Keno Davis’ alma mater Iowa has periodically found its way onto the schedule of basketball teams he has coached before, through no fault of his own.
He will meet the Hawkeyes when the team plays Iowa at 7:36 p.m. today at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“To keep coming back and having an opportunity to be back in Iowa City, at my alma mater, is always a special place to go,” Davis said. “I always enjoy seeing familiar faces.”
He said he has coached against the Hawkeyes four or five times without even scheduling them as an opponent.
Davis is a 1995 graduate of Iowa and served as an undergraduate assistant for his father, Tom, who was the head coach for the Hawkeyes for 13 years.
“It helped develop the way I wanted to coach,” Davis said. “The type of success you can have and how you can have it, a lot of it comes back from my days at Iowa and getting a chance at a young age to work under my father.”
Central Michigan is considerably less familiar with the Hawkeyes, not playing them in its history.
Fran McCaffery is now in his third-year leading Iowa with a fast-paced style, Davis said.
“They’re a dangerous team, especially at home,” Davis said. “They’ve done a nice job of not only putting pieces in from recruiting but also developing those pieces in the program.”
Senior Zach Saylor, a 6-foot-8 forward, will have to matchup with Iowa’s big men, which are as tall as 7-foot-1.
“(I need to) just play help defense, communicate on defense and box out and just stay physical with them,” Saylor said.
Iowa looks to replace Matt Gatens, a second-team All-Big Ten player, who led the team in scoring last year.
Guard Roy Devyn Marble, who averaged 11.5 points per game last year, is one Hawkeye to watch, Davis said.
“Marble’s a special player with great upside, and you know that’s going to give matchup problems to just about everybody they face,” Davis said. “But they are also balanced enough (that) it’s not going to surprise you on a given night that there’s five, six, seven guys who can lead them in scoring.”
Saylor is one of five returning CMU players who lost by a combined 10 points at BCS schools Iowa State and Nebraska last year.
“You have to look at that, because it’s a confidence booster for yourself, as well as your team,” Saylor said. “Just to know you can go out there and compete.”
Saylor had 17 points in his team’s exhibition win against Lake Superior State Wednesday, which would have been recorded as a career-high if it were a regular-season game.
“I take it one game at a time,” he said. “Whatever’s best for our team, and if it’s to score; if it’s to rebound, to block shots, to defend; whatever keeps our team going.”