|Falcons hold no grudge as ex-coach returns to Clune Arena|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 28 November 2007 14:35|
However, Anderson can't work up any bitterness toward the coach who bolted for Colorado last April.
``I don't have any grudges,'' said Anderson, the lone starter coming back from a Falcons squad that won a school-record 26 games last season under Bzdelik. ``We respect his decision and we've moved on.''
Anderson refused to make a big deal about Bzdelik's first trip back to Clune Arena on Thursday night.
``Just another game,'' Anderson said. ``He's a coach, not a player. We're playing against the players and not the coaches.''
But that coach knows the Falcons better than anyone. Bzdelik was in charge of Air Force for two seasons, guiding the Falcons to an NCAA tournament appearance in 2005-06 and a spot in the semifinals of the postseason NIT last season. Bzdelik was 50-16 at Air Force.
``It was an honor to coach them,'' Bzdelik said after a win at Denver on Tuesday night. ``It is a wonderful, wonderful place. It will always mean so much to me.''
Bzdelik, like Anderson, won't let emotions play a role in the contest.
``To me, it's just another game,'' said Bzdelik, who helped Air Force to an 84-46 rout of the Buffaloes last season in Boulder. ``No emotions.''
Buffaloes senior Richard Roby is certain that will change.
``I'm sure we will see a difference as we get closer to the game,'' said Roby, who's leading the Buffaloes in scoring, averaging 13.5 points a game. ``There has to be when you go back to a place you've coached.''
Before Bzdelik left Air Force, he made one suggestion to athletic director Hans Mueh - hire Jeff Reynolds, his top assistant. Mueh heeded Bzdelik's parting advice. Air Force's first-year coach has a young squad off to a 5-2 start.
However, the Falcons have dropped their last two games.
``We're up and down right now,'' Reynolds said. ``We're trying to become consistent.''
Reynolds regularly speaks with Bzdelik, but hasn't communicated with him in the past 10 days. The close friends will resume their weekly chats about family and basketball after the contest.
``Outside of the game Thursday night, I hope he wins the rest of them,'' Reynolds said. ``I'm sure he feels the same way.''
Bzdelik knows the intricacies of Air Force's offense better than anyone, and that has Reynolds a little concerned.
``He's going to dishevel the game,'' Reynolds said. ``I don't suspect he's going to let us run the things we're good at. He's going to make us get out of our system.''
Yet the Falcons won't scrap their offensive staples - ball movement, backdoor cuts and lay-ups - to confuse Bzdelik's Buffaloes.
``We've just got to run it a little better,'' Reynolds said. ``Their philosophy is to try to scramble the game. We're going to get open shots, and we've got to make them. That's no different than if we're playing Colorado State or Wyoming.''
Anderson hasn't been keeping close tabs on his former coach. He hasn't had time to read accounts of Bzdelik's games or glance at box scores.
``But I hear he's doing well,'' said Anderson, who's averaging a team-leading 12.9 points a game.
Bzdelik's team is 4-2 and has quickly adapted to his defense-first mentality.
``They're ahead of schedule of where he anticipated on the defensive end,'' said Reynolds, whose team will place a 38-game home winning streak against non-conference foes on the line Thursday. ``They're trying to find themselves.''
Same with the Falcons.
``We're an inexperienced team right now,'' Reynolds said. ``We have to dig out every win. One night we'll shoot well and one night we won't. But we can be consistent every night on the defensive end.''
That sounded like something Bzdelik preached while he was at Air Force.
``We know he's a good coach,'' Anderson said. ``We know they're going to be prepared. When he was here, we learned a lot from him. There are still things we do based on what he taught. But it really is just the next game on the schedule. It's just another game.''