Alexander envisions big step forward for Detroit Mercy

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Detroit — Bacari Alexander plans to more than double the University of Detroit Mercy’s win total from a year ago and contend for the Horizon League title in his second year as the Titans head coach.

The Titans could be a force with the return of 6-foot-7, 260-pound senior inside threat Jaleel Hogan, along with perimeter threats in sophomore Corey Allen and Josh McFolley.

Alexander plans to get a big lift from versatile, 6-9, 220-pound junior Kameron Chatman, a former five-star recruit coming out of high school who made a name for himself by knocking down a winning 3-pointer for Michigan to upset top-seeded Indiana in the Big Ten tournament semifinal game two years ago to get the Wolverines in the NCAA tournament.

Oh, and don’t forget incoming freshman Jermaine Jackson Jr., son of Titans assistant coach Jermaine Jackson, who is expected to run the offense.

The Titans, who were 8-23, 6-12 Horizon last season, will be tested early and often, opening the season at Virginia Tech Nov. 10, playing at UCLA Dec. 3 before hosting Mid-American Conference preseason favorite Western Michigan Dec. 9 and playing the Wolverines at Little Caesars Arena Dec. 16.

The Titans will also be competing in the Horizon League Tournament at Little Caesars Arena March 2-6, then be the host school for the NCAA tournament first- and second-round games March 16-18 at LCA.

“What a difference a year makes, because now we’re talking about 181/2 months later and I finally have a full offseason to recruit, to train and develop our talent that we have on our roster,” Alexander said.

“Jaleel Hogan, we’re excited about his return over the summer. He’s a preseason second-team all-conference selection, that big fella in the post. You may remember his highlight performance at the O’rena (at Oakland), scoring 39 points and being a beast throughout the game for that victory that we had which was a signature win for us in that rivalry.

“We also have the reigning Horizon League freshman of the year Corey Allen returns to us as well. Here’s a young man that not only led our Horizon League in 3-point field goal percentage, but at one point was sixth in the nation, and he is also a preseason second-team selection. And, Josh McFolley is our steals leader and a player we’re real excited about.”

Hogan averaged 15.2 points and 5.8 rebounds; Allen, 14.4 points and .448 shooting from 3-point range (78-of-174) and McFolley, 13.8 points, 62 steals and .366 percentage from deep range (71-of-194).

Alexander is thrilled to have Chatman, the son of Titans assistant coach Canaan Chatman, on board.

“This 6-foot-9 forward is a versatile athlete,” Alexander said. “Imagine a guy who can not only shoot and pass the ball, but can lead the break, do some things inside the post, outside and is an elite level passer. He’s going to bring a different dimension to the table when you’re talking about a big stalwart like Hogan inside and guys who can stretch the floor like Chatman, McFolley and Allen.

“Although we’re picked preseason No. 4 in the Horizon League amongst the media and coaches our goal is always championships. Our theme this year is championship conversation, championship attitude, championship effort because again it starts with those narratives and that mindset to start to cut down nets like I enjoyed during my playing years and like these guys will enjoy in the seasons to come, starting this year.”

Alexander was part of the Titans team 20 years ago that played for Perry Watson in the NCAA tournament, defeating St. John’s.

Alexander has also brought in a transfer in 6-6 guard Roschon Prince (Long Beach State, USC) who was the 2013 high school player of the year in California.

Hogan is happy to be back with the Titans after looking at transferring.

“I looked at a couple of schools and my teammates were always in my ear and I just wanted to come back and finish what I started here,” Hogan said. “We have a great group of guys here who wanted me to come back so I was all in with them.”

Hogan is looking forward to playing with Chatman.

“He brings a vet leadership, being at a high major before, and just that experience he brings to us is big,” Hogan said. “He’s a very talented basketball player who can stretch the floor for us. We also have Corey Allen, who has been waiting all his life for this, and just building on his freshman season, I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.

“I just want to be that inside presence for us because we have a whole bunch of guards who are dominant on the outside so I want to be one of those guys that if we need a basket they can dump it down to me where I can get a basket or get an assist when they double down on me.”

Chatman is thrilled to finally have his chance to play again.

“It was definitely tough to sit out, but I made the best out of it, got stronger in the weight room and worked on my game,” Chatman said. “I feel coming in from a high-level program and experiencing things like the NCAA Tournament and stuff, I know I’ve been to where guys here want to get and I want to get back so I’m just going to try to give as much knowledge and being a vocal leader and leader in action as much as possible.”

UDM women hope to finish deal

The Titans women’s team finished 18-14, 12-6 last season, going 9-0 at home in league play, including a win over nationally-ranked Wisconsin-Green Bay before a loss to Green Bay in the Horizon League championship game at Joe Louis Arena.

Titans third-year coach Bernard Scott has to replace leading scorer Rosanna Reynolds (16.2 points, 5 assists), but returns 6-foot senior forward Brianne Cohen (15.2 points, 4.1 rebounds), senior guard Nicole Urbanick (9.6 points) and sophomore 3-point threat Anja Marinkovic (7.5 points, 48 3-pointers).

Scott has also brought in a strong freshmen class that includes high-scoring guard Kayla Brown (Dearborn Heights Robichaud) and guard/forward Lexey Tobel (Hartland).

“We return a couple of young ladies that had been thrown in the fire the past two years and are ready to go and prove they are capable of winning without last year’s seniors, and one of the returners that you need to keep your eye on is Brianne Cohen, who is a preseason first-team all-conference and last year she was second-team all-conference,” said Scott, who has also added former Miss Basketball award winner Madison Ristovski (Michigan) to his coaching staff.

The Titans have a challenging schedule, playing Michigan State (Nov. 21) and Michigan (Dec. 4) at Calihan Hall.