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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Detroit Mercy appears to be burning bridges with in-state teams

If you're looking for a modern day symbol of the historical rift between the City of Detroit and its Michigan surroundings, the men's basketball program at University of Detroit Mercy might be it. It appears that either the Titans are burning bridges with in-state schools, or those schools are choosing to cast them aside.
Detroit beat Western Michigan 92-81 at Calihan Hall Thursday night but it will be the last time the two teams play each other for a while, as Broncos coach Steve Hawkins announced he's ending the 18-year series between the two schools. While Hawkins hasn't made specific comments on why he's opted not to renew the deal with Detroit, reports from the Kalamazoo Gazzette indicate that he's upset over how current Titans Juwan Howard Jr. and LaMarcus Lowe, both former Broncos, ended up playing for McCallum and the Titans.
Lowe, from Flint, is now a senior at UDM after transferring there sighting mostly family reasons following the 2008-2009 season. Howard Jr., from Detroit, joined his former Bronco teammate after last season and is currently sitting out the year in Detroit. At Detroit's media day earlier this year Howard Jr. said his decision to transfer was purely about basketball and his confidence in the direction of the Titans program.
There's no reason not to believe that. Under the direction of McCallum, the Titans basketball program has steadily improved. Detroit was a popular preseason pick to win the Horizon League this year and despite early-season troubles, the Titans still have a strong chance of coming through on that prediction. With remolded facilities, including the newly-named Dick Vitale Court, along with a regular TV series on Fox Sports Net Detroit and some nationally televised games coming their way, everything about Titans basketball is on the upswing.
However, the rift with the Titans is not exclusive to WMU. There's been a long-time grudge between UDM and Oakland as well. Those issues extend long before McCallum's arrival, but they've been amplified since. The Titans were supposed to restart a series with the Golden Grizzlies last season, but opted out late in the process, angering OU coach Greg Kampe.
There was early speculation that because both Oakland and Detroit are part of this year's ESPN BracketBusters the Titans and Grizzlies would play this season, but Kampe squashed those rumors by saying he'd refuse to play at Calihan Hall.
"We said we won't play them if it's a BracketBuster," Kampe told Matt Pocket and Bryan Everson on WXOU's "The Greg Kampe Show" last week. "We're not playing them there. They owe us a game. They can come here and play us and everything will be all nice again, but until (then) it's not going to happen. We just said if they pair us up with Detroit, we're not going."
Detroit does not regularly play Michigan or Michigan State either, however there are rumors of a regular series starting between the Titans and Eastern Michigan -- now coached by Detroit native Rob Murphy.
Another indicator that links this issue specifically to the Detroit men's basketball program is that the school regularly plays other state schools such as Oakland and Western Michigan in other sports, including women's basketball.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell Kampe to get over it. He is sounding like a sore loser by saying he "won't play Detroit". He's scared that his team will get beat and it would hurt recruiting, that's the only reason. Sure his team looks good playing in the 25th best conference in the nation, how would they look playing in a top 15 conference? Judging by his performance against the Horizon League last year, I'd say not good. Detroit would run the table in the Summit League, it's a bottom feeder league, and it will probably drop to the worst conference in the NCAA once Oral Roberts leaves after this seaosn.

December 9, 2011 at 3:47 PM 
Anonymous Dan F. said...

@ Anonymous:

I would urge you to do a little research before posting. The Summit League's collective RPI is higher than the Horizon League:

Clearly you don't understand the circumstances. You just sound like someone with an ax to grind and some bias.

December 9, 2011 at 4:25 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Right now, they are higher, but at the end of the season, the Horizon will be the better league. You can't put any stock into conference RPI's this early in the season.

The final 2010 conference rankings looked like this.

Horizon - 11, Summit 21. Obviously the Horizon will drop a few spots this year, but they will steal be way better than the Summit League. Has the Summit League ever had more than 1 team make the NCAA tourney? When was the last time a Summit League team won an NCAA tournament game?

Kampe just needs to man up and play Detroit at Calihan. Crying about and saying we won't show up, is just coming off like a baby. He doesn't get to schedule the game, so he has no control over what team he should play in the Bracketbusters.

December 9, 2011 at 6:43 PM 
Anonymous Dan F. said...

The teams at the top of the Summit last season (OU, IUPUI, Oral Roberts, SDSU) could have all beaten Detroit and just about anyone outside of Butler last season. Every conference has bottom-feeding teams. Centenary had to have brought down the RPI of the entire conference last season and now that team is no longer in the conference.

Regardless, I don't really see what conference RPI has to do with the matter at hand. Oakland would join the Horizon if that were an option. When you've only been a Div. I program for 14 years, that's not an opportunity you're afforded right away.

I don't think you've actually heard the story behind the scheduling feud between Kampe and McCallum. UDM had agreed to play a series with Oakland beginning last season. McCallum cancelled the game when he learned that Keith Benson had removed himself from the NBA draft when he had thumb surgery. There's no running scared from Kampe and Oakland, but there is the principle behind reaching an agreement and going back on it (out of fear of losing to a Benson-led Oakland squad). Additionally, Kampe is upset because he had to pull extra strings and get special approval to schedule that game (that UDM cancelled) because it would have occurred during finals week.

Kampe thinks UDM owes him a game, and rightfully so. He's stated he would continue the series with a game at UDM once they've played the one at Oakland. I don't anyone is crying. I think he's standing up and making a valid point.

December 10, 2011 at 11:16 AM 
Blogger Jim Squire said...

As a Horizon League fan, I applaud Kampe for his position. It appears to me that UDM is the one that is scared. Kampe has every right to say no.

December 10, 2011 at 11:49 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are two sides to every story. You heard Kampe's side, have you heard McCallum's side as to why the teams never met last year? Eli Holman matches up perfectly, he wasn't scared of playing Keith Benson. Detroit scheduled games against the other 3 mid-majors in MI last season, it had nothing to do with Keith Benson and potentially losing to Oakland

I wasn't aware that UDM owns Kampe a game. Is it from the series 10 years, where two games were played at Detroit, and only one at Oakand? If so Kampe needs to get over himself. This is a completely different coaching staff now.

December 10, 2011 at 1:15 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a UofD fan also and I also feel that Kampe is in the right with sticking to his guns. These schools regardless of who is coaching competes for many of the same athletes. And if it is UofD's turn to play in O'rena then that's where the next game should be played.

I also believe that the horizon league is a much better league. Top to bottom, they can compete with any team in the summit. Coach Ray cancelled that game for what he felt was best for UofD but when it's time to play Oakland he should play at Oakland or Kampe should refuse to play at Calihan.

December 11, 2011 at 1:28 AM 
Anonymous Dan F. said...

@ Anonymous (the first one I was addressing)

Yes, there could be two sides to the story, but McCallum hasn't said a word, which would lead you to believe he can't dispute the truth. The game was supposed to be played last December and it was cancelled almost immediately after Keith Benson announced he was NOT going pro as was previously declared.

Before that, the teams played a 3-game series, with only one of the games played at the O'rena. It's hardly an unreasonable stance to say that the teams should alternate being the host. The programs are on equal footing regardless of what league they compete in.

December 11, 2011 at 1:02 PM 
Blogger Ross Maghielse said...

For the record, have tried to get McCallum to talk specifically about this, as have others, with no luck. I don't think it's a matter of being scared on either side. More of a fact that neither wants to compromise. McCallum didn't address Western Michigan situation head on either and MSU hasn't played Titans since Izzo launched F-bomb laced rampage when asked why he ended series. Something's rubbing other state teams wrong way and has been for quite some time.

December 13, 2011 at 1:18 AM 

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