Mike Davis is a former professional basketball player and current college head coach. He famously took over at Indiana University for Bobby Knight. During his second season with the Hoosiers, he led them to the NCAA Tournament National Championship game where they would eventually lose to #1 Maryland. He has also coached at UAB, Texas Southern, and Detroit Mercy.
Mike Davis Biography
- Name: Michael Davis
- Coaching Career:
- Miles College (assistant coach, 1989-1990)
- Venezuela (1990)
- Wichita Falls Texans (Assistant Coach, 1990-1994)
- Chicago Rockers (Player/Assistant coach, 1994-1995)
- University of Alabama (Assistant Coach, 1995-1997)
- Indiana University (Assistant Coach, 1997-2000)
- Indiana University (Head Coach, 2000-2006)
- UAB (Head Coach, 2006-2012)
- Texas Southern (Head Coach, 2012-2018)
- Detroit Mercy (2018-Present)
- Nationality: USA
- Age: 50 years old
- Birthday: September 15, 1960
- Hometown: Fayette, Alabama
- College Playing Career: University of Alabama (1979-1983)
- NBA Draft: 1983 / Round 2 / Pick #42 by the Milwaukee Bucks
- Pro Career: Switzerland, Italy, Topeka Sizzlers (1988-89, CBA), and the Chicago Rockers (Player/Coach, 1994-1995).
Mike Davis’s Playing Career
Mike Davis was an excellent high school basketball player in Alabama. In 1979, he won the Alabama Mr. Basketball and decided to play for his home state team, the University of Alabama.
In college, Davis averaged 10.0 points per game over the course of his career and finished his career in the Top 25 on Alabama’s all-time scoring list. However, Davis was perhaps most known for his defensive prowess and work rate. He won the Crimson Tide team’s Hustle Award all four years of college. He also accumulated 165 steals, which is third on the Crimson Tide’s all-time steals leaders list.
Davis was then drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks as the 42nd pick of the 1983 NBA Draft. Ultimately, Davis would never play in the NBA. Instead, he played professionally in Switzerland and Italy. Davis then would go on to play in the CBA for the Topeka Sizzlers in 1998.
After one season in the CBA, Davis decided to go into coaching but decided to step back onto the court as a player in 1994 as a player/assistant coach for the Chicago Rockers of the CBA. At age 35 and after a five-year absence from playing, Davis’s return was quite successful, averaging 8.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists.
Davis would then turn permanently to coaching.
Mike Davis’s Pre-Indiana Coaching Career
After playing several years overseas and in the CBA, Davis decided to get into coaching in 1989. His first coaching job was as an assistant with Miles College, a Division II college in Fairfield, Alabama. When the season concluded, Davis relocated to Venezuela where he coached a professional team, as well as the country’s national team.
When returning from Venezuela in 1990, Davis began a four-year assistant coaching stint with the Wichita Falls Texans of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA). During the 1994 season, the team relocated to Chicago and became the Chicago Rockers. Davis stayed with the team as an assistant coach, but surprisingly also returned to the court as a player despite not having played in five years.
From 1995-1997, Davis returned to his alma mater the University of Alabama as an assistant coach under head coach Dave Hobbs. During this period, the Crimson Tide struggled, failing to reach 20 victories in each of the seasons. Still, Davis learned what it takes to coach at the highest levels of college basketball.
Mike Davis’s Seasons as Head Coach of the Hoosiers
21-13 (10-6 Big Ten)
🏅 NCAA First Round
25-12 (11-5 Big Ten)
21-13 (8-8 Big Ten)
🏅 NCAA Second Round
14-15 (7-9 Big Ten)
15-14 (10-6 Big Ten)
🏅 NIT First Round
19-12 (9-7 Big Ten)
🏅 NCAA Second Round
Mike Davis’s Indiana Coaching Career
In 1997, Davis was hired to Bobby Knight’s coaching staff at Indiana during the beginning of Knight’s 27th season with the Hoosiers. During his three seasons as an assistant coach, IU reached the NCAA Tournament all three years and finished with an overall record of 63-32.
Indiana fired Bob Knight in September 2000 after Knight violated IU President Myles Brand’s imposed “zero-tolerance” policy. Within the Hoosier community, many people were initially upset with the firing. Allegedly, many players on the basketball team threatened to transfer unless then-assistant coaches John Treloar and Mike Davis were promoted to head coach. Brand reportedly offered both of them the position as “co-coaches,” but Treloar declined allowing Davis to take over. Davis was named interim coach on September 12, 2000 and Treloar was announced as associate head coach.
Bobby Knight was reportedly against Davis taking over, particularly since he wasn’t an “Indiana guy.” However, the hire is now generally viewed favorably by the Indiana faithful.
In his first season, Davis had immediate success, finishing with a 21-13 record (10-6 in conference). Led by future NBA Draft picks Kirk Haston and Jared Jeffries, Indiana was a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament but fell to #13 Kent State. After a successful first season in charge, the administration rewarded Davis by naming him the permanent head coach on March 21, 2001.
In the 2001-2002 season, Davis led the Hoosiers on a magical postseason run to the NCAA Tournament National Title Game. During the regular season, the team had a record of 19-11. After a third-place finish in the Big Ten, Indiana secured a #5 seed in the NCAA Tournament and went on to greatly exceed expectations.During the tournament run, IU took down #12 Utah, #13 North Carolina-Wilmington, #1 Duke, #10 Kent State, and #2 Oklahoma before ultimately falling to Juan Dixon led #1 Maryland. A month after the season ended, Davis was given a contract extension, which expanded his deal through the 2008 season.
Up until this point, it was all smooth sailing for Davis. But soon, he would hit the few bumps in the road.
Most notably, Davis received criticism after being ejected at the end of a rivalry game against Kentucky in December 2002. Prior to the matchup, Davis openly admitted he “hated Kentucky with a passion” and desperately wanted to win the game. The two teams met in a high profile matchup, as each were ranked in the top 20 (#6 Indiana, #16 Kentucky). With only 2.6 seconds left and the Hoosiers only down 65-64, Davis became incensed after a foul was not called and ran onto the court. He was immediately called for the technical and ejected from the game. Kentucky’s Keith Bogans sank five of six free throws, securing the victory for Kentucky 70-64.
Afterward, Davis was extremely apologetic.
“There is no way I should’ve acted like that. I can’t explain it. I’ve done something to embarrass my team… I cost us the game. I was so emotional. I need to learn and grow from this,” proclaimed Davis.
Indiana would rebound and finish the season with 21 victories before falling on the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The next season was a disappointment. The Hoosiers only won 14 games during the 2003-2004 campaign. This would be the first losing season for IU in over 35 years. The following season wasn’t much better as Indiana finished 15-14 and with a home loss in the first round of the NIT.
At this point, there began to be grumblings of unhappiness within the administration.
By January 2006, it appeared Indiana would be missing the NCAA Tournament again and calls for a change of the top continued to grow. In February 2006, Davis announced that he would be resigning at the end of the season. Indiana actually played well to close out Davis’s time in Bloomington, not only making the NCAA Tournament but also winning their first game of the tournament.
Several years later, in interviews, Davis would admit that he was “unprepared” for becoming the head coach of a major program after a legendary predecessor. In fact, he said he uses his experiences as a teaching point for his players, using himself as an example of how being overly emotional can harm performance.
Despite the roller coaster ride of his Hoosier career, Davis happily reflects on his time saying that he still loves Indiana.
When Davis returned to Indiana in 2014 as the head coach of Texas Southern, he was welcomed with a standing ovation from the Hoosier crowd.
Dan Fife, member of the 2002 national runner-up squad and current Michigan State assistant coach, said “Indiana was and is considered one of the top programs in the country. Given the circumstances (of succeeding a Hall of Fame coach in Knight), Coach Davis did an excellent job of maintaining the level of high caliber play that coach Knight instilled in all of us, while working in his own ideas to help us win. Yes, his inexperience showed it’s warts, and mistakes were made, but we all had one goal in mind and coach Davis and staff held us accountable each day to achieve that goal.”
Davis finished with a record at IU of 115-79 (59.3%) overall and 55-41 in conference play (57.3%). He reached the NCAA Tournament 4 of his 6 seasons in charge.
Mike Davis’s Post-Indiana Coaching Career
After leaving Indiana, Davis was quickly hired by UAB on April 7, 2006. Davis would coach UAB for six seasons (2006-2012). He went 122-73 overall (62.6%) and 62-34 in Conference USA (64.6%). Despite continually winning games, Davis was fired because of “poor ticket sales and attendance” and because of underwhelming performances in the postseason.
In August 2012, Texas Southern’s coach Tony Harvey abruptly resigned and TSU turned to Mike Davis. He would go on to coach six seasons with Texas Southern, finishing with a record ofa record of 115-89 overall (56.4%) and 88-20 in the SWAC (81.5%). Davis was named the SWAC coach of the year in 2014-2015. The team reached the NCAA tournament in 4 of his 6 seasons as a coach.
In 2018, Davis took over as head coach for the University of Detroit Mercy. The Titans were in a difficult spot prior to Davis’s arrival. Detroit Mercy had only won 8 games each of the prior two seasons before he took over. In his first season, the team went 11-20.
Davis’s son Mike Davis Jr redshirted under his father at Indiana after transferring from Blackhawk Community College and left with his father to UAB. Davis Jr eventually would become one of Davis’s assistant coaches and still works under him today at Detroit Mercy.
Davis’s other son Antoine Davis stars for his father at Detroit Mercy and was the third highest scorer in all of college basketball as a freshman with 26.1 points per game.
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Contributors: Mike Pudlow