Spiders’ foe features father-son link
Detroit Mercy centers on Davis family connection of coach and team’s star
The national health crisis prevented college basketball coaches from interacting with their players through most of the offseason. Not so at Detroit Mercy, the University of Richmond’s seasonopening opponent Wednesday
night in Kentucky’s four-team event, the Bluegrass Showcase.
Detroit Mercy’s top player, 6-foot-1 junior Antoine Davis, is the son of Titans coach Mike Davis, and brother of assistant coach Mike Davis Jr.
Davis finished last season as the nation’s fourth-leading scorer (24.2 points per game), while also averaging 4.5 assists. He was named first-team all-Horizon League after each of his first two seasons (1,513 points).
“Really a big-time shooter and scorer,” UR coach Chris Mooney said of Davis.
Davis made 132 3-pointers two seasons ago, setting the NCAA freshman mark that was held by
Davidson’s Steph Curry.
“Antoine has really, really, really worked hard in the offseason. He and I, when everything was going on, we got a chance to come in the gym and really work,” said Davis, who succeeded Bobby Knight at Indiana in 2000 and directed the Hoosiers to the 2002 national championship game.
Antoine Davis is among 20 players on the watch list for the Jerry West Award, presented annually to the nation’s best shooting guard by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Davis weighs only 165 pounds, but that’s about 10 more than last season. His father said offseason training improved the player’s strength and stamina.
The Titans went 8-23 last season (6-12 in Horizon League) and brought in eight newcomers: three graduate transfers, two Division I transfers and three freshmen. In the Horizon League preseason poll, Detroit Mercy was picked ninth among 12.
“We’ve got a lot of really good pieces this year that we hadn’t had in the past,” said Davis, who’s in his third season at Detroit Mercy. “It’s just a different team.”
The Titans’ involvement in the Kentucky event is a homecoming for senior guard Brad Calipari, the son of Kentucky coach John Calipari. Brad Calipari, a member of Detroit Mercy’s rotation last season (6.1 ppg), played three years at Kentucky.
“Him coming in and making some shots, that’s very important for us,” said Davis, who was a four-year starter at Alabama during 1980-83.
Senior guard Dwayne Rose is the nephew NBA guard Derrick Rose.
Junior forward Chris Brandon is the nephew of former NBA player and coach John Lucas. Sophomore guard Jamail Pink is the nephew of ex-NBA star Clyde Drexler.
The Spiders, favorites in the A-10, come off a 24-7 season (14-4 A-10) and will start four seniors. UR is among those receiving votes in the AP Top 25 preseason poll, which ranks Kentucky No. 10.
Davis said the Spiders “have the advantage on all of the teams [at the Kentucky event] because when you couldn’t practice, and you can’t play scrimmages and exhibition games, to have a team that played together for the last couple of years, they’re ahead of schedule because they’ve been together.
“Kentucky is a really talented basketball team, but they hadn’t had everybody together like Richmond.”
Three former Wildcats were selected in last Wednesday’s NBA draft, but Calipari brought in the nation’s top recruiting class of six players, and added three transfers: 6-3 Davion Mintz (Creighton), 7-0 Olivier Sarr (Wake Forest), and 6-9 Jacob Toppin (Rhode Island).
Morehead State was picked to finish eighth among 12 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Broadcast schedule: UR plays Detroit Mercy on Wednesday at 9 p.m. (Richmond Spiders YouTube page), Morehead State on Friday at 9 p.m. (Richmond Spiders YouTube page), and Kentucky on Sunday at 1 p.m. (ESPN).