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Q & A With the Man Behind the Scenes of APSU Athletics, Part Two
Austin Peay beat writer James D. Horne sat down and had an unscripted talk with Austin Peay athletic director and men’s baskeball coach Dave Loos.
This is the second of the three-part series.
Football leads to basketball
LC: You talked about the lead-up the successful football season gave to basketball. So did that help make it one of the most fun basketball seasons for you?
DL: I think you go back to before that. I think you can go back to last basketball season; that was a good one.
Even though I know the standard is hanging your hat on the NCAA Tournament, but those kids had a great basketball season.
We go to baseball and it was phenomenal and it was great. Then football was great. So now the expectation is to succeed the expectation. I think it’s great when you’re expected to win. We’ve got ourselves in a number of our sports to where we expect to win. Maybe that’s not fair, based on the funding, but we do. That’s where we are and we want to keep it rolling.
Austin Peay’s budgets
LC: On funding: Austin Peay has one of the lowest budgets in the OVC — and I guess that would transcend around the nation — so talk about the budget constraints Austin Peay has.
DL: Well, I think we’re certainly in the bottom third, is my understanding. But I’ll tell you we have a core group of supporters that make it possible for us to be competitive. Dr. Sherry Hoppe committed to funding 45 scholarships, but you have to have more than that and these people contributed their money to help us get to 60, which is what you need to be competitive.
With all of our sports programs, to me fully-funded in the scholarship area means you can go out and get out-of-state kids. We’re not there. All of our scholarships are based on in-state money. But we have also been able to come up with some out-of-state waivers. When we exhaust all those, for example, football will have 12 or 13 out-of-state waivers to get out-of-state kids. Now, you can’t make a mistake on those. They’ve got to be good. Those have to be can’t-miss kids to use those effectively. But it really supplements what we have, and you can be competitive.
LC: So for Austin Peay to be successful, the people that are in love with it have to be the ones who support it?
DL: Absolutely and it’s so important. All the people who help us are people who really love this university and are willing to support us. Without that, we just don’t have the money to be competitive.
And even with that, it still leaves us short. But I think it’s do-able.
Best baksetball moment
LC: What was the funniest moment for you during the basketball season?
DL: Ah, gosh. There were a number. But always when you win the tournament championship, that was really big. I think when we had to play at Eastern Kentucky without Drake (Reed). We had some adversity there and were playing in adverse conditions in playing without your leading scorer. So that was rewarding to see the way they picked each other up that night and having Ernest (Fields) play so well.
But anytime you win the championship, it stands out.
LC: And there was redemption. We know what happened last year with Eastern Kentucky, but I think for this group personally the word redemption was capitalized and rang through.
DL: Well, you always hear the saying that it’s not so important what happens to you as it is how you respond to what happens to you. That’s where I really have to tip my hats to the guys, because from start to finish, they used that to motivate themselves to get back to the game and win it.
And when they got back to that game, they left no doubt. That was about as well as we played. Even though (UT-Martin coach and former Govs assistant) Bret (Campbell) almost got us the night before, they really played well in the championship, I thought. We played well against Martin, it’s just that (Lester) Hudson and (Marquis) Weddle and those guys are a handful. But we managed to get by and really played well in the championship.
The State of the OVC
LC: When you look at the league now how would you access it in basketball?
DL: I don’t think the top teams aren’t as good as they were a few years back, right now. I think everybody in the league has made a commitment to basketball. I think it shows in the coaches who are being hired and the commitment to improve facilities. So I think overall the best teams may not be as good in the recent past, but there’s a good balance.
LC: The OVC has always considered itself a basketball league and takes pride in that.
DL: And I think we should. I think it runs in cycles, though. There are plans in place to strengthen basketball even more.
People in these leagues rely on basketball a great deal. They rely on basketball as a main source of revenue at most of the schools. So there’s a lot of pressure, but on basketball from that standpoint in terms of guarantees.
Of course we’ve now passed some of that on to Rick and his guys so they can join in the fun here.
LC: Overall, is Austin Peay happy to be in the OVC?
DL: I think it’s a great spot for us. It’s the eighth oldest conference in the country. We’re in an ideal setting geographically in this league. We go in all different directions, but it’s not that far. We’re close to Nashville, which is a great home for the OVC. No, I like the league we’re in, and I think a lot of the league.
I know there’s improvement to be made and we want to do that. But I think we should talk about how good we are and not our shortcomings, even though you’re trying to improve upon them. I’m a real proponent of this league. It’s pretty good.
Unscripted, Pt. 2
By James D. Horne, The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle