Interview with Seth Davis

USA TODAY Sports

The UConn Blog had the opportunity to speak with Seth Davis on April 3, 2014. Seth Davis graduated from Duke in 1992 and immediately started his journalism career with the New Haven Register for the next two and half years. He left the Register for Sports Illustrated in 1995. He is a college basketball analyst with CBS Sports and a columnist for Sports Illustrated

The UConn Blog:  First of all Seth, you started your professional journalism career in Connecticut in 1992 with the New Haven Register, can you tell us about your memories working in Connecticut with the Register?

Seth Davis: For two and half years I covered high school sports in Connecticut. It is where I learned my craft. I lived in downtown New Haven and I covered lots of football, basketball, and high school track. I traveled the entire state covering track meets. I also covered Little League Baseball where I had to keep my own box scores and stats. You name it, I covered it.

TUCB: How has it been working with both the CBS and Turner Sports crew during this NCAA Tournament?

SD: It is a great relationship and unprecedented in our industry. These are two competing entities. A few weeks before the tournament, CBS beat out Turner for the rights to the NFL Thursday night package. On Saturday, TBS will be airing the Final Four – the first time on cable.

This is a win-win relationship and the NCAA needs it. You are now able to watch any game of the tournament (CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV and the March Madness App). Before you could only watch the game that was being broadcast in your local market. Now, you have to work really hard to avoid missing a game.

TUCB: The UConn Blog spoke with Clark Kellogg earlier; can you tell us something that not everyone knows about Clark?

SD: Nothing – well, he is so out there. He is who he is. Everyone gets a good feeling being around Clark. He goes out of his way to introduce himself to everyone in the studio and asks their names – gophers, interns, researchers. He keeps a journal with him; you may have seen it by him while on TV. He is very spiritual, always engaged, and is very upbeat. He is one of my best friends.

TUCB: You wrote a book on John Wooden recently, what did you learn about Coach Wooden?

SD: I did research for four years. Coach Wooden was extremely competitive. He was not well liked by his players or his peers. He had a thin skin, he was sensitive – a real person. The more research I did the more complicated he became.

It was a different era and time back in Wooden’s day. The NCAA Tournament was regionalized. There were only four games to win and the west coast was not as competitive. Here is a man that may have come from a different planet in central Indiana, and then 40 to 50 years later he is winning a national championship in the Astrodome.

TUCB: Is there a coach in today’s game that follows in Wooden’s mold?

SD: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski because he won four national championships and two gold medals with USA basketball. He really changed the culture with USA basketball.

Billy Donovan from Florida conducts himself in this way and Brad Stevens (former Butler coach and current Boston Celtics coach) had the same qualities as Wooden. However, no one will ever win seven championships in a row like Wooden did.

TUCB: Moving onto the Final Four, what are your thoughts about the tournament so far? Any surprises?

SD: I am shocked by Kentucky. They lost to a really bad South Carolina team. They were swept by Arkansas and LSU, both who did not make the NCAA Tournament. John Calipari was ejected from the South Carolina game and did not attend the post-game press conference. He was getting toasted by the media. But he kept the team together, they hung together. When they lost to Florida in the SEC Tournament final, they were down 17 points and got it to be a one-point game. They like being the underdog. It has served them well.

TUCB: What do you think about the job Kevin Ollie has done at UConn?

SD: Kevin Ollie has done a tremendous job. He had to follow a legend and had the added challenge of the postseason ban. They got to the Final Four because of last year on how he kept the team together. His experience is one big 10 day contract. UConn needed his experience. As a point guard, he was able to get two scoring point guards to play together. I love hearing him speak. He is just not well spoken, he is eloquent. If he left coaching, I think he would have a great career as a writer.

TUCB: What are your thoughts about Shabazz Napier? Will he be drafted?

SD: Shabazz Napier is exactly what Kemba Walker was for UConn. He does everything, leads the team in scoring, rebounding, assists. He is a six foot point guard. I think he is 25 out of 29 from the free throw line in the tournament. He is shooting 80% for the year. He has leadership, experience, and scoring ability. He had to go through postseason ban. I believe he is the most unguardable player at the Final Four because he has the ball.

Napier will be a successful pro. He can score, it’s an up and down game. The NBA has rules that will allow him to score. He will play with guys who are better than him. He will definitely be a rotation player and will help teams win.

TUCB: Who wins on Saturday?

SD: Florida will be playing Kentucky with Florida winning the national championship. I have picked Florida in the beginning and I am sticking with them. Kentucky lost to Florida three times and maybe a fourth.

Kentucky will be a match-up problem for Wisconsin. They are big enough to guard Frank Kaminsky in the post and on the perimeter. They have four players to neutralize him.

TUCB: What are doing with Subway on Saturday at the Final Four?

SD: Jared and I will be at a local Subway in Dallas making Flatizzas. Wherever Jared goes, Jared is a rock star; he is a huge college basketball fan. I will also be making some videos for Sports Illustrated at the Final Four with Subway.

TUCB: One last thing before you get going, is conference realignment over?

SD: I think it was over when the ACC signed the Grants of Rights, which means that no one can leave a conference without the ACC retaining the media and marketing rights of that school. I think everything is stabilized.

TUCB: Finally, what are your thoughts on The American moving forward?

SD : The American can use more depth. They need another marquee name. New Houston coach Kelvin Sampson will do what Larry Brown did with SMU. The Sampson hire is a homerun. He does have a past, but he can coach. He has NBA experience working with the Houston Rockets.

As for the American, it is not a Power Five conference but it can be successful. A team going to the Final Four in year one is a great start.

TUCB: Thank you Seth for your time. We will be watching on Saturday.

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