State hoops notes: At Detroit Mercy, one Davis down, one Davis up

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Detroit Mercy assistant coach Mike Davis Jr., left, had surgery this week on a torn Achilles.

It's an unfair to even ask, but let's be honest: If Mike Davis had to choose for one of his sons to suffer a serious injury, he has to be a bit relieved it's not the one who actually plays for the Titans.

Mike Davis Jr., an assistant coach on his father's Detroit Mercy staff, suffered a freak injury in practice last week when he tore his Achilles. He stepped backward on the court last Wednesday, heard a pop, and bam. He missed the team's game at Temple last week, but was back on the bench for Monday's 84-63 loss at Butler.

Davis had surgery this Tuesday, was going to miss the team's game at California on Thursday night (before that game was cancelled anyway), and then be back to work.

Meanwhile, Davis' other son, Antoine, a freshman guard for the Titans, dealt with a bit of an illness recently, which showed in his tough performance at Butler — particularly in the opening half. He finished with a respectable 20 points on 7-for-21 shooting.

In his first two games, Davis scored 32 and 30, respectively, in earning Horizon League freshman of the week honors and looks like he'll be a force for a Titans team coming off back-to-back eight-win seasons. He sure looks like the perfect replacement for the likes of Corey Allen and Jermaine Jackson Jr., fearless shooters who transferred out of Detroit Mercy following the firing of Bacari Alexander.

In his first three games as a Titan, Davis has put up 26, 21 and 21 shots.

Detroit Mercy started 0-3, though it has been competitive, given the 13 new faces on the playing roster. It's early, sure, but the effort on the defensive end and the rebounding — two serious issues in the two years of Alexander at the helm — is to be commended. 

After three straight on the road — it was supposed to four, before Thursday night's game at Cal was cancelled for air-quality issues in the wake of the northern California wildfires — Detroit Mercy has its first regular-season home game Monday, when it hosts Loyola (Md.) in the Legends Classic.

The Titans played an exhibition at home, against crosstown rival Wayne State, and won, 79-76, on a Josh McFolley buzzer-beating 3 on Nov. 3. Detroit Mercy players were mocked on Twitter for wildly celebrating the win, which was totally unfair. For starters, any buzzer-beating win is exciting, no matter the foe. Second, McFolley, one of the few holdovers, has seen Detroit Mercy lose two in a row to Wayne State, which had to sting.

By the way, that game, part of a doubleheader with the women's teams, raised more than $6,000 for Detroit Public Schools — $3,070 in ticket sales, and a $3,070 match from Michigan First Credit Union.

EMU gets a taste of No. 1

Talked to Rob Murphy earlier this week, before his Eagles faced the No. 1 team in the nation, Duke, on Wednesday night.

I asked if he got the heebie jeebies from watching that game film, particularly Duke's destruction of Kentucky.

And I was surprised by the answer.

"I told my team this, Duke is not as good as they looked that day, and Kentucky is not as bad. It's somewhere in-between," Murphy said.

That may be true, but Murphy's Eagles — picked to finish atop the West Division in the Mid-American Conference — still got a glimpse of how good the Blue Devils are, in an 84-46 blowout. At the half, it was 48-13. This wasn't Rochester, Drexel or Goshen, against whom EMU started 3-0. Zion Williamson scored 21 in 21 just minutes.

Still, the opportunity was a good one for Eastern Michigan, which played the No. 1 team in the nation for the first time in program history.

The game came about because of Murphy's connection to Mike Krzyzewski. They were acquaintances when Murphy was an assistant at Syracuse.

Interestingly, Eastern Michigan will play another cha-ching game — at now-No. 2 Kansas, too, on Saturday, Dec. 29, before starting MAC play the following week.

"Just for us to continue to get better, games like this in a hostile environment put you in a position to understand how tough it is to play on the road," said Murphy, "being able to play a really high-level team with the crowd on top of you is an experience.

"It shows you what it takes to be successful."

Dugan gives WMU a lift

One of the most interesting early season games locally was Tuesday night, when Western Michigan visited Oakland and left town with a 85-77 overtime victory.

The two teams figured to be rather close in talent, and that was shown by the result. It was relatively close throughout, except in OT, when the Golden Grizzlies only managed four points. Xavier Hill-Mais, the Horizon League player of the week, fouled out late in the second half, a pivotal development.

Western Michigan senior center Seth Dugan continued his strong play, with 20 points. He scored 32 in the opening win over Detroit Mercy, and had 10 in the loss to Ole Miss.

He has 26 rebounds, including 13 on the offensive end, for the Broncos.

A stress fracture limited Dugan considerably last season.

"That's a big difference for us right now," Western coach Steve Hawkins said. "Especially with these other guys being out. ... Seth is the horse."

Sophomore guard Jason Whitens, a former Mr. Basketball finalist, tore a meniscus, will have surgery and miss the season. Senior guard Bryce Moore tore an ACL last year and won't make it back this season. And junior forward Brandon Johnson also has a torn meniscus, and isn't likely to play again this season.

Western won't be tested like Eastern in nonconference play, but will still have some tests, including Monday at Cincinnati, Dec. 15 at Michigan and Dec. 19 at Dayton.

Slam dunks

Catching up on some broadcast news: Neal Ruhl has a new partner on Oakland games (1130, ESPN+), in former Golden Grizzlies big man and Dearborn Heights native Dan Waterstradt. He replaces veteran local broadcaster Matt Dery, who is joining Chad Bush on the radio broadcasts at Eastern Michigan (89.1).

►After an all out-of-state recruiting class for 2018, Central Michigan women's coach Sue Guevara stayed local for her 2019 class with Molly Davis (Midland), Shine Strickland-Gills (Saginaw) and Kate McArthur (Warren).

►Oakland officially inked Tennessee point guard C.J. Gettelfinger, a top-20 prospect in his state, during the early signing period. Detroit Mercy hasn't signed anyone for 2019 yet, but could be close to landing a guard out of Texas, Jamail Pink.

►Western Michigan added 6-foot-8 forward Chase Barrs from the Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa, Fla.

►In more women's national-letter-of-intent signings: Detroit Mercy added Annika Corcoran (Ohio), Bridgid Fox (Pa.), Markyia McCormick (Ohio), Abbie McDowell (Tecumseh, Mich.) and Sylare Starks (Ind.). Eastern added Aaliyah Stanley (Fla.) and Constance Chaplin (Ohio) to go with two transfers, Toyosi Abiola (Iona) and Areanna Combs (Oklahoma State). And Western added Ashley Konkle (Ill.), Sydney Shafer (Jackson) and Taylor Williams (New Baltimore).

►Oakland is holding two LGBTQ Pride Nights, one for the men's game Monday against Defiance, and another for the women's game against Milwaukee on Jan. 18.

Player of the week

Presley Hudson, Sr., G, Central Michigan: Given all the talent the Chippewas lost from last year's Sweet 16 team, Guevara said she asked each of her top three returners for at least six more points a game — and Hudson, who averaged 18.3 a year ago, is off to a good start. She scored 26 (in 24 minutes) in the opening 104-61 win over Oakland and 24 in the 80-71 loss to South Dakota State. Hudson also became Central's all-time assists leader, passing Suzy Merchant, who's now the coach at Michigan State, and set the record for 3-pointers made, passing her former teammate, Cassie Breen.

Freshman of the week

Davis, Detroit Mercy: Get used to seeing him in this spot plenty this season. He was bound for Houston, but de-committed and was set to join his dad at Texas Southern —until it became clear his dad was going to get the Detroit Mercy job. He's a preferred walk-on, for now. And check out those bright green shoes, yo.

Stat of the week

108: That's how many games Villanova went without losing by double digits, until Michigan came into suburban Philadelphia on Wednesday night and flat-out flattened the Wildcats, 73-46. And the previous double-digit loss wasn't nearly as bad — an 11-point setback to Virginia in 2015. As Twitter user @LGhail so hilariously pointed out, "The last time someone from Philly got beat up this badly, the Fresh Prince had to relocate to Bel Air."

Quote of the week

"The worst game you're going to see here." 

— Bill Finneran, addressing the Villanova fans at halftime of Wednesday's game, which marked the dedication of the newly renovated arena in his honor.

State power rankings


1. Michigan, 3-0

2. Michigan State, 2-1

3. Western Michigan, 2-1

4. Eastern Michigan, 3-1

5. Oakland, 0-2

6. Central Michigan, 3-0

7. Detroit Mercy, 0-3


1. Central Michigan, 1-1

2. Michigan, 1-0

3. Michigan State, 2-0

4. Eastern Michigan, 1-0

5. Western Michigan, 1-1

6. Oakland, 1-2

7. Detroit Mercy, 1-2

This week's top games

Friday: (Men) Oakland at UNLV, 10

Saturday: (Women) Western Kentucky at Central Michigan, 1

Monday: (Men) Western Michigan at Cincinnati, 7

Monday: (Women) Detroit Mercy at Michigan, 7

Thursday: (Men) Michigan State vs. UCLA, in Las Vegas, 10 (FS1)

Tweet of the week

Poor, Eastern Michigan.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984