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  • Ramsey on Air Force Women’s Hoops

    Wed, March 31, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Gazette columnist David Ramsey has a great post today in his blog (http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com/) about the women’s basketball program at Air Force.

    Ramsey writes that whoever Air Force brings in to succeed Ardie McInelly, the academy also needs to bring back something that’s been missing from the program for years – expectations.

  • Tuesday Morning Links

    Tue, March 30, 2010 by admin with 3 comments

    After some down time, a busy Air Force news day yesterday.

    The academy fired women’s basketball coach Ardie McInelly after nine seasons. It will be interesting to see what the new coach – whoever that is – does with the program. Perhaps this is one of those jobs where you just can’t win.

    On the other hand, Air Force has set program records for losses in each of the last two seasons and has lost 37 games in a row to Mountain West Conference opponents – 23 by 20 or more points. And that just can’t be acceptable – even for an athletic department that has a great tolerance for losing.

    Speaking of, however, maybe that’s changing. Gazette columnist David Ramsey writes in his blog (http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com/) that the McInelly firing signals a change in how the academy is dealing with its cellar-dwelling programs.

    Also, the Air Force football schedule became complete yesterday when the MWC announced its league schedule. I had some initial thoughts about the schedule in a post below. Just scroll down.

  • Ramsey on the McInelly Firing …

    Mon, March 29, 2010 by admin with no comments

    … And how he believes it signals a shift in how the Air Force athletic department does business. It’s on his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com.

  • Air Force Football’s 2010 Schedule: Rapid Reaction

    Mon, March 29, 2010 by admin with 2 comments

    The Mountain West Conference released its 2010 football schedule this afternoon, completing Air Force’s slate.

    You can find the Falcons’ schedule by scrolling down to the previous post. Here are some initial thoughts on the sked:

    1) For the second year in a row (and third time in four seasons) Air Force will not have a bye week.

    That might seem like a big deal, but recent history suggests it isn’t. Air Force has fared fine with no byes, going 9-3 in 2007 and 7-5 in 2009. And the Falcons did better in the second halves of both those seasons (5-1 in ’07 and 4-2 in ’09), so it’s not like they ran out of gas.

    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun actually doesn’t mind playing 12 straight because it gives his team a chance to finish before Thanksgiving and get home for a break that week.

    Also, I’ve always thought that at a place like the academy – where routine and schedule are such a part of the culture – a bye that interrupts the season could do more harm than good. The only time Air Force has had a bye since Calhoun has been here was in 2008. The Falcons lost their first game after the week off.

    2) Lots of people don’t like Calhoun’s annual warm-up game against a Division I-AA patsy.

    But I’m not sure I can object to it this season, considering what the Falcons get the next four weeks:

    -Home against BYU, a team that has beaten Air Force six times in a row (Cougars’ average margin of victory in that stretch: 18.8 points)
    -At Oklahoma, only one of the nation’s perennial powers.
    -At Wyoming – a team that is rapidly improving under Dave Christensen and always gives Air Force a tough, physical challenge.
    -Home against archrival Navy, a team that has beaten the Falcons seven times in a row.

    There are high hopes for this Air Force team, and we’ll know pretty quickly if the Falcons will live up to those hopes.

    3) Another tough stretch in late October when the Falcons play TCU in Fort Worth, where they’ve never beaten the Horned Frogs, and then return home to face Utah. The following week, it should be noted, the Falcons have to travel to the East Coast, where they’ll face Army in what’s always a physical game.

    4) Last season the Falcons got some teams with new coaches early – facing New Mexico and San Diego State in weeks three and four, respectively. This season the lone team they play with a new coach is UNLV. And they don’t get the Rebels until the last week of the season.

    5) Speaking of, it’s less than ideal to play a Thursday night game on the road – especially late. But at least Air Force plays at home the week before (cutting down on travel) and UNLV plays the week before too, so the Rebels won’t get extra time to prepare.

  • Football Schedule Released

    Mon, March 29, 2010 by admin with 2 comments

    Air Force’s 2010 league football schedule has been announced by the Mountain West Conference. The Falcons’ complete schedule is below:

    Date      Opponent, time
    Sept. 4   vs. Northwestern State, noon
    Sept. 11 vs. BYU, 2 p.m.
    Sept. 18 at Oklahoma, TBD
    Sept. 25 at Wyoming, noon
    Oct. 2     vs. Navy, 12:30 p.m.
    Oct. 9     vs. Colorado State, noon
    Oct. 16   at San Diego State, 6 p.m.
    Oct. 23   at TCU, 6 p.m.
    Oct. 30    vs. Utah, 5:30 p.m.
    Nov. 6     at Army, 10 a.m.
    Nov. 13    vs. New Mexico, 4 p.m.
    Nov. 18    at UNLV, 8 p.m. *

    Note: All times Mountain
    * – Denotes Thursday Night Game

  • McInelly Out as Women’s Basketball Coach

    Mon, March 29, 2010 by admin with 5 comments

    Air Force has fired women’s basketball coach Ardie McInelly, according to an academy news release.

    The Falcons went 3-27 in the recently completed 2009-10 season, including 0-16 in Mountain West Conference play – their second consecutive winless league season. McInelly’s teams went 57-201 in her nine seasons, including 12-124 in MWC play. The women’s basketball program has lost 37 consecutive games to MWC opponents.

    “We felt that now was the right time to go in another direction in our women’s basketball program,” Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh said. “Our primary mission at the academy is to build leaders of character for our Air Force, and we will look to find an individual to help us continue that mission. We wish Ardie well and thank her for her nine years of service to the academy.”

  • Baseball Drops One, Other To Be Continued

    Sun, March 28, 2010 by admin with no comments

    After losing to Air Force for just the second time in 20 all-time games on Friday, No. 5 TCU rebounded with a 20-6 victory over the Falcons at Falcon Field today in the first game of a doubleheader.

    But the Falcons came right back in the second game and went punch-for-punch with the Horned Frogs for six-plus innings.

    Because of TCU’s travel plans, the second game was suspended in the seventh inning with Air Force up, 16-15. The game will resume in Fort Worth when Air Force and TCU meet again on May 14. When the game was halted, there were two outs in the top of the seventh inning with no runners on base.

    In the first game, TCU had 24 hits, including four home runs, and scored in eight of nine innings. Horned Frogs starter Kyle Winkler allowed six runs in seven innings while striking out six.

    In the second game, TCU blasted eight home runs, but Air Force got some timely hits to build a one-run lead.

    Air Force next plays on Tuesday at 3 p.m. against Colorado Christian.

  • Air Force Baseball’s Stunning Upset

    Sat, March 27, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    I got my bi-monthly reminder of why sports are so awesome yesterday afternoon.

    I headed to the academy to watch the Air Force baseball team take on the nation’s fifth-ranked squad, TCU. I went planning to write a feature story about how the Falcons appeared lost in another dreadful season. And I was going to include one or two paragraphs about the beating they took from the Horned Frogs.

    There were plenty of reasons to believe the game would unfold that way. TCU is the defending Mountain West Conference champion and had lost to Air Force just once in 19 all-time meetings. In 1997.

    Air Force, meanwhile, brought a 5-16 record into the game and had just been swept by Hawai’i. Two of the Falcons’ victories came against Division II squads, and they’d given up 10 or more runs in 12 of their 21 games.

    But there are no guarantees in sports (just ask my bookie from my college days) and I had that lesson pounded into my head again yesterday when the Falcons upended the Horned Frogs 14-11.

    Kudos to:

    -Senior pitcher Alex Truesdale, who pitched seven gutty innings against an intimidating lineup. He pitched three innings of hitless baseball as Air Force went up 6-0 and then found the strength to get through a seventh inning when his arm was telling him to give up the ball.

    “Before that inning, coach (Mike) Hutcheon came over to me and was like, ‘Do you want to go one more?’” Truesdale said. “And I was like, ‘You know, I don’t have my best stuff. It’s up to you if you want to go with Evan (Abrecht).’ And I think he originally told Evan he was going in. And then coach (Scott Marchand) – and I’ve been under coach March since I’ve been here – and he said, ‘In three years you’ve never said you’re not going to take another one. We need you now, you can’t do this.’ And I said, ‘You’re right, I’ve got to go get one more quick inning.’”

    And he did.

    -Abrecht, who struck out four in the final two innings to preserve the victory. He got the final out with the tying run at the plate.

    “I looked at the scoreboard, and I realized our team fought hard the whole game and I was going to do everything to make sure we got that win,” he said.

    -An offense that scored in each of the first seven innings and had a hit in each of the eight innings in which the Falcons batted.

    Most noteworthy was the Falcons found a way to battle back after each TCU rally.

    “That shows a lot of heart, a lot of guts on this field,” Truesdale said. “We were not going to lose to this team. It was exciting to see (Air Force’s batters) hit as well as the pitchers know they can after facing them through all of fall. It was exciting to see them hit the ball that well.”

    -Senior first baseman Addison Gentry, who went 4-for-5 with two home runs, a triple and four RBIs.

    -Freshmen Garrett Custons and Travis Lane, each of whom hit home runs.

    Yes, it’s only one game. And yes, a program that has been stuck in last place and eternal rebuilding mode in Hutcheon’s seven seasons still is 6-16 on the season.

    But for a day, at least, there was joy at Falcon Field.

  • Burtschi to be Released, Pursue Pro Career

    Thu, March 25, 2010 by admin with 7 comments

    Former Air Force basketball player Jacob Burtschi said he will be released from the remainder of his active-duty service committment in the summer and will begin pursuing a professional basketball career.

    Burtschi is taking advantage of the force management program, which aims to reduce the number of airmen in the Air Force by approximately 3,700 (for budgetary reasons).

    A 2007 graduate, Burtschi was an assistant coach at the academy prep school for a year after graduation and since then has served at Schriever Air Force Base as the Bravo Crew Commander for the 11th Space Warning Squadron. Burtschi met criteria for the force management program and will be eligible for release on June 1, when he will have served three years.

    “The paperwork’s in final coordination, and everything looks good,” Burtschi said.

    “It’s kind of bittersweet. The Air Force has been great to me. It’s been my life for the last seven years. It’s hard to say goodbye, but I was able to serve my country and now I can chase my ultimate dream, which is playing professional basketball.”

    Burtschi, a 6-foot-6 forward, was one of the key members of the Class of 2007 that was the common thread in the Falcons’ brief run of success from 2003-2007. He became a fan favorite because of his gritty, hard-nosed and emotional style of play and is considered one of the top players in the program’s history. Burtschi ranks 10th all-time at the academy in scoring (1,205 points) and is the academy’s career leader in games played (125) and steals (196). Last season, when The Gazette unveiled its All-Time Air Force Basketball Team, Burtschi was on the starting five.

    Burtschi currently works four days, then has four days off. On his off days he plans to work out in the area or at the University of Denver. Once he is released, he said he plans to move to Denver and work out with players at the University of Colorado, which is coached by Jeff Bzdelik, Burtschi’s coach his last two seasons at the academy. Burtschi said he’d do that for about six weeks, then move home to Oklahoma. He’ll try to play in some tournaments, then move overseas. His agent already is working to find a team for him.

    Down the road, Burtschi hopes to play in the NBA.

    “That’s the ultimate goal – to come back and make an NBA team,” he said. “But you have to start somewhere, and overseas is where I’ll have to start for a couple years.”

  • Air Force-TCU Series Altered

    Thu, March 25, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    Air Force baseball’s three-game series with No. 5 TCU has been altered because of the weekend weather forecast.

    The Falcons and Horned Frogs now will play a doubleheader on Friday, with the first game starting at noon. The teams will not play Saturday but will play Sunday at noon as scheduled.

    TCU is the highest-ranked team Air Force has played since facing then-No. 1 Rice in 1999.