Indiana hires interim coach

Posted: Wednesday, September 13, 2000

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Mike Davis, a Bob Knight disciple but an opposite in temperament and style, inherited one of college basketball's most visible jobs Tuesday as interim coach at Indiana.

The university, stung by one controversy after another involving Knight over the past year, picked the low-key Davis to head the program for at least one season and selected John Treloar, another former Knight assistant, as interim associate coach.

''I'm a quiet guy, but I love to compete,'' said the 39-year-old Davis, who played at Alabama, was a second-round pick by Milwaukee in the 1983 NBA draft and then played in Europe and in the CBA.

He returned to Alabama as an assistant coach in 1995 and came to Indiana two years later.

Davis was responsible for recruiting many of the current players.

After Knight was fired Sunday for violating a ''zero tolerance'' behavior policy imposed in May, the players threatened to transfer en masse unless Davis or Treloar was given the interim job.

''There was no way I could turn this job down, because of the players,'' said Davis, surrounded by the team during a news conference on the basketball court at Assembly Hall. ''The way they came out for me really touched me.

''I'm extremely happy for this opportunity, but I'm sad because of the way it happened. I envisioned being a head coach, but under different circumstances. ... Everyone knows Coach Knight is the reason I'm here and why the players are here.''

But, he added, ''Indiana basketball is bigger than anyone.''

Unlike Knight, Davis said he would open practices to the media. Another difference, center Kirk Haston said, laughing, was ''the language.''

''Coach (Knight) talked a lot more, but we'll find out how that compares,'' Haston said.

''I was really thrilled when I came in this morning and talked with Coach Davis and he said everybody was aboard. That's the happiest I've been in a few days.''

Until word spread that Davis would be the coach -- as the players had hoped -- up to a half-dozen or more players indicated they were considering transferring. They all changed their minds.

''It's going to be different,'' said junior Dane Fife, who just one day earlier said he already had decided to leave. ''As we sat in the locker room before the press conference, coach Davis and coach Treloar walked in, but no coach Knight. That was different right there.

''We definitely have something to prove, that we've been through a lot and we have to come out and beat people. We owe it to him,'' he said of Knight. ''This is his team. We're ready to go.''

Davis acknowledged his debt to Knight and said the Indiana tradition expects -- demands -- success.

''I look forward to the season. We're one or two players away from being national contenders,'' Davis said. ''But there's no pressure on me from that standpoint. All I can do is recruit the way I've recruited before and coach the best way I can and let the chips fall where they may.''

Davis will be the head coach through at least this season, but the school has said it also will look at other candidates for the following season.

''If we don't have a great season, I shouldn't be considered,'' a confident Davis said.

Athletic director Clarence Doninger, who announced the appointments of Davis and Treloar, called that a ''very honest appraisal.''

''On the other hand, a season and success would not necessarily be just wins and losses,'' Doninger said.

The announcement came two days after Indiana fired Knight for repeated misconduct and a day after players told Doninger they wanted Davis or Treloar to be hired as interim coach. Doninger, however, said Tuesday he did not consider that an ultimatum.

''I would be less than honest to say you don't feel pressure as you try to make a decision like this, and all sorts of rumors and allegations going around, but I had already decided I want Mike and John a part of the mix this year,'' Doninger said.

A third assistant coach, Knight's son, Pat, will not be back with the Hoosiers.

''I'm out of here,'' he said Monday. ''I wouldn't stay in this place after the way they treated my father.''

Davis said he talked with the elder Knight on Sunday and Monday ''and he strongly supported me staying here.

''I didn't want to be known,'' he added, ''as the guy who walked away from Indiana University.''



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