Keno Davis, center, accepts the Coach of Year trophy. (Photo courtesy of MVC Photographer Dave DeVoe)
ST. LOUIS, MO. -- For the first time since 1993, a Drake coach has
earned the Rawlings MVC Coach of the Year honor as Keno Davis became
the third rookie coach in the past five years to win the Missouri
Valley Conference regular-season title.
Davis received 38 of a possible 40 first-place tallies and 116 total
points to outdistance Illinois State's Tim Jankovich in the voting.
Creighton's Dana Altman was third in the balloting, conducted by league
coaches, media and sports information directors.
"This is an incredible honor," said Davis. "The Missouri Valley
Conference has historically had some great coaches and does again this
"My father (Dr. Tom Davis) has to take some credit for getting the program headed in the right direction."
In his first year as head coach at Drake, Davis engineered the
surprise regular-season champs to a 25-4 record after being picked
ninth in the league's pre-season poll. The Bulldogs are the lowest
pre-season pick to win the league title (Illinois State was tabbed for
eighth in the 1991-92 poll, before sharing the regular-season crown
with Southern Illinois. The league has maintained records of its
pre-season poll since 1985-86.)
"It has been quite a ride," added Keno Davis. "Our young men are a
special group. After the first 30 days of practice, I thought we could
have something pretty special this season."
The 25 victories as a first-year coach is tied for sixth-best in the
history of the MVC, and don't yet include the State Farm MVC Tournament
or post-season play. Other recent MVC Rawlings Coach of the Year
winners with 25+ wins included Southern Illinois' Matt Painter (25 in
2004) and Chris Lowery (27 in 2005). The league record for wins by a
rookie coach is 33 by Bill Hodges and his Indiana State Final Four team
of 1979. (Page 155 of the MVC media guide has a complete list of rookie
Before taking over for his legendary father, Dr. Tom Davis, Keno had
served as an assistant at Drake since May 2003. He also spent six years
as an assistant to former Drake head coach Gary Garner at Southeast
Missouri State and as an assistant under Bruce Pearl at Southern
Indiana. Davis is a 1995 graduate of Iowa.
Davis joins Maury John (four times), Garner (1982) and Rudy
Washington (1993) as Drake coaches to have won the league's top
coaching honor. The Valley began recognizing a Coach of the Year in
Jankovich finished second in the balloting while guiding Illinois
State to its first 20-win season in seven years. The Redbirds enter the
tournament 22-8. The last rookie MVC coach to win that many games and
not win the Rawlings MVC Coach of the Year award was Barry Hinson
(1999-00), as the Bears entered the MVC tourney with 20 victories and
ended up with a 23-11 slate.
For more information on Drake Athletics and this weekend's Missouri Valley Tournament, visit the Athletic Web site.