Seven reasons why Air Force probably won't strike fear into the hearts of BYU's basketball players:
1. Air Force is 0-4 in the WAC.2. Air Force lost by 26 to UTEP and by four - at home - to San Diego State, a team BYU beat in San Diego.
3. Air Force is 6-9 overall, but the six wins came against Adams State, Regis, Samford, Mesa State, Portland and Doane (Challenge: Name the cities where three of those schools are located).
4. Four of the aforementioned wins were by fewer than five points, even though they were all played on the Falcons' homecourt.
5. As a team, Air Force's field-goal percentage is 42.
6. Air Force has one player scoring in double figures (Chris Lowry, 14.8), and he shoots 40 percent from the field.
7. Air Force was probably better last year, and BYU beat them by 25 in the Marriott Center.
BYU Coach Roger Reid, of course, would be livid if he thought anyone on his team was mulling any of the above observations. Like most coaches, he believes in taking games one at a time and treating every opponent as if it were Top 20 material.
But the fact is, the Cougars should handle the Falcons in tonight's 7:30 encounter in the Marriott Center. If they don't, it may be because they pay too much attention to the above kinds of considerations - and because they are looking ahead to Saturday night's rematch with Wyoming. Even Reid admits that, "In the back of our minds, we are looking forward to Wyoming."
To beat Air Force, Reid says his players will have to play good defense.
"They execute well and they're very patient," the coach said. "You've got to play defense right up until the shot is taken."
Patience, and discipline, have always been trademarks of Falcon Coach Reggie Minton's teams of future Air Force officers. "Air Force is always a difficult team because they stay in the game," Reid said.
BYU is not exactly a run-and-gun team either, asReid prefers to play halfcourt offense and feed the ball into his big men - Shawn Bradley and Steve Schreiner.
For BYU, this game is important because you can't lose to the bottom team in the WAC at home and still contend. The Cougars occupy third place in the WAC with a 4-2 record and are undefeated at home in league play.
"I feel like we are still in the title chase because four out of our next five games are at home," Reid said. "I feel good about where we stand."
The game will be rebroadcast on KBYU-TV (Channel 11) at 10:30 p.m.