After their loss to Wright State in the second round of the Horizon League Tournament, let’s take a look back at UDM’s season.
In the official Horizon League Preseason Poll, the Titans were picked to finish 4th in the league. They ended up finishing solidly in 6th place, well ahead of the four lower-rung teams, and only two games behind the fourth place finisher. Their final record is 16-15 (9-9 in regular season league play). But they were just 2-8 in league play against the top five teams. This included losing both games to archrival Oakland. The Titans really did not have any signature wins this season. Their best wins came at home over Wright State and Milwaukee. Detroit Mercy finished third in the H-League in scoring offense at about 84 ppg, and led the league in field goal percentage. But these stats mean little if they do not translate to victories.
As expected, Paris Bass had a great year and was named an All-League First Team selection. But it is a bit concerning that his season began and ended with suspensions. He sat out the first seven games of the season, and did not play in the first 26 minutes of UDM’s first round win over Youngstown State. For a player as talented as he is, the team can live with him having off-the-court issues. But no player can have too many. It also becomes an issue if it affects team chemistry. There are two big questions leading into the 2016-17 season for the Titans. The first is: Will Paris Bass return or will he enter the NBA Draft? I believe he will ultimately return for one more season. However, it would not surprise me if he declared for the draft, but did not hire an agent. This would allow him to participate in workouts and get feedback from teams and scouts, while allowing him to return to school. The second big question: Will Ray McCallum return as Head Coach? The answer is anybody’s guess at this point. McCallum has been at UDM eight years, and brought the Titans to one NCAA Tournament and one NIT Tournament. But the last two seasons were losing ones, and this season fell well short of expectations. McCallum is a class act and is as good a guy in coaching that there is. But again, coaches keeping jobs often comes down to wins and losses. A 1-5 record against Oakland since they joined the league does not help either.
Looking ahead to next season, the Titans will lose seniors Anton Wilson and Carlton Brundidge, who combined to average over 25 ppg. Both had a career-best season, with Brundidge being a pleasant surprise. Point guard Josh McFolley could have a great season next year, as he is a very good ball-handler and showed signs of brilliance for his ability to get to the basket and finish. Chris Jenkins will be a senior next season, and his role will increase even further as a spot-up shooter who can spread the floor. Jaleel Hogan was the Titans only consistent frontcourt presence, as he was a capable scorer and defender in the paint. Hopefully the Titans can recruit some big men to add depth to their frontcourt. It would be good to see them get a junior college transfer who is experienced and ready to contribute down low, especially on the defensive end. Gerald Blackshear showed some good signs for a true freshman power forward, but he still has a lot of room to improve his game and get bigger. Back-up point guards Jarod Williams and Matthew Grant will be seniors, and will be continue to be important leaders and floor generals. Despite both of their minutes and points having decreased every season, they have remained hard workers and excellent teammates.
2015-16 Titans: Out of Successful, Satisfactory, Underperforming, or Failure…I rate their season overall as underperforming.