DETROIT – They had a very festive weekend on the McNichols campus to honor some exceptional and special people who walked the university grounds 40 years ago at Detroit Mercy. A large and spirited crowd enjoyed seeing Dick Vitale as he addressed the present day Detroit Mercy Titan basketball supporters.
Dick Vitale was the head coach of the 1976-77 Titan team that was being honored during a 40th reunion celebration. The pep-band kept those in attendance at the iconic field-house, Calihan Hall, energized. Vitale peppered his half-time address with his usual enthusiastic and colorful speaking style. The alumni, students and audience responded with lively and heartfelt cheers.
Vitale, a New Jersey native son and former Rutgers assistant coach, had the crowd spellbound with his motivational remarks and remarkable anecdotes. He had something memorable and dramatically positive to say about each player. Equally, this is what makes him widely popular as an ESPN sports broadcaster. His enthusiasm and colorful remarks are entertainment personified.
The former coach, along with his assistant Smokey Gaines, and veteran Sports Information Director, Bill Kriefeldt, formed a boundless ambassadorial management team. They had tremendous success on the court that season, going 25-4. Included in their NCAA Tournament season was a 21 game win-streak.
Not to be forgotten was a victory on the road over eventual NCAA champion Marquette. Marquette had only two losses that season. Subsequently, the 76-77 squad reinvigorated support for the Titans and packed the home games. Vitale said in typical Vitale-speak, “Motor City magic … in 1977, we had all of Detroit in the palm of our hands … baby.”
On this evening also, teammate Terry Duerod had his # 42 jersey retired. Duerod, a retired Detroit Firefighter, had plenty of DFD support at the game. He was also joined by Titan teammates John Long, Dennis Boyd, Ron Bostick, Wilbert McCormick and the most of the 76-77 group for the reunion weekend.
Junior John Long led the team in scoring (20.3) for the third straight season. At season’s end, Terry Tyler was voted the team’s “Most Outstanding Player,” Long received the “Most Valuable Player” Award and Boyd was named the “Top Defender.”
In the Horizon League rivalry game that was played on this special reunion evening, Oakland ran off to a 52-34 first-half lead and stopped a rally near the end of the game by Detroit Mercy. The Golden Grizzlies took an 89-80 victory in the cross-town match-up. Oakland got 23 from both Jalen Hayes and Sherron Dorsey-Walker while Martez Walker added 20.
Hayes, a redshirt junior, showcased his complete game for Oakland (19-7). He also had four steals and three blocked shots. Hayes scored eight points and Isaiah Brock had two dunks, two steals, three rebounds and one assist during a 20-5 first-half Oakland run. Hayes said after the game, “It’s always good to pick up a conference win, but it makes it that much better with it being Detroit.”
Junior forward Jaleel Hogan and sophomore guard Josh McFolley each had 20-point nights for the Titans (6-19). Detroit Mercy would get to within eight points, 88-80, with 39 seconds left after McFolley converted on all three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point shot.
The Horizon League has branded their playoffs as ‘Motor City Madness’ and the tournament will take place at Joe Louis Arena, March 3-7, in Detroit. Joe Louis Arena is owned by the City of Detroit. It is operated by Olympia Entertainment, a Detroit-based company owned by entrepreneurs Michael and Marian Ilitch. It is one of the country’s most dynamic, innovative and diverse sports and entertainment enterprises.
In conjunction and as part of the tournament festivities, the Horizon League and Olympia Entertainment will host a special enrichment and educational event. The Champions Brunch at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday, March 7, at 10:00 a.m., will feature Green Bay Director of Athletics Mary Ellen Gillespie. She will be joined by former three-time WNBA Champion and four-time All Star, Cheryl Ford. They will discuss their experiences in athletics and how the journey relates to the future of intercollegiate sports. The legacy event is open to the public. The brunch will also feature closing remarks from Horizon League Deputy Commissioner Julie Roe Lach.
1976-77 University of Detroit Titans – (25-4)
|F||Long, JohnJohn Long||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)||–||Jr|
|C||Tyler, TerryTerry Tyler||6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)||–||Jr|
|G||Duerod, TerryTerry Duerod||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)||–||So|
|G||Boyd, DennisDennis Boyd||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)||–||Sr|
|F||Bostick, RonRon Bostick||6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)||–||Sr|
|F||Whitlow, JeffJeff Whitlow||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)||–||So|
|G||Anderson, TuronoTurono Anderson||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)||–||Jr|
|G||McCormick, WilbertWilbert McCormick||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)||–||Fr|
|G||Niles, DaveDave Niles||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)||–||Fr|
|C||Jackson, KeithKeith Jackson||6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)||–||Jr|
|F||Ross, WilburWilbur Ross||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)||–||Sr|