There was a guy in one of my classes in college named Austin, who I think was a frat guy. He was taller than me, drove a much more expensive car and he eventually stole my girlfriend. I couldn’t stand the guy.
That same feeling should resonate with every team in the Ohio Valley Conference toward the Austin Peay Governors after last season. Austin Peay stumbled into the OVC conference tournament, muddy and disheveled, after their 14-17 season. However, the Governors pulled themselves together and went on an improbable run as the 8 seed in the OVC tournament, winning four games in four days. The run included a 97-96 OT shocker over tournament favorite Belmont, which had won four consecutive conference titles coming into the game. Austin Peay ripped a ticket right out of the hands of several of its conference rivals and earned a spot in the big dance.
But like the stark reality of being awoken from a night out by the cleaning lady pounding on your hotel room door, the Governors were forced awake with the stark realization that they had No. 1 seed Kansas staring them in the face in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Austin Peay faced a sobering first-round defeat at the hands of the Jayhawks (105-79), but sometimes the only thing that gets you through your hangover at work is the memory of what you did last night, and the Governors had plenty to smile about.
The late season turnaround earned head coach Dave Loos a stay of execution with the school, which gave him a one-year contract extension to return to the Austin Peay sideline for his 27th season. Loos only lost two seniors from last year’s team, and he brings in three new signees to the squad, including 6-foot-6, 245-pound forward Dre’Kalo Clayton. Clayton played last season at Northwest Mississippi JC, after spending two years at South Florida, and he'll be counted on immediately to replace departing leader scorer Chris Horton.
It will be interesting to see how Austin Peay will cope with the headache of the pressure of playing under a head coach with no long-term job security and their entire conference plotting revenge against them after stealing their chance at destiny last season.
My only suggestion is two aspirin and a greasy breakfast.