Air Force found a way to require its basketball fans to make one fewer decision on Election Day.
With the men’s and women’s teams opening their seasons as part of a Tuesday doubleheader at Clune Arena, fans can simply catch both in one trip whether than deciding which night to catch some hoops.
The Falcons men will host NAIA foe Johnson & Wales at 5 p.m., followed by the women vs. NCAA Division II Western Colorado around 7:15 p.m.
Both teams enter the season with heightened expectations, though the shine was somewhat removed from the men’s team after a 20-point loss to Western Colorado on Thursday.
In the Falcons’ defense, that game was played largely without two of the team’s top three players – Lavelle Scottie and Caleb Morris – and likely would have been handled differently defensively had it counted.
Scottie (illness) and Morris (tailbone) haven’t practiced since the exhibition and are doubtful to play on Tuesday.
The Falcons feel a window of opportunity has opened with a talented, and tall, junior class leading the way.
What’s a reasonable expectation for this team that includes experienced juniors Scottie, Morris, Ryan Swan and Sid Tomes, as well as senior Pervis Louder and sophomore Keaton Van Soelen?
“I think we can move into that next tier in the Mountain West,” said Pilipovich, whose team hasn’t finished higher than ninth since the conference expanded to 11 teams in the 2013-14 season.
The Falcons women are looking to continue the trajectory set in the past several seasons under coach Chris Gobrecht. Air Force won just one conference game three years ago, doubled that two years ago and last year won five, setting a program record.
The Falcons return sophomores Kaelin Immell (last year’s Mountain West Freshman of the Year) and Emily Conroe after they finished 1-2 on the team in scoring last year. They will also again feature interior defensive force Kassady Huffman for her junior year after the Air Academy product sat out last year due to an academy violation.
The team also features nine freshmen.
“I believe this class of 2022 will prove to be even stronger than the class of 2021 that produced two performers on the Mountain West Conference All-Freshmen team,” Gobrecht said. “This class will help us achieve our goal of a conference championship.”