In his first season as a collegiate head coach, Keno Davis took a team picked to finish ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll and guided Drake to a school-record 28 victories.
The Bulldogs won their first Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title since 1971 and became the first school to win both the regular-season crown and league tournament title since 2002. The reward was Drake’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1971.
Drake was ranked as high as No. 14 in the Associated Press poll Feb. 14, while
being ranked No. 15 in the
Davis helped guide the school to one of the program’s biggest wins in the last 30 years when Drake earned a 71-64 victory at No. 8 ranked Butler as part of the Feb. 23 O’Reillys ESPNU BracketBuster series.
He has been named the national college coach of the year by both the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and The Sporting News magazine. It marked the first time a Drake basketball coach was named the national coach of the year since the U.S. Basketball Writers Association honored coaching legend Maury John in 1969.
The Bulldogs’ ascent
to the top of the Missouri Valley Conference is all the more remarkable
considering Keno Davis inherited a 17-15 team in which graduation claimed four
“Keno has been mentored by three of the best coaches in college basketball, in not only developing his ability with the X’s and O’s of the game, but also in making a commitment to the holistic development of the student-athlete,” said Drake Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb. “Tom Davis has laid the foundation for a winning legacy at Drake and we are eternally grateful for his belief in and vision for Drake men’s basketball. Keno is the perfect successor to take us to a new level of success at Drake University.”
“I have been fortunate in my coaching career to have had the opportunity to work with a number of great coaches, most of all my father at Drake University,” Keno Davis said.
“I am appreciative of the strong support of the administration and of the growing support of our alumni, fans and community here at Drake. I know that the hard work and support will be rewarded, and I look forward to being a part of the future success.”
“Dr. Tom Davis has built a solid platform from which to take our next steps toward excellence, and we are all very enthusiastic about Keno Davis’ vision for the program’s future. He is just the right person at just the right time for Drake men’s basketball,” said Drake president David Maxwell during the press conference to announce the hiring of Keno Davis.
He also served as an assistant coach at Southern Indiana from 1995-97 under coach Bruce Pearl who is now the highly successful coach at the University of Tennessee.
“I have had a great advantage to not only work for my father, but for Coach Pearl at Southern Indiana, and for Coach Garner at Southeast Missouri State,” said Keno Davis.
Davis also has two books to his credit. He is the co-author of “Pressure Defense” which was published in 1994 and author of “Camp Success” published in 2004.
“Keno (Davis) is ready,” said the elder Davis, who had served as Drake’s head coach since April 22, 2003, guiding the school to a 17-15 record in 2006-07. “He has prepared himself well. He had so many years on the bench with me that he has a real good idea of what we’re trying to do and can communicate that to the players and coaching staff. It also was a great advantage for him to have spent eight years working with two excellent coaches in Gary Garner and Bruce Pearl.”
Keno earned a bachelor of arts degree in communications studies from the University of Iowa in 1995. Keno and his wife, Krista, have a son Brady, who was born Nov. 12, 2007.