Today marks the beginning of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. One of the late games is the 16th seeded Austin Peay Governors of Clarksville, Tennessee against the number one seeded Kansas Jayhawks.
The high point of Austin Peay basketball was from 1972 to 1974. That was when New York street ball legend Fly Williams was the team’s star (his nickname was in honor of Curtis “Super Fly” Mayfield). Williams scored 51 points twice in his freshman season and, in the NCAA tournament, led Austin Peay into battle against mighty Kentucky, where they took the Wildcats to overtime before losing. Williams averaged 28.5 points for his college career and later scored 100 points in a minor league pro game.
Fly Williams also inspired what may be the greatest crowd chant in sports history: “The Fly is open, let’s go Peay!”
Do the Governors have a chance tonight against the Jayhawks? Well, a 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed in the history of the NCAA tournament. And Austin Peay has no Fly in their ointment. They have no chance.
For those who want to know more….Fly Williams’ story is recounted with heart and passion in the excellent book, Heaven is a Playground, by Rick Telander.