Davis doing his best to ignore all the rumors

Davis doing his best to ignore all the rumors

by Lynn Houser, Herald-Times Sports Writer

December 29, 2004

INDIANAPOLIS – Rumors, rumors and more rumors.

There is no end to the rumors flying around the Indiana basketball program these days.

A few hours before Indiana’s game against Ball State Tuesday night, an Indianapolis television station had it that a loss to the Cardinals would put Hoosier coach Mike Davis on the brink of dismissal.

Now that’s what you call a pressure-packed game. Does that make Indiana’s 71-59 win over Ball State a “job-saver?”

Davis said he was unaware of the rumor, which was subsequently delegated to the ranks of the “unsubstantiated report” by a spokesman for the Indiana athletic department.

“If I was aware of all the rumors out there, I would be in a mental hospital,” Davis said after the game. “It’s my job to coach this team. I said from Day 1 to these players, our job is to win basketball games. My job is to win basketball games.”

Davis does his best to ignore the rumor mill by avoiding newspapers and sports talk shows. That is probably a good thing because, in the course of his team’s six-game losing streak, the rumors out there were not kind.

It is to Davis’s credit that he has remained upbeat throughout the losing streak, although he express relief Tuesday night.

“Relief is probably not a strong enough word,” he said. “Our guys just needed a win.”

Don’t think for a minute the players haven’t heard the rumblings. You can’t go anywhere in Bloomington without somebody bringing up the “Davis Watch.”

“It’s something we have no control over,” Bracey Wright said. “We have to go out and play for him, win for him, so that those rumors go away. The more we win, the more the rumors will stop.”

“I don’t think any rumors we hear should change the way we play,” Errek Suhr said. “We play as hard as we can for coach Davis. That’s all he asks of us. If we do that, there is nothing else to worry about.”

It’s unfortunate that the latest Davis rumor took something away from that much-needed Indiana victory. With Patrick Ewing seeing limited duty because of the flu and Sean Kline held out with a sore knee, the Hoosiers won with four freshman playing a total of 98 minutes and Suhr, a sophomore walk-on, playing the best game of his brief career. Three of those freshman – D.J. White, Robert Vaden and A.J. Ratliff – trotted out for the opening tip.

And say what you want about Wright. He took over in the second half when the youngsters hit their usual wall and needed a leader. Even though the Cardinals knew the Hoosiers were going to Wright, they couldn’t stop him.

In years of dominant Indiana teams, a win over Ball State drew yawns. This Indiana was thrilled to beat the Cardinals and put the six-game losing streak to rest.

“This was big for us,” Wright said. “Although nobody’s confidence went down, it was frustrating. We were ahead in most of those games. And to lose to Charlotte like we did (on a last-second bomb) … This was a must-win for us. We had to get back on the right track.”

Davis is not about to give up on his team.

“This is my basketball team,” he said. “I love my basketball team. I understand why people feel the way they feel, but it’s my job to win. This is a great school with a lot of tradition. I’ve matured over the years since I’ve been here and it’s my job to go out and coach these guys every day.”