Austin Peay Back On Top

By Josh Herwitt - October 10, 2007

For as much parity as there's been in college basketball the last couple years, don't be surprised if Austin Peay ends up on your NCAA Tournament bracket sheet when March rolls around next year.

The Governors, after all, were picked as the 2007-08 preseason favorite for the Ohio Valley Conference Wednesday after capturing their seventh regular season conference championship a year ago.

Austin Peay, which finished 16-4 in the league last season, returns all five starters, including OVC Player of the Year Drake Reed, and many expect the junior forward to do the same this year with the Governors hoping to repeat as conference champs for the first time since 2004.

Reed, who hails from Clarksville, Tenn., averaged 15.8 points and 6.0 rebounds and shot 51.9 from the field, but he'll have help with Fernandez Lockett, Derek Wright and Todd Babington all back for Dave Loos, last year's OVC Coach of the Year and Austin Peay's all-time wins leader.

"What Drake has accomplished should be a lesson to young players about work ethic," Loos said. "Drake is not blessed athletically, but he works harder than any player I've ever had. I wondered how he would approach this season after being named player of the year, but he has been working and improving all summer."

The Governors were expected to get to the NCAA Tournament last year but a loss to Eastern Kentucky in the OVC Tournament championship game left Austin Peay playing in the NIT, where top-seeded Air Force had its way with Loos' squad in the first round.

But Austin Peay knows as well as anyone that there's no guarantee they'll have that chance again to play for a spot in the Big Dance.

"They aren't taking anything for granted," added Loos. "They understand that they aren't guaranteed a spot in that game."

So without further ado, here's how the voting broke down for the OVC:

Austin Peay
Eastern Kentucky
Tennessee Tech
Murray State
Southeast Missouri
Tennessee State
Eastern Illinois
Jacksonville State
Morehead State
UT Martin

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 07:20 PM on October 10, 2007

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