Last year Air Force failed to win a game in the Mountain West Conference (0-16) and was 10-21 on the season. They did manage a win against Colorado State in the MWC playoffs. It is not looking much better as Air Force has been picked to finish last again. Let us look at the Falcons and see if any of the off season changes could make them a surprise in the MWC.
The Falcons lost their top three scorers from last year in Andrew Henke, Anwar Johnson, and Matt Holland. This means that Evan Washington and his 6.8 points per game is their top returning scorer. Grant Parker at 6 point per game was their next top returning scorer, Parker did shoot 48% from 3 point range last year. Along with Sammy Schafer those are the only three Falcons who saw more than ten minutes a game on the court last year. They lost both of their prime 3 point shooters. All this leads me to believe it will be another tough go for the Falcons on offense when you have to replace that amount of offense production (over 50% of average points scored) and time on the court, three 29+ minute players.
Coach Jeff Reynolds has kept the same staff except new comer assistant coach Captain Tom Bellairs. This shouldn't have any effect on the scheme and game plans so expect to see the same offense and defense as last year.
As for their schedule they should have another good go outside of conference play as last year, 9-4. They have scheduled a few of their wins from last year and no powerhouses. This is a schedule they need, there is no point in challenging a Stanford team like last year as this program needs to build from the bottom up.
Here is a roster of incoming freshman. There are a few decent names in the group. Mike Fitzgerald, (6-6, G/F) was ranked 17th on Minnesota's top college prospects while he averaged 19.6 points a game. Zach Bohannon (6-7, Forward) out of Iowa averaged a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds). Taylor Broekhuis (6-10 F/C) out of Colorado Springs averaged 17.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 4.9 blocks his senior year of high school. All three are on the pre-season roster and should see playing time, how much is the issue. The Falcons are a young team, only 4 seniors and 3 juniors. If Coach Reynolds likes what he sees in the younger guys there he should give them some serious minutes and start building a team to compete in 2-3 years.
Things Air Force can do to compete this year:
Make Free Throws: The Falcons actually shot better from the field then their opponents (44% to 41%) but only managed to sink 67% from the charity strip, opponents shot 74%. They had 6 in conference losses by ten points or less, make your free throws and some of those could turn into wins.
Rebound: Make it a moniker/way of life as the football team does the run game. Last year they gave up 290 offensive rebounds and only collected 229 of their own. That is way too many for a team without the ability to score in large chunks. They were also out rebounded on the defensive end by 11.
Air Force won't be blowing anyone away with athleticism or size so they must focus on all the small things in their control to get victories. A good year would be a 14 win season with 2-3 conference victories. A bad year would see them go winless in conference again and also fail to win in their weak out of conference schedule and go 6-25. It is hard to see a reason not to put them at the bottom of the conference.