Utah State Basketball: Learning about Air Force Hoops

This season we have been contacting beat writers and bloggers for local basketball team’s opponents to get insight into the opponents. In continuing that series, this edition covers the Air Force Falcons. The Aggies and Falcons face off January 1st at 6pm. Helping us learn about the Falcons for this game is Brent Briggeman from the Colorado Springs Gazette. Get more Air Force coverage from Brent on the Gazetteā€™s website or follow him on twitter @BrentBriggeman.

What are Air Force’s expectation for this season?

The Falcons lost five key seniors that led a rebuilding effort that resulted in an 8-8 run through the Mountain West last season. That group constituted the bulk of the team’s scoring, rebounding and playing time last season. To make matters worse, two of the only players with experience that were back suffered preseason injuries that limited them through the first 11 games. With so many new faces, expectations are not high, and the team’s play so far has not raised that bar.

What would you define as the style of play Air Force uses?

The team primarily employs a zone defense and a modified Princeton offense. It’s a thinking-man’s team, though the tempo has been upped under coach Dave Pilipovich. The problem with running this style is that it works best when players are seasoned enough to have perfected it – that is not the case with this young squad.

Who are the top three contributors for the team this season? and what can the Aggies expect to see from them?

Point guard Tre’ Coggins is the team’s best scorer, with the ability to shoot from long distance or penetrate into the lane. Forward/center Marek Olesinski is one of the nation’s top shooting big men, with the ability to score from outside. Forward Justin Hammonds is the glue guy, capable of scoring 10+ points, grabbing rebounds and defending on the perimeter or inside.

what have you learned about this team at this point in the season?

As coach Dave Pilipovich has said several times: “It’s nice to have seniors.” This group has just one, and he doesn’t play much.

If the Aggies are to stop Air Force, what is the one thing they must do?

If the Aggies can stretch the zone by hitting outside shots and take advantage of a size differential inside, they’ll win.

What are your expectations for the game? Prediction?

I hate to make predictions, as I’m not very good at it and it’s my job to report what has happened and not predict the future. That being said, Air Force is generally a far different, better team at home. If this game was in Utah, I wouldn’t expect it to be close. But at Clune Arena, you just never know.

About the author

Grant Bagby

Since moving to Utah in 2005, I have changed from following all sports in D.C/Virginia to following all sports in Utah. I am a Chicago Bulls fan first (Born and raised by my father), but I am also a hardcore Jazz fan with 7 years of being a season ticket holder under my belt. I started TornBySports to write about the BYU/Utah Rivalry after Max Hall ran his mouth.