Moments after it lost to Washington late Tuesday night, the Air Force men’s basketball team seemed to take some consolation in how well it competed with a team that should contend for a Pac-10 Conference title.
That outlook changed dramatically, however, after reviewing film Thursday. “We didn’t play very well against Washington at all,” coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “We were very disappointed,” forward Jacob Burtschi said. Despite playing a pair of Division II teams in its next two games — including tonight’s Clune Arena opener against the Colorado–Colorado Springs — Bzdelik has no plans to give his team a breather. After he watched the film of that 85-74 loss to Washington, laying off simply wasn’t an option. “Our defensive rebounding, our defensive transition, our defensive awareness on the weak side and our offensive discipline were awful against Washington, and we worked very hard to correct that,” Bzdelik said. “We need to be much better, and we know we have a very tough opponent on Saturday. That’s the truth. We need to be much, much better than we were the other night against Washington.” Though UCCS lost its opener by 30 points to Grand Canyon, the Mountain Lions caught Air Force’s attention by playing the University of Denver tough in a 78-75 loss Saturday in an exhibition game. All five of UCCS’ starters scored in double figures. Former Elbert High School star Bly McGuire had 17 points and 10 rebounds. UCCS also defeated Colorado College in exhibition play. Former Doherty High School standout Patrick Hannaway averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds in the two exhibitions. Air Force (2-1) will be favored to win its next eight games, giving the team a chance to have 10 wins before playing Georgia Tech on Dec. 28 at World Arena. Though playing UCCS and Western State doesn’t have the same cachet as Miami and Washington, Bzdelik needs only to point to the DU score as proof that a slip-up could be just around the corner. “You have to respect everybody,” Burtschi said. “We just have to come out and take care of business, beat them and move on to the next game.” One potential concern is the minor injuries Air Force accumulated in Seattle, playing three games in three days with three starters playing nearly 40 minutes each game. Though none of the starters suffered more than bruises and cuts, senior backup forward Marc Holum will likely miss the next two games with a sprained right ankle. Holum turned the ankle early against Washington but returned and played nine minutes. “I was just trying to contribute a little bit because I knew it was such an important game,” Holum said. “Other players need to step up now, and it will give them a good chance. I’m hoping to start practice next week.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0258 or email@example.com TODAY Colorado—Colo. Springs (0-1) at Air Force (2-1), 4:05 p.m., 1300 AM, 560 AM