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Bacari Alexander known as ‘great motivator, players’ coach’

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Bacari Alexander

Detroit Public School League coaches and Bacari Alexander’s former Detroit-Mercy teammate feel Alexander will be successful as the Titans’ new head men’s basketball coach.

Alexander is expected to officially be named the Titans’ head coach Friday at Calihan Hall.

Alexander, 39, was a key player for the Titans’ NCAA tournament teams in 1998 and 1999; they defeated St. John’s in ’98 and UCLA in ’99 in the tournament. He returned to Detroit to start his coaching career under his former head coach, Perry Watson, from 2001-07. He has been an assistant under John Beilein for the past six years, helping Michigan reach the national championship game in 2013.

Detroit Western coach Derrick McDowell has known Alexander since his playing days at Detroit Southwestern.

McDowell has reasons for wanting Alexander to be successful since two of his former players, Josh McFolley and Gerald Blackshear, who led Western to the Class A state championship in 2015, are now playing for the Titans.

McDowell also has ties with Detroit-Mercy since he was an assistant coach under Don Sicko back in 1985 at age 24, another reason he wants the Titans to do well.

“I’ve known him for a long time and I feel he’ll do well,” said McDowell of Alexander. “He’ll give them a person people can identify with. He gets along with people and is well respected, but at the end of the day it comes down to players.”

Alexander may look for McDowell to join his staff. McDowell was an assistant on Charles Ramsey’s staff at Eastern Michigan a decade ago after leading Detroit Redford to the Class A state championship game in 1997 and again in 2002.

Detroit Henry Ford coach Ken Flowers played for McDowell at Redford, graduating in 1996.

Flowers replaced McDowell as head coach at Redford in 2006 and guided Redford to the 2007 state title game with Mr. Basketball Manny Harris leading the way. Harris was ending his Michigan career when Alexander was just starting his six-year stay as an assistant at Michigan in 2010.

“I think he’ll do a wonderful job, especially being from the area and playing for Detroit,” said Flowers of Alexander. “He’s a great motivator, guys love to play for him. He’s a players’ coach and I’m sure he’s looking forward to getting Detroit back to where it used to be when he played there.

“I’m sure he’ll have them play tough, in your face defense. But since this is his first time as a head coach I’m looking forward to seeing what style of play he uses offensively.”

Flowers’ Henry Ford team won the Class B state championship last month. He said he has enjoyed his nine years as Henry Ford’s head coach and athletic director, but would like to one day “test the waters” as a college basketball assistant coach.

No one could be happier for Alexander than Lansing Everett head coach Desmond Ferguson, Alexander’s former teammate and roommate during the Titans’ glory days in the late 1990s.

“It’s a great day to be a Titan,” said Ferguson. “It’s a great hire, and sure I’m biased since we were teammates and roommates. I feel it's going to get the alumni back to where it was when we were there. He’s the perfect guy. He communicates well to various individuals in all walks of life.

“I’m sure he’s wanted to be a head coach for a long time and for it to come to fruition … I’m elated for him, his family and Detroit.”

Ferguson anticipates that the Titans will be known for their defense under Alexander.

“Defense, that was the staple of our days playing at Detroit, the principles we learned under Perry Watson," said Ferguson. "I'm sure we'll see some of that for sure."