Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Texas Southern coach Mike Davis about playing Michael Jordan and replacing Bob Knight.
As head coach of Texas Southern you finished the 2013 season by winning your final 12 games: what kind of momentum does that give your team heading into this season (if any)? We lost 2 all-conference players and had a total of 4 seniors graduate so I do not think it will give us that much momentum. Hopefully we can just take it 1 game at a time and try to extend the streak, but it is more important to improve every week.
Your non-conference road schedule includes trips to Miami, Texas Tech, Stanford, and Temple: which of these 4 games do you feel will present your biggest test? Every game will be a test for us because we do not have a single non-conference game at home, which I have never seen before. We have to make sure that we go in ready to play from game #1.
You lost 2 of your 3 leading scorers from last year (Fred Sturdivant/Omar Strong): how will you be able to fill the offensive void left by the departure of these 2 seniors? Hopefully we can have some guys step up, including Ray Penn who is a 5th-year senior who transferred from Oklahoma State. We just need to build some chemistry with our new pieces.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? Just to get better every day and every week, which was our goal last year. We want to be the best team we can be in March.
In the 1982 SEC tourney title game as a player at Alabama you scored 12 PTS in a 2-PT win over Kentucky: how were you able to beat the Wildcats in Rupp Arena? They were coming off of a big win over Old Miss but our strategy was to just hold the ball because there was no shot clock. They were a bit impatient so we just stuck to Coach Wimp Sanderson’s game plan.
In the 1982 NCAA tourney you scored 7 PTS in a 5-PT loss to eventual champion North Carolina in Raleigh: what did you think of the Tar Heels’ freshman guard Michael Jordan? At that time our focus was more on James Worthy/Sam Perkins. Jordan did not really hurt us, but after he made the shot to beat Georgetown and win the title he became a superstar.
You spent 3 years an assistant at Indiana under Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight before taking over for him after he was fired: what made Knight such a great coach? He is really detailed and watches a lot of film. He understands spacing and can see all 5 guys on the court at 1 time, which really impressed me because most coaches can only see a couple of guys at once.
In the magical 2002 NCAA tourney Jared Jeffries had 24 PTS/15 REB in a 1-PT win over defending champion Duke: how were you able to overcome a 17-PT deficit against the #1-seed? We started to go inside more to settle down after missing a lot of jump shots early. Jared and our other big guys had to make plays and they did.
Lonny Baxter had 15 PTS/14 REB in a win by Maryland in the title game: what was the feeling like in your locker room afterward? It was a disappointing feeling, but at the same time we felt good about getting to the championship game as a #5 seed. We only had 1 guy get drafted off that team, and it was a proud moment for us to get to the title game.
In the 2009 C-USA tourney as head coach at UAB, Paul Delaney III scored 21 PTS including a 3-PT shot with 4.7 seconds left in regulation and a layup with less than a second in OT in a 1-PT OT win over Southern Miss: where does that rank among the most clutch performances you have ever seen? It was a big-time 3-PT shot: it seemed like it took forever to get there! It was a proud moment for us.
You had a birthday last month: what did you do for the big day? I cannot even remember: I think I took my boy to work out. We finally went out yesterday to celebrate as a family after a long delay.