Air Force Basketball opens season at Guardians Classic

    Nov. 11, 2001

    Game 1 Air Force vs. Yale Guardians Classic

    Date: Tuesday, Nov. 13, 5:30 p.m. CST

    Site: Hearnes Center (13,300), Columbia, MO

    Television: None

    Radio: KVOR AM 740 in Colorado Springs

    Notes: Air Force opens its 2001-02 season against the Bulldogs.

    Records: This is the first game of the season for both teams.

    Coaches: Air Force is coached by Joe Scott (Princeton, 1987), who is in his second season with the Falcons. He led AFA to an 8-21 overall record last season. Scott came to AFA from his alma mater, Princeton, where he was an assistant coach from 1993-2000. He helped the Tigers to a 163-61 record.

    Yale is coached by James Jones (University of Albany, 1986), who is in his third season. Jones guided Yale to a 10-17 record last season. He has a 17-37 career record in his two seasons.

    Series: This is the first meeting between the two teams.

    The Rest of the Field -- Air Force and Yale open the Guardians Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 5:30 p.m. Host Missouri takes on Tennessee-Martin at 8 p.m., in the other opening round game. The consolation game is on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 5:30 p.m., followed by the championship game at 8 p.m.

    Tuesday, Nov. 13 Air Force vs. Yale, 5:30 p.m. Missouri vs. Tennessee-Martin, 8 p.m.

    Wednesday, Nov. 14 Consolation Game, 5:30 p.m. Championship Game, 8 p.m.

    The Guardians Classic -- The Guardians Classic is an exempt, sixteen team, men's college basketball tournament created by the Gazelle Group and the National Association of Basketball Coaches to promote the NABC's Guardians of the Game program, which emphasizes four core values, advocacy, leadership, service, and education. National powers - Alabama, Iowa, Memphis, and Missouri, - will host the opening, regional rounds of the tournament on Nov. 13-14. The Championship round of the Event will be held on Nov. 20-21 Kemper Arena in Kansas City, MO. Other schools participating in the tournament include Boston University, Loyola Marymount, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Mississippi Valley State, New Orleans, Old Dominion, Sacramento State, Samford and Wofford. Tournament Talk Air Force is 21-60 all-time in preseason tournaments. AFA played in the Black Coaches Association Classic last season in Winston-Salem, NC. The Falcons defeated Houston, 59-53 in the first round, for Joe Scott's first victory as a head coach. The team lost to host Wake Forest, 84-44, in the championship game. Air Force's only tournament championship came in 1972 at the Evansville Invitational in Evansville, Ind. Air Force defeated Seton Hall, 64-58, in the opening round and Boston, 65-53, in the final.

    Scouting Yale -- Yale is coming off a 10-17 season in 2000-01. The Bulldogs return nine letterwinners from the team that tied for fourth in the Ivy League last year. The team returns two starters, including last season's leading scorer Chris Leanza, who averaged 13.3 points per game. The 6-foot-1 junior guard dished out a team-high 95 assists and shot 40.5 percent from three-point range. Leanza is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and is unlikely to play in the Guardians Classic. The other returning starter is 6-foot-3 junior swingman Ime Archibong. He scored 9.1 points per contest last season.

    Yale's probable starters # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Ppg Rpg. 33 Paul Vitelli 6-7 215 So. 5.7 3.4 00 Ime Archibong 6-3 215 Jr. 9.1 3.8 40 T.J. McHugh 6-8 230 Jr. 3.9 2.9 4 Edwin Draughan 6-5 180 Fr. -- -- 21 Scott Gaffield 6-6 215 So. 3.9 2.0

    Looking Ahead -- Air Force will play either Missouri or Tenn.-Martin Nov. 14 in the second round of the Guardians Classic.

    Missouri -- The Tigers are one of the top teams in America heading into the 2001-02 campaign. CNN/SI ranked Missouri No. 3 in its preseason Top 25 poll, and the Tigers are No. 9 in the AP preseason poll. Ten letterwinners and three starters return from last year's 20-13 team. Leading the way is preseason All-American junior forward Kareem Rush. Rush led the Big 12 in scoring last season at 21.1 points per game, and earned honorable mention All-American honors from AP. He is the fifth-leading returning scorer in the country this year. Senior guard Clarence GIlbert and sophomore center Arthur Johnson also return as starters. Gilbert was fourth in the conference in scoring, averaging 16.5 points per game, and set a new school record with 102 three-pointers made. Johnson led the team in rebounding (7.8 rpg) as a freshman and was the runner-up for the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Quin Snyder is in his third season as head coach of the Tigers, and has a career record of 38-26. He is a 1989 graduate of Duke, where he helped the Blue Devils to three Final Four appearances. Air Force and Missouri have played two games in the series, with each team winning once.

    Missouri's probable starters # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Ppg Rpg. 21 Kareem Rush 6-6 218 Jr. 21.1 6.7 5 Travon Bryant 6-9 245 So. 3.0 3.5 50 Arthur Johnson 6-9 270 So. 9.0 7.8 2 Wesley Stokes 5-10 175 So. 6.4 1.9 4 Clarence Gilbert 6-2 194 Sr. 16.5 2.7 Tennessee-Martin -- Tennessee-Martin returns nine letterwinners and four starters from last year's team that went 10-18 overall and 5-11 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Leading the Skyhawks in '01-02 is 6-foot-5 senior forward Brian Foster, who averaged 13.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game last season. Also returning is 6-foot-5 junior swingman Okechi Egbe, who averaged 13.2 points and 3.8 boards a year ago. Bret Campbell is in his third season at the helm of Tennessee-Martin. He is a 1983 graduate of Valdosta State. Campbell is 20-37 in his two seasons at UTM. Air Force and UTM have never played before.

    Tenn.-Martin's probable starters -- # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. Ppg Rpg. 40 Brian Foster 6-5 225 Sr. 13.8 4.9 0 Okechi Egbe 6-5 190 Jr. 13.2 3.8 44 Jeremy Sargent 6-8 210 Sr. 9.9 7.1 2 Jermi Hampton 5-9 200 Sr. 5.0 1.6 5 Jair Peralta 5-9 170 Sr. 13.5 1.2* * Stats from Three Rivers CC

    Travel Plans -- Air Force is scheduled to leave the Academy Sunday, Nov. 11 at 3 p.m., and arrive in Columbia early Monday morning. The team will headquarter at the Holiday Inn Select in Columbia. Men's basketball contact Jerry Cross will be traveling with the team. Air Force is scheduled to return to the Academy on Thursday, Nov. 15.

    What's next -- After the Guardians Classic, Air Force plays its first home game of the regular season on Sunday, Nov. 18 against the University of Denver at 1 p.m. in Clune Arena. Season Openers Air Force is 16-29 all-time in season openers. The Falcons are 13-8 at home and 3-21 on the road. Other than last year's victory over Houston, AFA's only season opening road wins came in 1976 at Merchant Marine (68-56) and in 1983 at U.S. International (72-71).

    2001-02 Schedule Notes -- Air Force plays its second all-Division I schedule this season. Last year was the first all-Division I schedule for the Falcons en route to an 8-21 record and the most DIvision I victories in one season since the 1989-90 campaign. AFA will showcase its program on national television this season with a "Big Monday" appearance against New Mexico in Albuquerque on Jan. 14. Game time is 10 p.m. MST. The Falcons play in another high profile tournament later this month at the McCaffrey Classic hosted by Fresno State. Air Force will face Montana State in the first round on Nov. 30, then play either host Fresno State or UC Riverside on Dec. 1. Air Force plays six teams that played in the post-season last year, including three NCAA teams and three NIT teams.

    AFA Splits Two Exhibition Games -- Athletes in Action Freshman Tim Keller scored the final five points of the game, including a jumper with 22 seconds left, as Air Force defeated Athletes in Action, 78-76, in overtime Wednesday night in an exhibition game at Clune Arena. Keller hit a three-pointer with 1:03 remaining to give the Falcons a two-point lead, 76-74. AIA's Josh Hall made two free throws with 46 seconds left to tie the game and set up Keller's game-winning jumper. Hall knocked down a pair of three-pointers late in regulation to send the game to overtime. After Air Force's Lamoni Yazzie made two free throws with 17 seconds left in the second half, Hall hit three-pointer at the 10-second mark. Athletes in Action fouled Falcon Vernard Jenkins, who hit a pair of free throws with nine seconds remaining, then Hall made another long-range bomb with four seconds left to send the game to overtime. Athletes in Action jumped out to an early 12-2 lead at the beginning of the game, as the Falcons did not score until a layup by sophomore Joel Gerlach at the 15:33 mark. Over the next nine minutes, the Falcons went on a 19-4 run, sparked by five points each from Keller and Gerlach. After the Falcon run, the game was relatively close, with Athletes in Action holding a 31-28 halftime lead. The second half was back and forth, as the largest lead of the stanza was the four-point cushion by Air Force after Yazzie's free throws with 17 seconds remaining. There were 16 ties and nine lead changes in the second half. Gerlach finished with game-high totals of 24 points and 11 rebounds in 41 minutes of action. Keller added 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor. Yazzie finished with 12 points. Hall and Eric Dunn led Athletes in Action with 15 points apiece, followed by John Woods and Derek Grimm, each with 14.

    EA Sports All-Stars Former Kansas star Nick Bradford scored 18 points to lead the EA Sports All-Stars to a 76-73 exhibition victory over Air Force Monday night in Clune Arena. The All-Stars, who led 32-30 at halftime, opened the second stanza hitting six of its first seven shots to produce a 14-3 run and take its biggest lead of the game, 46-33, with 16:48 remaining. Bradford keyed the run with five points. The teams exchanged baskets until Air Force put together a 12-4 run to cut the lead to two, 68-66, with 5:10 remaining. Donny Legans keyed the run with a pair of three-pointers. EA Sports scored the next six points on a three-point play by Bradford and a three-pointer by former Utah State star Maurice Spillers to push the lead back to eight, 74-66, with 3:20 remaining. Air Force was never able to get closer than two points after that. The team's last chance came with five seconds remaining, trailing 75-72 with Lamoni Yazzie at the foul line for two shots. After making the front end, Yazzie missed the second on purpose, but the Falcons couldn't control the rebound. Former Utah standout Tony Harvey then hit one foul shot with 4.1 seconds left to make up the final margin. Vernard Jenkins followed with a desperation three-point attempt that missed badly. EA Sports hit 59.2 percent from the field, including 70.8 percent in the second half on 17 of 24 shooting. The team also hit 55.6 percent from three-point land in the second stanza after hitting just one of seven in the first half. Bernard Rock added 11 points while David Lalazarian and Adam Caldwell chipped in with 10 each. Lalazarian also added a team-high seven rebounds. Yazzie, who scored 20 points, led Air Force. Joel Gerlach added 18 points and eight rebounds while Tom Bellairs chipped in with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds. The Falcons finished the game hitting 46.3 percent from the field.

    Quoting Joe Scott -- About the exhibition games "We were able to play a lot of players and put our younger guys in game situations. The games were competitive and they were able to show us where we are right now. Overall, I was pleased with our performance."

    About the Guardians Classic "It will be a good early season test for us. Hopefully, we will be in a position to play a Top 10 team on their home court."

    Prep School Boosts Roster -- Four players from the USAFA Prep School team that won 23 games last season are on this year's Air Force roster. Newcomers Tim Keller (Austin, TX), Dan Stock (Cheyenne, WY), Eric Lang (Washington, PA) and Marc Holum (Hellertown, PA) helped the prep school win more games than any other team in school history. Two true freshmen are on the roster this season, post players David Peterson (Mountain Home, ID) and Jarrett Hess (Seminole, FL).

    Yazzie Career Leader From Line -- Senior team captain Lamoni Yazzie is Air Force's career leader in free-throw percentage at .878 (72-82). He set the school's single-season record last year with an 88.0 percent mark (66-75). In the two exhibition games, Yazzie continued his outstanding shooting, making 13-of-14 free throws. The only one he missed was on purpose late in the game against EA Sports.

    Falcons Picked Eighth -- Air Force was picked to finish eighth in the conference at the Mountain West Conference media day in October by the league's media. Wyoming was picked first, followed by Utah, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, BYU and Colorado State.

    Getting Started -- This season marks the 46th of varsity basketball for Air Force. This is Air Force's third season in the Mountain West Conference. AFA was a member of the Western Athletic Conference for 19 years before joining the MWC in 1999.



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