The Last time the University of Detroit Mercy beat a ranked team was in January 2002, when the Titans beat No. 24 Butler 63-54 at home.
Well, it took eight years, but the Titans almost did it again, but it was not in the cards as No. 24 Butler hung on and outlasted a tough UDM squad 64-62 in overtime at Calihan Hall recently.
I’ve been a UDM watcher since my dad used to take me to games to see former Pershing High and Olympian Spencer Haywood break backboards. Well, it’s exciting for the city to have a Division 1 team competing at a high level again.
It took a 10-foot jumper from Shelvin Mack with 59.2 seconds left in overtime for the Bulldogs (12-4, 5-0 in league) to claim the victory and maintain sole possession of first place in the Horizon League. UDM (11-6) fell into a tie with Wisconsin-Green Bay (11-6) for second at 4-2.
Chase Simon led UDM with a career-high 23 points for UDM and Gordon Hayward led Butler with 17.
Simon, who starred at Detroit Community High School, before signing with Central Michigan, said the Titans can take a lot from this game.
“Coach (Ray McCallum) told us we gave a tremendous effort,” Simon told me after the game. “We came back after getting down and fought till the end. This game may be over, but we know we can play with the best teams in this league.”
Although UMD came up short against Butler, with players like 6-foot-6 sophomore guard Simon, 6-foot-10 sophomore center Eli Holman and 6-foot-7 junior forward Xavier Keeling all playing their first full season with the Titans, the program definitely appears to be on the upswing.
“I went to Central Michigan out of high school, but it did not work for me,” said Simon. “I talked to coach McCallum, plus I wanted to come home. I looked at what he is trying to do and the players he was bringing in and I said, ‘I want to help change the program.’ The main thing was I wanted to play for coach. He is a great coach. He wants us to practice like we play and do things the right way on the court and in the classroom. He expects and demands a lot from us.”
Simon noted that his strength as a player is his versatility.