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MT hosts preseason basketball press conference

Head coach Kermit Davis and guard Tweety Knight speak with media

November 5, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Before the Middle Tennessee men's basketball team tips off the regular season Sunday afternoon at Murphy Center against Southern University, head coach Kermit Davis and senior guard Tweety Knight were on hand Tuesday to speak with the media at the preseason basketball press conference.

Head Coach Kermit Davis

Opening comments:

We played a scrimmage and an exhibition, and it's probably been the two most competitive, best group of talented players we have played against since I have been here.

Last night Truman State, has a guy that used to coach here and has a really good Division II team, really tested us the whole night. We think we know where we are and have a lot ahead of us. We are looking forward to Sunday's game against Southern University, this being my 12th year, and there is no question that this is the best opening home game that we have had against the toughest team. A team that went to the NCAA Tournament last year, was tied with Gonzaga with two minutes to go and got beat by six, won at Texas A&M and has some really good players. It will be just like a regular season C onference USA game. I'm looking forward to a good week of practice and getting started Sunday at 4 p.m.

On making it to the NCAA Tournament:

We mention it early, but it's just a fact with leagues like ours that everybody asks "how many teams do you think will get in?" We will know right about the end of December because that is how you played in nonconference. We all need to go win out of conference games. You are trying to beat the teams you are supposed to beat, trying to go on the road and maybe beat some SEC or BCS teams, which we have done lately and hope that other schools in your league do it.

You don't have to be perfect. If you beat Southern University, I would not be surprised if they were in the NCAA Tournament come March.

On winning at home:

At schools you are trying to grow, it's winning. Now everybody has asked, after we have won 28 straight games in the Murphy Center, which is the second longest streak in college basketball, how do we do that? Well you have to have really good players and a really good fan base. Out student body has been terrific. They have changed the atmosphere, like they do at all the stadiums and arenas around the country. We have led our league in attendance the last couple of years and we believe the ticket sales will continue to grow and grow and we will see a good crowd here Sunday.

On missing the play of Kerry Hammonds II:

He has been out for two to three weeks and we hope to get him back middle-to-end of this week and we will see. It will be a game time decision Sunday if he plays.

I hate it for Kerry, but probably, well, for our team because it allows us to look at these other guys that have had to play in these games. Kerry has so much experience. Last year we won big games; he makes the final shot against Ole Miss over Marshall Henderson to win and the key steal against Vanderbilt to kind of seal the game. Kerry has been a big part of this run. I feel bad for him after having a good summer and fall camp.

On Hammonds stepping up as a leader:

I hope so. We lost a lot of our vocal leaders, our kind of "junkyard guys" last year. We have some really nice guys coming back on the team. Kerry is one of them, Shawn Jones is one of them and Neiko (Hunter) is one of them, but they are not real vocal or verbal guys so that is something we have talked about a lot. Kerry is getting better at it, but he needs to continue to get better at it. Those are some of the things that we have missed and we are trying to develop.

On high expectations for the season:

I think we all work like heck to create expectations and it's good. Obviously, we understand that we have lost some good players and we are trying to get seven new guys into the game and play them, but I still like our athletic ability to play, good players. Our schedule is tough and we are looking forward to going to Conference USA and that is the fun part of it. We don't talk about it a bunch, but when the bar is raised it is great for your program and good for recruiting.

Senior Guard Tweety Knight

On the "junkyard guys" comment:

It makes sense and "junkyard guys," means doing whatever it takes to win, help your team win, play your role, doing whatever you have to do to help your team win.

On having to take over new roles after graduating tough players from last year:

I can play both roles. I am not being arrogant. It's what Coach Davis has always told me to do. "Play both roles, be vocal, lead the team and get them started off right."

On playing in Murphy Center:

It has a huge advantage. The student body and Blue Raider fan base is great to come out for us so that we can play in front of a great crowd.

On who the new team leaders are:

I would have to say the returning guys: Shawn Jones, Neiko Hunter, Kerry Hammonds, Zane Gibson, Torin Walker, Jacquez Rozier and me.

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