Thursday, December 16, 2004

Drake's Davis Urges Fans to Not Give Up on His Team

Coach Tom Davis urged fans to not get down on his Drake basketball team.

“If we can get through this next stretch, I think you’re going to see this team improve rapidly,” Davis said.

“The attitude is excellent. This team has been just terrific. Everybody has been responsive. They don’t complain. They don’t bellyache. They’re fun to be around in practice, and they’re giving us everything they have.

“I can’t fault anything with this team in terms of their attitude and response. Are we short in some areas? Sure. But we’re not short in the mental areas. You have a wonderful group of young men. You can be proud of them in terms of what they’re doing in the classroom, and how hard they’re working.

“If we come up short, it won’t be because they’re not giving a great effort.”

Drake, with records of 2-4 overall and 0-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference, is the only team under .500.

From Nov. 23 through Dec. 8, the Bulldogs lost to Iowa State, Iowa, Colorado State and Wichita State. They ended their losing streak by beating Western Illinois, 82-54, and won’t play again until Dec. 20 at Southern Utah.


Paul Morrison, the do-it-all who has held a number of jobs in Drake’s athletic department—heck, he might have even coached a game or two--and now is called the historian, has been employed at the school for 60 years.

“It’s been a wonderful marriage—Drake University, Paul Morrison and the Morrison family,” he said. “I’m looking forward to another 60 and a few others.”


Davis said the grandmother of Drake starting guard Lonnie Randolph has died.

“When Lonnie finishes his [semester] exams, he’ll be going back to East Chicago, Ind., for the funeral,” Davis said. “He’ll try to join us in Las Vegas as we get ready to bus up to Utah [for the Dec. 20 game at Southern Utah].”


Davis often has said that Aliou Keita, the 6-8 sophomore who is Drake’s scoring [13.7 average] and rebounding [7.5 average] leader, is a better player in games than he is in practices.

Nothing has changed.

“We practiced for about an hour Tuesday because of exams,” Davis said. “Aliou was so bad. He couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t catch the ball. He couldn’t shoot the ball. He couldn’t dribble the ball. I told him, ‘Big guys have that problem. It takes you a little while.’

He hasn’t figured it all out yet. But he sure has a big heart. He’s pretty good in games. Some guys are better in practice, but he’s the exact opposite, For him to keep improving, he’s got to get better in practice.”


Davis said 13 of his players had 3.0 grade-point averages in the first semester last year.

“I don’t know where it’s going to be this year, but I think I have three freshmen who are going to get 4.0 averages,” he said. “So that’s pretty strong.”

One of the freshmen is 6-1 Adam Emmenecker of Saginaw, Mich.

“I said, ‘Are you going to get a 4-point?’” Davis said he asked Emmenecker. “He said, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve got a 4-point.’”

Davis said Emmenecker is also a promising player.

“He can’t shoot, but he’s tough,” Davis said. “We’ll have to do the coaching to make him a shooter.”


Davis said, “I’m not happy having the 22nd-toughest schedule in the country at this stage of the season. But it just happened that there are good programs in the state this year. Iowa is good, Northern Iowa is good, that Akron team we played is a pretty doggone good ballclub. We played at Colorado State, and they’re a decent team—maybe a very good team as the season winds down.”

Of course, the Iowa State team that beat Drake, 73-46, Nov. 23 at Ames also has the makings of being a very good team.

Next year’s schedule is going to be terrific,” Davis said. “It’s going to be much more user-friendly, much more developmentally-friendly in terms of getting our players cohesive and getting them ready.”


Davis said the two most surprising teams in the Missouri Valley Conference are Illinois State [7-2 non-conference record] and Bradley [5-1].

They look like they’re playing at higher levels than I thought they would,” Davis said. “We expected Wichita State [5-0 overall, 1-0 in the Valley] to be really good. And you figured Creighton [8-1] had a chance. You figured Southern Illinois [5-2] was going to be good again.”

Vol. 4, No. 287
Dec. 16, 2004