April 7, 2006
The news came down from UAB as Mike Davis was chosen to replace Mike Anderson as Blazers head coach.
This is a situation where Davis can simply coach now and not have to deal with all the criticism and problems that existed at Indiana. It was a tough time for Davis in Bloomington; anyone who was following the legend, Robert Montgomery Knight, was going to be in trouble, especially if you weren't one of his guys.
The bottom line, as I have said so many times, it is a crying shame that Knight is not the coach at Indiana today. I have said it many times, that building should be named the Robert Montgomery Knight Assembly Hall for all he did at IU.
Putting that aside, Davis has gained valuable experience with the pressure he faced at Indiana. Through it all, he made it to the Final Four in 2002, and he proved himself as a recruiter, especially in the South. He got DJ White, Marco Killingsworth and Lewis Monroe to attend Indiana. Getting players from Alabama should play a big role at UAB.
During his high school days as a player, he was Mr. Basketball in Alabama. He was a member of the Crimson Tide under CM Newton, who was one of his biggest supporters who played a vital role in selling Davis to the UAB administration.
No question, without the support of Hall of Famer Newton, the chances of getting that job would have been less. Newton was able to spread the word about Davis' ability and skills.
Davis gets a chance to coach a program that had success under Anderson, who went on to Missouri. The Blazers have made three straight NCAA appearances and got to the Sweet 16 in 2004 by stunning Kentucky. There is great potential of doing well in Conference USA, where Memphis stands as the top threat, but the opportunity exists to finish in the top three and be in the running for an NCAA berth.
Let's hope that Davis takes advantage of this golden opportunity. Often times coaches leave after struggling in a tough situation and don't get another chance immediately. Now Davis can prove he is worthy of this shot and keep UAB on its winning track.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.