Keno Davis, Zach Saylor confident with experienced coaching staff

This season, the men’s basketball team is getting a clean slate.

And it starts with the new coaches.

First-year head coach Keno Davis said he is confident in his staff to help take the Central Michigan program to the next level.

“Starting off, I think one of the most important things in being able to build a program is making sure you have an incredible coaching staff and have guys that are going to put in the late hours and work hard for you,” he said.  “And I feel very comfortable with the group we put together.”

Davis said all three assistant coaches, Kevin Gamble, Jeff Smith and Kyle Gerdeman, bring something valuable to the table.

“I think they complement one another very well,” Davis said. “With coach Smith being at Central Michigan before and really knowing the area, coach Gamble with my familiarity with him, as well as being a head coach himself and having professional experience and Kyle Gerdeman, again, someone I’ve known for a long time, that works extremely hard in recruiting and on the court.”

Senior Zach Saylor, one of five returning players, said he is also excited about the new staff.

“I feel very comfortable, because they let you play to the strengths of your game,” he said. “It’s more of an up-and-down game, and there is more of a flow.”

Gamble served under Davis in 2010-11 at Providence College as the coordinator of player development and video operations. He also played 10 years in the NBA and has eight years of head coaching experience at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

“When you’ve been a head coach, you understand all of the things that go into a program and all of the things you have to do,” Davis said of Gamble. “He understands the system, the style, the mentality that we want in a program. So, when he’s on the court teaching our guys, he understands what I’m looking for. When he’s on the road in high school gyms, he understands the type of player that can be successful in our system.”

Gamble said his past coaching experience will be a helpful tool, and he believes Davis has what it takes to build a successful program.

“My previous head coaching experience has helped out a lot,” Gamble said. “Being a head coach, you learn to be patient.  And I think that is one thing (Davis) has.  He’s a very patient guy, and, as a head coach, you can’t get too excited, because it’s a 40-minute game and a 30-game season. That is one of the things that helped me because, especially with young players, they are going to make mistakes, and it’s a learning process. But you just have to be patient.”


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