Senior Chris Blake is out until Mid-December for "violating team rules."
Every time I post over there, they jump down my throat because I called Nick Minnerath a thug. So please, someone go over there and tell them their basketball team is a bandit program that needs an enema and a plunger.
Post by ghostofdylan on Nov 6, 2011 22:11:47 GMT -6
2011-12 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Preview
COACH AND PROGRAM
One year after bidding farewell to eight players, Detroit coach Ray McCallum, Sr. finds himself at the opposite end of the transition spectrum. Everybody -- everybody but one walk-on -- is back for what the Titans hope will be a season of contending for a Horizon League title. Of the 10 players honored as first- or second-team All-Horizon last postseason, only two are back in 2011-12. Guess who's got both of 'em?
"Its' a great thing," said McCallum. "Last year, we were pretty much a lot of newcomers. Everybody was pretty new except three players who had been in our system the year before. Now guys are older, stronger and more familiar with each other."
The program is clearly on solid footing as McCallum begins his fourth season. Although Detroit dipped from 20 wins in his second season to 17 last year, it wasn't necessarily a step back. Despite returning only two starters, the Titans improved one game in the Horizon League, from 9-9 to 10-8, and faced an upgraded schedule. They dropped early-season road games at New Mexico, Syracuse and Mississippi State, but were competitive in all, and later lost at Bradley, Drake and Western Michigan.
McCallum played an eight-man rotation last year and has the option to do the same this season if he sees fit, but it could go to nine or 10. It's fair to say the Titans don't lean too heavily on any one guy, but rather spread the weight around. Six of the eight players in the mix last year averaged between 13.5 and 8.6 points. Each of those six led the Titans in scoring at least twice and each scored 20 or more points at least twice.
Detroit Titans Last Season 17-16 (.515) Conference Record 10-8 (t-5th) Starters Lost/Returning 0/5 Coach Ray McCallum (Ball State '83) Record At School 44-53 (3 years) Career Record 214-202 (14 years) RPI Last 5 years 192-287-282-161-145
While Detroit doesn't have a specific go-to scorer, the guy who makes Detroit go is sophomore point guard Ray McCallum, Jr. (13.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg). The Horizon League Newcomer of the Year (and a second-team All-Horizon League pick) lived up to his blue-chip billing. He started every game, averaged 33.3 minutes and handed out 161 assists, which ranked among the tops of any freshman in the nation. Over the summer, he represented the USA at the World University Games in China and beat out a bunch of good players to earn that right.
"I thought he handled the experience very well," said his dad/coach, who went to China to watch the Games. "He was one of the younger guys on the team and his role was to play about 10 minutes a game and come in and play hard. He really did enjoy it."
Ray, Sr. said that as talented as Ray, Jr. is, he wasn't immune to the typical freshman growing pains.
"What do we say? The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores," McCallum said. "The experience he had of leading a team, playing major minutes, all that's invaluable. I think he'll put it to good use. He really attacked the offseason. We need him to get stronger and get better defending on the ball and shoot the ball a little better. Being a freshman, he didn't finish as well around the basket. But being a point guard is just being comfortable being a leader. He has a great understanding of what I expect of him as a father and as a coach."
McCallum's primary option for assists was Chase Simon (13.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg), a 6-6 senior who is back for his third year as a starter. Simon's 378 field-goal tries topped the roster by a good margin. Simon hits 34.2 percent from three-point range and plays a little defense, too. His 41 steals were second on the team to McCallum's 54.
At the other perimeter spot, junior Jason Calliste (8.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg), started the first 25 games. Then Chris Blake (10.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg), who became eligible at mid-term, took over to start the final nine. Both averaged around 25 minutes, both launched about the same number of shots. The difference was from where they launched them. The 6-2 Calliste attempted a team-high 121 3s and hit 39.7 percent of them. Blake, a 6-5 junior, fired only 64 times behind the arc (.375) and took the other two-third of his attempts inside it.
Senior Eli Holman (11.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg) presents opposing posts a 6-foot-10, 255-pound obstacle to wrestle with for the third consecutive season. A second-team All-Horizon pick last year, he was the league's leading rebounder and ranked fourth in blocked shots (51).
The guy who ranked second in blocks with 78 is Holman's backup, 6-11 senior LaMarcus Lowe (4.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg). Holman is a high-percentage option in the paint, making 61 percent of his field-goal tries and 69.4 percent of his free throws. Lowe averaged 16.4 minutes and even made six starts. He's obviously much more involved at the defensive end.
"Eli, with his size and strength, he can be a double-double guy," McCallum said. "He's one of the best field-goal shooters in the conference, and we need that to continue. He can be a real difference-maker."
But that's not the extent of Detroit's size. Senior Nick Minnerath (11.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg) was a big addition last year, playing the four spot at 6-8. The junior college transfer started all 33 games, hit 37.5 percent from three-point range and was money at the free-throw line, sinking 83.2 percent.
The eighth man in the rotation was 5-11 senior guard Donavan Foster (4.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg), who got 19 minutes a game, mostly at the point. He could either give McCallum a blow, or take over the point for a while to free McCallum of playmaking duties. His 61 assists were second on the team. He wasn't a no-leave shooter, and at 32.4 percent could occasionally knock down a trey.
Evan Bruinsma (1.2 ppg, 1.3 rpg), a 6-7 sophomore, made a brief appearance in most games. John Hoskins (0.7 ppg, 0.6 rpg) is back for limited cameo duty as a 6-10 junior.
The prospect for either to substantially increase their roles isn't promising this winter. That's because junior college transfer Doug Anderson is a cinch to be in the rotation if not challenging for a starting job. The 6-6 Anderson is from Kalamazoo, Mich. and led Mott (Mich.) Community College to the threshold of a JUCO national title. He averaged 15.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and brings a highlight reel of monster dunks.
"With his motor and athleticism, he can really run and jump," McCallum said. "He'll add to our fast break and our rebounding, and he's a good finisher. He'll probably play a couple of different positions. We'll have to see where he's comfortable."
The other signee won't have Anderson's impact, but he might have too much game to totally ignore. Alvin "P.J." Boutte is a 5-8 freshman point guard from Indianapolis who can only be described as a human assist machine. He piled up more 200 of them as a senior at Manual High. With McCallum entrenched at the point and Foster a proven backup, it'll be interesting to see if Boutte can find a role as a freshman. "The one thing we've identified about P.J. is that he's a terrific passer," McCallum said.
Detroit led the Horizon in scoring (74.5 ppg) and rebounding (37.5) last year. Valpo was the only team that shot it better from the field. McCallum has the bodies to play big or go smaller and push the tempo. The arrival of Anderson in the mix only enhances the versatility. What Detroit needs to advance itself from last year is a clearer understanding of how to finish games and who should have the ball in his hands. That's understandable given the fact that the Titans were short on game experience last year. That won't be an issue this time around.
"We know we can score," McCallum said. "We've got to get better defensively, at taking care of the ball, and we've got to take our rebounding to another level. But we're going to be vastly improved. And we were a good team last year in fifth place at 10-8. That just tells you how good our league is. For us, it's finding a way to win. We've got to be a team that can close out a game."
BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS
BACKCOURT: A BENCH/DEPTH: B FRONTCOURT: B+ INTANGIBLES: B
What's not to like for Detroit in 2011-12? The Titans go from one of the least-experienced teams in the league to the most experienced. They seem to have all the pieces, from blue-chipper Ray McCallum, Jr. at the point to imposing Eli Holman in the post and productive players such as Nick Minnerath, Chase Simon, Chris Blake and Jason Calliste providing balance at every position.
The arrival of Doug Anderson should be a good thing. The JUCO transfer is explosive and versatile. The only possible negative is how veterans handle seeing their minutes shrink if Anderson turns out to be the impact player he appears to be.
Can Detroit go all the way from a 10-8 league team to a title contender? Considering that the conference appears to be somewhat diminished, the answer should be yes.
For the most comprehensive previews available on all 335 Division I teams, order the "Bible" of college basketball, the 2011-12 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 1-877-807-4857.