Jim Davis Answers Your ‘Ask The Tigers’ Questions

Jim Davis Answers Your ‘Ask The Tigers’ Questions

April 12, 2001

Below are Jim Davis’ answers to the selected questions that you submitted this past week to “Ask The Tigers”. would like to thank you for all of your questions submitted. We would also like to thank Jim for his time and sincere effort with “Ask The Tigers”. _______________________________________________________________

Jim, Who is the most athletic player you have ever had the opportunity to coach?Jackie Arnold Myrtle Beach, SC

We had a young lady that played in the early 90s by the name of Sharon Wells. Sharon came to us from Kilgore JC in Texas, and she was a native of Dayton, OH. She played the 2 guard for us. She was just a tremendous athlete. She was very explosive in the open court with great quickness. She was certainly one of the most athletic. Chrissy Floyd from Laurens, who is currently on our team, is also a great athlete.

Jim, How did you get into coaching women’s basketball?Billy Tuttle Hartford, CT

I actually started out 34 years ago coaching boys and girls junior high school basketball. Then I coached boy’s basketball at the high school level for a couple of years, and then I started coaching girls high school basketball. All the time I was coaching at the high school level I was an assistant football coach as well. I then got the opportunity to coach junior college women’s basketball. So I guess from that point on I have labeled myself a women’s basketball coach.

Jim, How do you think the WNBA has helped women’s college basketball?Angela Artest Rock Hill, SC

The WNBA has allowed young women to dream, and has given them an opportunity to fulfill their dreams. I think first of all the WNBA has filtered down to the collegiate level by enabling collegiate players to continue to develop their skills with the hopes of playing there someday. Even little girls at the grass root levels can have role models like Cynthia Cooper and Rebecca Lobo and hopefully Erin Batth someday. But the WNBA has been good, and I think it learned from some of the mistakes made on the men’s side, which is true in the NCAA as well.

Coach Davis, I am a long time Lady Tiger fan and am proud of all their accomplishments, including the first ACC tournament championship (I was there!) My question, however, is this: The Lady Tigers have been to the NCAA tournament year after year, but never seem to get as far as they should (Finals). How much of the blame do you put on yourself, on your players? Thanks Coach Davis!James Groener Miami, FL

Well ultimately the buck stops here. We have had some good players. I have always said that in order to win a national championship you have got to be good and you have got to be lucky. In 1991 in Philadelphia we were playing an upstart team by the name of Connecticut for a trip to the Final Four and we lost in the regional championship by 3 points. And that really was the springboard for Connecticut, they really were not a factor in major women’s college basketball. Had that game gone a little differently, you know, it could have been us instead of UConn, but you know that’s just the way it is. But ultimately it is my fault. I bring these young people in here. We are able to recruit, and develop them, and coach them. But you have to be good, and you have to be lucky to win that national championship, and we haven’t won it because we haven’t gotten that prime time premier player attracted to Clemson.

Jim, I have been attending the girls games for the past 5 years and I would like to say each year seems to get better!!! My question: What do you think it will take for the Lady Tigers to be on the same playing level of UConn, Tenn. etc. Is it talent, recruiting, facilities, coaching, money????Cindy Derrick Seneca, SC

Well, all of that, obviously. I think we have a tremendous coaching staff right now. They are working very hard at recruiting, and I think we are recruiting players now that are just a notch above what we have had the past twelve years. Obviously tradition has a lot to do with it. We are not recruiting the players that are of the same caliber as a Tennessee or a UConn. And facilities are certainly a very key factor. You know you go into Littlejohn Coliseum, it is not the same as going into Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville or Gampel Pavilion at UConn. But I think with Notre Dame winning the National Championship it is an inspiration to those of us that have been just a notch below.

Mr. Davis, Being one of the best women’s basketball coaches in the nation have you ever been offered coaching positions anywhere else? Also how is your free time spent? Hunting? Fishing? Family? Golf? Thanks for your time and great 2001 season.Johney Williams Columbia, SC

I have been offered several jobs since I have been here at Clemson. As a matter of fact I was just offered a job in the WNBA. But Clemson is a great fit for me. My family is happy here, and as far as free time, I love to play golf, I’m not very good but I love to play. My wife and I just became grandparents. So a lot of my time is going to be spent going back and forth from Lawrenceville, Georgia to visit our new granddaughter. But Clemson is just a great fit for me. We just love it here.

Jim, Do you think that the loss of Erin Bath will hurt the tigers next season?George Vaughan Norcross, GA

Well, I have said for three years now that Erin Batth is the best post defender in America. And as much emphasis as we place on defense, she will be a tremendous loss. Along with Noria Forns and Andrea Gaines, we are really going to miss those three. Erin will hopefully get a chance to play in the WNBA, which would mean so much to our program, finally having someone playing at that level. But we are going to be very young next year inside, with nobody with the toughness defensive abilities of an Erin Batth. So we will miss her tremendously.

Jim, I felt that this year’s NCAA tournament was truly unusual as many top seeds were knocked off by lower seeds. I am just a casual women’s basketball fan, but it seems like during the season the #3 ranked team will always beat #14 ranked team by 20 to 30 points. My question: Do you think we will start seeing more parity in women’s college basketball, and why is parity so hard to come by?C.J. Ballenger Lakeland, FL

Well I think that the women’s NCAA team is a little different. You don’t see the upstart Gonzaga and Coppin State upsets because the first two rounds in the women’s tournament are played on the campuses at the home site. So that is the reason you don’t see as many upsets. But you are right, this year there probably were more upsets than there have been. Georgia got beat on their home court, Rutgers got beat on their home court. But I think this year was the exception rather than the rule, but hopefully we are moving toward playing at neutral sites, or at least predetermined sites. You know during the season, when I don’t even think we were ranked in the top 25, we upset Duke in December when they were ranked #3 in the country. So it does happen during the season. But I think that the reason for the lack of upsets year to year in the NCAA tournament is because the first and second rounds are played at the home sites. And hopefully we are moving toward parity with the Southwest Missouris and the Notre Dames moving into the Final Four this year.

Jim, I have noticed that several of our players and recruits are from all over the country. How are you able to recruit the west and the northeast so well? What is Clemson’s best selling point in your opinion?Kate West Asheville, NC

Well I think that Clemson’s best selling point first of all is just Clemson’s national reputation. Being named Public College of the Year was certainly important to the visibility of our university. I think the beauty of the campus itself is a tremendous selling point. Vickery Hall is huge. If we are able to go into a parent’s home and tell them about the academic support system we have in place here at Clemson. And you know the ‘Clemson Family’, as I see from this questions there are Clemson Tigers everywhere, and they take a great deal of pride in our university and they wear our colors very well. We are able to find out about players because they are very loyal and they’ll send us information about good players in their area.

Jim, What is the best atmosphere you have ever been at coaching the Lady Tigers?Bob Blake Kingsport, TN

Well, we have played in Gampel Pavilion at UConn a couple of times before sellouts. We have played at Thompson-Boiling Arena in Knoxville before 5 or 6 thousand. All of those are great atmospheres. But to me the best atmosphere was when we had over 5,000 people in here when we played Georgia in the NCAA Tournament a few years ago. Littlejohn was rocking. To me that was the best atmosphere because it was Littlejohn Coliseum.

Thanks for all of the great questions. I enjoyed it and enjoy your enthusiasm for Lady Tiger basketball. Go Tigers! Jim Davis

Next week’s guest on “Ask The Tigers” will be the lanky righthanded “Tiger Ace”, Steve Reba.