Davis Ready to Start Year Two

October 17, 2003 · MT Media Relations
The second year of the Kermit Davis era at Middle Tennessee gets underway on Saturday morning when the Blue Raiders take to the floor for their first official team practice for the 2003-04 season.

The squad will feature several new faces, but one thing will remain the same - Davis' demanding practice regimen.

"You just don't know who you have until you have gone through the grind," said Davis. "We have some young guys and newcomers that haven't been through all of this yet."

One glance at the Blue Raiders' roster for the upcoming campaign shows that Davis will have his work cut out for him in getting a very inexperienced squad ready in around three weeks. However, the second-year coach indicated that he was pleased with his team's accelerated learning over the summer and into the fall.

"I am very impressed with our incoming players. They have learned very quickly. We saw pretty quickly that the learning curve for some of these guys isn't going to be as long as we thought it could have been," Davis stated.

All told, the team welcomes 11 players to the fold this year that will see their first action in a Blue Raider uniform. Of those 11, Ben Britt, Bryan Smithson, and Alex Weekes are true freshmen while Michael Cuffee, Gaylon Dorsey, and Imo Akhibi are junior college transfers. However, five players will make their debut this year after sitting out last season. Kyle Young took a medical redshirt, Mike Dean and Darrio Scott sat out a transfer year, and Wes Durrant and Keith Christmas took redshirt sesaons. Dean will not gain eligibility until the completion of the fall semester after transferring midyear in 2002-03.

"We have several talented, young players," Davis said. "But they are still learning. We think these guys will give us a nice talent base for several years."

The team returns only three players who have ever seen action for the Blue Raiders. However, this group has been providing outstanding leadership for the younger players.

Davis said, "We have very good senior leadership. Keith Connor and Steven Jackson had an excellent fall.

Tommy Gunn put together a breakthrough season last year, averaging 15.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. For his effort, Gunn became the second Blue Raider ever to earn First Team All-Sun Belt honors. He also took home an All-Sun Belt Tournament award after an outstanding performance in the season-ending event. Gunn got the preseason started by receiving a nod for the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major All-America team. He is also expected to be among the Sun Belt's elite when the preseason all-conference team is named at next week's Media Days.

"Tommy Gunn is obviously our best player and he is as hard a worker as anyone. He had a great preseason and we're looking for even better things from him this season." The Blue Raiders practice schedule leads up to the team's only exhibition game on Nov. 4 against Global Sports. The team will take to the court for the regular season opener on Nov. 24 against Covenant College.

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