The U.S. International University men’s basketball team will try to break a 7-game losing streak against the Air Force Academy when the teams open their seasons tonight at 7:30 at Golden Hall.
USIU defeated Air Force in the teams’ first meeting--57-54 in 1980--but have not won since. Air Force had its biggest margin of victory last season, 89-68, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Four Gull starters and two Air Force reserves were ejected after a brawl erupted in the game.
Neither coach will have to worry that much about hard feelings. Both teams have several new players in the starting lineup.
Air Force returns one starter and four part-time players from last year’s 11-17 team, which finished last in the Western Athletic Conference at 4-12.
Junior off-guard Raymond Dudley, who averaged 17.8 points last year, returns. Dudley also shot 40% from 3-point range. Forward Michael Lockwood, a 6-foot 6-inch senior, averaged 8.6 points last year.
A key for USIU (10-18 last year) will be at center, where the Gulls will send 6-11 sophomore Mike Sterner against 6-8 senior Chad Kimble.
The teams are a definite contrast in styles. The Gulls run and the Falcons play a strategic half-court game.
USIU’s running offense averaged 83.3 points per game last year, with point guard Steve Smith (12.8 points) of Serra High School directing the attack.
Sterner (5.6 points and 6.0 rebounds) is the only other returning starter for USIU. The Gulls start three community college transfers.
“Air Force has got the better of (the series),” USIU Coach Gary Zarecky said. “I’d like to turn that around, if not just to show that our program has improved.”