OMAHA — Whatever you do, don’t call the son “junior,” or the dad “senior.”
It’s Ray McCallum, Detroit guard, period. And it’s Ray McCallum, Detroit coach, period. No Ray Jr.
“I wouldn’t do that to a kid,” Ray the coach said as he takes the Titans into tonight’s first-round NCAA Tournament game against Kansas. “It was tough enough for him to follow me without putting a junior label on him.”
Ray the coach was also quite a player. He played on two state championship high school teams in prep basketball-rich Indiana and was the MVP of the state tournament as a senior.
He stayed in Muncie, Ind., to play for Ball State, helping the school to its first NCAA Tournament. At the time he ended his college career in 1983, he was the Mid-American Conference’s career scoring leader.
To avoid confusion around the house, Ray the son is called Ray Michael.
Of course, plenty of folks try to stick him with Ray Jr. Reporters are among the guilty. Makes for less confusion.
Not that it bothers Ray the son all that much. Not much bothers him.
He loves playing for his dad. Whatever else goes along with it — expectations, tags — so be it.
“He’s my hero,” said Ray the son.
Both Rays remember sitting at the kitchen table talking about the high bar that the son faced.
“We shared that path as a family,” said Ray the father. “I’m sitting there with two state championships and him sitting there his senior with none. It’s tough competition.”
And then came winning the Horizon League tournament on March 6, beating Valparaiso on its home court by 20 points. Ray the son scored 21 points and had four steals.
All on his dad’s 51st birthday.
“I didn’t get him a present, only a card,” said the son. “I told him after the game, `Dad, this is your gift, I hope you like it.’”
As for that high bar, Ray the father said, “He finally cleared that hurdle.”
Detroit or Detroit Mercy
You won’t find “Mercy” anywhere on Detroit’s uniforms. Mercy, in fact, is nowhere to be found anywhere in the athletics department’s language.
But the official name of the school is University of Detroit Mercy.
Actually, it’s hard to sort out. Detroit media all refer to the school as Detroit Mercy or UDM for short.
“We’ve had a hard time getting people to change their thinking,” said Detroit sports information director Mitch Wigness. “The only time we talk about Mercy is when we say University of Detroit.”
A little background:
Detroit College was founded in 1877 and became the University of Detroit in 1927. In 1990, the University of Detroit and Mercy College of Detroit merged.
So why squeeze out “Mercy” on the athletics side?
“It’s just the branding side we’re going after,” Wigness said.
Upset of a different kind
Hopefully everyone is feeling better for this Detroit-KU game. Not so the last time they met, a 63-43 KU victory on Dec. 28, 2006, in Lawrence.
Less than minute into the second half, a Detroit assistant projectile vomited not once but twice as he sat on the Titans’ bench.
That sort of turned the stomach of KU’s Brandon Rush, who was already feeling a little queasy because of a recent bout of the flu.
“I’ve never seen somebody too lazy to go to the trash can,” Rush said after his nine-point game.
And then there was Danny’s night
The first time Detroit and KU met was the home debut of Danny Manning, who would go on to an All-America career for the Jayhawks and now a KU assistant.
In an 86-64 victory over the Titans in Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 1, 1984, Manning scored 15 points. A little more than a year later in Detroit, Manning had a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds in a KU’s 60-51 victory.
Add in the vomit game, and KU is 3-0 against the Titans.
Dave DeBusschere, Spencer Haywood and Dick Vitale are the biggest names in Detroit basketball.
DeBusschere, who would later spend his best NBA years with the New York Knicks, led the Titans to back-to-back NIT spots in 1960 and ’61 — back when the NIT was the hottest tournament.
After leading the U.S. to a gold medal in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Haywood transferred from a junior college to Detroit and played one year for the Titans. He led the nation in rebounding with a 21.5 average and averaged 32.1 points. Haywood left the next year for the American Basketball Association and later played in the NBA.
And then there’s Vitale. The ESPN analyst coached Detroit into the 1977 NCAA Tournament, when it had 32 teams. Detroit’s home court is named after him.
After Detroit won the Horizon League Tournament on March 6 to reach the Big Dance for the first time in 13 years, Vitale sent the team a gift basket and a note that read, “Congratulations. Awesome, baby!”
Haith mum on Miami’s woes
Missouri coach Frank Haith didn’t have much to say Thursday about another one of his former players at Miami being suspended for receiving improper benefits.
Durand Scott, Miami’s leading scorer, was suspended by the NCAA for six games Wednesday hours before the Hurricane defeated Valparaiso in the NIT. He was the third former Haith player this year to draw an NCAA suspension for receiving benefits from Haith’s former assistants at Miami.
“I feel bad for Durand,” Haith said on the eve of the Tigers playing Norfolk State. “But the NCAA stuff is stuff I can’t focus on and can’t control. I need to focus on what we are doing right here.”
Haith, who had a modest record in his seven seasons at Miami before being hired by MU last April, has not been directly linked to the NCAA violations.
How do I look?
No more long locks for Virginia’s Mike Scott and Jontel Evans.
They had been letting their hair grow since last year’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament . They vowed not to cut their hair until the Cavaliers made it to the NCAA Tournament, which meant getting creative with hairstyles.
But Sunday, Virginia had its name called as a No. 10 seed. That night Scott and Evans cut their hair.
“Feels weird,” said Scott, a senior. “I don’t know how the women… how you can ‘do’ your hair.
“I was getting my hair done once a week, trying to get a new ‘do’ every game. I’m glad it’s over.”