Davis eager to team up with his father

Friday, May 9, 2003

Southeast assistant will be part of father-son coaching tandem at Drake University.

By Marty Mishow ~ Southeast Missourian

As much as he wanted to help Southeast Missouri State University men's basketball get back to the top of the Ohio Valley Conference, a rare opportunity to coach under his father was something Keno Davis simply could not pass up.

Davis, an assistant coach with the Indians for the past six seasons, is leaving the program to became an assistant at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. There he will work with his father, Tom Davis, who took over as Drake's head coach on April 22.

"As much as I enjoyed my time at Southeast, this is just a great opportunity to work with my dad," said Keno Davis. "It's an opportunity I honestly didn't think would become a reality. It honestly came out of the blue for my father."

Tom Davis was one of the country's most successful and respected coaches for nearly 30 years before he was somewhat stunningly let go at Iowa following the 1998-99 season despite compiling a 269-140 record in 13 years with the Hawkeyes.

Tom Davis, who had been out of coaching since being dumped by Iowa, has a 28-year record of 543-290, which includes stints at Lafayette, Boston College and Stanford.

"My dad is really excited to be back in coaching and I'm really looking forward to working with him," said Davis.

Keno Davis knows he and his father have their work cut out for them because Drake, which competes in the Missouri Valley Conference, has not had a winning season since 1986-87 and has not played in the NCAA Tournament since 1971.

"It's a big challenge," he said.

Coincidentally, Southeast coach Gary Garner -- Davis' boss for the last six seasons -- was Drake's coach during that 1986-87 campaign, when the Bulldogs went 17-14.

While Garner hates to lose the 31-year-old Davis, he also understands the move.

"Keno came here when I came here and he's been a very loyal, hard working coach the entire time, plus he's a tremendous young man," Garner said. "You can't blame him for wanting to work with his dad. I'm real happy for him."

Davis has seen both the good and bad of Southeast basketball. He was part of teams that went 62-28 over three seasons -- including the program's first NCAA Division I Tournament berth in 1999-2000 -- and part of teams that went 17-41 the past two years.

"I've seen a lot the last six years. I've seen the best you can be, when we kind of got the program going, and also tough times, when you have to rebuild," Davis said. "I know they're going to be really good again and I'll miss being a part of it, but I'm also looking forward to helping Drake get going."

Added Davis, "I really enjoyed the past six years. It's been a great opportunity for me and I thank coach Garner for giving me that opportunity."

Garner said he hopes to fill Davis' position in the next few weeks. Southeast's other assistant coaches are Gary Abner and Kevin Williams.

Indians lose on recruit

Junior college guard Josh Gonner, one of the players Southeast has been recruiting this spring, won't be playing for the Indians. He has signed a letter of intent with the University of South Carolina of the Southeastern Conference.

Gonner, from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, is the brother of Southeast forward Dainmon Gonner. Josh Gonner had seriously considered Southeast before opting for South Carolina.

Southeast is reportedly still in the running for 6-foot-10 junior college forward Randy Holbrook.

The Indians, who have signed no players during the spring period, have three scholarships available but Garner said they might end up filling only one of those scholarship and carrying two over for next year, which would give them five for that season.

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