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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 12, 2002 - Issue 53


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Tuba City's Lamoni Yazzie – USAF Academy's Star Of The FALCONS

credits: Courtesy of Air Force Media Relations

Lamoni YazzieWhen Lamoni Yazzie was named team captain for the 2001-02 Air Force basketball team, he knew that it would mean more responsibility on and off the court. He also welcomed the challenge with open arms.

"It was a great honor to be named team captain,"said Yazzie. "I am really thankful for the opportunity to play another year and honored to be named captain. I owe a lot to Coach (Joe) Scott and his staff and it is a privilege to play for them."

The 6-foot-1 senior from little know Tuba City, Ariz., a Navajo Reservation just north of Flagstaff, showed his leadership on the court last season when he started 20 games and became one of the best shooters on the team. He finished the season fourth in the Mountain West Conference by shooting 43.7 percent from the three-point range and is the Air Force’s all-time leader in free throw shooting, making 87.8 percent of his charity shots after setting the school record for the best single-season free throw percentage last year at 88.0.

"Lamoni really improved last year and worked hard in the off-season. He is as good a shooter as we have on the team. He is a tough competitor, the type of player I love to coach,"said Scott, the Falcon’s second year head coach.

Yazzie’s career with the Falcon varsity program started a little slow, as he missed the first seven games of his sophomore season with a sprained right knee after leading the junior varsity team in scoring assists as a freshman. He scored only 24 points as a backup guard his sophomore campaign, but has flourished in the team’s new system since Scott’s arrival.

Yazzie averaged 8.8 points per game last season, and scored a career- high 21 points, including 4-of-5 shooting from behind the three-point line, in this year’s season-opening 68-62 victory over Yale.

Basketball has been a permanent fixture in the Yazzie family. The 22- year old has seven brothers and sisters, including older brother Lawrence, who was a teammate on AFA’s 1999-2000 season.

In fact, before attending the Academy, the two helped Window Rock High School to the Arizona State Championship in 1995. (He graduated from Greyhills High School in 1997), "To be able to play basketball with my older brother was a dream come true,"said Lamoni.

"We always talked about playing together at a Division 1 school. Growing up we worked hard to accomplish that goal."

Actually, most of his siblings are active in sports. He has two younger brothers and a younger sister that play basketball. One of his brothers, Shawn, was supposed to attend Air Force but was disqualified because he was classified with asthma. He is now playing at Dixie College in Utah. His younger sister, Desbah, is a sophomore in high school and was starting on her varsity team before injuring her ACL, and his youngest brother, Sterling, is playing basketball in the eighth grade. "My Dad says Sterling reminds him of me,"says Lamoni.

Lamoni played just about every sport growing up. "I played basketball, football, soccer, baseball and track," he said. "The only game you can play all the time is basketball because you don’t need anyone else, just a ball and a goal. I was lucky, though, because I had my brothers to play with. Once I hit high school I just totally committed myself to basketball."

He learned the game of basketball from his father, Larry, who also played the sport growing up. "He who was the one who really got us motivated and thinking of how to be a good player. My father taught us and guided us in becoming better basketball players. Most importantly he taught us how to shoot."

He certainly taught Lamoni well, especially from long range. Of his 69 field goals last season, 52 were from beyond the three-point line, and 143 of his 188 field goal attempts were from behind the arc.

Yazzie hopes his senior year is a special one for Air Force, which has not had a .500 season since the 1988-89 campaign. "My number one expectation for the team this season is to play hard every time we step on the court. Then, to be focused on what we have to do everyday to become a better team."

"That means to know our plays on offense and what to do on defense, which will help us come out every game ready to play and win. Finally, we need to listen to coach Scott and his staff because they are taking us in the right direction."

No expectations for wins and losses, just how his team can get better. Sounds like Yazzie has this team captain thing down pat.

The Falcons, with Yazzie as Captain, can be seen on ESPN–Plus, against Colorado St. on Jan 26 at 1 p.m. Yazzie was among the league leaders in three-point field goal percentage last year with a 43.7 mark. Yazzie also set a new school record for single–season free throw percentage with an 88.0 mark.

Tuba City, AZ

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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