Just four seasons ago, Ray McCallum, Sr. went 7-23 overall and 2-16 in the Horizon League conference during his first season at the helm of the University of Detroit Mercy men’s basketball program. After adding the biggest recruit in UDM history in his son, McDonald’s All American Ray McCallum, Jr. and some key transfers in Chase Simon from Central Michigan, Eli Holman from Indiana and LaMarcus Lowe from Western Michigan, the Titans will be playing in the NCAA Tournament four years later. UDM knocked off the Valparaiso Crusaders 70-50 in the Horizon League tournament championship Tuesday night.
The Titans were led by Junior’s 21 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Trailing 27-24 at halftime, the Titans used dominating defense and timely scoring to romp Valpo in the second half. The Titans will learn their Big Dance fate this weekend on Selection Sunday. My educated guess is that they will be a 13 or 14 seed and could stand to give a 3 or 4 seed a run for their money. What’s amazing is that UDM has made the tournament without arguably their best player from last year, forward Nick Minnerath, who tore his ACL early on this season.
Here is video of the last eight seconds of the tournament-clinching game. Before you watch, notice a few things: (1) #20 LaMarcus Lowe being overcome by the moment in the game’s final few seconds. Lowe’s improvement has been huge since last season. He benefited greatly from teammate Eli Holman’s suspension. (2) Eli Holman receiving hugs from his family. Holman worked his way back on the team after missing the first half of the year under the aforementioned suspension. And (3) Ray Sr. and Jr. walking off the floor and then jumping with the students. That is what amateur athletics is all about people.