A first look at the nonconference slate for Air Force
The Air Force Falcons come into the 2012-13 season with hopes that they will get to the .500 mark in conference play, a mark not reached since the 2007-08 season. Newly named head coach Dave Pilipovich is leading the Falcons in the right direction as they knocked off then No. 15 San Diego State last season. Air Force has the tools to become a sleeper team in the MWC and finish in the upper half of the standing, as the Falcons non-conference schedule is quite manageable.
Head Coach: Dave Pipliovich (1st year)
Taylor Stewart F: 8.1 PPG-2.9 RPG
Projected Starting five:
PG Todd Fletcher
SG Michael Lyons
SG Kamryn Williams
SF Mike Fitzgerald
C Taylor broekhuis
Team Overview: The Falcons return 4 of their top 5 scorers from last year's team and will most likely add SG Kamryn Williams (4.1 PPG-2.6 RPG) to the starting 5. The bulk of the scoring presence will be coming from the Falcons back court in Todd Fletcher (8.1 PPG) and Michael Lyons (15.6 PPG). Fletcher is key to the team's success in 2012-13 as he dished out the most assists (3.3), had the most steals (1.6) and had the highest free throw percentage (.923) of the starting 5 coming into the season.
Key Opponents: vs. Colorado, @ Florida* (Sunrise FL), VS Wichita State, @ Richmond
Colorado Buffaloes: The Colorado Buffaloes are slowly establishing their selves as a basketball power in the Pac-12 as they won the conference tournament in their first year as a starter and made it to the big dance for the first time since 2003. The Buff's return PG Askia Booker (9.1 PPG-2.7 RPG), SG Spencer Dinwiddie (10 PPG-3.6 PRG), and double-double machine SF Andre Roberson (11.6 PPG-11.1 RPG) Roberson is the bread and butter of this Buffaloes team as he also lead last year's starting 5 in steals per game (1.3), blocks per game (1.9), and field goal percentage (.510). Colorado will likely add ESPN 100 recruits SF Xavier Johnson and C Josh Scott to the starting 5 for what will be a powerful front court.
Florida Gators: The Florida Gators will likely enter the 2012-13 season a top 25 team as Billy Donovan's Gators reload for another eventful campaign. Top Scorer PG Kenny Boynton (15.6 PPG-2.7AST) accompany PF Erik Murphy (10.5 PPG-1.1 BPG), and C Patric Young (10.2 PPG- 6.4 RPG). Reserves SG Mike Rosario (6.6 PPG) and PF Will Yeguete (4.4 PPG) will have to step up their game in the 2012-13 season as they replace Bradley Beal (14.8 PPG) and Erving Walker (12.1 PPG).
Wichita St. Shockers: 503 miles west of Colorado Springs lays Wichita, home to the Shockers, who made it to the NCAA Tournament and spotted a 5 seed: of course that was last season. The Shocker's starting rotation last season was made up of all seniors, none of which return for this year's team. Top returning scorer PF Carl Hall (8.4 PPG-5 RPG) joins Oregon transfer PG Malcolm Armstead (8.6 PPG-4.4 APG-2.3 SPG) for what will be an underwhelming Shockers team.
Richmond Spiders: The 2011-12 season was a disappointing one for the Spiders as they were riding high off of their 2011 sweet 16 run, and only managed 16 wins in 2012. The 2012-13 outlook is much more promising for the spiders as they return their top 4 scorers in SG Darien Brothers (14.6 PPG-2.9 PRG), SG Kendall Anthony (13 PPG-1.3 RPG), PG Cedrick Lindsay (11.2 PPG-3.7 APG), and PF Derrick Williams (11.2 PPG-5.6 RPG).
The Rest: @ Army* (Charleston, S.C.), VS Citadel or VMI, VS Western State, VS Regis, VS Montana State, VS Jackson State, VS Arkansas-Pine Bluff, @ UC Riverside, VS New Orleans.
Non-Conference Schedule Prediction: 9-4 (losses to Wichita State, Richmond, Florida, and Colorado)
The Air Force Falcons have returning talent that will get better through out the season, though the Falcons may struggle early in the season and aren't quite at the level yet to compete with the likes of Florida and Colorado. The Falcons may have a shot of beating a weakened Wichita State team, but will most likely lose to Florida, Richmond, Colorado and Wichita State and muster an 9-4 stance before heading into conference play.