That right there is Todd Fletcher drilling a three with 2.4 seconds left as Air Force picked up a win over MWC champion New Mexico, 89-88, on Saturday afternoon.
The Lobos, one of the best defensive teams in the country, blew a four-point lead in the final 16 seconds the same way they struggled to defend the Falcons all night long: the inability to deal with the three-ball. Air Force was 15-31 from deep on the night, which was only marginally better than the 15-33 that New Mexico shot on Saturday. Talk about a shoot-out.
Anyway, to the point, I don’t think that this says all that much about New Mexico. The Lobos already clinched the MWC regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the MWC tournament. They didn’t have anything to play for, and Air Force might still have pipe dreams about an at-large bid. AFA is also the kind of program that would happily accept a bid to the NIT, and they seem locked in to at least one nationally televised postseason tournament.
And frankly, the Falcons are a dangerous team. They beat four of the top five teams in the MWC at home this season.
The bad news? They’ve really struggled on the road, and they get UNLV in the first round of the conference tournament, which just so happens to be hosted in UNLV’s arena.
The good news? Fresno State just picked off the Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center.
I think the only thing we know about the MWC this year is that we don’t actually know a thing.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.
Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.
“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”
Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.
As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.
Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.
“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.
“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”
Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group. Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.
As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.