Davis admits pressure sometimes too much

Davis admits pressure sometimes too much

By Stan Sutton, Herald-Times Sports Editor

March 30, 2002

IU point guard Tom Coverdale is surrounded by the media in the locker room after practice on Friday afternoon. Coverdale’s injured ankle remains a question mark for the Hoosiers. Staff photo by David Snodgress
From the Mar. 30, 2002 Bloomington Herald-Times

ATLANTA – The pressure of being Indiana’s head basketball coach may be wearing a bit thin on Mike Davis.

With IU’s first Final Four game in 10 years coming up tonight, Davis was asked how many times he had thought that maybe the rewards of coaching Indiana weren’t equal to the job’s problems.

“I thought about it real strongly about three weeks ago. Sometimes my honesty gets me in trouble, but I really thought about three weeks ago that we’d had a great year … I’d get a job somewhere else and let somebody else take this heat,” he admitted Friday. “But at the same time, it wasn’t about me. I’m bringing in some great recruits. They trusted me to be here and I told them I would. That had more to do with it than us coming to the Final Four.”

Davis said he’s being judged every day.

“If you think about it, someone’s judging you every single day. When you’re judged every single day, every game, everything you say, it wears on you,” he said. “But I’ve grown a lot. I really have. It’s not about me pleasing the people. It’s not about what people say.”

The successor to Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight said the players are the reason the Hoosiers are in the Final Four, not himself.

Asked if he had lost sleep over his job, Davis added, “When you’re thinking about leaving you definitely lose sleep.”

Before Indiana’s first-round game in Sacramento, Calif., two weeks ago rumors surfaced that Davis’ agent had contacted DePaul about the job opening there. Davis eventually denied that, but first showed some hesitancy to confirm or deny rumors about Pat Kennedy’s successor.

Davis reflected on his coaching career, which included a start as an assistant at Myles College in 1989.

“I was turned down for even a high school girls’ basketball job before Myles College. Imagine playing basketball and a girls’ high school job turned you down. Myles gave me an opportunity and I’m always indebted to them,” he said.

Davis has fielded constant questions about coaching in the shadow of Bob Knight.

“It’s not a bad shadow to be in if you really think about it. He taught me a lot. He hired me to be his assistant coach at Indiana. If he doesn’t hire me then I’m not here,” he said.

One reporter noted that when Ray Perkins took over for Bear Bryant as football coach at Alabama the allegiances of that state weren’t split.

“Ray Perkins was an Alabama guy. I’m not an Indiana guy,” said Davis, referring to his upbringing in Alabama. “Indiana has had some great players that are coaches now: Steve Alford, Randy Wittman, Mike Woodson, Dan Dakich, Jim Crews. The list goes on and on.

“I can understand the emotions of some people because here I am, I’m from Alabama. They want their own or they want their own family member,” he said. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

Davis became IU’s head coach upon Knight’s firing in September of 2000. They pair hasn’t spoken since and Knight has refused to comment on how well Davis has coached his former team.

One writer reviewed Indiana’s not-so-proud background in racial relations, suggesting that the Ku Klux Klan was active in the state for a long time.

“I thought there was Klan activity everywhere. They’ve (Hoosiers) been nice to me,” the coach continued. “People who are saying things are not ever saying it to my face. I love Indiana and I say that with a lot of honesty from the people I see face-to-face. That’s all I can go by, and they’ve been real nice to me.”

Asked if he believes he can become an Indiana guy, Davis replied, “I am an Indiana guy.”

And how did you get to be an Indiana guy, the questioner continued.

“By winning a Final Four,” Davis concluded. “They want to win. You can’t politic your way through everything.”