ENMU coaching candidate seeks fast tempo

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico

If Richard Davis is named the next men’s basketball coach at Eastern New Mexico University, he’s letting the dogs run.

The Columbus, Ohio native, and current coach at Division II St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., preached about an offensive style where the bigs run the sidelines and the point guard is looking to reward their hustle.

Though he believes in set offenses when there’s a timeout and his team needs a basket, he doesn’t want a confining offense.

“I don’t like watching it, I don’t like coaching it,” said Davis, 49-37 in his three years since moving up from assistant duties for the Pumas.

But Davis said he does have many rules, including mandatory player study halls and community service programs off the court and a commitment to defense on it.

“If you’re not going to defend, you’re not going to play,” Davis said. “You’ve got to show your team that nobody’s above it.”

Davis spoke of a commitment to man-to-man defense, with zones thrown in to keep opponents guessing. Against a higher-ranked team known for its long-range shooters, Davis said he once employed a zone defense for the first five possessions.

“It was almost like, ‘How dare you play that against us,’” Davis said, but he noted the opponent never scored against the zone.

After playing basketball and football at Ashland University in Ohio, Davis said he was playing for an exhibition basketball team and his roommate told him two things — God was going to take care of him, and he would end up being a coach.

A few months down the road, he got a call about an opportunity coaching at Ashland. Two years later, he was at St. Joseph’s. And two years after that, he was the new head coach after Linc Darner parlayed a 31-3 season into a new opportunity at Florida Southern.

In comparison to the two other finalists for the ENMU job, Davis is the one who would be making the most lateral move, as he already coaches a Division II school. Andrew Helton, who visited Monday, is a Division I assistant and former ENMU assistant Greg Young, set to visit next week, is a junior college coach.

When asked why he sought a change, he responded that he wants a chance to build a program. With the Pumas, he came in with the entire starting lineup to replace and a community that expected a 27-year-old head coach to repeat or improve on a 31-3 record.

At ENMU, he gets to build on a team that finished 4-23 in coach Shawn Scanlan’s ninth season, and build with a combination of his players and any of Scanlan’s players interested in sticking around.

“At St. Joe’s, I inherited things,” he said. “It’s kind of a fresh start from almost nothing. First year, you’re competitive. Then, you’re competitive for conference titles. Then, you’re (looking to compete) nationally.”