Coach Speak Part One

BlueRaiderZone.com's Wesley Mize sits down with Blue Raider Coach Davis to get his take on the upcoming season.

Blue Raider basketball begins this Saturday with the team's first practice. Middle Tennessee is coming off a 15-17 season which saw the Blue Raiders win three or more straight games on three different occasions. Kermit Davis is entering his sixth season as head coach of the Blue Raiders and feels this year's team has the potential to be his best yet.

"This team has a lot of talent," Davis said. "We have the depth that we've been missing the last couple of years. If we play at our highest level for an extended period of time we'll be just fine."

Middle struggled mightily to put points on the board last season. The Blue Raiders averaged only 62 points per game, last in the Sun Belt Conference. Davis believes this year's team will play at a faster pace which will allow for more scoring.

"We really struggled to score last year," said Davis. "I've never had a team that was so inept at scoring before. We became the best defensive team in the league because we had to be. I still want to be a great defensive team but hopefully we'll play at a faster pace so each game isn't such a grind like last year."

Injuries at the guard position early in the season hurt Davis' squad and forced him to adjust his style of play to best fit his players.

"We didn't get to play the way we really wanted to play," said Davis. "We didn't have the depth at the guard position to play up tempo basketball like we want. This year we'll play much faster."

While injuries may have hurt last year's production, Davis believes the experience his players gained by playing more last season will help the Blue Raiders this season.

"We return six guys who have three years in our program," said Davis. "We have eight guys who are starting at least their second year in our program. We had to force some guys in to play due to injuries sooner than we thought we would have to but I think that helps us for this year."

One returning player that should see increased minutes is Dino Hair. Hair entered last season coming off ACL surgery and gave a spark to the Blue Raiders when he returned. He later re-injured his knee but was still able to show flashes of his ability toward season's end. Davis feels Hair can be a major contributor if healthy this season.

"Dino Hair's minutes could go up," Davis said. "Our team got better when Dino came back from his injury. He was hurt early last year but if he's healthy his minutes should go up."

The Blue Raiders have three high profile newcomers to the roster this season. Guard Broderick Gilchrest helped Memphis Hamilton to a 39-0 record and a AAA state championship in his junior season. Guard Josh Sain was named state tournament MVP in his senior season. Center Uriah Hethington is a junior college transfer that was rated the number one junior college center after his freshman season. Davis believes all three of these players will contribute this season.

"Josh Sain from Liberty was the MVP of our state last year," said Davis. "He's really talented and he listens on the court. Broderick Gilchrest is a really good defender and can shoot the ball. Uriah Hethington is a 6-8 junior college transfer that's really been a good surprise. He's the most athletic guy we've had here other than John Humphrey. I expect all three of these guys to contribute significantly this season."

A key for the Blue Raiders' success this season will be aggressiveness. Last year's team was the worst under Davis' tenure at getting to the foul line. He believes that better guard play will open up opportunities to get to the foul line this season.

"Last year we didn't get to the foul line enough," Davis said. "Our dribble penetration wasn't good enough and we weren't as physical in the post as we needed to be. This year we'll be a more aggressive and attacking team."

Part two of the BlueRaiderZone.com interview with Kermit Davis features the head coach speaking about his star forward Desmond Yates, the upcoming schedule, and an outlook on the season.


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