“The story of the season,” Austin Peay head coach Dave Loos called it, sitting in the post game press conference. And he couldn’t have been more right. With 4:59 left, the sixth seeded Governors looked like they were pulling away again from the Gamecocks, much like they had done over the final few minutes of the first half.
Instead, they were outscored 13-3 down the stretch, and watched their season end much earlier than anyone imaged. The team picked to win the conference in summer was eliminated on the first day of the OVC tournament, by a team most people didn’t even expect to be there.
After going 0-3 and scoreless in the second half, Brian Williams scored all 18 of his points in the last 20 minutes, including a game clinching three just 15 seconds after missing a similar look. He was one of 4 Jacksonville State scorers in double digits, as Jacksonville State shot 46% from the floor.
Even when Austin Peay did force misses, they couldn’t keep the Gamecocks off the boards, allowing 16 offensive rebounds. Much like Williams, they also had a player shine for a half, with Tyshwan Edmondson scoring all 19 of his 22 points in the first half. Melvin Baker also has 20 for the Governors, without hitting a single three. But it wasn’t scoring that sunk the Governors, rather those offensive rebounds mentioned earlier and 11 second half turnovers, many of which came in that critical final 5 minutes of the game.
Austin Peay flat out of the locker room…twice: At halftime, this didn’t appear to be much of a game. Austin Peay led by 8, allowing only 3 points by the Gamecocks over the last 5:21. The Governors offense couldn’t be stopped, hitting 59% from the field. But that 8-point lead wouldn’t even make it to the first media timeout of the second, as the Gamecocks opened up the half with a 13-5 run. They did the same in the first half as well, putting the Govs in a 16-8 hole over the first 8:24.
From 1-6, to 8-8, and now the OVC Quarterfinals: Jacksonville State has to be thrilled with how their season has come together over the past few months. Most had all but written off the Gamecocks at the beginning of the season. 7 games into the conference season, most of the rest had written them off as well. Somebody forgot to tell them that. This team has rallied, winning 8 of their last 10, and are starting to have people ask if they can make a deep tourney run. My answer: absolutely
“Have you thought about your future?”: If you had “Day 1” as the day I frustrated my first coach at the OVC Tournament, step up and accept your prize.
Let’s be honest here…the thought of if and when Dave Loos retires as the coach of Austin Peay is a question on the thoughts of many people. But I’m not suggesting by any stretch of the imagination that Loos should retire simply on the basis of the team’s season.
As the only AD / head basketball coach in the country, Loos is one of the hardest workers in college basketball, if not the hardest worker. His success at Austin Peay is unparalleled in the OVC, even at the tradition-rich Murray State, because not only have the Governors excelled in OVC, Loos has done so for almost 2 decades. One season shouldn’t change what’s happened over his career at Austin Peay.
But there’s a reason there’s only one AD / head basketball coach combo in NCAA Division I. His time is incredibly scarce, and I have to imagine there are days that he’s absolutely exhausted trying to wear both hats.
So, after Austin Peay loss, I asked coach Loos, “Have you thought about your future at Austin Peay.” I couldn’t have imagined his response, a simple no, before asking me what I meant. So instead of side stepping the point, I mentioned the “r” word, “retirement.” His next response.
So, that’s a no then?
I wasn’t trying to suggest that he should retire, only that it’s an issue that’s been raised, and I wanted to know his thoughts. Was it the best time? No. But the next time I’m likely to see Loos is the next OVC Media Day. If I was going to ask it, it had to be then.
And so I did. And he clearly didn’t like it. But he’s a smart man, and he knows that others are wondering.
Personally, I hope Coach Loos stays around for many, many years.
But I couldn’t blame him if he wanted to turn over one of those hats to someone else.