Davis reflects on college career with Lady Vols

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   Over the last decade, NCAA women's basketball has grown tremendously in popularity.
   Latina Davis is glad she was a part of it.
   The former University of Tennessee standout and member of the Lady Vols' 1996 national championship team says things have changed for the better since the mid-1990's.
   Every NCAA women's tournament game was on ESPN or ESPN 2 this year, something that was unheard of back then.
   "Back then I guess we had a lot of fans at Tennessee, but a lot of the other schools are a lot smaller," Davis said Tuesday at the
   Elizabethton-Unicoi County tennis match. "I think it's all about the money really to get on TV. Women's basketball has grown since I graduated six or seven years ago. I go back now and it's like another world. It's almost like a professional league."
   Women's basketball is also more competitive than it used to be. When Davis played, UConn and Tennessee basically ruled the roost.
   In recent years, other programs have risen to the top of the heap. Tennessee is still a lot of players' dream school, but some are wanting to go other places to beat the Lady Vols.
   "They probably did set the standard, but everybody can't go to Tennessee," Davis said. "There are a lot of great players out there. Back in my time, I look back now and I probably can't play with some the athletes there are now. When I look back in my time, I thought there were a lot of older players that played before me that were supposed to be so good that I thought I could beat. Everybody just keeps getting better."
   In addition to winning a national championship, Davis had the opportunity to play with Chamique Holdsclaw, who helped bring women's basketball to a national stage.
   Holdsclaw won three national titles at Tennessee, and is considered to be one of the greatest of all time.
   "At that time she probably was one of the best freshmen in the country," Davis said. "She helped our team out offensively for sure. She brought a lot more to the game than we could have ever brought."
   Davis also had the opportunity to play for a living legend in Pat Head Summitt. Davis not only respects her as a basketball coach, but also for what she tries to instill into her players.
   "It was tough, but I'm glad she recruited me to be honest with you," Davis said. "I'm a lot more focused now than what I used to be growing up. She instills more than just basketball knowledge. She instills life skills."
   Davis is now trying to help high school girls become great basketball players. In addition to coaching tennis at Unicoi County High School, Davis assists Glenn Fisher in the girls basketball program.
   Davis is currently getting a masters degree at East Tennessee State in wellness, where she was a graduate assistant with the Lady Bucs for two years.
   "I'm trying to apply for college jobs if I could possibly get something," Davis said. "I'm not sure I want to teach,"Davis definitely wants to coach in the college ranks, but the SEC school in Knoxville is not in her plans.
   "That's not the place for me," Davis said. "I'm too laid back for the atmosphere. The SEC wouldn't be bad, I just don't want to be a head coach in that situation."
   Davis is still a Lady Vol though, and will have her eyes glued to the television on Sunday night when Tennessee takes on Duke in the National Semifinals.
   Duke defeated Tennessee by 21 points earlier in the season, but Davis doesn't see it happening this time around.
   "That might have been a fluke," Davis said. "Everybody has off days. I'll tell you what, they better come ready to play Sunday or it's going to be a different story.
   "The way I feel about it, I don't think you can play on one player. (Duke All-American Alana Beard) That's the problem I see with Duke. When she gets tired, they're going to struggle. If she has an off-day, they're in trouble."