UDM's Alexander mum on reported run-in with player

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Detroit Mercy basketball coach Bacari Alexander declined to comment on the specifics of a published report alleging he verbally accosted and made an obscene gesture toward one of his players last month.

Alexander recently served an indefinite suspension that ended up stretching seven games and nearly a month, before he returned to practice Dec. 5 and then a game against Toledo on Dec. 6.

The university has referred to the suspension as a "personnel" matter. Alexander has denied that he was, in fact, suspended, and has said he never feared losing his job.

"My statement would be, we have already handled the matter and got it behind us," Alexander said Saturday, following a 90-58 loss to Michigan at Little Caesars Arena. "We're kind of moving forward and focused on the season."

The Detroit Free Press reported Friday that Alexander had a verbal run-in withTariiq Jones, a transfer from Schoolcraft College. Prentis Mercer, Jones' father, spoke to the Free Press and shared a text message from Alexander in which Alexander apologized for the Nov. 6 incident.

Alexander, 41, in his second season as head coach of Detroit Mercy following six seasons as an assistant at Michigan, first missed the Nov. 13 Michigan-Dearborn home game for what the university initially called a "personal" reason. The university said it would be a one-game absence.

The suspension eventually lasted seven games, as the university quickly changed its wording to a "personnel" matter. Being a private university, Detroit Mercy isn't subject to open-records requests such as salaries or an employee's disciplinary history.

Jermaine Jackson, Alexander's one-time college roommate at Detroit Mercy, coached the Titans (4-7) in Alexander's absence.

Alexander was asked Saturday if he had any regrets over the situation.

"Again, I have no comment with regards to what you're suggesting," he said. "What I will say is this: I couldn't be more proud of my staff, our student-athletes and the administration for what do at Detroit Mercy as it relates to the development of our young people.

"It's all about growth, and that includes our student-athletes."

Asked if the growth also applies to coaches, Alexander said he had no further comment.

Detroit Mercy was picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League this season, after an 8-23 record in Alexander's first year. While Detroit Mercy already is halfway to its win total from a year ago, it has lost five straight, including all three since Alexander returned. Its last win was against Division II Siena Heights on Nov. 25. Given a chance to make a statement about program progress Saturday, Detroit Mercy was wildly outclassed by Michigan.

The Wolverines led, 54-19, at halftime during Game 1 of the LCA doubleheader — with Michigan State and Oakland to follow.
Asked about the state of the program, Alexander said, "We're in a growth pattern."

He said he's proud of the team's grades — he said the program recently had back-to-back semesters of at least a 3.0 grade-point average — as well as recent locker-room renovations at Calihan Hall. He said there is progress being made in recruiting, with the Titans even landed two November signings, Cory Hightower Jr. from Georgia and Adrian Nelson from Ohio.

Alexander said he also sees improved leadership, especially after Saturday's game — when Kam Chatman, the former Michigan player who led the Titans with 18 points and 13 rebounds, and star sophomore Corey Allen, who scored 11 stepped up to address the team.

"Our next step is producing a product on the floor that we can really be proud of," said Alexander, who coached Saturday against his old boss, Michigan coach John Beilein.

"We're a work in progress, we're a work in progress, we're a work in progress."


Titan head Coach Bacari Alexander, a former UM assistant under John Beilein, shouts at his players in the first half.