Mike Davis and his Texas Southern basketball team arrived in Bloomington Saturday afternoon and relaxed in their hotel room Sunday before having an evening practice at Assembly Hall.
For Davis it would be his first time at Assembly Hall since Feb. 26, 2006 when he coached his final home game in the building as the Indiana coach after six seasons at IU.
Fast forward more than eight years and Davis said he’s looking forward to being back in Assembly Hall Monday when his Tigers take on the Hoosiers in a 6 p.m. matchup. The game is part of the Hoosier Showcase event. IU will also play SMU, Lamar and Eastern Washington in the tournament.
“I’m really excited to play the game,’’ Davis told AllHoosiers.com in an interview Sunday afternoon. “It’s kind of like going back to the house that you grew up in. I have a lot of good memories of games we played at Assembly Hall and it will be fun to be back there in that environment again.’’
Davis said he hopes he is well received by Hoosier Nation. But he admitted he hasn’t spent a lot of time thinking about it.
"We had some good teams and some good players when I was at Indiana and I would hope I’ll be welcomed back,’’ Davis said. “I certainly don’t have any ill feelings toward Indiana. They gave me a tremendous opportunity and I’ll always be grateful for that.’’
One of his former players, current Michigan State assistant coach Dane Fife, said he knows what kind of reception Davis deserves at Assembly Hall Monday night.
"He should get a lot of thank you's and a standing ovation,'' Fife said Sunday night in a phone interview with AllHoosiers.com. "What he accomplished with our team was not supposed to happen. He took a bunch of non-athletic guys and one pro and took us to the national championship game. He deserves to be properly recognized by the fans in Assembly Hall for what he did for the IU program.''
Fife wishes he could be in attendance for Monday night's game. The Spartans actually play in Indianapolis against Duke on Tuesday night at Bankers Life but their flight doesn't get in to Indy until 6 p.m Monday which is the tip time for the game.
Plus, Fife is in charge of the scout assignment for Duke so he'll have plenty of responsibility Monday night.
So his reunion with his coach will have to wait until Dec. 20. That's when Davis brings his Texas Southern team to the Breslin Center in East Lansing to play the Spartans.
Davis said one of the things that he's excited about Monday night is that both of his sons will be at the game and on the Texas Southern bench. His oldest son, Mike Jr., played at IU and is now on Davis’s coaching staff. One of his assistants at IU, Donnie Marsh, is also on the Texas Southern staff.
And Davis will make a little history when he returns to IU Monday night. No former IU head coach has ever returned to Assembly Hall to play against the Hoosiers. Everett Dean faced IU after coaching them but the game was played at Stanford in 1940.
In six years at IU, Davis compiled a record of 115-79, a winning percentage of .592. His record in Big Ten play was 55-41. In 2002, he won a share of a Big Ten title and took the Hoosiers to the national championship game where they lost to Maryland.
Some of those former players are expected to be back in Bloomington Monday night to see the game. Davis mentioned already seeing Tom Coverdale and Kyle Hornsby on Saturday. He’s hoping they’ll be at the game as well.
“Kyle Hornsby looks exactly the same as he did when he left here,’’ Davis said. “It was good to see those guys. I’ve been able to keep track with most of them and we text back and forth but I haven’t seen a lot of them in person.’’
The Texas Southern team that Davis brings to Bloomington Monday night has an interesting team make up and a brutal schedule ahead of it. The Tigers will be without their top two players who are injured and the top seven that will be at IU are all transfers.
But the schedule is unbelievable on some levels. Between now and Jan. 17, Texas Southern will be play ONE HOME GAME. That’s right. One. That will be against Lamar on Nov. 28 as part of this event.
The Tigers opened play Friday night on the road in Spokane, Wash. against Eastern Washington University and lost an 86-62 decision. On Saturday, they flew to Bloomington for Monday’s game.
But Texas Southern will play 15 of the next 16 games on the road including stops at Tennessee, SMU, Baylor, Florida, Gonzaga, Michigan State, Kansas State and New Mexico State. When the Tigers face Michigan State on Dec. 20, Davis will be reunited with Dane Fife, who is now an assistant coach on Tom Izzo’s staff.
Davis said the schedule came about because the athletic department needs the money and it needs to play road games to get the guarantees.
“My first two years we had two games each at home in the non-conference season and the rest on the road,’’ Davis said. “It is what it is. It’s good experience for our guys but they don’t see anything like this in our league. So it should be a good learning experience.What We Learned: Basketball season opener
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