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