Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Oden, Conley, and Mike Davis.

Birmingham News columnist Kevin Scarbinsky wrote a column today that has Hoosier fans a bit exercised. It would be easier for us to move on if the media would stop writing IU/Davis retrospectives. Scarbinsky seems to have interviewed Davis about his recruitment of Greg Oden and Mike Conley. Let's jet back to summer 2005 for a moment. From 1971 through 2003, IU never had a losing season--never came close, in fact. In 2004, IU posted its first losing season in 24 seasons and missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1985. IU finished eighth in a down year for the Big Ten (only the top three conference teams were invited to the NCAA Tournament). It was the first time IU had missed both postseason tournaments since 1977. While Davis certainly faced some criticism, he was only two years removed from the Final Four, and so he essentially was given a mulligan by most, but certainly not all, of the fans. In 2005, IU failed to rebound. Faced with a slim chance of playing into the tournament, IU was humiliated by Minnesota in the 4/5 game of the Big Ten Tournament. That game was followed by Davis's bizarre "we were the four seed. We were the four seed. We were the four seed. We were the four seed..." press conference. The season ended with a whimper, in the form of a beatdown by Vanderbilt in front of the smallest crowd in the history of Assembly Hall. The ridiculousness was just more of the same from Davis, whose career never seemed to recover from his running onto the court slapping his head at the end of the Kentucky game in December 2002. He made too many broken promises about mystery recruits to count. His real gem from the 2005 season was the claim that IU's blowout loss at Northwestern was inevitable because IU had prepared for NU's best player, TJ Parker, but when Parker missed the game because of injury, IU simply couldn't adjust to NU's walk-on point guard, Michael Jenkins. Seriously.
Jenkins posted a line any post player would love - 8 points and a team-high 7
rebounds, including 4 offensive boards. He had no assists in his first career
start but hit a pair of 3-pointers on Northwestern's backbreaking 18-8 run
midway through the second half.
"It affected us with Parker not playing,"
Davis said. "We had prepared for T.J. You could see our guys not focused and not
ready to come out and compete and battle."
Davis was then asked about
"Who's that?" he asked.
I don't mean to drag Hoosier fans down a nightmarish memory lane here. I'm just pointing out how ridiculously absurd it was that after all of that, Mike Davis inexplicably was allowed to continue his stewardship of one of college basketball's historically elite programs, and to provide the context, lest anyone has forgotten, of the condition of the program when Conley and Oden were being recruited. At that point, Davis's IU career was beyond salvaging. The idea that someone like Mike Conley, a bright kid with involved and sophisticated parents, was going to entrust his career to that charlatan, was laughable. Yet the IU administration allowed Davis to come back, even though, by his own account, he no longer wanted to be at Indiana. IU's administration blew the last, best chance of signing Conley and Oden by giving Davis another years after had had proven his unfitness beyond a reasonable doubt.
Davis was self-absorbed to the end, as his interview with Scarbinsky makes clear. Even if he landed the commitments, he wouldn't sign them?! what a bunch of bunk. I know that it's politically correct to say that we wish Davis well, that we hope his is happy at UAB, and so forth. I don't. I hope he falls on his face, and I hope he does it soon. The sooner he flames out, the fewer careers and seasons he will be allowed to ruin. Good riddance, Mike.

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