Plenty of Keno Davis quotes from CMU basketball media day
"Since we started our summer workouts, our team has come a long way. I think our staff and players knew that we had that opportunity to have a couple of hours every week during the summer, which couldn't have come at a better time for our team and our program. We knew it was going to be a learning process for us, but our young players and our returning guys have worked extremely hard. When you add our summer workouts to our 10-day minicamp that we had in August to now, from our group workouts to our team workouts we are a different ball club. That doesn't mean we've arrived, it doesn't mean we are ready to step onto the court and compete in the MAC. But it does mean we have an opportunity this year to compete and improve and I really like what I've seen out of the team so far."
When asked about some of the new recruits brought in:
"Being able to get the job in April, one of the biggest question marks for our staff was what kind of talent are we going to be able to bring in so late in the process? But I knew when I took over the job at Central Michigan that the state of Michigan was ripe with talent and very well-coached young men. We were very fortunate this year, whether it's like that every year I don't know. There were some very quality kids and players right from the state of Michigan and the surrounding area. You always feel good about the kids you sign or else you wouldn't sign them, but we've been impressed with the group as a whole and certain guys individually in how good not only they can become but also how good they can be as freshmen.
On whether he brought in the personnel capable of running his up-tempo offense:
"I think there is no doubt. Not only do I want to run an up-tempo style both offensively and defensively, but our team has been built for that. We don't have the players that would compete in a 40 or 50-point game. We have guys that can push the ball. All of our guys can run, all of our guys can shoot. And not just shoot from the inside or the free throw line, but we are going to be a really good 3-point shooting team. We are going to put pressure on the defense by spreading the court and when we do that, we know we can't be primarily a 3-point shooting team. We have to be able to spread the court to attack the basket, get to the free line, and get to the basket not just by being a true post-up team. Then defensively, we have to know that we are going to be more of a full-court pressure team or three-quarter pressure team so we can get the score in the 90's. I think that will be exciting for not only our team, but also our fans and students. I think it will be exciting for our recruits, too. When they are able to come watch us practice or play, I think it is going to be a style and system that is going to attract student-athletes to Mt. Pleasant."
When asked about if his team is ready for the tough non-conference schedule:
"No, I don't think we are ready for that. It's a tougher schedule than I would have liked. But again, scheduling takes place a lot earlier much like recruiting. And when we had opportunities to play at Michigan or PAC-12 member Utah or down in El-Paso, we felt like the experience of playing in those tournaments or those high-profile games will help us down the road in year two or year three of our staff. But that's also for when MAC play rolls around. Those games, whether you win them or whether you lose them, it's how much you learn from that. I feel pretty confident that regardless of the outcome of some of those games, we'll be a better team going forward.
On how his one-year stint at the Big Ten Network helped him in terms of coaching:
"I think the opportunity for a basketball coach to take a step back and be in broadcasting (was great). I mean, you see a lot of coaches go that route for one reason or another and what it allowed me to do was evaluate everything I do offensively and defensively with game plans and strategy. By not only reflecting on what we did, but looking at other programs and being at practices. You maybe don't change your overall way of doing things, but you pick up a little thing here or a little thing there and get a real chance to improve as a coach. You've got to improve as a coach each day, each year. I think that time was invaluable for me. As far as giving us an advantage against the three Big Ten opponents on our schedule, I don't know if that is going to give us anything more. I think that so many games are on TV and everyone is so well-scouted that I don't see that being an advantage, but if it is I'll take it."
On if any one or two individuals have stood out beyond what he thought their skill set was:
"I don't know if any one player has really stood out in their skills from what we thought when we recruited them. If there was one thing that exceeded our expectations, it is the point guard play, that of Chris Fowler and Kyle Randall. They have the experience. Kyle Randall graduated in three years from UNC-Greensboro and Chris Fowler not only being from a premier program at Detroit Country Day but also being down at IMG Academy for a year. I think those the experiences from that maybe gave them a step up on day one to be able to lead a young team. So I think maybe the point guard play. I think in the overall concept we might be above where I thought we would be. We have the ability to hit the 3-pointer from every position on the court. Guys like Blake Hibbitts and John Simons as freshmen, you wouldn't know they are freshmen. They can step out and shoot the basketball. They are going to be really big matchup problems for bigger, stronger players that are going to try and defend them from the outside. On the defensive end, we have to figure out how we are going to defend bigger and stronger players on the inside."
Asked what is the biggest change that needs to be made from last year's team:
"I've tried not to watch much game tape from last year. I think one reason is because from last year's team to this year's team, we have very few returning players and the players we have back we're not playing that much. I wanted to try and be as open-minded as I could with our new players and our returning players about how I saw them and give them an opportunity to be on the court. I wanted them to decide it on the court and not come in thinking they are at a certain position or going to play a certain amount of minutes. I wanted to stay away from that. And yet I think that when I saw them after we had a couple workouts during last year's school year, I think the ability to run harder and rebound harder and play harder kicked in because we're going to rotate players in and out more due to the speed in which we are going to play. So you have to learn how to pace yourself. You have to learn that it might be one or two times down the court, then you are subbing in. To be able to go that hard, now we're able to pick the speed up and we're able to play more guys. Then as you get your wind and understand how to play that hard, you can go from a play or two at a time to a minute or two at a time knowing that once they develop that consistency your best player might be on the court the entire game. But he's not pacing himself anymore, he's going like the game is on the line each and every possession."
On team depth:
"I think right now we have 11 players that could be in the rotation. I've never played an 11-man rotation, but I know the benefit of having 11 men right now. They know when they go against each other there is great opportunity and great competition for starting positions, for playing time. I don't think there is a player on the team that is confident that they are going to start and that is unique. You would like to have the all-conference returner pegged in as a starter, that would be nice to have. But since we don't have that, I think we are going to have great competition next week to look for those spots and to look for that playing time. How deep we go, I think it's important that we be flexible and know how many minutes each guy is going to go. And how many guys we are going to rotate in the first half and the second half. We'll see in the next two or three weeks whether they start distancing themselves and make those decisions for us."
When asked about his active presence on Twitter and social media in general:
"It's @CoachKenoDavis (joking). I think what's important for us is that, while social media has been around for several years now we don't really know as coaches how important that is to us. I think most coaches who dismiss it as a tool are making a mistake. Because the young man who might come visit your school might do that because he follows you on Twitter or follows you on Facebook, just something that small. That's not going to be every student-athlete that you are going to recruit, but that is maybe going to be the one guy that could be the guy that is the difference-maker in turning you from an also-ran in the conference to being an all-tournament team. The other thing I think is it's important to be connected to our fans and our students. For us to be really successful in the NCAA Tournament, to have success in the conference tournament... we aren't going to be able to do it with our talent alone. And we can't do it on winning first to fill the seats at McGuirk. We have to fill McGuirk before we win conference championships, knowing that if that place is full we are going to win a couple more games here. If we can win a couple more games here, that could be from 18 to 20 wins. Or 19 to 21. Or a losing season to a winning season and really get the ball rolling, but we are trying to use everything we can to try and connect with our fan base and connect with our students, while also connecting with our future recruitable student-athletes. Social media is just one avenue that we are using."
On whether he has looked at tape from other MAC schools:
"I haven't watched one second quite honestly of another MAC school. I've been watching tape of ourselves on our workouts, on things we need to improve on. We've been working on recruiting, working on fundraising, working on filling the building. There are probably about 20 different areas where we feel we have really improved the program for the future. We'll have time to look at other MAC schools once play starts, once non-conference play starts. I really have been pleased with my staff and I think the combination of their skill has allowed us to be successful in recruiting as well as make improvements on the court. I think the head coach tends to get a lot of the praise or a lot of the blame when you win or lose, but really it's that assistant staff you have that's going to be really important to the success of your program. I know we've got a really good one. Once the season starts, they'll start breaking it down and we'll divide the scouting amongst the assistant coaches. Anyone that can watch tape and start breaking those opponents down so that when they get the game plan and game report to me, I'm going to be very confident that we'll be able to use that to the best of our ability."
What the team's identity is going to be:
"We're still as a team trying to develop that identity. They are trying to live up to what we as coaches and as a program want our identity to be. What we want our identity to be as fans come to McGuirk - our fans, students, season ticket holders - we want them leaving the arena believing that Central Michigan basketball team did not get outworked. That we were the team playing harder, that we were the team diving on the floor, the team running the court harder, the team that looked like they wanted to win more. Offensively and defensively, we want to be an up-tempo style basketball team. We want to be a team that gets to the free throw line, that gets to the 3-point line, and keeps the other team off it. So I think the hard work and versatile players in our program combined most importantly the character of our team to be strong, we want our team to have the best GPA of the basketball teams in the MAC. We want to be ranked nationally in GPA and we want these young men as they graduate to get great jobs in whatever they want to do after basketball. That is going to be the best recruiting for our program down the line. I don't think you are going to be successful on the court unless you have high-character young men in the program. That is a testament to the assistants to be able to find these young men and to be able to bring them to Central Michigan and be able to continue to do so. That's also an attribute to our guys, when you get a chance to meet our players they are high-character young men. I think especially with the young players coming in, that they already have that part to them, they have a chance to become much better basketball players than they already are. They are guys that are taking care of business, they are doing well academically, they are staying out of trouble, they are taking care of their studies, they are in the gym and doing those type of things. I think you are going to come back in a year or two and see that the guys that are freshmen now that they really improved. Well, they improved because of their character and what they were able to be about when they got here."