Clemson women's basketball coach Jim Davis had to watch the NCAA tournament on TV for the second straight year. Clemson's administration is betting its longtime leader won't make it three-in-a-row next season.
Davis was awarded a three-year contract extension Tuesday that keeps him at Clemson through the 2007-08 season.
The Lady Tigers followed up a 14-15 mark in 2003 - the only losing mark ever in Davis' 17 Clemson seasons - with a 17-12 mark this year. While that wasn't good enough to make the NCAAs, Clemson was picked for the WNIT - the 16th time it reached the postseason under Davis.
Davis was gratified with the confidence shown him and his program by university president James F. Barker and athletic director Terry Don Phillips.
"It makes me want to work harder and achieve more to get where we know we ought to be," Davis told The Associated Press by phone Tuesday evening. "With that kind of loyalty, it gives us a lot of energy."
Davis has been one of the most successful, steadiest and colorful of Clemson's coaches. That wasn't always a good thing.
His routine success with the Lady Tigers drove him to demand more. When he didn't get it or didn't like what he saw, Davis would sometimes yell and scream to make his point.
Davis saw the flaw in himself this year, promising his team a more positive sideline leader.
"These players have to know I'm pulling for them every tick of the clock," he said in October.
Still, when his team was humiliated at home by North Carolina 72-41 in February, Davis' old frustrations came out.
"Right now, I'm thinking they probably need a new women's basketball coach at Clemson University," he said immediatly after the game. "If I can't get a team to play any harder than that, then I need to be raising tomatoes or picking up cans on the side of the road or something. That's sad."
Hours later, Davis had rethought his words and very much wanted to remain Lady Tigers coach. Apparently, Phillips never wavered in his commitment to Davis.
"We realize coach Davis strives to reach the NCAA tournament, as he has many times before," Phillips said. "We are going to give him all the administrative support necessary to reach that goal."
Davis sees much to get excited about down the road. The assistant carousel of the past few years - the Lady Tigers lost Davis' right-hand man Carey Green to Liberty in 1999, and Sam Dixon to Furman years ago - is coming to a stop, he said. Plus, he expects more athleticism than in recent years with his new recruits and returning players like point guard Julie Talley; Maxienne White, who missed last year with an Achilles' tendon injury; and post players Amanda White and Khaili Sanders.
Davis has made the NCAA tournament 14 times in 17 seasons, getting as far as the round of eight in 1991. He's had 11 years with at least 20 victories. He expects to add to those totals very soon.
"We obviously didn't live up to the standards" set before, Davis said. "Nobody's more disappointed than our players, but we have confidence that we'll get there again."
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