Air Force assistant coach Drew Long absent from team as he battles cancer

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Air Force assistant men’s basketball coach Drew Long has been battling rectal cancer, and has been away from the program since Thanksgiving to receive treatment. A native of Houston, Long has been there with his wife and their three daughters, along with his parents who still make their home there.

Long is currently in the stages of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Head coach Drew Pilipovich said, “”He’s doing well. High spirit, high energy. We think about him often, talk to him daily and text him. He texts the guys and checks in on us.”

Brent Briggeman of The Gazette, explained that Long has had a history of stomach issues, dating back to his days as a student at Northwestern:

Long has a history of stomach issues and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease while in college at Northwestern. He began losing energy this past spring, the result of losing blood. He chalked it up to the same problems that had plagued him in the past.

Pilipovich has put Long’s situation and continual fight with cancer in perspective: “You know that blockout we missed on Saturday? It doesn’t mean that much…When you think about it, this is the most important thing – getting him healthy and being there for his wife and kids and living a long life.”

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.

Albany’s Peter Hooley accepts Inspiration Award

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Last week, Albany senior Peter Hooley accepted the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs Cancer Basket Ball in Troy, New York. The Albany athletic department uploaded his entire speech on Monday afternoon.

Hooley had one of the most uplifting moments of March after months and months of heartache.

The junior guard missed three weeks of the season to travel back home to Australia to be with his mother, who was battling colon cancer. She passed away in January. Hooley returned to the team in February and the following month, the Great Danes had a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. In the America East Tournament championship, Hooley sunk a game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go.

Hooley, who graduated in May, was selected to give the commencement speech.