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Air Force already down three basketball players

By: FRANK SCHWAB
August 10, 2010
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photo - Air Force sophomore center Sammy Schafer, left, won’t play this season because of the lingering effects of a concussion. Photo by THE GAZETTE FILE
Air Force sophomore center Sammy Schafer, left, won’t play this season because of the lingering effects of a concussion. Photo by THE GAZETTE FILE 

Air Force men’s basketball coach Jeff Reynolds has to be wondering when his luck will turn around.

The Falcons, who dealt with 61 missed games last year because of injuries, have undergone three significant blows to their roster a couple of months before practice even starts. The biggest loss is Sammy Schafer, a 6-foot-11 sophomore center who would have started.  He’s still experiencing headaches from a concussion he suffered in November, and he asked for an administrative turnback, which should soon become official.

Schafer will spend the year in his home state of Oregon, resting and trying to get better. He plans to then come back, finish his final two years at the academy and play basketball again.

Schafer said the decision to apply for the turnback was tough, but it was “the right decision.” Reynolds said, “We want to support him in any way we can with his health issues. It’s incredibly important to him that he graduates from the Air Force Academy, and yet he is passionate about playing basketball. This is the best-case scenario.”

Ethan Michael, a 6-7 forward from the prep school, was supposed to back up Schafer and play about 20 minutes a game, but he’ll miss the season, too. Michael tore a ligament in his knee during what Reynolds called a freak accident in basic training.

Also, Jon Atkins, who was promising as a freshman before sitting out last year because of academic reasons, won’t play this season to concentrate on his studies. Reynolds said Atkins is unlikely to return to the program, although that hasn’t been ruled out.

After an unlucky season with injuries, the bad news has kept rolling for the Falcons.

“I’ve almost gotten immune to it,” Reynolds said.

Four years vs. Buffaloes

Air Force and Colorado have agreed to a four-year series, starting in the 2011-12 season, Reynolds said. The schools were set to play for two seasons but decided to extend the agreement through 2014-15.

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