Dec. 10, 2011
| Student-Athlete Profiles Archive: Harris
|Andrew Zimmermann wasted little time in making a memorable first impression on some folks during Stanford's November trip to New York for the Preseason NIT.
ESPN analyst and former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy raved about his "genuine" energy, both on and off the court. Another national media member fell in love with his beard, describing it as the best in college hoops (we'll get to that later).
Meanwhile, head coach Johnny Dawkins will be equally excited if Zimmermann can maintain his current play for the entire season, which to date has been highlighted by a willingness to dive for loose balls, sacrifice his body to take charges and compete with a hard-nosed mentality.
Not content with just being labeled as a "rah rah" guy, Zimmermann has actually been a steady offensive contributor. In addition to starting eight games, the senior forward from Oostburg, Wis., is averaging 4.8 points per game while shooting 58.6 percent overall.
THE STUDENT on...
Choosing his major of biology...
"I've always had a love for the sciences and biology in general. A big part of it is probably my love for problem-solving. Science is really about big concepts; solving problems by learning the larger topics and then moving into something more specific. So as a freshman, it was really easy for me to pick that major. Now that I have very few classes left, I'm working in the lab. Being able to apply that broad knowledge to specific problems that can have a greater impact in the scientific or medical community in the future is really exciting for me. Hopefully I am able to turn that into a medical career, where I can have an even larger impact."
Within your major, describe what you have been working on this quarter...
"I actually work in a Regenerative Medicine lab, specifically with wound healing. So I've been able to spend a lot of time, about 30 hours a week, because I'm taking that along with one other class. It has really allowed me to actually learn what it's like to work in a lab. A lot of undergraduate students might do lab research and work just five or six hours a week. That doesn't really allow you to learn the techniques in order to be effective. So spending that time in the lab, where I can take on my own experiments instead of being under a med student who tells me what to do, has been really beneficial for actually learning the science."
Majors such as economics and communication have traditionally been popular choices among the guys. Is it difficult being the only biology major on the roster?
"Sometimes. For the most part, there are a lot of other athletes who are involved with biology or human biology. I actually see athletes from football, volleyball, and both soccer teams pretty regularly. Plus, there are definitely other non-athletes that I see in and out of class who I can bounce ideas off and talk to at any time. So it would definitely be nice if that was the case, but it's not a big deal."
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THE ATHLETE on...
Let's discuss the beard. Rob Dauster of NBCsports.com wrote in his Nov. 25 column that you possess "the best beard in college basketball."
"I started growing the beard right before Spain. Figured I had two weeks off to see how it looked, thinking I wouldn't have it during the season. I started practicing with it, sort of waiting to see what the coaches would say. Nobody said anything. I kept it during our trip to Spain and think we grew as a team and became tougher. I see myself as a toughness player and I think that's what the coaches saw as well, and maybe liked it in the long run. That's kind of what got it started and it's still here. I've trimmed it twice, once right before we went to Spain and again when we got back from New York. Coach Dawkins said it was getting a little long. Probably the worst part is my mom and my girlfriend both don't necessarily like how long it is. My girlfriend liked it when it was shorter. My mom saw pictures of us in Spain and said she also liked it when it was shorter, but now that it's long and grizzly, she's not as big a fan."
You're an example of a guy who has found his niche and really embraces the role of a high-energy player. Talking the entire game, playing with an edge, really just setting the tone.
"I thought that was one of the things we were missing in past years. Not necessarily on an individual basis, but our team as a whole. It's something that growing up, I always found it came natural to me. Every team I've played on, talking came naturally. Defensive rotation came naturally. Hustle came naturally. So I wanted to really emphasize it and bring that intensity, and hopefully bring other guys along with it. We worked on it this spring and it's really caught on with some other guys. You can see it in the way we play defense together. I'm just happy that it's finally catching on and if that's one aspect I can bring to the team to make us better, I'm willing to do that day in and day out."
Combine your reputation as a gritty, hard-nosed player with an award-winning beard, and you're likely to become a prime target for opposing teams and student sections.
"I do like to be that guy. I like to be the guy who guards the other team's toughest player. When we watch film, Coach Dawkins will say `this is their tough guy.' So in my head, I'm thinking, `well, is he that tough?' So I look at it as a challenge that's been put out there. I like that. I've read that Michael Jordan would like to talk trash and be the bully, so his teammates knew they couldn't be bullied because he was the bully. Or how Larry Bird may not have talked trash but his teammates did, so he knew it was his responsibility to back them up. Having that persona on the floor is important. That way our guys know that if a screen needs to be set or there's a loose ball, it's going to happen. No other team is going to want it more than us, and that mentality is going to keep giving us confidence."
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- Brian Risso, Athletics Communications/Media Relations