Davis brings intrigue to WSU search

ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM's Mike Davis, the latest coach on WSU's prospect list to replace Tony Bennett, could be the most intriguing -- yet confounding -- name In the Cougars' orbit. On one hand, he's been rumored for so many jobs of late that he told a Birmingham reporter it's starting to hamper recruiting. On the other hand, his three-year run at UAB has left some of the faithful less than enamored.

Davis, who reportedly will interview with WSU's Jim Sterk this weekend at the Final Four in Detroit, has won 45 games over the last two seasons.

He was earlier linked to coaching vacancies at Georgia and Alabama (his alma mater) but tamped down the speculation at those schools, telling the Birmingham News, "I have four years left here. I hope they don't want me to move. I plan on being here. Everybody will see in about two weeks when the dust settles (after coaching changes at other schools)."

Other prospective candidates for the WSU job are believed to include Ken Bone of Portland State, Stew Morrill of Utah State, former Phoenix Suns head coach Terry Porter, Randy Bennett of Saint Mary's and possibly San Diego's Bill Grier.

Davis, 48, was the head coach at Indiana for six years before being let go after the 2005-06 season. He was 115-79 there and took the 2002 club to the NCAA title game. He was named national coach of the year that season. He is the only coach in Indiana history to begin his tenure with three straight 20-plus win seasons. Prior to taking the head job at Indiana, Davis was a Hoosier assistant under Bobby Knight.

UAB was 22-12 this season and went down in the first round of the NIT to Notre Dame. The Blazers were 23-11 a year ago and 15-16 in Davis' first year.

Ironically, Davis' first-ever game as UAB's head man also marked Tony Bennett's first ever game as the Cougars' head coach. WSU won 71-60 in Birmingham.

Some Blazer fans have grumbled that Davis hasn't been able to do what his predecessor, Mike Anderson (now at Missouri), was able to do: compete with conference heavyweight Memphis. In addition, UAB has only one victory in the Conference USA tournament over the last three years. Others have looked with a critical eye to the team's largely bare cupboard returning next season.

Davis's contract with UAB was extended after last season and now runs four more years. His base salary is $625,000.

Davis was an All-American at Alabama in 1979 and a second-round NBA draft pick (Bucks). He played professionally overseas and in the CBA.


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