Preview & Prediction: By Fairway Jay
Air Force (3-1) suffered its first loss of the season at home on Sunday against Wofford, 74-61. The Falcons had a 9 point lead late in the first half and then fell behind by as many as 20 points in the second half. Prior to Air Force’s loss to Wofford the Falcons struggled more than the final score indicated to beat an instate Division II opponent. Air Force head coach Jeff Reynolds was disappointed in his team’s commitment to defend against Wofford. Freshman swingman Taylor Stewart has been a solid addition while averaging 11ppg and over 5rph in 26 minutes off the bench. He was runner-up for Mr. Basketball in Kentucky last year. Three seniors pace the Falcons, as guard Andrew Henke leads the team in scoring and is being counted on much more after coming off the bench last season. Matt Holland and Anwar Johnson both started at forward last season, while sophomore swing man Even Washington leads the team in rebounding thus far. A lack of height and rebounding strength will hinder Air Force when they battle bigger and more physical teams inside. Air Forces half court man-to-man defense must improve and will face a real challenge against Stanford.
Stanford (2-0) has not played since last Tuesday when they beat Cal State Northridge 103-85. New head coach Johnny Dawkins plans to run more up-tempo this season and it showed in their last contest. With the loss of the Lopez brothers to the NBA, Stanford will rely more on their returning guards to push the pace. Shooting guard Anthony Goods is averaging 22.0ppg in two games while point guard Mitch Johnson has scored 25 points and dished out 14 assists. Lawrence Hill will be Stanford’s go-to guy at forward this season, and the senior post player is off to a solid start while scoring 36 points and grabbing 18 boards in two games. Athletic sophomore forward Josh Owens has showed solid improvement from a season ago and will boost Stanford’s projected power loss with the twin towers Lopez brothers gone.
A contrast in styles as Air Force will methodically work the ball around in their Princeton style offense while playing conservative man-to-man defense and trying to force Stanford to settle for more jump shots late in the clock. Stanford coach Dawkins wants to push the pace more, and they may able to dictate that style if they can get out in front of Air Force early in the contest. Watch and see if Air Force can keep this game in the half court and slow down the pace as a big road underdog at Maples Pavilion. Both these teams have improvement and adjustment periods in the early going, and while Stanford has the ability to win this game big if they can run the floor more, I anticipate some sloppy stretches as well facing a more disciplined and determined Air Force team following an unexpected home loss.
Winner: Stanford. Margin: 10+ points.
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About Fairway Jay
Previews & Predictions
Jay Ginsbach, also known as "Fairway Jay’"joins the CHN team and staff this season from Sportsmemo.com. He’ll provide his insight and expertise covering the college basketball scene with periodic thoughts from a Las Vegas perspective.