Memphis Madness 2021 provided this high-profile moment for Alana Davis during introductions at FedExForum. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)

by Liaudwin Seaberry Jr. —

Alana Davis knew immediately after the conclusion of the 2020-21 season that she would be returning for her senior season at the University of Memphis. 

The longtime Tigers center was determined to be a part of a winning team, an experience unfamiliar to her during the last four seasons. With the arrival of new head coach Katrina Merriweather, however, Davis understood that this opportunity served as her best chance to achieve her goal-playing in the postseason.

“I already had decided to come back, but when I heard that Coach Merriweather was coming, and I saw all the winning teams she’s been a part of, that only made it clearer that I would come back.”

After being hired in March, Merriweather brought her entire coaching staff with her from Wright State, while also convincing the team’s starting center, Tyler Frierson, to make the transition as well.

Tyler Frierson, who transferred to Memphis after playing for Katrina Merriweather at Wright State, drives toward the hoop during the Memphis Madness scrimmage at FedExForum. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)

With Frierson and Davis both being natural centers, it would be logical to wonder how or if the pair could play together. 

So far, there have been no issues, Merriweather said. The both players bring unique skill sets that complement each other well.

Merriweather thinks the pair will be a nightmare for opposing front lines. 

“I can definitely envision them both playing together,” she said. “I think that Alana is more than able to play the 4 (power forward) and that it would be in our best interest to play them together instead of apart.”

Frierson and Davis compete against one another at a high level during practice. While they are close off the court, they make sure their bond does not interfere with the main goal of getting better every day. 

“Playing with Tyler has actually improved my game in terms of my all-around skills,” Davis said. “I’m used to playing with post players around my size, but she’s a little bigger. I’ve actually gotten better in terms of being able to hit shots from the outside since she’s been here.”

While Davis performed at a high level for an underwhelming Tigers squad last season, Frierson participated in the NCAA tournament last season and gained valuable experience in the process. 

She, along coaching staff, brings a winning mentality and culture to the team, and she’s determined for Davis and the rest of the Tigers squad to embrace the high standards and expectations Merriweather brings to the table.

“Coach Merriweather and the staff, hopefully, will have a trickle (down) effect on my teammates and help change the culture here. We have a talented team from one through16, but it’s about putting it all together.”

With Frierson and Davis being the team leaders, they have the biggest influence as players.

Fellow post players, freshmen Aliyah Green and Lauren Randolph, look to them for advice in dealing with various scenarios and situations on the court. Beyond that, the two centers embrace the expectations heading into the regular season, which kicks off early next month.

“Winning is the main goal, and the pieces are there for us to do that,” Davis said. “The depth is much better than past years and I am excited to see what this year brings.”