This Time Emotion Gets the Best of Davis

Last Saturday's match up between Indiana and Kentucky had all the intensity one expects from the annual grudge match. Players scrambled for loose balls, gave hard fouls and showed emotion.

The game was a barnburner going into the last minute of the game. After Marquis Estill made an open jumper giving Kentucky the 65-64 lead with 13 seconds remaining, Indiana coach Mike Davis chose not to call a timeout, preventing Kentucky from being able to set their defense. Instead, after pushing the ball up the floor, Bracey Wright was left with an open lane to the basket. Rather than pulling up for a short jumper, Wright drove to the basket, where he met Jules Camara. Camara proceeded to block Wright's shot cleanly. The ball eventually ended up in the hands of Keth Bogans who was fouled with 2.6 seconds left.

By that time Davis was at the foul line screaming furiously at referee Bert Smith and motioning towards his forehead indicating that he thought Wright had been fouled. Smith gave Davis one technical foul followed by a second technical after Davis continued his tirade. Davis was ejected, Bogans hit five of six free throws and Kentucky went on to win the game.

After the game the media was quick to attack the actions of the apologetic Davis. True, Davis did cost the Hoosiers a chance to win the game, but it is still December. Davis showed the passion his players see on a daily basis, and which the fans rarely see from the normally stoic coach. It's the same passion Davis displayed when the disheartened coach proclaimed, "I don't think I can coach this team" two years ago after a loss to those same Kentucky Wildcats.

Yet it was the control of his emotions that left this writer thinking he is nothing short of brilliant during last season's NCAA Tournament. Who else could have a smile on his face throughout the biggest game of his short coaching career in order to convey a relaxed mood to his entire team? He knew a tight Indiana team had no chance of beating the Duke Blue Devils last year so he acted in a calm, collected manner throughout the game. The Hoosiers reflected this calm attitude, playing their game rather than getting caught up their opponent. This strategy paid off with an upset of the #1 team in America. He continued this approach and it resulted in wins over Kent State, Oklahoma, and a battle in the finals with eventual champ Maryland.

So doesn't such brilliance deserve the acceptance of the occasional mistake? Davis may have ended any chance Indiana had in winning against Kentucky, but every time in practice when he yells at his team about diving for loose balls and showing more intensity, they'll know he means it. By showing the passion Davis displayed Saturday, the Hoosiers know how much Davis cares and they also know the stock their coach puts in this team going all the way in March.

Besides Hoosier fans, isn't there another legendary coach who once graced Assembly Hall and let emotion get the best of him every once in a while. If any coach showed us emotion can be used as a catalyst for a team it was Bob Knight and if Mike Davis's outburst leads to similar results then who can complain? Top Stories