Providence fires men's basketball coach Keno Davis

The Associated Press
Friday, March 11, 2011; 6:55 PM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- An 11-2 start, consecutive wins against ranked teams and the nation's second highest scorer couldn't save Keno Davis' job as men's basketball coach at Providence College.

Davis, whose Friars struggled to compete in the tough Big East, was fired Friday after three seasons.

Athletic director Bob Driscoll made the announcement three days after they lost to Marquette, 87-66, in the first round of the Big East tournament, ending their season at 15-17. They were 4-14 in the Big East for the second straight year and finished 14th in the conference.

"There's no question we can be in the top half of the Big East," Driscoll said, "and if you're in the top half of the Big East, you're in the NCAA tournament. So it's absolutely doable with the right leadership and the right kind of support."

The Friars didn't come close to the top half the past two seasons.

In Davis' first season, they were 19-14 overall and 10-8 in the conference with an NIT appearance. But since then, they were 27-36 and 8-28 for overall records of 46-50 and 18-36. This season they lost eight of their last nine games.

And now senior guard Marshon Brooks, who averaged 24.2 points per game, "is probably going to the NBA and the kids coming in probably aren't as good," Driscoll said, "so it just felt like it was stalling and going backwards a bit."

Providence is 1-6 in the NCAA tournament under five coaches in the last 24 years since reaching the Final Four in 1987 under Rick Pitino where they lost to Syracuse 77-63.

Rev. Brian J. Shanley, the school's president since Feb. 1, 2005, is committed to changing that, Driscoll said.

"We're in a unique time here in Providence," Driscoll said. "It's going to be a hard battle because we have such a tough league. I have a president that understands the value of a successful basketball program to fundraising, admissions, the branding, and I'm not sure that was always the case."

Driscoll said some potential replacements for Davis will be coaching in the NCAA and NIT tournaments so he wants to be "very deliberate because it's such an important hire."

Davis, who turned 39 on Thursday, came to Providence in 2008-09 after his only other season as a head coach in which he led Drake to a 28-5 record and was named coach of the year by The Associated Press. He had spent the previous four seasons as an assistant at Drake under his father, Tom Davis.

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