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Hallettsville coach enjoys his towel

March 4, 2012 at 5 a.m.
Updated March 3, 2012 at 9:04 p.m.

Hallettsville boys basketball coach Steven Davis munches on a towel during Tuesday's game against Van Vleck in Ganado. The habit, which he has become known for by Brahmas fans, is earning him comparisons to former college coach Jerry Tarkanian, who had a similar habit.

Anthony Vesely has no clue who Jerry Tarkanian is.

The Hallettsville senior basketball player didn't immediately understand why anyone would compare his basketball coach, Steven Davis, to former college coach at UNLV and Fresno State.

It's not because Davis won 20 games in his first season, like Tarkanian. It's not because Davis' teams used pressure defense to win nearly 80 percent of his games.

No, the reason why Davis earns the comparison to the former national championship coach is because both chew on towels while pacing the sidelines.

Vesely was the first Hallettsville basketball player to ask his coach about the towel, but only after fellow senior Logan Herrington mentioned it to him.

Earlier this season Davis noticed his mouth dry after barking instructions to his players. But, he was never one who liked consuming water during games, even when he was a football player at New Braunfels Canyon.

The solution: dip the end of a towel in water to prevent the dry mouth.

"I was holding onto it and I noticed I was chewing on it. It calmed me down," Davis said. "Some of the teachers at the school jokingly said they were going to buy me a pacifier."

Soon thereafter a habit was born.

Before each game, Davis takes the towel throws it on the ground, folds it in half and wipes is feet on it. Then he picks it up, folds it again, wipes his tongue on it then puts it on his shoulder. Usually, it's his right shoulder, but there are times he's switched.

In Friday's regional semifinal victory, Davis' dental hygienist let the young coach know her disappointment at his newfound tradition.

"It's become a comfort thing to me. The first two playoff games I looked around and said 'Where's my towel?' It became a comfort thing. It's weird and I'm not ashamed of it."

Nor does he have any reason to be ashamed of how the 2012 season concluded. The Brahmas finished 27-7, won the tiebreaker in District 26-2A and advanced to the regional final.

A Dec. 3 loss to St. Joseph at a tournament in Gonzales left the Brahmas 2-3. But, no one lost confidence in the young coach.

"If you think about it, all these people doubted us," said Vesely, one of the four new starters. "There were people in our district who told us we wouldn't beat anyone. They said we would maybe get fourth if we were lucky. We did really well. . Coach Davis, for this to be his first year, he coached the heck out of us.

"I loved having him as my coach. Every practice I looked forward to going and there was something new every day."

The season was a growing experience for all of them. Vesely and Herrington were two of four new starters for the Brahmas, both boys also played football along with fellow starters Trevor McGee and Dalton Herrington.

In all, six Hallettsville players played football this year. Usually, that fact doesn't interfere with basketball season, but the Brahmas football program surprised many by advancing to the regional round. The first full-squad basketball practice didn't take place until after Thanksgiving.

"It's been a great thing," Davis said. "I told the boys they are the boys they are the forgotten team. Everyone expected last year's team to be great, and they were. Coach (Rich) Dozier did a good job. They were great guys and great players. When I took over a lot of people kind of wrote us off."

Davis was the freshman coach in 2011, but took the varsity position over the summer. He played football, but has learned basketball over the last two years.

"We don't coach a sport, we coach kids. Steven has taken that and run with it," said his father Les, a longtime high school football coach. "I don't know where (his towel ritual) came from. Someone pointed it out and now we can't take our eyes off it."

Virtually, no one involved with Hallettsville basketball knows where the ritual came from. In the aftermath of a season that ended in devastating fashion, the curiosity behind it did provide a humorous diversion from the Brahmas last-second loss to San Antonio Cole on Saturday.

McGee said he didn't know about Davis' towel, or his pregame routine, until Friday evening after the Brahmas regional semifinal victory over Santa Rosa.

"I had a realization that during time outs, every now and then I would reach up, pull that towel off his shoulder and wipe my face with it," McGee said. "Now, I'm glad I didn't know that until (Friday). He explained it to us in the hotel. When he told us what he did I said 'Man, I've used that towel to wipe that face before.'"

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