The United States Air Force Academy might not be known for having the strongest basketball team — they went 4-14 in Mountain West play this year and haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2006 — but do not count out the Air Force Bomb Squad for The Basketball Tournament (TBT).
This year, TBT has ranked the Air Force Bomb Squad as the eighth-best alumni team in the tournament out of well, a lot of strong alumni teams.
Last year, the Bombers lost by two points to a gritty 7Outz team in the first round. However, Matt Holland (‘09) led the way with 23 points and will be key again this year if the Bombers want to advance. He only averaged 6.3 points in college but shot 40 percent from three. In other words, he is sort of the Matty Ice of the Mountain West Conference. Best of all, he encapsulates what makes this squad different than any other in The Tournament.
"The Bomb Squad is coming together for TBT from active duty Air Force bases across the country,” Holland said. “Our goal is to represent our service, our Air Force Academy basketball family, and our active duty brother in arms with pride as we lace 'em up one more time for the Long Blue Line."
Another key element of the Bomber squad is Michael Lyons (‘13). As a junior, he averaged 15.5 points per game, eventually becoming 23rd in Air Force scoring history. After leaving Air Force, he played for the Erie Bayhawks of the NBA D-League and he was a team leader there, according to many teammates. Today, as a logistics officer at Peterson Air Force Base, he goes by 1st Lt. Lyons.
Other Bombers to note are Todd Fletcher (‘13), who averaged 9.5 points per game as a senior. He made four-or-more threes five times as a senior, and like Holland, could be counted on to ball out.
Finally, there’s Phillip Brown (‘11). He actually transferred from Air Force to play for D-II Georgia Southwestern State and then professionally in France. At GSS, he averaged 14.3 points per game and 10.9 rebounds, and was named Peach Belt Player of the Year.
The Bombers will be coached by Tim Anderson (‘08), a former MWC defensive player of the year. He was a team leader as a junior with 9.1 points per game and shot 85 percent from the line. He is currently a high school basketball coach.
These guys have dedicated their lives to serving this country, and now they’re all back, ready to dominate players from basketball powerhouses. Will they be the Cinderella story of TBT?