IU’s Mike Davis not a happy camper

IU’s Mike Davis not a happy camper

Hoosier Times

February 9, 2003

BLOOMINGTON – The rumble can be heard from the back woods, the place where critics of Mike Davis apparently meet in secret session. Saturday night Davis’ Indiana basketball team lost its fifth straight game and everyone with an e-mail account has taken notice and is writing to complain.

Purdue, Michigan State, Louisville, Northwestern and Michigan State again – with Michigan and Wisconsin in the wings.

Those Texas Tech T-shirts that were relegated to the bottom drawer are back in circulation today. The so-called Indiana fans who didn’t like a lot of things about Mike Davis now have something formidable to complain about.

His team hasn’t won a game in almost three weeks.

Until now the critics have been grasping for straws.

Some didn’t like his ritual of thanking God for having his job, even if Bob Knight spent more time in press conferences talking about fishing.

Some didn’t like the frequent pleading look toward officials. Some thought he complained too much about everything. Some would fault him for his half-court dash against Kentucky.

Unfortunately, a few don’t seem to like his pigmentation. Political correctness never has been a virtue of far too many fans.

One IU fan writing The Hoosier Times said that Davis hadn’t yet earned the right to be obnoxious.

One thing is certain. Mike Davis can lose 20 straight games and he won’t be obnoxious. He still won’t walk past an autograph seeker. He’ll keep thanking God for losing. He’ll still blame himself for most of the things that go wrong.

Bob Knight may be a better coach than Mike Davis. Bob Knight may be a better coach than Phog Allen, Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith put together. But Bob Knight’s first IU team also lost five straight games.

Davis admits he has only three years experience as a head coach and is still learning. Occasionally, he is subject to second-guessing as he was Saturday night when 6-foot-3 A.J. Moye was sent in to guard 6-11 Paul Davis.

The IU coach probably had his reasons, just as Knight did on the occasions when he benched Steve Alford and Calbert Cheaney.

Davis’ voice was barely audible after IU lost to Michigan State Saturday night, 67-62. His team had played hard, played well in most areas, played with a singular purpose – but had fallen.

The coach who didn’t sleep after Wednesday night’s loss at Northwestern probably didn’t sleep again. But there was no midnight practice, nor will there be Sunday wind sprints. The only thing on Davis’ schedule today is church.

“The first thing coach Davis said when he got in here was that we are getting better,” senior Tom Coverdale said. “We played as hard as we could tonight and that was the problem before. Hopefully, we can turn things around.”

There are some areas of concentration if IU is to make a late-season rush that will guarantee an NCAA Tournament bid. One, the Hoosiers must improve their defense. Second, they must become better rebounders and, especially, keep opponents from collecting so many under the offensive glass. Third, they must get more scoring out of senior guards Tom Coverdale and Kyle Hornsby, who combined for 11 points Saturday night.

Coverdale, once considered one of the top 3-point shooters in the Big Ten, missed five of six in this game.

“You’ve got to start somewhere and I think right now we’re getting better as a basketball team,” Davis said. “I told my team, ‘Don’t worry about the loss tonight because we are getting better.’ We can put a string of wins together but they can’t do it their head is dropped. No one is hurting more than I am about this loss, but Bracey (Wright) is back and (Jeff) Newton had a really great game for us.”

Critics of Davis probably will point out that he drove away one of his recruited players. Freshman Daryl Pegram announced Saturday that he will transfer to another school at the end of the spring semester. Pegram had played in only two games and hadn’t seen action since early December because of recurring knee problems. There was no indication where he will enroll.

“He just decided this wasn’t the place for him to play. We wish him luck wherever he goes,” Davis said. “He’s been hurt a lot and the chance of him playing a lot would be slim. So, he decided to transfer. He should get a medical redshirt because he’s been hurt all year.”

Davis said he refused to get down over the five straight losses.

“Everybody’s talking about all the bad things, but there is a lot more good than there is bad about this basketball team. And all the bad that we have we can correct – and we will correct,” Davis said. “We can’t let the negatives outweigh the positives. I think we can beat Michigan and I think we can go to Wisconsin and beat Wisconsin.

“They feed off of me and I’m as positive as positive can be right now.”