The Air Force Falcons head to Big XII country this weekend when they face the Texas Tech Red Raiders Sunday afternoon in Lubbock. Air Force will be looking to be more consistent offensively against the Red Raiders after a rough game versus Colorado this past Tuesday. The Falcons struggled to score for long stretches against the Buffaloes and leading scorer Max Yon failed to score a single point in that game. The freshman guard trio of Matt Mooney, Trevor Lyons and C.J. Siples carried the weight for the Falcons in the second half, combining for 28 points total to make the final score respectable.
But like any team, it is time to move on and prepare for the next opponent. Texas Tech is a relative unknown opponent in the Colorado Springs area, so the Mountain West Connection decided to seek out some expert analysis from Dan Swany of Viva the Matadors. Here is our conversation with Dan:
Mountain West Connection: How is Tubby Smith putting his stamp on the program in his second year?
Viva the Matadors (Dan): Coach Smith has come in and taken over our basketball program and raised it from shambles to a team that is on the right track for future success. He has put together a young squad that has tons of talent and athleticism. But, the biggest thing that he brings to our team is much needed stability. For the first time in 3 seasons the Texas Tech teamed returned the same head coach. That is the real stamp Tubby Smith has with this program... stability. Along with the on the court familiarities that Tubby Smith is known for; he preaches defense and the team listens. On offense he has taught the squad to slow down and really have patience to get the right pass and open shot. Tubby Smith has made basketball fun again for Tech fans to watch.
Mountain West Connection: There are six freshmen on the team. What are their roles and how much of a talent infusion have they provided?
Viva the Matadors (Dan): Actually there are only 5 frosh on the squad. There is a lot of responsibility resting on the shoulders of the freshman this season. Norense Odiase, Zach Smith, and Justin Gray are starters. The other two Keenan Evans, and Isaiah Manderson receive double-digit minutes of playing time each game. While the talent has definitely risen since the arrival of these guys, you can tell that they are young. There are moments of inexperience that just take time at the college basketball level to work out. It was sort of a mystery to how the freshman would turn out, but I have to give Tubby Smith and his staff credit. They can really recruit and have an eye for getting a smart bunch of guys to commit to playing for us.
Mountain West Connection: What is the biggest strength and weakness with the team in this early part of the season?
Viva the Matadors (Dan): The biggest strength is the athleticism on the team. These guys can fly down the court and finish above the rim, and are constantly slashing through the lane with great quickness. Also, I've been impressed with our defense and the ability to grab boards. The weakness is that our shooting can go ice cold at certain parts of the game. We might make a few nice buckets, but we can go for minutes sometimes without hitting a mid-range or outside shot. The other embarrassing weakness is that our free throw shooting is far below average. We seem to have trouble hitting the shots from the charity stripe.
Thanks to Dan for his insight on the Texas Tech program. The Falcons will look to gain a victory against a Power Five conference opponent this coming Sunday before it heads into a friendlier stretch of games at home in December before opening conference play on December 31st against San Diego State.