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Around the academy: Women's hoops team excited academy will be led by one of its own

By: BRENT BRIGGEMAN
March 4, 2013
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The news that Maj. Gen. Michelle Johnson was nominated to become Air Force’s first female superintendent was met with cheers from the women’s basketball team.

Johnson, a 1981 graduate and a member of Air Force's inaugural Hall of Fame class, holds team records for scoring average (17.6) and career field goals made (689).

“A lot of people like to have athletic directors or presidents who have played and have done what you’re trying to do, so I think it’s a great thing,” women’s coach Andrea Williams said.

Williams has met Johnson before, when the then-two-star general (now three) was in town for a leadership symposium.

“The coolest part was that she wanted to meet us,” Williams said. “We had lunch with her in the Falcon room and, I was just joking, but I asked her if she wanted to come to practice. She was like, ‘sure.’

“It was fun. Some of the freshmen were looking at a general, like, ‘Do I slap hands, what do I do?’”

Lyons still fighting injury

Michael Lyons will continue to play through a sprained thumb on this shooting hand that has limited his production.

In five halves since coming out with his thumb taped against Boise State on Feb. 20, the Mountain West’s leading scorer has made just 7-of-25 shots.

One option would be to sit Lyons for at least Wednesday’s game at San Diego State to give the thumb time to heal. In essence, that would put all of Air Force’s eggs in the basket of the Mountain West Tournament – its only hope for an NCAA Tournament berth.

Coach Dave Pilipovich said he’s not going that direction.

“He’s got to play and figure it out,” Pilipovich said.

Lyons practiced Monday and said he felt great.

Women’s tennis has continued success

The women’s tennis team has defeated four consecutive opponents, running its record to 8-4. Before last year, the team had never posted more than two straight winning seasons. It’s now eyeing its fourth straight.

This run has been achieved behind a senior class of Melissa Cecil, Hannah Dake and Christine Molina. They were ranked as a top-25 class when they were recruited and they haven’t disappointed.

“This is what we expected this year,” coach Kim Gidley said. “They are all seniors, they know what it takes and they’ve been starters since they were freshmen.”

The Falcons host the conference tournament this year April 25-28.

Sequester blues

The full brunt of the sequester and its ramifications hasn’t hit athletics at the academy yet, but it certainly will in the near future barring new developments in Washington D.C.

The first publicly noticeable impact on the academy was the tentative grounding of the Thunderbirds for graduation.

“I’m just praying somehow they make it happen,” senior basketball player Mike Fitzgerald said. “That’s the vision I’ve been seeing since I was a freshman coming in here. This is the point you want to get to, you want to be throwing your hat with the Thunderbirds going over. I’m going to be heartbroken if it stays that way.”

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