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A Dick Davey Coaching Legacy
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 03/06/2012

March 6, 2012

  • Davey To Retire After Season

  • Quotes: Davey | Dawkins

    STANFORD, Calif.- Stanford associate head coach Dick Davey has built a reputation as a hard-working, effort-demanding, fundamentals-first basketball coach. For nearly four decades as a college assistant and head coach in the Bay Area, he labored to find players on the recruiting trail, challenged them to become better and remained loyal to them long after their playing days ended.

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    There is, of course, the oft-told story of Steve Nash, the former Santa Clara star who parlayed his Santa Clara basketball days under Davey into a now 16-year NBA basketball career so successful that Nash has twice been named the league's most valuable player.

    Davey's blue-collar coaching style made its imprint on Nash before, during and after Nash's days on the Santa Clara campus--all to Nash's ultimate and long-term benefit.

    As Nash was becoming a very good--but by his own admission, not great--high school basketball player in British Columbia in the early 1990s, he was simultaneously suffering from a general recruiting prejudice that there weren't any Division I quality guards in western Canada. Nobody went to see Nash play high school ball, nor did anyone ask to see his game tapes.

    Except Davey.

    Then a Santa Clara assistant, Davey was not so proud or lazy as to fail to follow up on a tip about a good-student, good-skill guard prospect from a relatively remote part of Canada. Davey liked what he saw and took a chance on Steve Nash the Canadian unknown, when no one else seemed to be interested.

    Davey was brutally honest with Nash at the start of Nash's Santa Clara career, telling him his defense was lousy and that his work ethic had to improve. Davey knew Nash's shooting, passing and leadership abilities had great potential, but to make Nash better Davey harped on Nash's deficient skill areas until they got better.

    Nash got the tough-love message and worked hard. The rest of the Steve Nash story is, of course, the stuff of legend.

    For the Santa Clara program, the payoff was two trips to the NCAA Tournament during the Nash years, including an upset of second-seeded Arizona in the 1993 NCAA Tournament. For Nash personally, the benefit was two-fold: the windfall of being a high first round selection in the 1996 NBA Draft (by Phoenix) and, within 10 years, the honor of being awarded two NBA regular season MVP trophies.

    Davey's investment in and loyalty to Nash has been rewarded many times over. During Davey's 15 years as Santa Clara's head coach, Nash said yes to all manner of speaking and appearance requests by Santa Clara. Even now as a Stanford associate head coach, Davey could be seen on the Cardinal's road trips sneaking a meal with Nash whenever Nash's NBA playing schedule coincided with wherever Stanford was playing.

    The Nash story is but one of dozens of examples of loyalty given and loyalty returned, in the rich history of Davey's coach-player relationships.

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    No stranger to the Bay Area hoops scene, Davey previously spent 30 years working with the men's basketball program at Santa Clara and served as the Broncos' head coach for 15 seasons.

    With Davey, it isn't just the Steve Nash-type players that have received special coaching effort and loyalty. It also has been given to players who never came close to having a professional career. Two examples are former Santa Clara guards Brody Angley and Terry Davis.

    Angley, a 5-11 point guard who entered Santa Clara as a freshman in 2004, was a better high school football player than he was a basketball player. But Davey saw something intangible in his new freshman player and immediately installed Angley as his starting point guard.

    Result? In his first month of college play, Angley led Santa Clara to one of its most memorable wins ever, an upset of No. 1-ranked North Carolina at a sold-out Oracle Arena in Oakland.

    Angley clearly benefitted from Davey's tough-but-compassionate coaching style. Despite his relative lack of speed and size, Angley learned to play with aggressiveness and smarts, and eventually became a highly-productive four-year starter for the Broncos. Angley was, clearly, the beneficiary of Davey's considerable coaching intuition and motivational skills.

    But it was Davey's off-the-court skill and labor that benefitted Angley even more.

    Angley's father, Jamie, died of cancer in 2007, and the Angley family was immediately confronted with significant financial hardship. Following Brody's graduation in May of 2008, Davey organized a charity golf tournament for the benefit of the Angley family in Redding, Calif. Dozens of Santa Clara program participants, including Davey, took a four-hour bus ride each way to participate in the June 2008 event, and thousands of dollars were raised to assist the Angley family.

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    A third very public example of Davey's loyalty to his players--this one a generation earlier--is former Bronco guard Terry Davis.

    Under then-assistant Davey's tutelage, Davis rose from the Bronco bench to become a part-time starter his senior year in 1984, a year in which the Broncos won 22 games and advanced to the Postseason NIT Tournament quarterfinals. Not surprisingly, Davis thanked Davey several years later for his loyalty by asking the coach to be an usher in Davis' 1990 wedding.

    Problem: the Davis wedding was scheduled on the same day, and nearly at the same hour, as the start of a Santa Clara-Stanford basketball game.

    Stanford fans may not remember the night of Dec. 15, 1990, when the Broncos and the Cardinal played a basketball game. Neither the Cardinal nor the Broncos provided any memorable moments that night. What was memorable was Davey's individual effort that evening, just to get to the game.

    Davey was not going to say no to an invitation to serve in his former Bronco player's wedding. Yet neither was Davey going to miss coaching his current Bronco players in the Santa Clara-Stanford game.

    How was Davey able to serve both his former player on his wedding day and his current players on game day? Answer: with his usual tirelessness--and with some unusual attire.

    Davey prepared for the game in his usual indefatigable way, completing scouting report review, walk-through and shoot-round activities. Davey then hustled off to, and served in, Davis's wedding. And then Davey sped back to Maples Pavilion to coach the game. Without changing his clothes!

    Yes, Davey coached the 1990 Santa Clara-Stanford game in tails, still decked out in his wedding-usher tuxedo!

    Steve Nash, Brody Angley, Terry Davis. Just three of the countless "tales" of Dick Davey helping his student athletes both during college days and beyond.

    - by John Platz

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    John Platz, a member of the Stanford men's basketball program from 1982-84, is in his second season as the team's play-by-play announcer following 21 years as the team's color analyst. A true historian of Stanford athletics, Platz also serves as the sideline reporter for football broadcasts.

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