A new man

Raise your hand if you were surprised by Chuck Davis' performance against Pittsburgh in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic last Friday night.

Davis, a sophomore forward from Selma, scored 20 points. That's a good night-not necessarily a night that catches your eye until you realize that Davis scored 19 points all of last season.

"He did a real good job offensively," head coach Mark Gottfried said. "I was proud of him. His mindset is different. He sees an opportunity to play. I hope he can build on it and go forward from here."

Davis had his minutes limited last season because he was behind seniors Erwin Dudley and Kenny Walker.

"Last year I was playing behind 2 seniors and I didn't get a lot of minutes," Davis said. "I was waiting on this opportunity to get in there and play for a long time and now I'm one of the top options on the team. I've got to step in there and do well, and that's what I try to do."

Gottfried said that Davis' attitude was much better this year, and since Davis has climbed atop the depth chart, it's made him almost a whole new person.

"The difference is maturity," Gottfried said. "Last year he came in way too immature. He didn't understand how tough players compete in practice. But he spent the whole summer getting stronger. He approaches practice differently. He's still got a ways to go but he's gotten off to a good start."

Chuck Davis looks to put up his shot under the basket. (AP photo)

Davis said that he didn't come in too lax-but the difference was that he wasn't the primary option like he was in high school. For him, that took some getting used to.

"It's a difference knowing that you're backing somebody up rather than starting," Davis said. "It's a whole different ball game coming in expecting to play five or six minutes a game instead of 35."

And for him, the 20-point performance against Pittsburgh came as no surprise.

"I always knew I was capable," Davis said. "I can play with anybody in the country. I was expecting to be nervous, but I didn't have the butterflies that I thought I would. My teammates got me the ball in the right places and I got good shots and fortunately they fell."

No one really knew who he was at the start of the game, but once he made his first shot and made his presence known as the only reliable scoring option in the second half, he earned the praises of the ESPN announcers, including the famous Dick Vitale.

"Once the (first) ball went in the hole, I felt real comfortable and knew I could score," Davis said. "I had to get used to the goal, it's not like the one we have here. Once I didn't that my shot started falling and I did well."

Gottfried has been raving about Davis' productivity in practice since it has started. But for Davis, it was just a good bit of steady improvement in all areas.

"I don't know if it's one specific thing that I've improved on but everything's better," Davis said. "I've gotten a little quicker, gotten a little stronger, and that's taken my game to another level."

The University of Alabama men's basketball team plays its home opener tonight (November 21). Alabama is playing Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. CST in Coleman Coliseum. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance.

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