Pacific women’s basketball coach: “This team will be fun”

Bradley Davis

University of the Pacific women's basketball Coach Bradley Davis.

Bradley Davis is entering his seventh year as head coach of Pacific’s women’s basketball team, moving from associate head coach and assistant coach in his 16 years at the university.

The Tigers open the 2021-22 season Nov. 11, hosting William Jessup University. Davis and his Tigers are ready to rock and roar.

What should fans expect to see from the Tigers?

Davis: This year’s team is going to be fun. We have eight returning players, but at the same time those returnees did not play a lot of minutes and were not our top producers. Any time you lose players the caliber of Valerie Higgins (16.5 points per game and a WNBA draft choice), Brooklyn McDavid and Lianna Tillman, you are going to have to make changes. We do have good leadership with Sam (Ashby) and Josephine (Millard), who are going to be our captains.

What are the team’s strengths?

Davis: We are taller at every position this year, and that is going to allow us to do some things defensively. And I think we will shoot the ball well, with Sam and Jordan Cruz very good perimeter shooters. We also have strong continuity with our coaching staff and basketball operations, which is a huge plus.

The coaches in the West Coast Conference (WCC) voted Pacific to finish 10th out of 10 teams. Does that inspire you to prove them wrong?

Davis: Last season was so totally disrupted by COVID that it is really hard to predict anything—and that goes for all sports. Last year’s seniors were allowed to come back for another year, so there are teams out there like Brigham Young with 19 players on their roster. I’m sure the coaches looked at who we lost and voted accordingly. But I want to be competitive in the top half of the conference.

Your roster has two players from Australia and one each from France, Sweden and Brazil. What is your philosophy about recruiting student-athletes from other countries?

Davis: We have actively recruited in Australia. Sam (from Perth, Australia) is one of our top returning players. But the other players came to us through unique circumstances—connections from a past pre-season trip, and a player who attended one of our camps when she was younger. Rosie Schweizer (Australia) is a transfer from George Mason and Cecilia Holmberg (Sweden) transferred from St. John’s. So while it looks like we went after international players, a lot of it just kind of happened naturally.

Does your background help you coach and support international players?

Davis: My parents divorced when I was 4, in 1977. Mom was laid off as a teacher and she heard about an American school in Zaire, so the two of us moved there. She met my stepfather, an American diplomat, and we moved many times: South Africa, Switzerland, Washington, D.C., Bahrain. I think it does help me to be understanding and aware of the international perspective.

This has been a historic year for women’s basketball, with the WNBA season played in the COVID-19 “Bubble,” strong social justice efforts and excellent television ratings. How has this filtered down to collegiate women’s basketball?

Davis: Just having someone such as Valerie Higgins from Pacific getting drafted by the WNBA is a great example of how our sport is growing. Sixteen years ago, when I came to Pacific, there was a huge discrepancy between the Top 10 college teams in the country and everyone else. That has shrunk considerably. This past year, women professional and collegiate players were so up-front about social issues. There is an awareness from women athletes that they can be agents of change. This, in turn, is growing the game.

What will it take for you to deem this season a success?

Davis: We want to see improvement from Game 1 until the end. We want to make sure we are competitive and finish the season on a high note. That might mean we take a couple lumps early in the year, but if we are competing hard we are going to be fine. We have to keep meshing.

Let’s do a little rapid response:

What is your favorite movie: I’ll see anything with James Bond—new or over and over again.

Your favorite television series: Growing up overseas, I didn’t have much television to watch, but Grandpa would send VHS tapes of 1980’s NBC Thursday nights: “The Cosby Show,” “Family Ties,” “Cheers,” “Night Court” and eventually “A Different World.”?Now the only TV series I won’t miss is “Survivor.”

Hobbies or interests: I enjoy good music and wine with friends and family. And travel. I love all that comes with seeing and experiencing different parts of the world.

What do you drive? RAM 1500 truck. I used to be a sedan guy, and I don’t know what happened to me.

Your go-to Stockton restaurants: Breakfast: Bob’s at The Marina; Lunch/take out: Tepa Taqueria; Dinner: Market Tavern.

Your favorite spot on campus: McCaffrey Grove. I love that it’s right in the middle of our Athletics facilities.