During his first day on the job as Air Force basketball coach in May, Jeff Bzdelik said he wanted a new nomenclature for the offensive system that has helped the Falcons win 40 games over the past two seasons.
As it turns out, though, there’s more than just a semantic difference between the “Princeton offense” and Bzdelik’s preferred “Air Force offense.” When the Falcons open the season in Seattle on Sunday against Northern Arizona in the BCA Classic, fans won’t see Bzdelik pleading for his players to bring the ball up the court slowly as predecessors Chris Mooney and Joe Scott did. If anything, Bzdelik will be looking for the Falcons to get into the frontcourt quicker. “The offense is very effective, and it can be more effective if you can get the ball up the court quickly and not allow the defense to rest and exhale, to dig in and to organize,” Bzdelik said. “We’re going to run into our offense and keep the defense on the move right from the start. What happens is you get people chasing you and not guarding you. There’s a difference there.” It’s not that Bzdelik wants Air Force to be a running team, which is how he coached the Denver Nuggets from 2002 until last December. And it’s not that Bzdelik has made major changes to the system Scott and Mooney brought with them from their Princeton backgrounds. But Bzdelik does want the Falcons to get into their offense quicker by running the ball to the halfcourt line, which has been a major adjustment for players who were coached to do the opposite in previous years. Bzdelik had to constantly remind his team to push the ball during an exhibition game last Thursday against Mc-Master University. “The last two years, we’ve been kind of taught to slow things down, get everything set,” junior forward Jacob Burtschi said. “It was kind of tough. I watched the game film from last Thursday, and we were still trying to walk it up when he was telling us to push it. This week has been all about trying to push the ball, get accustomed to that.” Players said they like the idea of getting some potentially easier looks at the basket that might result from getting up the court quicker. “We can understand where he’s coming from,” junior Dan Nwaelele said. “If they’re not ready for us, we might be able to get some easy buckets.” Etc. The Air Force women’s basketball team will play its first exhibition game against Colorado Christian tonight at Clune Arena. Coach Ardie McInelly has high hopes with 10 players returning from a team that showed improvement last season at 7-21 while relying mostly on freshmen. “It’s going to be the best (Air Force) team people have seen yet,” McInelly said. “It will be the first year we don’t have to depend on freshmen. We have sophomores and juniors that have a lot of experience and I feel very confident in them at this point. We’re really looking forward to people going out and executing.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0258 or email@example.com NEXT Air Force vs. Northern Arizona at Seattle, 1 p.m. Sunday