After a rough down to the wire effort against a good looking Miami team the night before, the Air Force played an even more inspired game against the host UW at the Black Coaches Association at Bank of America Arena in Seattle. Beating two favored teams, two nights in a row, proved to be too tall an order as the Huskies defeated the Falcons 85-74 in a tough, hard-nosed battle.
Brandon Roy led the way with 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Dawgs and was chosen to the All-Tournament team. He had three blocks as well that were very big in topping Air Force during key times in the game. Jon Brockman followed with 21 and 10, but was chosen as MVP of the event, which was quite an impressive award for a player so early in his career.
The All-Tournament team also included shot blocking specialist Kyle Hines of UNC Greensboro, Air Force's Antoine Hood (who was held to 15 points after being the big story against Miami the previous night) and the 'Canes excellent pro style shooting guard Guillermo Diaz. For the three tournament games Jon scored 46 points with 28 rebounds.
Justin Dentmon scored 12 points with 4 assists and distinguished himself for the 2nd night in a row as a floor leader and scrappy defender. He did commit 5 turnovers (some of them unforced), but his ability to control the ball at important times and make his shots, when asked was huge factors in the win. Joel Smith, also with 12 points played his best game of the year and was a valuable defender against the smaller but quick and sturdy Falcons.
Artem Wallace did not play, which was a coaches decision as Lorenzo Romar said UW needed smaller quicker players and Joel probably received Artem's normal minutes. Ryan Appleby scored only one point on 1-2 from the line, in 23 minutes, but contributed to a better team effort in controlling the ball in the 2nd half, where they finished with only 5 of their 18 turnovers, and continued to play solid defense. Ryan was 0-2 from the field and was not a factor as a scorer, nor was previous high man Bobby Jones, who got into foul trouble early in the 2nd half and didn't start to get his 6 points until the 2nd half. Bobby just never got it going until 13:25 left in the 2nd half, but fortunately for UW, the scoring was being produced by Brockman and Roy.
Jamaal Williams also fell to a similar fate, as he never got into his rhythm and ended up with 4 points in 15 minutes, hampered by foul trouble. Brandon Burmeister and Hans Gasser, who had found a way to be consistent threats, against previous out matched opponents, were not able to score much, but were used early in the rotation. Hans, in 6 minutes, hit one jumper in his only attempt, off a catch and shoot from Appleby. Brandon was 0-3 from the field in 14 minutes and seemed to be much less effective against this scrappy Falcon team than the rangy athletic Joel.
The Falcons were cleanly out rebounded by the Huskies 39-17, though Air Force also finished with 18 TO's, unlike the two previous UW opponents who had given up the ball much more than them. UW had to give its best effort to come back from a 46-40 deficit at half time, as their on the ball defense was called closely by the officiating crew in the first half and Air Force capitalized by getting key UW defensive energy man and top scorer Bobby Jones in foul trouble.
This service academy team was as expected from the military, very well drilled, especially in the free throw department as they hit 13-14 in the first half. Coach Jeff Bzdelik, who had a stint as head man for the Denver Nuggets is a strong disciplinarian. It was tough to watch him against Miami, as anyone could see just how strict and intense he is. His coaching style seems to be the underlying factor in why Air Force is such a difficult team to play. Very much like WSU, they are controlling, methodical and play very tough containment oriented defense. They move around on offense and make a lot of their plays on back cuts, which worked well against UW's half court perimeter pressure.
Air Force was led by Jacob Burtschi with 20 points, who had a number of moves and skills for a big man, including a nice stroke from three and a fluid dribble drive move that he used to score some of the key points against Miami, down the final stretch.
Of the Falcons Romar said, "Air Force is a feisty, well-organized, disciplined basketball team. With the team kind of divided with older and younger players, it was a great experience for us to get into a good scrap, a good tussle and that was what they gave us tonight. I didn't know if we were ready for something like that, but I think we were. It will do nothing but help us be more prepared for the next opponent we play that is going to be feisty like that."
The refs called this game very tight against UW's on ball defense and one of the keys to the game was UW's ability to play more containment style in the 2nd half. This Air Force team can nickel and dime you to death (as they did against Miami) by working you into foul trouble, drawing fouls in the half court and staying in front of you in good form on defense. They play strong ball control and make it hard for a team to rattle them with the pressure style that UW used to such devastating effect in the previous games.
Even a team like UW, which has good depth, was stretched thin by being worked on each possession, much like WSU does, but not quite as extreme. The Falcons tonight also played inspired ball and just seem to be feeling their shots and in sync. More than once they hit big shots late in the shot clock and seemed to will in difficult shots, especially in the first half, while UW seemed tight at times early. In the 2nd half UW came out with some more fire.
AF reacted with determination and seemed to match the Dawgs intensity, but ultimately the team that was the freshest, or in best condition as it may be, prevailed. When Marc Holum, while acting as if he was brutalized by Jamaal while scrapping for a jump ball, that distraction could have slowed UW's momentum and aggressive play, but UW stayed focused and went on to complete a 25-10 run to start the 2nd half. This proved to be the key run in the ballgame and turned a confused and unconvinced crowd into a loud and distracting advantage for the home team.
Prior to the 2nd half Lorenzo Romar was given the Black Coaches Association coach of the year award for his performance last year, leading UW to a #1 seed, winning the Pac-10 Tournament and the Great Alaska Shootout. Al Hairston, a former Sonic, Seattle legend, longtime Garfield High coach and UW assistant under Bob Bender, was also given a nice award at halftime by the BCA.
The Lehigh game will be moved from 6PM to 5PM on FSN on Friday December 23rd.
Danny Nwaelele, from Inglemoor High School in Bothell WA looked impressive in front of family and friends and scored 12 points.
Points: Roy 27, Brockman 21, Dentmon 12, Smith 12, Jones 6, Williams 4, Gasser 2, Appleby 1
Boards: Brockman 10, Roy 10, Dentmon 4, Smith 4, Appleby 3, Jones 2, Williams 2, Burmeister 2, Gasser 1,
Assists: Dentmon 4, Appleby 3, Roy 2, Williams 1, Smith 1, Burmeister 1
Steals: Roy 4, Williams 2, Jones 1, Dentmon 1
Blocks: Roy 3, Jones 1, Burmeister 1
Turnovers: Dentmon 5, Williams 4, Brockman 2, Roy 2, Burmeister 2, Appleby 1, Smith 1, Jones 1
PG Justin Dentmon
SG Brandon Roy
SF Bobby Jones
PF Jamaal Williams
C Jon Brockman