State hoops: Detroit-Oakland men's game off because of COVID; it still could be made up

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Oakland-Detroit Mercy basketball rivalry has been put on ice.

The first meeting of the season in men's basketball, which had been scheduled for Wednesday night at Calihan Hall, has been canceled because of ongoing COVID-19 issues in the Detroit Mercy program.

The Titans canceled both games last week, against Youngstown State and Robert Morris, because of COVID-19. Those games won't be made up, and are considered no-contests, per the Horizon League.

UDM head coach Mike Davis talks with his son, Detroit guard Antoine Davis.

This game also will be considered a no-contest, at least for the time being. The Horizon League has started discussions with Detroit Mercy and Oakland about trying to reschedule the game at some point later in the season, but that scenario and a possible date haven't been decided yet.

The Horizon League's default designation for canceled games is a forfeit, but commissioner Julie Roe Lach has the authority to deem games no-contest if a team is 100% vaccinated, as Detroit Mercy men are, and there still are breakthrough cases.

Most of Lach's decisions have been no-contests; Detroit Mercy women did take two forfeits last week.

Detroit Mercy's men players and staff members went through testing Sunday morning, and did not practice Sunday. The results were to come in Sunday afternoon; the plug was pulled on the game Monday afternoon, mostly because of a concern over Detroit Mercy's lack of practice time. The Titans had enough players preparing to coming out of quarantine Tuesday, that they might've been able to field a shorthanded roster.

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It wasn't immediately clear if Detroit Mercy (4-7, 2-0 Horizon League) will play its other two scheduled games this week, at home against Milwaukee on Friday and Green Bay on Sunday. The Titans' star player, senior guard Antoine Davis, is 35 points from matching Rashad Phillips' program scoring record. Friday's game against Milwaukee is a big deal, too, with ESPN2 airing the game, thanks to the matchup between Davis and Patrick Baldwin, both sons of the dueling coaches. Nearly a dozen NBA scouts are expected in attendance.

Oakland (9-4, 4-0), which was without sophomore forward Micah Parrish last week because of COVID-19 but is expected to get him back this week, will play Green Bay on Friday and Milwaukee on Sunday, at the O'Rena in Rochester.

The next regularly scheduled meeting for Oakland and Detroit Mercy is 1 p.m. Feb. 13, Super Bowl Sunday, and that could very well have significant Horizon League championship implications. The Golden Grizzlies have led by at least 20 in each of their four league games; the Titans were starting to get their roster together on the floor before the COVID-19 issues struck.

Because of COVID-19 issues throughout the league last year, the rivals met four times during the regular season, with Oakland winning the first three before Detroit Mercy snapped a 10-game skid in the series.

Slam dunks

Jamal Cain continues to be beast for Oakland, and has been named Horizon League player of the week for the third time this season since the Pontiac native transferred from Marquette. Cain, a forward, had a pair of double-doubles in Oakland's two wins last week, with 22 points and 14 rebounds against Robert Morris and 23 points and 11 rebounds against Youngstown State.

Cain has seven double-doubles, good for 11th in the country; he's also fourth in field goals made, seventh in points (21.2) and ninth in rebounds (10.5), and is a leading candidate for league player of the year.

On the women's side, Oakland's Kennedie Montue was named league freshman of the week after scoring nine with four rebounds in a road win over Milwaukee with the Golden Grizzlies missing multiple starters.

►In more awards news, Michigan senior forward Naz Hillmon continues to play like an All-American, being named Big Ten player of the week for the second time this season. She had 29 points and 15 rebounds in No. 9 Michigan's 90-71 victory over No. 25 Ohio State in Ann Arbor on Friday. That was Hillmon's 100th career game, and she recorded her 40th career double-double. She has 875 rebounds, third all-time at UM. 

Hillmon's stock continues to grow nationally, and at 11 p.m. Tuesday, the Big Ten Network will debut a documentary about her career, family and impact with the Wolverines (now ranked eighth, by the way).

►The Eastern Michigan men's and women's programs are set to return from their respective COVID-19 shutdowns, with the men playing at Western Michigan on Tuesday and the women playing at Toledo on Wednesday. The men haven't played since Dec. 20, the women since Dec. 10.

►Because of a cancellation, the Ferris State men hastily added a home game against Minnesota Duluth, ranked No. 9 in Division II, for Sunday. It was a heck of a game, Ferris losing, 109-107, in double-overtime. Walt Kelser, Greg's nephew, scored 37 for Ferris State (9-3).

►Time heals most things. Longtime Western Michigan men's basketball coach Steve Hawkins took in his first Broncos game (Sunday's 59-47 loss to Ohio) since he was let go after the 2019-20 season. Hawkins now is coaching the boys basketball team at Portage Northern.

State power rankings


1. Michigan State (12-2)

2. Michigan (7-5)

3. Oakland (9-4)

4. Detroit Mercy (4-7)

5. Eastern Michigan (5-6)

6. Central Michigan (2-10)

7. Western Michigan (4-9)


1. Michigan (12-1)

2. Michigan State (8-6)

3. Oakland (5-7)

4. Western Michigan (7-3)

5. Eastern Michigan (3-4)

6. Central Michigan (3-8)

7. Detroit Mercy (0-11)

Games of the week


►Michigan at Rutgers, 7 Tuesday (BTN)

►Eastern Michigan at Western Michigan, 7 Tuesday (ESPN+)

►Nebraska at Michigan State, 7 Wednesday (BTN)

►Michigan State at Michigan, 2:30 Saturday (Fox)

►Western Michigan at Central Michigan, 7 Saturday (ESPN+)


►Michigan at Nebraska, 8 Tuesday (BTN)

►Western Michigan at Central Michigan, 7 Wednesday (ESPN+)

►Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan, 1 Saturday (ESPN+)

►Rutgers at Michigan, 2 Sunday (BTN+)

►Purdue at Michigan State, 2 Sunday (BTN+)

Twitter: @tonypaul1984