As I noted in a couple of earlier posts, Air Force has had a problem throughout the season with finding good shots as the shot clock is about to expire.
It happened a bunch at New Mexico. In the first half there was a pair of shot-clock violations and a pair of forced, rushed shots as the clock was about to expire. Two other times Avery Merriex traveled with less than five seconds on the clock.
That’s bad. But on the flip side, Air Force did a really good job of slowing down the tempo against the Lobos by taking possessions deep into the shot clock. And that’s one of the reasons the game was so close.
So I asked coach Jeff Reynolds today how his team can bleed the shot clock but still be able to get a good shot before it expires. Here was his response:
“It’s something that we work on every day, called 12-second offense. It comes down to kids having shot-clock awareness and being able to be in a position to, within the offense, either get some penetration and get a guy open off a pass or maybe get to the rim.
“And as crazy as this sounds, those three shot-clock violations (against New Mexico) were best turnovers we’ve had all year. Because even though we didn’t score, and even though we didn’t make a shot, and even though we didn’t get a shot off, we controlled the tempo. And we told them, ‘We do not today want any live-ball turnovers. We want dead-ball turnovers.’ So now the shot clock goes off, whereas if you shoot an errant shot and you miss it, because it’s highly contested, now they get the rebound and , wham, they’re going. Where now the shot clock does go off, they gotta inbound the ball. And now you get to set your defense. It’s not something that we wanted – not to get a shot off – but we didn’t complain to the kids about, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get a shot.’
“Now, is that something we’ve got to get better at? Yes it is, absolutely.”