Men's Basketball

 
Larry Davis
Larry Davis
Position: Head Coach (Asbury '78)
When Larry Davis came to Furman University in late spring of 1997, nobody expected the Paladins' new head coach to pull a rabbit out of a hat or wave a magic wand and overnight lift the school's moribund basketball program out of its 1990s hoops funk. Instead of magic tricks and quick fixes, Davis began implementing a long term plan for basketball revival within a framework that would require a patient but diligent approach seeded with good old-fashioned hard work and a total commitment to success. Eight years later, Davis' master plan for Furman basketball has produced tangible returns in the form of three winning seasons since 2002, including the program's first successful league campaign since 1991, a Southern Conference Tournament runner-up finish, and a quality talent base that has positioned Furman basketball for continued success. In addition to improved win totals, under Davis' guidance Furman basketball appears to have also cleared the important mental hurdle of competing with -- and defeating -- established league powers as evidenced by the Paladins' regular season sweep of Chattanooga in 2002 (including the Paladins' first win in Chattanooga since 1980), victories over College of Charleston in tournament semifinal action that same season, and a decisive 84-71 thumping of conference north division and eventual tournament champion East Tennessee State in Johnson City in 2003. Two year ago Furman snapped Georgia Southern's 13-game winning streak with a 77-72 victory in Statesboro, and last year the Paladins defeated eventual SoCon Tournament champion UTC 75-68 in Chattanooga. In recruiting, one of Davis' primary goals from day one was to improve the athleticism of Furman's basketball program, and by all measures his efforts have rated a near complete success. His first two recruiting classes netted the likes of Anthony Thomas, a versatile swing man and one of the SoCon's premier three-point shooters, and Paul Foster, a solid playmaker who along with Thomas played a significant role in Furman's impressive conference tournament run in 2002 with strong leadership and outstanding three-point shooting. Davis' third recruiting foray featured two players who would leave their names firmly entrenched in the school's hoops record book. Heading the list was all-conference point guard Guilherme Da Luz, a two-time all-conference selection who would become the first player in league history to top 1,000 points, 600 assists, 500 rebounds, and 200 steals in a career. Forward Karim Souchu, meanwhile, would join former Paladin greats Frank Selvy, Darrell Floyd, and Jonathan Moore as the only players to top 2,000 points (2,014) in a career. It was in Davis' third season that the overall competitiveness of the program began to improve as evidenced by victories in five of the Paladins' last six games, including decisive triumphs over higher seeded UNC Greensboro (77-61) and Georgia Southern (68-54) in Southern Conference Tournament play. In becoming the first Furman squad to play its way into tournament semifinal action since 1980, the Paladins narrowly missed upsetting heavily favored Appalachian State, falling to the eventual champion Mountaineers 60-56. The 2001 campaign generated more highlights, including a 79-74 overtime victory over Florida State in Tallahassee -- the program's first win over an Atlantic Coast Conference foe since 1987 -- and an impressive 70-52 triumph over eventual conference tournament champion UNC Greensboro. Those victories and continued recruiting success led to the 17-14 season in 2002, which saw the Paladins become the first team in league history to advance from a preliminary round into the championship game. In 2004 Davis directed Furman to a 17-12 record thanks, in large measure to the stellar play of consensus All-Southern Conference forward Maleye Ndoye and a freshman class that ranked among the most impressive in recent league history. In all, three Paladin newcomers were named to the league's all-freshman team. Last year Davis authored a 16-13 campaign, including the program's first league winning slate (9-7) since 1991. Included in that were regular season victories over eventual tournament champion Chattanooga (75-68) and runner-up UNC Greensboro (82-65). At present four of Davis' former players -- Karim Souchu (Belgium), Guilherme Da Luz (Brazil), and Maleye Ndoye (France), and Nick Sanders (Holland) are playing professional ball. At every stop along his coaching path -- at the high school, mid-major, and major college levels -- Davis has been described as one of the hardest working, most caring coaches in the profession. Said former Wake Forest and fourth year South Carolina head mentor Dave Odom upon Furman's selection of Davis as the Paladins' new head coach in 1997: "Larry Davis is uniquely qualified to lead the Furman basketball program. He is excellent in every phase of the job -- academic development, coaching skills, recruiting, media relations, fund-raising -- he can truly do it all. His greatest asset, however, is deep commitment to his players and their development as people, both on and off the basketball court." Prior to coming to Furman, Davis served as an assistant coach at Minnesota, where he played a key role in the recruitment of several outstanding players, including 1996 Associated Press All-American and Big Ten Player-of-the-Year Bobby Jackson, All-American Quincy Lewis, and standout Charles Thomas. Prior to his stint at Minnesota, Davis served in assistant coaching capacities at Ball State University (1993-94), Wake Forest University (1989-93), and the University of Delaware (1985-89). In his only season at Ball State, Davis helped the Cardinals to a 16-12 record. While at Wake Forest, he played a key role in the revitalization of the Demon Deacon program under Odom, assisting in the Deacons' rise from last in the Atlantic Coast Conference to a then school record three straight NCAA Tournament berths, including a 21-9 record and appearance in the "Sweet 16" in 1993. And, at Delaware, Davis helped the Blue Hens to a then school record 19 wins in 1988. A native of Mount Sterling, Ky., Davis attended Wapahani High School in Selma, Ind., and was named Wapahani's outstanding athlete in 1974 following a stellar basketball and baseball career. He went on to attend Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky., where he starred in soccer and track before graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in education in 1978. The next year he enrolled in graduate school at East Tennessee State University and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant -- a position he held for three seasons prior to receiving his master's degree in physical education in 1982. Davis assumed his first head coaching position at Cloverport High School in Cloverport, Ky., in 1982. A year later he moved on to prep basketball powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., where in two seasons he compiled an outstanding 51-9 record while developing the talents of a dozen future NCAA Division I players. His 1985 squad, which ranked fifth nationally, included Parade All-Americans Rod Strickland (DePaul) and Michael Jones (Auburn). Davis, 49, and his wife Treva have a daughter, Morgan, 20, a junior at Furman, and a son, Jordan, 15.