You might not know much about Austin Peay State University, but it’s one of my favorite hidden jewels of college basketball. One reason I love the school is that former assistant coach Leonard Hamilton (yes, that Leonard Hamilton) recruited New York playground legend James “Fly” Williams to come to the school in 1972. Students responded by creating my favorite all-time college basketball chant: “Fly is open! Let’s go Peay!” That’s the colorful side, but there’s more.
Located in Clarksville, Tennessee, the Governors have employed Dave Loos as their head coach since 1990. During that time, he has led them to only three NCAA tournament berths, but he retains his job because he’s a good coach and his kids do well on the court and off. Current Peay forward Joe Harms is an excellent example of the kind of kid Loos recruits.
If you’ve ever listened to a college basketball player mangle the English language in an interview, you’ll be delighted (though no less confused) by the kind of thing that comes out of Harms’ mouth:
“An NMR machine uses electric currents to let you see the molecular structure of samples. It’s useful in research and is the scientific process behind MRI machines. Organic chemistry teaches these processes in class and our chemistry department at Austin Peay already has one of these in their department.
To get started, I had to build the machine and wire the circuits. Then, I had to measure the current in the sample using an oscilloscope. For about a month in the project, I did signal analysis. I’d go in the morning and my advisor would give me a task that needed to be finished each day. I spent a lot of time in the lab and thinking critically.”
Harms dropped that actual science in reference to his senior project, which he’s been working on all summer. He’s a physics major, and he’s been building an actual medical device that will actually be used in the actual physics department at Austin Peay. His faculty advisor and his coach have cooperated to make sure Harms has time to indulge his passion for science and basketball, which is a rarity in the hoops world.
“Dr. Oelgoetz understands that basketball is my top priority,” Harms said in an article on the school’s website. “Like Coach Loos, he tries to steer and guide me in the right direction to accomplish my long-term goals.”
Harms is working hard on both science and sports, but he has a notion of which is tougher.
“Both are pretty tough and very time-consuming,” Harms said. “I would say basketball is a little easier. I don’t have to read several books describing how the game works. However, basketball is definitely more fun.”
(photo courtesy Austin Peay Sports Information)