Air Force has had a week to recover from the battering it took at the hands of No. 16 BYU. But on Saturday the beleaguered Falcons head back to the court to face one of the hottest teams in the nation in No. 12 New Mexico.
So the question is: After losing all but one of their conference games so far, after getting crushed by 43 points at BYU, after nine losses by more than 20 points, after injury on top of injury, what is the mindset of the Falcons going into the homestretch?
Jake Schaller of the The (Colorado Springs) Gazette examines Air Force’s psyche in an article today that looks into whether the losing has “shattered” the Falcons’ confidence.
Junior guard Evan Washington said the Falcons’ confidence is “up and down right now.” Senior center Mike McLain said “after a 43-point loss, there’s no way to say that it’s great.” And [head coach Jeff]Reynolds labeled it “fragile.”
“Fragile” is not a good state of mind for Air Force going into tomorrow. New Mexico (24-3, 10-2) beat Air Force (1-10, 9-15) by 23 points earlier this year at Clune Arena. New Mexico has won 10 games in a row, including two victories over ranked opponents. If Air Force gets down early against the Lobos, things could (again) get very out of hand.
There’s little relief for the Falcons in the four games after New Mexico, either. UNLV and San Diego State both beat the Falcons handily earlier this season. Even Wyoming, who Air Force beat Jan. 30 for their only MWC win, will certainly be the favorite when Air Force travels there on March 2.
Schaller’s looked into some of the potential fallout from two straight miserable seasons, including whether players — already challenged by the rigors of academy life — will stick with the program. And despite earlier assurances from athletic director Hans Mueh that Reynolds’ job is not in jeopardy, it’s hard to imagine that the coach will not be on the hot seat should the Falcons finish this season without another MWC win.