Good Things on The Horizon For The UDM Titans

Kevin NeatonContributor IAugust 10, 2010

The Detroit Titans basketball program has seen a nice turnaround since 3rd year head coach Ray McCallum Sr. has taken over at the helm.  Prior to taking the head coaching job at UDM, McCallum was an assistant coach at the University of Indiana.  McCallum knew it would be tough to revive a program that had struggled mightily in recent years and he seemed to be fully prepared for the challenge. 

In the 2008-09 season, McCallum’s first season at UDM, the Titans finished just 7-23 but caught a couple of bad breaks when the NCAA ruled that the 6-10 C Eli Holman, a transfer from Indiana, had to sit out the season.  The other bad break came when Xavier Keeling, the Titans leading scorer at the time, was injured with a broken foot just 7 games in to the season.

In the 2009-10 campaign, the Titans quickly turned things around by finishing with a 20-14 record.  With the highly skilled big man Eli Holman eligible to play, he showed how great of an impact he could have by averaging 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game and became the teams go to guy. Coach McCallum was able to install a great half-court, man to man defense that allowed the Titans to stay in games when they were struggling offensively. 

With Holman patrolling the paint and cleaning the defensive boards, Senior point guard Woody Payne anchored the teams backcourt and averaged 2.4 steals per game.  One of the Titans big problems throughout the season is that they struggled offensively.  UDM shot just 41% from the field over the season and struggled even more from the 3-point line, shooting just 31%.  This poor outside shooting would allow defenses to collapse on Holman in the post and take away the Titans top scoring option.  At times UDM would go extremely long stretches without making a FG and these stretches would ultimately cost them some games.  Overall, I think that most Titan fans would consider this season a success as well as a major step forward in the rebuilding process.

The 2010-11 basketball season looks extremely promising for the UDM Titans.  Coach Ray McCallum Sr. is bringing in a great recruiting class that ESPN has rated as #1 in  “The Best of the Rest”, which rates the top recruiting classes of all teams not in a BCS conference.  One of the biggest headlines for the Titans this summer was when Ray McCallum Jr., whom ESPN ranked 17th in the country, committed to play for UDM as well as his father Ray McCallum Sr.  A pair of Junior College All-Americans, forward Nick Minnerath and guard Chris Blake, will be joining the Titans squad to go along with high school recruits Evan Bruinsma and Frank Williams. 

One downside for UDM is the loss of 6-7, 235 lb. F Xavier Keeling who left the team after failing multiple drug tests.  Keeling averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds per game and was one of the teams most physical players. 

The Titans have tremendous potential for this season as they return Holman as well as leading scorer Chase Simon (14ppg), who was a transfer from Central Michigan.  The Titans should have a tremendous three headed attack revolving around McCallum Jr., Holman, and Simon.  The Titans should not be short of offense this season with Simon stretching the defense with outside shooting, McCallum driving and creating open shots for his teammates, and Holman getting some more space to operate in the paint. 

The good recruiting class being brought in along with these three key players and some returning role players should allow the Titans to improve significantly yet again.  After finishing 9-9 in the Horizon League last season, the Titans should be much improved and look to provide a legitimate challenge for the Horizon League conference superpower, the Butler Bulldogs.  Restoring the rich basketball tradition to the Detroit Titans program is going to be a tough job, but it seems like head coach Ray McCallum Sr. has the Titans well on their way.