Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:17 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 11:23 pm

Tiny Dancers: Detroit

Talk about validation for Little Ray. 

Everyone questioned Ray McCallum's decision to spurn the big boys -- UCLA and Arizona included -- to play for his dad in the Horizon for Detroit. 

However, the father-son duo just got the Titans into the NCAA tournament after an upset over top-seeded Valparaiso in the hostile confines of the 5,000-seat Athletics-Recreation Center. 

The win got Detroit into the Big Dance for the first time since 1999 and also snapped a five-game losing skid against the Crusaders.

McCallum finished with 26 points, six rebounds and five assists in the semifinal win over Cleveland State and had 19 in the victory against Valpo. 

But this team has more than just Little Ray. Senior guard Chase Simon helps on the perimeter and the Titans have a couple of legitimate bigs in LaMarcus Lowe and Eli Holman, the Indiana transfer who comes off the bench. 

Ray McCallum and his father led Detroit to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999. (US Presswire)

Player to know: Ray McCallum - Little Ray opted to play for his dad despite having offers from plenty of high-major programs. The sophomore point guard had a terrific season, averaging 15.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4 assists per game this season. He's led the team in scoring, assists and steals both years in college. 

The Vitals:

  • Record: 22-13 overall, 11-7 in Horizon
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 1999
  • We’re thinking: 14
  • KenPom ranking: 131
  • Sagarin ranking: 133
  • RPI: 136
  • Best wins: Cleveland State, Butler (twice)
  • Worst losses: UIC, Youngstown State
  • Notable stat:  Ray McCallum is in his third head coaching gig. He was 126-76 in seven seasons at Ball State, spent four years at Houston (44-73 mark) and is in his fourth season at Detroit. 

-- Jeff Goodman

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 27, 2011 6:36 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 6:46 pm

Detroit big man Eli Holman on leave of absence

By Jeff Borzello

Detroit center Eli Holman has been placed on a leave of absence from the team, the school announced Tuesday evening.

Holman, one of the best big men in the mid-major ranks, averaged 11.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game last season for the Titans. He was one of five double-figure scorers for Detroit, which went 10-8 in the Horizon. Holman earned second team all-conference honors last season, as well as an all-defensive team nod. Expected to take another step forward this season, The Sporting News pegged him as the preseason Player of the Year in the conference.

His prospects for the season seem unclear at this point, though. 

“We have been working with Eli Holman for some time to assist him in addressing his personal matters,” Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Keri Gaither said in a statement.

“At this time, we feel it is in Eli’s best interest to step away from basketball to allow him to concentrate on these matters. He has been excused from all team-related activity for an indefinite period while actively addressing these issues.”

Holman, a 6-foot-10 California native, played six games at Indiana during the 2007-08 season before injuring his wrist. He then transferred to Detroit, where he helped lead the Titans to a 13-win improvement from 2009 to 2010. Holman and sophomore guard Ray McCallum were expected to form one of the best inside-outside combos in the league this season, with Detroit even picked to win the league over Butler by at least media outlet.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: May 17, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: May 17, 2011 10:47 am

Bryce Drew keeps family tradition alive at Valpo

Posted by Eric Angevine

It's not easy following a legend. Homer Drew is a legend. Starting in 1988, Drew spent his entire DI coaching career at Valparaiso University, taking the Crusaders to the NCAA tournament seven times in 22 seasons. In 1998, the team went to the Sweet 16. Things have been a little more difficult for Drew and his program in the new millennium, as the Butler Bulldogs have become an elite team since the formation of the Horizon League, but the Crusaders won 23 games in Homer's last season, and are a good bet to stay in the league's upper echelon in upcoming seasons.

That's because Valparaiso was able to replace Homer the legend with another legend, his son Bryce Drew. Reports out of Indianapolis say that Bryce will succeed his father as Valpo's head coach, with an announcement coming today. Bryce may not have the coaching resume his father compiled, but he has major cachet nonetheless. As a Valpo player, Bryce hit one of the most famous game-winning shots in the history of college hoops. He did it against Ole Miss in 1998; the amazing Sweet 16 season.

1998 might be ancient history to today's recruits, but that video speaks for itself. There's little doubt that an Indiana kid will know the name Bryce Drew, and that name recognition could go a long ways toward keeping Valpo from sliding much - if at all - during this historic passing of the torch. Bryce also has someone he might occasionally turn to for advice, if Dad is busy fishing or something. His older brother Scott Drew coached Valpo for one season in 2002-03 before taking over at Baylor. Apparently the year off did Homer Drew some good, as he came back the following year and kept the Drew lineage intact long enough for Bryce to gain the necessary experience to succeed him.

Keeping the Drew family line going at Valpo is good for the school, and good for the Horizon League. While Butler is clearly the league strongman, the overall profile of the conference is bouyed by a tradition of tough opponents at Cleveland State and Valparaiso. Milwaukee has been an off-and-on powerhouse as well, and won the regular-season title in 2011. Wright State is often a contender, and Detroit is playing a very quick game of catch-up with coach Ray McCallum bringing in his extremely talented son, Ray, Jr. and adding 6-foot-6 Baylor transfer Nolan Dennis (per my soon-to-be colleague Jeff Goodman).

The Horizon League has an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the WCC, where Gonzaga's success helped bring St. Mary's into the national spotlight, and made a move to the league attractive for BYU as well. Not bad for a league very few fans east of the Rocky Mountains had heard of ten years ago. Keeping Valpo strong keeps the Horizon League strong, and hiring Bryce Drew was a great way to keep positive momentum rolling at one school, and therefore in the entire conference.
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