Home Sports Local Sports UNM coach Davis grateful for his time at NMMI

UNM coach Davis grateful for his time at NMMI

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Sometimes a promotion might look like a demotion. Coaches that are not secure in themselves and their ability might not bet on themselves. To the outsider, why would a young successful head coach at a respected junior college make a move to a bigger school for the title, video coordinator?

Former New Mexico Military Institute head basketball coach Ralph Davis was happy coaching there and not looking for a new job. Davis was comfortable at NMMI, a place he’d spent most of his adult life starting as a student. Davis played at NMMI for two years under Reggie Franklin and earned an honorable mention in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference as a guard.

After graduating from Texas A&M Kingsville, he came back and spent six seasons as an assistant coach under Sean Schooley. When Schooley retired, Davis was promoted to head coach where he was 38-51 in his three seasons on the bench.

UNM 

It came as a surprise to many when Davis left NMMI for an opportunity to become a video coordinator for the New Mexico Lobos basketball team. He spent one season doing that and last year was promoted to director of operations.

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“I wanted another challenge,” Davis said. “I wanted to continue to grow in this profession. Being in this state for so long, I have admired the University of New Mexico and coach Dr. Paul Weir. I admired what he did here and his time at New Mexico State. When the opportunity arose for me to come up here and start as a video coordinator, I thought it was a no brainer and a situation that I had to jump on.”

Davis explained the difference between the video coordinator role and director of operation is the video coordinator position is more basketball based. In that role, he assisted in game preparation, identifying prospects and helped with recruiting.

Former NMMI coach and current UNM assistant basketball coach Ralph Davis celebrates a basket during a game at The Pit last season. (University of New Mexico Athletic Communications Photo)

Davis felt the director of operations role was more administrative. He was charged with doing the things that needed to be done day-to-day. Davis did tasks such as scheduling, meals, travel, uniforms, equipment and academics to name a few things he did last year. In that role, Davis learned it was a step back from the court and more about paperwork and being organized.

Davis felt like last year had less to do with basketball and it reminded him of being the coach at NMMI. At NMMI, Davis had to make sure his student-athletes were on pace to graduate; they were where they were supposed to be on time and acting the right way.

“This last year,” Davis said, “it was similar to some of the hats I had to wear at NMMI, as far as running a program. This last year, I got an opportunity to work hand in hand with my coach, Dr. Paul Weir, to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible. My goal was to help our student-athletes to be as successful as possible.”

Recruiting

Without NMMI, Davis does not think he would be where he is now. Davis feels NMMI gave him the tools to be successful as a man and coach, and that everything he went through was part of the process. Davis thinks being a head coach for three years at NMMI helped him gain the job at UNM.

On the UNM staff there are five coaches with college head-coaching experience: Craig Snow was the head coach at New Mexico Highlands; Scott Padgett coached at Sam University; Dan McHale was a head coach at Eastern Kentucky; himself; and head coach Weir.

The one vital key to his job now is recruiting. NMMI helped him become a tireless recruiter and worker in finding talent whether it is in the United States or in another country. As a head coach at NMMI, Davis recruited athletes from all over the country. On UNM’s team now, Davis has had a hand in recruiting players: Assane Ndiaye, from Dakar, Senegal; Kurt Wegscheider, from Bangui Central African Republic; and Valdir Manuel, from Luanda, Angola. Davis feels like having to fill so many scholarships each year at NMMI taught him to hustle and beat the bushes to find players.

“That approach,” Davis said, “has prepared me for this role.”

Davis thanked his former NMMI coaches, Reggie Franklin and Schooley for recruiting him and getting him to the state of New Mexico. Without them, Davis does not believe he would have been in the state. During Monday’s interview, Davis gave a special shout out to Schooley for allowing him to be his assistant coach once he was done being a graduate assistant coach at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

Playing hard

What Davis learned from Franklin and Schooley in his time with them is trying to get his players to play hard all the time in games and in practice. Davis feels like it is easy to say play hard, but hard to do. Davis doesn’t think players realize how hard they have to play to compete at the next level. Players that make it to the NBA see it and know it, but at the college level, players have to be taught and conditioned to play hard, because the game may be decided in a small run, or a bad stretch or defensive breakdown. Playing hard is taught in practice and translates into the games.

“Playing hard is a skill,” Davis said. “Franklin and Schooley emphasized that in me, and as a coach now. I have to get on guys to give it everything they have. Players have to understand there is nothing promised for tomorrow as an athlete or as a person. The defense was a big thing for them (Franklin and Schooley) as well. Our NMMI teams might have been limited offensively, but they are defensive based and play hard.”

“I don’t think I would have been as successful without NMMI,” Davis said. “I thought I had some things as a student-athlete going into NMMI that would make me successful, but NMMI sharpened some of them. NMMI made me realize how important things were. It was different when I came back as a coach and being on that side of things and seeing from a different angle helped me realize how important those lessons were. I’m very grateful and thankful for the lessons I’ve learned at NMMI. It has been a huge part of my life. I can’t say enough about that school.”

Davis recalls his two favorite memories at NMMI, one was his last year as an assistant coach under Schooley. NMMI had to play Howard on the road and win the game to have a shot at the regional tournament. NMMI was 18 points down with less than 10 minutes to play. NMMI would mount a comeback to win, 66-63, to secure a spot in the regional tournament.

That win was the catalyst for the team as they defeated Clarendon College at home, 89-77, in another must-win to get into the playoffs.

“The win against Howard was significantly bigger,” Davis said. “We all knew what that meant.”

As a head coach, his favorite win was a 79-73 victory against South Plains at their place in his last season. Davis told his team at halftime, If we don’t get this thing done, we will never get it done. Davis felt like NMMI turned up the intensity in the game and came away with the win.

Davis’ advice for any athletes at NMMI trying to get to the next level, is to continue to follow their dreams. Continue to work and use their time wisely, and not waste any minutes in the day. If it is something an athlete wants to do, then there is a good chance they can accomplish it. If they don’t want to put in the work or time, they probably won’t achieve their goal.

“It’s been some work to get here,” Davis said.”It is all about working to get to where you want to be in life. It’s a simple recipe in life. You have to work for it and put the time and effort to make it happen.

“He has a real bright future,” NMMI head coach Sean Schooley said. “I look for him to get to the next level, and be a Division I head coach one day. Ralph (Davis) is a smart guy and he outworks people. There is more to come from him. I’m excited to see where he goes.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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