Tag Archives: Detroit Titans

The Wild and Wacky World of Horizon League Hoops

When the Horizon League schedule began at the end of 2017, all signs pointed to essentially everything staying pretty much the same as they had last season. Oakland and Northern Kentucky would be duking it out for the top spot. Wright State would continue to lurk as a contender. And Milwaukee would expound on its surprise Motor City Madness run from last year and compete in the top half of the league.

Also, Green Bay would hover somewhere near the middle of the standings, while most of the bottom of the conference from last year, as well as new addition IUPUI, would remain looking up at the better schools.

This isn’t exactly how things have gone in the early going. In fact, it seems as if the Golden Grizzlies have switched places with one of the bottom-rung teams. And few would have guessed that team would be Youngstown State.

The Penguins, who languished throughout the entire non-conference slate without a win against a Division I school, were essentially written off before the Horizon League began play. That was probably a major oversight over everyone’s part, as YSU rattled off three straight wins to begin league play. The 3-0 start is the first time Youngstown State has ever been at that mark since joining the conference.

It’s been more than 16 years since YSU joined the Horizon League. That’s a pretty big deal.

While the Penguins have connected with some surprise punches, the Raiders were sort of the wild-card in the league mix. The goal in Year Two of the Scott Nagy Era at Wright State was to get the team closer to the top of the heap.

And so far, it looks as if the Raiders may be a legitimate force to be reckoned with in the conference, joining Youngstown State and NKU in the ranks of the undefeated among Horizon League foes.

For the Norse, the defending Motor City Madness champs, the road to stay on top has been a rather difficult one early. Northern Kentucky already had a tough go of it on the road trip to Michigan, barely squeezing by Oakland, 87-83, and winless Detroit Mercy, 56-54.

And the Grizzlies? They seem to be stuck in neutral, with only one win in the early conference going. The close loss to the Norse was sandwiched in between a surprise loss the Green Bay and the 86-81 overtime setback at the hands of Wright State.

The Wisconsin trip to Green Bay and Milwaukee does still look to be a grueling trek for any Horizon League school, but neither the Phoenix nor the Panthers are setting the world on fire. Green Bay, since besting Detroit and Oakland, have dropped three straight, including getting swept on its Ohio trip by both YSU and Cleveland State. Milwaukee, at the same time, sits at 2-2.

And finally, there’s UIC, which was favored as an early contender. A close 65-61 loss against Wright State was negated by an 86-51 drubbing by Northern Kentucky.

It’s pretty clear that through the early games, in spite of three undefeated teams at the top, no on school has truly dominated, and that could mean some wild shifts in the standings in the coming months. Given how poorly the Horizon League performed as a whole during the non-league slate, it’s likely going to be a long up-and-down slap fight leading up to Motor City Madness.

Email Bob at bob.mcdonald@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @bobmcdonald.

Image via NKUNorse.com

Not All Hope is Lost for Detroit Mercy

Okay, Let’s be real. So far the 2016-17 season has not gone well for Detroit Mercy. The Titans are 0-2 vs Division II teams and 1-6 in the regular season, this being said it’s not hard to see growth and some silver linings through seven games.

Corey Allen is the real deal. It’s no wonder he was a Michigan Mr. Basketball finalist. The kid can shoot the three ball he’s at 38 percent on the year and although he has had some freshman growing pains, he shows flashes of brilliance,that brilliance was on display versus Eastern Michigan. Allen dropped 20 on the Hurons (uh, I mean Eagles) and was the only bright spot in a game that started good and went to hell in a handbasket really quick. Allen went 4-for-6 from downtown as his team went just 4-22 from behind the arc.

Josh McFolley looks just as good as he did last year. He leads Detroit Mercy with 14.5 points per game and is shooting 47 percent from behind the arc. The only issue with McFolley’s game thus far is he has been turnover prone on the young season averaging 2.2 turnovers per contest.

However, he will need to get playtime if he’s going to improve. In the game against EMU, McFolley was held to just two points in 20 minutes it seemed as if every time he made a mistake coach Bacari Alexander was quick to yank him from the game.

McFolley also does not seem to be Alexander’s first pick to run the point for the Titans, given that he started Dre Black on Saturday (and again versus the Eagles) and it seemed to work well. Black, the juco transfer from Schoolcraft, is emerging is a third guard option; he has shown the ability to drive to the rim and finish contested layups and a keen ability to shoot from long range. I feel that Black can push McFolley to be a better player. There is real potential for this team to be really good next season and it starts with the backcourt.

It’s not just the backcourt that has shown improvements over six games for Detroit Mercy. Junior Forward Jaleel Hogan has looked impressive and stronger than ever, if he was just two inches taller he would be a legit NBA caliber forward/center. So far Hogan has been good for 13 points a game and three rebounds a game, Foul trouble has limited Hogan’s minutes and Hogan and the staff are no doubt working to get him fouling less. His midrange game has really developed over the last year and going forward in this season and into 2017-18, Hogan could be an impact player in the horizon league if he can stay out of foul trouble.

It seems as if Alexander has found his rotation through six games, as only six Titans played over 20 minutes in Saturday’s 84-81 double overtime loss to Manhattan. The rotation using McFolley as a sixth man looks like one that could work and I hope it says. It was clear on Saturday that Detroit Mercy had its vision and game plan down, the missing ingredient for the team’s first Division I win was a handful of made free throws something that I am sure will be a work in progress throughout the season.

E-mail Karic at karic.jones@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @Karic_Jones.

Image via Detroit Mercy Athletics

Detroit Mercy Rebrands, Angers Everybody

Detroit Mercy (Yes, that’s how they want to be referred to now) updated and released its new brand and motto a few weeks back at Celebrate Spirit, the annual school year kick-off. The new logo and branding can be views on the Detroit Mercy site. The logo has been described by some to me as “a pregnant old English D,” “something from the movie ‘Predator'” and the most eloquent description, “like shit.”

I can’t lie. I don’t care for the logo, even though I feel like as boxy and bland as it was, it did its job. My issue with Detroit Mercy is not there with a unaesthetic pleasing logo and C-grade slogan. It’s the cost.

It’s no secret Detroit Mercy is not in the best financial shape. It’s no secret everyone has taken cuts in the past few years. As SGA president, I saw first-hand how it affected different departments.

The old Detroit Mercy logo, used, prior to this year (via Wikipedia)
The old Detroit Mercy logo, used, prior to this year (via Wikipedia)

(No, I am not going to disclose any privileged info I have from being SGA president. I still have yet to graduate and would like to do so in may of 2017 with little to no hassle.)

My issue with this new logo and branding is the cost. They say they spent one million dollars. Yes, I know; one million for that ugly logo and someone to tell them to rebrand to sound like a hospital and not an institution higher education. But one million dollars, that’s a lot of money. I know it’s not for a university, but when you’re cutting back, and everyone feels it, you go and spend one million it’s a big slap in the face.

I feel like it’s a slap in the face to everyone who works there ass off in student life to make something out of nothing. It’s a slap in the face to the alumni who blindly donate to the university, to everyone in athletics who scrapes things together to make game days go smoothly and look like a Division I program should. All these people work their asses off with little to no budget. Students are not engaged in a thing outside of classes because we as a school don’t spend the money to do things students like, instead of rebranding why don’t they throw half of that money to student life and half to athletics; not cut everything and then spend money on rebranding, I am no business student, but that seems like poor planning.

With this new branding, the university gave the middle finger to all the people who want to drop “Mercy” from the name, something I am all for but I understand wont ever happen. See outsiders would never know there’s hundreds, if not thousands, of people who would give money if “mercy “was not in the name. However the current job market is filled with healthcare jobs and the Sisters of Mercy brought those programs to the university in the merger. So the “Mercy” is going to stay it sucks in some peoples opinion, but it’s a necessity.

I liked great things as a slogan, but it was getting old. The new tag line, “A Boundless Future” is OK, but this is going to be the point of all this. If Detroit Mercy does not focus on the people in the trenches and the current students, not the prospective students, the future for Detroit Mercy is not “Boundless.” If I were a betting man, I would say it’s on a time clock of between 20-40 years before it shutters its doors; something I sure as hell don’t want to see.

As much as I hate the new branding, I am going to get a few shirts for basketball season, I can bitch all I want, but it’s my school and I am going to support it no matter how poorly I think some decisions they make are. Is it time to watch College Hoops yet?

Email Karic at karic.jones@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @Karic_Jones.

Image via Wikipedia

Comment on this and every article by becoming a Campus Pressbox Insider.

Brundidge, Bass, Gibson Depart. Questions Asked. Flags Raised.

I am not going to lie. I was very excited when I was told  there was a “strong chance” Bacari Alexander would be the next coach at Detroit. I was tipped off weeks before he was hired; a perk of being an “insider.” When Alexander was announced it felt like Christmas morning as a small child, like a new era for UDM basketball wrapped with a bow.

After today, however, I most likely won’t be an “insider” anymore. Don’t expect to see me in my section next to my friends from the Detroit Titans Hoops message board, Moose, Sam, and UP. And don’t expect me on press row. Stats are all online now, and the games are on ESPN3. I have been to every home game dating back to the 2011-12 season. I won’t be there for the first game of 2016 unless someone has a great explanation of the tomfoolery going on at the corner of Livernois and 6 Mile.

Gone are Paris Bass and Jalen Gibson. This is most likely due to grades, as it has been no secret that each has had academic issues in the past. Bass also had a string of off the court issues, including an eight-game suspension, rumored to be from failing a drug test. Bass was also benched for violating team rules twice during the season. Anyone who follows Detroit saw these departures coming like a freight train in the night. But I don’t think anyone saw the next departure coming in the form it did.

Tuesday morning, Alexander made an interesting decision and one that has puzzled anyone who heard the news. Alexander called Carlton Brundidge and informed him he would not be welcome back next year, if he is granted a sixth year of eligibility.  Brundidge was told the initial round of paperwork for a petition to be granted a sixth year went in back before the Horizon League tournament.

However, no one in athletic compliance has been frank with Brundidge on how that process has gone. In fact, it’s not clear if it has ever been sent in at all and if the NCAA is even aware he is going to attempt to gain a 6th year of eligibility.

Over the last 12 weeks, Brundidge has checked in with over five different officials, including athletic director Robert Vowels and assistant coach Jermaine Jackson on his petition. Brundidge was told the final paperwork and a decision would be submitted, and a decision would come pending his final grades and graduation.

As of 6:00 pm Tuesday evening, no one had told Brundidge if he was denied eligibility yet, just that he would not be spending it at UDM. However, it was reported in the Detroit Free Press earlier in the day that would not be happening. The reasoning, according to Brundidge for why he was not asked back, was his GPA, despite it being above a 2.5.

At his meet and greet, Coach Alexander commented on Brundidge coming back, but it did not seem as if he was hot or cold on the idea. Alexander did reach out to Brundidge and his father to talk about how he would fit into the plan for next year. If Alexander does not want Brundidge on the roster, it makes little sense, as he finished his career on a high note.

It’s understandable for Brundidge not to get a sixth year based on how much he played at Michigan. But he did spend some time in the hospital due to anxiety issue during his time with the Wolverines, which included a stay in the hospital for heart palpitations.

Michigan should have turned over the proper medical paperwork to prove that this anxiety was not a fabricated when Brundidge transferred, but it is unclear if this paperwork is in the hands of either school or if the NCAA has gotten a hold of it. A representative from the Brundidge family is working with Michigan to get things on that end straightened out.

Brundidge will not be mad if he is not granted a sixth year. He would just like a solid answer from someone about what is going on.  It’s clear everyone in the Brundidge camp that something is not right. Why would Detroit lead him on like that to tell him in the end that they don’t want him?  If  Brundidge felt there was a strong possibility he would not be back he would have planned for it.  Brundidge would have declared for the draft and went through the process. Now  Brundidge is left in limbo wondering if a petition for a 6th year was submitted and if it was what the status is.

I have a few ideas into why all of a sudden  Brundidge was put in a holding pattern

  1. The necessary paperwork never went in. This type of mistake would not be a first for UDM. But if that is the case, just admit the error. Don’t lie to cover it up.
  2. Alexander is setting a standard GPA of 3.0 players must keep, and Brundage’s 2.75 was not on par. This is OK, but why leave CB in limbo? Right now Detroit has just seven scholarship players for next season. By not having him back, what use is his scholarship for one season? There is zero impact on the 2017 recruiting class. If this is the case (and I hope it is not), Alexander is setting a standard that might make it hard for him to win. It is going to be very hard to find top talent that can hold an above 3.0 GPA in a school like UDM. If you go down the list of top players in Michigan, you will cross out half of them if a projected 3.0 College GPA is a requirement.
  3. Brundidge has been denied a 6th year, and Detroit is trying to coddle him. I seriously doubt the school would do this, but stranger things have happened.
  4. Brundidge is lying. I know him really well, and he is a man of his word. I find it highly unlikely that CB has lied to myself or anyone else during this process and would try to paint the university in any negative light, that’s not who he is.  In fact, when I talked to him, he was not mad with UDM at all. He just was upset he was not given a solid answer as to if his career was over or not and what the next step is.
  5. Brundidge was lied to so he graduated, and he did not hurt the school’s APR. I don’t think it was ever his plan to tank and not graduate, but using a sixth year of eligibility to entice someone to do well sounds like a good idea. In the past few years, Detroit has had a problem with players graduating and keeping their grades up in the final semesters.

The one truth I know is that Brundidge was in some way wronged by UDM, whether intentional or unintentional. I don’t know who is to blame. I do know that Brundidge gave Detroit all he had when he was there, he tried is best in the classroom and even in dark times represented the university well.

It is said Jesuit universities are supposed to produce “men and women for others.” The idea behind this is that Jesuit-educated people serve others as Jesus did. Clearly, someone forgot this idea when they decided to leave Brundidge hanging.

A representative of Brundidge was not available to provide any more insight into the situation as of  Wednesday evening.

Email Karic at karic.jones@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @Karic_Jones.

Photo via Dale Brundidge

The Horizon League’s Uncertain Future

The Horizon League, as a whole, had a down year. That’s a rather interesting thing to say about a conference that featured five teams that won at least 20 games. But its conference RPI ranked 20th among all leagues, marking the lowest it has been in recent memory.

Many fans within the league believe this is a direct result of the weakness at the bottom of the conference. This includes Detroit (198th in the RPI), Youngstown State (276th), Cleveland State (278th), newcomer Northern Kentucky (298th) and UIC, which finished 346th out of 351 Division I schools.

As a consequence of having the league’s entire bottom half hovering or below 200 in the RPI, Valparaiso, who lost only two games in the conference, were snubbed by the NCAA Tournament after losing in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament to eventual champ Green Bay.

Since that point, the Crusaders have made it their personal mission to take their frustrations out on their competitors in the NIT. Valpo has certainly done that, winning each of its three games by double digits en route to a trip to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

But the Crusaders’ run provides little comfort, as it is only one of three schools in the conference to find their way into the post-season. This is the lowest number of participating teams since the inception of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) and the CollegeInsiders.com Tournament (CIT). And this is now including the Vegas 16, which, in its inaugural tournament, has Oakland participating.

Even as conference teams regroup, as the Flames, Vikings and Norse appear poised to do next season, the off-season has already provided question marks as to whether or not the Horizon League as a whole will improve from its overall dismal showing.

It began when Wright State and Milwaukee, in spite of their records, decided not to pursue the post-season. It became evident why that happened in the subsequent days, with the Raiders dismissing coach Billy Donlon and the Panthers parting ways with Rob Jeter.

HoriZone Roundtable with Bob McDonald and Jimmy Lemke #13: The Mean Season

Making matters worse was what transpired after the firings. For Wright State, Donlon’s ouster, which was announced by the school days after media outlets had reported it, sparked the ire of fans and, bizarrely, prompted athletic director Bob Grant to start blocking people on Twitter. While this move remains to be rather odd, it was reported that those recruited to join the Raiders next season still plan on coming to WSU.

The same cannot said for Milwaukee, which appears to be in the midst of a full collapse as a result of Jeter’s dismissal. Leading the charge has been guard Akeem Springs, who took to Twitter not only to express his displeasure with the way the firing was handle, but also to recap the team’s meeting with athletic director Amanda Braun. Now Springs, along with Austin Arians and Jordan Johnson, who was second in the conference in assists, have been granted releases from the program.

Lost in all of this is the revolving door that has become YSU. After losing multiple players to transfer last season, the Penguins now have to contend with the loss of its All-Freshman guard Jared Andrews. A native of LaPlace, Louisiana, Andrews, who started 19 games, cited home sickness for the move.

In spite of the latest transfer, and Youngstown State’s overall underperformance since arriving in the Horizon League in 2001, head coach Jerry Slocum will likely have his option picked up to return for next season. Of course, many around the league believe that it’s YSU’s overall lack of focus on men’s basketball, rather than the coaching, which has bolsters its reputation for being the conference’s anchor.

Then there are the rumors of coaching changes around college basketball that mention Horizon League coaches. For example, among the names being thrown around for the Pittsburgh job are Valpo’s Bryce Drew, who is annually considered for such jobs, and Linc Darner, who just finished his first year at Green Bay with an NCAA tourney bid.

With so much uncertainty within the Horizon League, it makes fans wonder if the conference will be stuck in the same place as it was this season. After all, even if some of the bottom teams improve, there’s no guarantee that Milwaukee, Wright State or a school whose coach takes another job won’t fall into the bottom.

Email Bob at bob.mcdonald@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @bobmcdonald.

Photo: Horizon League/Flickr.

Welcome to Detroit – Previewing the Horizon League Tournament

All eyes are on the Motor City as the Horizon League comes to town for the first edition of #MotorCityMadness.

The favorites are the Valparaiso Crusaders.

Valpo is coming off a 16-2 conference season that made it only the fifth team to finish with two losses or less in the Horizon League regular season. Four of those five teams have gone on to the NCAA tournament. Unlike in the past when Valpo would have earned the right to host the tournament, this year the tournament moves to a “neutral floor” at Joe Louis Arena. Not hosting won’t hinder Valpo, they are far and away the best team in this tournament.

Valpo is anchored by junior forward Alec Peters, who averaged 17.9 points per game during the conference season along with 8.3 rebounds a game. Peters is an inside and outside threat. Standing 6’9″, he has no issues scoring inside and moving the ball in transition. That being said, he has been the most effective from behind the three-point arc, shooting 45 percent.

Peters has had help in senior point guard Keith Carter, who dished out 132 assists on the year while scoring 10.1 points per game during the conference season. No other Crusaders averaged more than ten points per game this season. Valpo is built on defense and is sixth in the nation as a team, allowing their opponents only 61 points per game. Valpo has two-time Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year Vashil Fernandez holding down the paint. Fernandez had 94 blocks and 15 steals this season along with 139 defensive rebounds, in order to stop Valpo teams will need to get Fernandez into foul trouble.

The Contenders

The number two seed is the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies are one of the two de facto home teams in this tournament, having their campus just 30 miles up the road from Joe Louis Arena.

OU is led by Horizon League Player of the Year Kay Felder. This season, Felder has averaged 24.4 points per game and has led the nation in assists with 9.4 per contest. Felder can do it all and has been impossible for anyone to slow down all season. Felder, despite being only 5’9″, has climbed NBA draft boards and could end up foregoing his senior year for the NBA.

Oakland is not just the Kay Felder show. OU has four other players who average more than 10 points per game. One of those players in redshirt sophomore Jalen Hayes, who is an electric finisher with tons of athletic ability. He does most of his scoring inside and is capable of throwing down monstrous dunks.

The Golden Grizzlies also have Martez Walker, a redshirt sophomore who transferred in from Texas after he was released due to some off-the-court issues. Walker has done alright for himself, averaging 11 points per game and freeing up space for Felder and Hayes by forcing defenders to cover him. Walker is not a player that you can let get free outside the arc as he shoots 45 percent from downtown. Most of his three-point attempts have come when he is left open in the corner of the court, and he’s able to drift to the outside.

OU also features senior center Percy Gibson and senior guard Max Hooper, who each score more than 10 points per game. Hooper is a three-point specialist who has yet to shoot a two-point field goal all year. Beyond those five players, the only guys that get substantial time are Sherron Dorcy-Walker and Nick Daniels.  Outside of Hooper, all of the Oakland players named above are Michigan natives. Felder, SDW, Gibson and Walker all attended Pershing High School together and were on varsity at the same time. With OU having so many Detroit kids, you have to think they have a bit of home court advantage. It is also worth noting that OU is the country’s  highest scoring team with 87 points per game.

Wright State

Although Wright State finished third in the conference, it doesn’t seem like much of a contender. It’s a well-coached squad that plays good fundamental basketball and likes to slow down the tempo. Their leading scorers are Mark Alstork and JT Yoho, each with 12 points per game. Head coach Billy Donlon is hands down the best X’s and O’s coach in the Horizon, that being said his squad lacks talent.

Don’t expect much from WSU, I don’t expect them to be playing Monday night.

Milwaukee

Milwaukee might be the biggest underachiever in the Horizon League this season. The Panthers have a starting five that can go head-to-head with anyone in the country. The Panthers finished fifth in the Horizon League but they earned wins over Big Ten schools Wisconsin and Minnesota during the regular season. The Panthers are led by senior forward Matt Tiby, a Horizon League first-team selection who averaged 15.6 points and eight rebounds per game during the regular season.

The Panthers are a big team. Four of the seven rotation players for Milwaukee are 6’5″ or taller, and all of them can step out and shoot the threes. JJ Panoske, a 6’10” senior forward, shoots 41 percent from downtown and 6’5″ junior guard Cody Wichmann shoots 51 percent from three-point land. This being said, the Panthers live and die with the three-point shot. If the Panthers get hot from downtown, they could find themselves cutting down the nets in Detroit. If they make a run, watch for point guard Jordan Johnson to have a good tournament. The junior was selected to the Horizon League Second Team with 12 points and 8.2 assists per game, good for second in the country.

Green Bay

The Phoenix, like WSU, finished high in the standings but don’t have a great shot to win in Detroit. Green Bay scores a lot, in fact, they are fourth in the country in scoring with 85 points per game. The flaw with Green Bay is defense. They don’t play it. The goal for green pay is to push the tempo and hope to outscore the opposition. Green Bay has two key players from the back-to-back NIT runs left on the roster. Senior Jordan Fouse was selected to the Horizon League Second Team and the All-Defensive Team. This season, Fouse has 12 points per game to go along with 44 blocks and 69 steals.

If Green Bay makes a run, Fouse needs to do more on the offensive side of the ball. The second piece remaining from the back-to-back NIT teams for Green Bay is Carrington Love. Love spent the last few years as the backup to star Kiefer Sykes. Love has proved thus far that he is just as talented. Love averaged 18 points per game and was named to the Horizon League First Team and the All-Defensive Team, haveing 78 steals and nine blocks on the year.

The Sleeper: Detroit

The home team located just nine miles from Joe Louis Arena might have the most talent of any team in the Horizon League. The Titans score a lot, 83.8 points per game, good for 8th in the nation. What they don’t do is play any defense. Detroit ranks 339th in the country in scoring defense. Down the stretch, Detroit has improved slightly on the defensive side of the ball. If they want to make a run they need to put together four straight strong defensive games in a row.

Detroit’s star player is Paris Bass. Bass, a 6’8″ forward with NBA aspirations, has 18.7 points per game to go with 7.7 rebounds. Bass is an adamant scorer that can slash his way to the rim or step outside and shoot the three. Bass, however, has the tendency to play one-on-five with the opposing team. When Bass gets this selfish streak, the Titans tend to lose.

The Titans also have 6’7″  forward Chris Jenkins, who like Bass can slash inside and shoot the three well. Jenkins had 12.6 points per game during the regular season including a big game vs. Oakland last Friday where he put up 12 points in under four minutes. In between Bass and Jenkins is 6’6″ forward Jaleel Hogan. The sophmore is stronger than an ox and has a big body that allows him to push anyone around in the paint. Look for Hogan, who had 10 points per game during the regular season, to score over players much bigger than him.

At shooting guard, Detroit will start 6’6″ senior Anton Wilson, who is currently averaging 14.3 points per game and is one of the best three-point shooters in the country. If Anton can score one three-pointer in the tournament he will become the third best three-point shooter in Detroit Titan history. Wilson is deadly from the corners and the bend in the arc. If he is left open and can get going he can fill up a stat sheet. The Titans will most likely start senior point guard Carlton Brundage. Brundage, a former national top 100 recruit, has gotten hot as of late. He has been a spark plug and a rebounding machine for the Titans in the second half of the season.

Outside of the starting five, Detroit will use a short bench consisting of Josh McFolly, a freshman point guard, who was selected to the All-Freshman Team. McFolly is undersized but can shoot long threes and score inside. McFolly will be brought into games to try and speed up the tempo. Detroit will also sub in 6’7 “redshirt freshman forward Aaron Foster-Smith, who can step outside and shoot the three but is prone to bad fouls. The final sub is 6’8” forward Gerald Blackshear, a strong rebounder who is young and still developing but has shown he can rebound and defend in the paint. Detroit may also use junior guard Jarod Williams, but as of late, he has not been a major factor.

Others to Watch

Rob Edwards, freshman, Cleveland State

Edwards, a Detroit native who played his high school basketball at Cass Tech, had 12 points a game during the regular season. Edwards is back home, look for him to go out fighting.

Cameron Morse, sophomore, Youngstown State

Morse, a sophomore from Flint, Michigan, put together a great season. Morse averaged 20 points per game and shot 41 percent from three-point range. Morse, who was selected to the Horizon League Second Team, will face off with high school teammate Anton Willson Saturday.

Dikembe Dixson, freshman, UIC

Dixson, the Horizon League Freshman of the Year, is his team’s only hope of upsetting WSU. Dixion currently averages 19.9 points per game and 7 rebounds per game.

My Picks

Round 1

Green Bay over CSU

MKE over NKU

UIC over WSU

DET over YSU

Round 2

MKE over GB

DET over UIC

Semis

OU over DET

Valpo over MKE

Final

OU over Valpo

Email Karic at karic.jones@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @Karic_Jones

Images courtesy of DetroitTitans.com

Akron Zips Use Big Second Half to Down Detroit

by Ryan Isley

Akron head coach Keith Dambrot must have walked through the locker room at halftime on Wednesday night and took away the tickets to Hawaii player-by-player. They earned them back in the second half of their 79-60 win over Detroit.

The Zips will be spending Christmas in Hawaii as the participate in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, but they had business to take care of first in Akron with the Detroit Titans in town. Early on, they looked as if they were already in Hawaii mentally. But when it was all said and done, they were victorious for the fourth straight game and improved to 5-2 on the season.

The entire night was summed up in three words by Dambrot as he opened his postgame press conference

“Stinky and great,” Dambrot said.

The Zips started the game 0-for-5 from the floor, with two turnovers by Carmelo Betancourt in their first three possessions as the Titans jumped out to a 9-0 lead before Deji Ibatayo got Akron on the board with a three-pointer 3:42 into the game. In the first 10 minutes of the game, Akron had seven turnovers and just five points.

Thankfully for Akron, Detroit didn’t start so great either, missing 11 of their first 18 shots, including multiple point-blank looks at the rim. Unfortunately for the Zips, however, the Titans continued to get offensive rebounds and second, third and fourth looks.

When the dust finally settled and Akron woke up, Detroit was already leading 20-6 with 8:00 left in the first half and Akron had hit just 2-of-16 from the floor. Akron went on a mini-run of 11-4 to pull within 24-17 before heading to the half down 9 at 30-21.

Neither team shot particularly well in the first half, as Akron hit just six of their 26 field goal attempts (23.1%) and missed seven of their nine 3-pointers. Detroit kept them in the game by shooting only 37.9% (11-for-29) themselves.

Demetrius Treadwell single-handedly kept Akron in the game in the first 20 minutes, scoring 15 of their 21 first half points and grabbing eight rebounds. Treadwell scored 15 of the last 18 first half points for Akron and their last 10 to end the half.

“As a group we started off very slow,” Treadwell said. “I did everything I can to try to keep our head above water.”

There must have been something said at the half, because the second half was a completely different story.

“I said ‘look – we were six of 26, we were seven of 13 at the line, we can’t play any worse, we just have to play with some energy’,” Dambrot said. “I said I am not going to yell and scream at you. This will be a good test for you. We are just going to have to gut it out.”

It seemed like they listened.

The Zips came out and hit three of their first four shots – all 3-pointers – to tie the game at 30-30 and forced Detroit head coach Ray McCallum to use a timeout. First it was Nyles Evans with his second triple of the game, then it was Quincy Diggs and finally Reggie McAdams connected from deep on his fourth try of the game.

“(Coach Dambrot) talked to us (at halftime) and told us we have to play with confidence and shoot the ball with confidence,” Diggs said. “That’s exactly what we did. We came out with no worries and knocked down our shots.”

And they were just getting started.

Akron outscored Detroit 58-30 in the second half on the strength of the deep ball. The Zips were unconscious from 3-point range, hitting nine of their first 11 from downtown in the final 20 minutes.

After trailing by nine at the half, the Zips scored 39 of the first 52 points in the second half, capped off by back-to-back 3-pointers from Jake Kretzer and a Treadwell dunk to give Akron a 60-42 lead with 9:23 left in the game.

The Zips never let Detroit get going in the second half, as the Titans shot just 11-for-32 from the floor and only hit two of their 10 3-point attempts.

Treadwell led the way, scoring 22 on 5-for-8 shooting and 12-for-15 from the free throw line. He grabbed 13 rebounds to give him his second straight double-double. Evans had 17 points, hitting 4-for-6 from 3-point range and added five rebounds and three assists without turning the ball over in his 29 minutes. Kretzer knocked down three 3-pointers and added 11 points, while Diggs had 10 points to round out the double-digit scorers for the Zips.

The Titans were paced by Anton Wilson with 16 points, Juwan Howard, Jr. with 13 points and Jarod Williams with 12.

The Zips are now off to Hawaii where they will start play on Sunday against Oregon State at 7:30 ET. The game can bee seen on ESPNU.

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at ryan@morethanafan.net. You can also connect with him on Twitter @isley23.

Photo Courtesy: University of Akron Athletics