playing are less than 100% including Seniors Marek Olesinki and Justin Hammonds. The team at the moment is leaning on underclassmen like Zach Kocur, Trevor Lyons and Hayden Graham. I admire the spirit of Pilipovich who continues to say the team is getting better. They are. But the results are not showing up in the win column. Some years you have to take a step back for the program to take two steps forward. Nobody is happy Air Force is playing close, and playing good ball for 32-34 minutes a game. But this is where the Falcons find themselves. Can they turn it around this year? Yes. Has the schedule been front loaded with road games? No Question. Have injuries played a role? Without a doubt. Does Winning make everything better? Lets hope we find out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Chip on Your Shoulder

You've heard the phrase, "A Chip on Your Shoulder." It means you're carrying some attitude, even anger. I thought about this a lot after the Air Force CSU game after Freshman Matt Mooney was rightfully ejected for punching Rams player JJ Avilla in the back during a skirmish. There's no room for that in sports or anywhere else. However, there is symbolism in Mooney's action I need to address. For years the Falcons have been a basketball team that has played hard, even though they are outsized at times and out-muscled. They play against bigger, stronger, physical and more athletic clubs all the time. The Falcons worked hard and give it their all. What I am about to say is not a criticism of any players and coaches. But after watching Colorado State, and other teams physically get after the Falcons its time for Air Force to come out and play with a little more snarl in their game. I'm not saying they don't do this now, but I do believe you see it very infrequently from Air Force. I would love to see the Falcons come out with more attitude, more swagger, and more of the moxy of, "That's our ball, and this is our game, and we're gonna get in your face for 40 minutes and see who's better." Cadets are amazing people, both physically and mentally. I don't see anything wrong with having a little more chippiness or anger in their game. Too many programs see Air Force as soft. Mooney's punch was wrong. He was coming to the aid of a teammate who was being held in a headlock. That was right. Air Force almost beat CSU because they were angry after the incident. It couldn't hurt to show some of that fight and spirit the rest of the season.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Work Harder

Sometimes games, Basketball, Football, Hockey, whatever, are not about gameplans, X's and O's, watching film, scouting the opposition. Sometimes, its just about working harder. That's the message Dave Pilipovich delivered to his team, and talked to KVOR about after his Air Force Mens Basketball team fell to Nevada last Saturday 80-62. Yes the Falcons were playing without their best all around player Kam Williams who is probably lost for the season with an achilles injury. And true, most team the Falcons play are bigger and more athletic. Thats old news at the Academy. But sometimes a point comes when you gotta play harder and try harder. And it transcends sports. In life, many times you just have to give more effort, and bust your ass. I used to tell my kids, "I would love it if you brought home straight A's. However, if you try your hardest and give school your best efforts, then we'll take the results." In sports and life, you can't just show up and expect good things to happen. And when adversity strikes, sometimes you just have to try harder, and suck it up, and work, work, work. Any coach or parent can live with the results if their team or children are giving it their all. But 80% doesn't cut it, in life, or in sports. Losses pile up and coaches get fired if it keeps up year after year. The Falcons, if they want to have a respectable season, need to leave it all out on the floor game after game. If you work hard, good things will happen. Air Force found out Saturday what happens if you don't. Wednesday night Air Force hosts San Jose State at 7 on 740 KVOR. Thursday its the Dave Pilipovich basketball show at 630 from the Back East Bar and Grill in Monument on 740 KVOR.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Bring On The Mountain West

And so it begins for the Air Force Mens basketball Team....Conference play opens this week, with games Wednesday afternoon at San Diego State and Saturday at Nevada. Where do the Falcons fit in the MWC? At the head of the table its Colorado State. The Rams are undefeated as of 12/29/14 and I think they are the best team at the moment. San Diego State was ranked early and has received a lot of publicity, but they have 3 losses, and, to be fair, have played a tougher schedule than Colorado State. UNLV seems to have the most talent but can they make it all work together? Boise State has a lot of guys back but are battling through injuries. New Mexico is clearly not the same team they were a year ago, thanks to graduation. Wyoming has played well, but against a light schedule and they have played most of their games at home. Then, I see the Falcons. Its an intriguing team...a lot of freshman are playing, and playing well. The key as I see it is how well Max Yon plays. He is the leading scorer and can have big nights, or not score a point. EVERYBODY will look to slow him down. Can he work through that? Marek Olesinski is another important factor. The senior needs to be a consistent 14 point 7 rebound a game guy. Ole (his nickname) has shown flashes, but can he do it every night in the conference? For the Falcons to finish above 500 this year everybody has to have good seasons, not just one or two guys. The conference is down compared to the last year or two. Can the Falcons take advantage? Wednesday will be a good test. The Aztecs are 7th in the nation in defense, but can't throw it in the ocean. Air Force has a good shot to knock off San Diego State on the road, but they must play one of their best games of the year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Final Call

Rewind back to 2013 after Air Force was pummeled by Colorado State 58-13. The Juniors, who would be seniors in 2014, got together and talked about next year. They came up with a goal...From 10 losses in 2013 to 10 wins in 2014. Some may call that crazy. But they knew 2 wins was unacceptable. They realized no Commander In Chiefs Trophy and no bowl bid was not the standard they wanted to be known by. So they set the bar high going into the 2014 campaign. And why not? There was nothing to lose. And so here we sit, in December, with a bowl game Saturday against Western Michigan. Some may say, (and have) that is its a minor bowl and it doesn't mean much to the Falcons. Tell that to Kale Pearson who missed his junior year because of a knee injury. Tell that to Jordan Pierce who had to climb out of Troy Calhouns doghouse to become a star. Tell that to Michael Husar Jr, who graduates in front of his teammates Friday at a hotel in Boise. Sure, its not Ohio State, and its not the Cactus Bowl. But there is unfinished business for this football team. 10 Wins. Goal Set. Goal Achieved? Perhaps. It won't be easy. Western Michigan, whom you did not follow during the season-who did, finished a respectable 8-4 and has one of the top freshman running backs in the country. But know this....the Goal is within the grasp of the Falcons. An 8 win turnaround in one year in College Football? Doesn't happen often. But its there for the taking. I wouldn't bet against them. Live Coverage of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl begins at 130 Saturday December 20th on 740 KVOR. The Kickoff is set for 345.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Best For Last?

Air Force and Colorado State meet in the final regular season College Football game for both teams Friday in Colorado Springs. Its a rivalry, yes. On the Kelvin scale, I'm not sure quite where it registers....It's not Michigan-Ohio State...It does not resemble Ole Miss and Mississippi State. It certainly is not the Holy War between Utah and BYU, which for the moment has been discontinued. But Fridays game may take that up a notch or two. CSU must win, and hope Utah State can knock off Boise State Saturday, to win the Mountain Division Title and hope to be ranked by the College Football Playoff Committee to play in a New Years Day Bowl. The Falcons want to finish on a high, at home, on Senior Day. All week I have been saying this game will determine the best College Football Team in Colorado. Air Force looked bad last week against San Diego State. That's not the way this team wants to be remembered. Troy Calhoun has engineered a remarkable turnaround from a season ago. A win puts an exclamation point on it. A victory gives the Falcons an undefeated home record this year. A loss takes away some luster from an otherwise fine season. But since the Rams have a lot riding on this game, you know Air Force would like nothing better, for the sake of the rivalry, to knock off CSU and their New Years Day Bowl Hopes. That's how rivalries are built. In the past this game has meant little to the big picture. But this year that has changed. This is a rivalry, but it could use a few good story lines as a foundation. This is a good place to start. Bring your radios and listen to the game live Friday at 130pm on 740 KVOR.