Keno Davis has many fond memories of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Tonight might not end up being one of them.
Davis, who pretty much grew up in Carver-Hawkeye during the 13 years his father served as Iowa’s basketball coach, visits the venue as a visiting coach for only the second time when he brings a very inexperienced Central Michigan team to town to play the Hawkeyes.
Iowa is 1-0 after an impressive 86-55 rout of Texas-Pan American on Friday night.
Central Michigan will be making its season debut after Davis pretty much wiped the slate clean upon taking the Chippewas job in April.
He insists he has not watched any video of last season, when CMU went 11-21 under the deposed Ernie Zeigler. He has only two players back who started any games last season, and neither of them is starting for him.
His lineup for tonight includes two freshmen and a transfer from UNC-Greensboro, Kyle Randall. His leading scorer in an exhibition victory over Lake Superior State last week was a senior who averaged 1.1 points per game last season and only decided over the summer to use his last year of eligibility.
“It’s unique to have so many newcomers, let alone so many freshmen, but we really wanted to build this for the long term rather than take a lot of transfers,” Davis said on a
Mid-American Conference coaches teleconference last week. “Our young roster is a benefit maybe not in the short term but definitely in the long term as they are able to improve, play as freshmen and go through some growing pains.”
Those pains figure to start tonight against an Iowa team projected to at least contend for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
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Davis, 40, can remember when Iowa was pretty much a postseason fixture. He was 14 when his father, Dr. Tom Davis, was hired as Iowa’s coach in 1986. Keno later served as a graduate assistant under his father from 1991 to 1995 at Iowa and was a full-time assistant under him from 2005 to 2007 at Drake before becoming the Bulldogs’ head coach.
His only previous appearance as a head coach at Carver-Hawkeye was early in the 2007-08 season when his Drake club lost 56-51.
There might be that many points scored in the first half tonight as both the Hawkeyes and Chippewas are intent on playing at a rapid pace.
“All of our guys can shoot,” Davis said at the start of preseason practice. “We’re going to put pressure on the defense, spread the court and attack the basket. We’re going to get the score up into the 90s, some into the 100s.”