Despite feeling drained, Davis vows to go on

With his team crippled by injuries and distracted by calls for his resignation, Indiana coach Mike Davis tells Andy Katz he is physically exhausted and tired of the negativity surrounding his program.
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Updated: February 13, 2006, 9:48 AM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Indiana coach Mike Davis was so exhausted and drained by flu-like symptoms Saturday that he missed the Hoosiers' Big Ten home game against Iowa, the first time he's missed a game because of illness.

What really has Davis sick, though, is the undercurrent of negativity that has latched onto the program since he became coach in 2000 and now, he says, has begun to affect his players' on-court performance.

Speaking to ESPN.com hours after missing No. 21 Indiana's 70-67 loss to No. 19 Iowa, (he missed a game in the past due to suspension), Davis said he would not resign despite calls for his ouster by a segment of the fan base that reared its head Saturday in Bloomington, and that there are no plans for him to speak to Indiana athletics director Rick Greenspan about his future until season's end.

The particular portion of the fan base that irritates Davis is a group that wore black shirts to Saturday's game as a form of protest to his stewardship. With assistant Donnie Marsh coaching in Davis' place, the Hoosiers fell to 5-5 in the Big Ten (13-8 overall) while Iowa (8-3, 19-6) moved two games ahead of the Hoosiers in the loss column in the Big Ten race. There are five teams between the two in the standings.

"We were one game out of first and that's what happens?" Davis said of the faction of protestors. "You can say what you want to me, but that affects the guys.

"I watched [Saturday's] second half and you could see we were playing with no energy. It's really a shame. They have no idea what they've done to the players."

Prior to the Hoosiers' game at Wisconsin earlier in the week, Davis said, "You would have thought we were in last place, not one game out of first place," by the look on his players' faces.

Davis said the pall that is dogging the program has worn on the players, who he said continue to be loyal to him.

Davis said he "desperately wanted to be at the game Saturday" but was too ill to coach. He said he began to feel awful in the wee hours Saturday and that every part of him ached. He said he was told by the team doctor to stay home.

"Coach Davis became sick this morning, and he is under medical care. From a medical standpoint, there is no way that he could be at today's game," Indiana team physician Larry Rink said in a statement released by the school.

"My body just broke down," Davis, sounding weary, said by phone. "I've been up and I can't shake it."

Indiana is chasing an NCAA Tournament bid after a two-year absence. The Hoosiers are the only team in the nation that has played this year's No. 1-ranked teams -- Duke and Connecticut; they lost at home to both. As Bob Knight's successor, Davis, in his sixth year at IU, has been criticized -- maybe for that fact -- since becoming coach in 2000. It took only two seasons for Davis to lead Indiana to the national championship game, which it lost to Maryland in Atlanta.

This season's club was supposed to be Davis' most talented bunch, but Big Ten freshman of the year D.J. White -- one of the Hoosiers' top players -- broke his foot. White returned to play five games in the middle of the season, only to break the same foot again. The Hoosiers were 5-0 with White in the lineup alongside Auburn transfer Marco Killingsworth, but without White, Killingsworth tires often at the end of games.

Indiana visits Penn State on Wednesday -- Davis is expected to be recovered in time to coach -- before going to Illinois a week from Sunday. The Hoosiers' last four games are an even split -- two at home (Penn State and Michigan State) and two on the road (Purdue and Michigan) before the Big Ten tournament begins.

Greenspan said this preseason that he wanted to see progress in the program. Translation: An NCAA Tournament berth and some form of advancement there. Even if that happens, there's no telling if Davis can survive the building storm in Bloomington.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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