NEW YORK – There are a lot of reasons that college is one of the greatest times of a young man’s life.
You find yourself as person. You discover your calling in life. You figure out what you want to do to earn a living. And that’s to say nothing of the acceptability of the rampant alcoholism and utter lack of responsibility that exists between the end of classes on Thursday and the start of class on Monday morning every week.
But the best part? Being able to avoid shaving for three months without having to worry about a condescending bosses or disapproving clients.
Enter Andrew Zimmermann, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound senior forward for the Stanford Cardinal who sports college basketball’s most impressive facial follicles:
“Its just something that started before [our trip to] Spain,” Zimmermann said while his team was participating in the Preseason NIT Final Four in New York City over Thanksgiving. “It makes me look tougher and they respect me because of that.”
Zimmermann started growing the beard in mid-August, before Stanford went on their 11-day tour of Spain. And while he’s gotten the beard trimmed once since then, he hasn’t yet decided how long he’s going to let the beard get; he figures that, eventually, Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins is going to ask him to get a trim.
“I’m worried we’re at the point where coach will say ‘ehh, its a little too long,'” Zimmermann said.
If Dawkins is superstitious, he won’t. Heading into Friday’s NIT Final against Syracuse, Stanford is 5-0 on the season and playing well enough be thought of as a potential sleeper in a wide-open Pac-12. Zimmermann’s had success from an individual standpoint as well, taking advantage of the minutes made available by the ankle injury suffered by Dwight Powell. Zimmermann has started all five games for the Cardinal, finishing with a season-high seven points in Wednesday’s win over Oklahoma State.
“I think if we keep winning and playing well, it will have to stay,” Zimmermann said, although he tried to downplay the idea that the beard is a good luck charm. “I think the way we play when we play hard, its luck in itself.”
“Its a toughness look, which is something I try to play by and do on the court,” Zimmermann said. He’s an emotional leader and a glue guy for this Stanford team. Every defensive possession, he can easily be heard calling out screens and talking teammates through their rotations. The beard helps him embody his role.
“This is just a symbol of what we want to do,” Zimmermann said. “Not caring what other people think [about how we look], just doing what we gotta do.”