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Patrick Ackerman:

Finally eligible to play, Titan tall man ready to make his mark

By VITO CHIRCO/ VN SPORTS EDITOR
On November 18, 2014

At six-foot-ten, Pat Ackerman is the biggest big man on the Detroit Titans.

A junior, he started his collegiate basketball career at Penn State University in 2011 before transferring to UDM last season.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, he sat out in 2013-14.

But Ackerman will be counted on to deliver this year.

 

Why did you pick Penn State?

I liked the fit. I took a lot of unofficial visits during high school. I actually took a visit to Bucknell and Penn State in the same weekend. The Penn State campus was great, and it offered millions of opportunities when it came to business, which is what I originally wanted to go into before switching over to communication studies. I kind of fell in love with the school and program, which is why I took an official visit the following weekend, and then got to play and work out with the team.

 

Why did you leave Penn State?

 The coach that recruited me at Penn State actually left the summer going into my freshman year, which kind of made for a tough situation. Nothing against the current coaches because I was with them for two years, and I’m grateful to them for keeping me there and not getting rid of my scholarship when they easily could have. It was just a situation of not getting enough playing time. I wanted a fresh start somewhere where the coaches had recruited me and knew what they were getting with me.

 

Why did you transfer to UDM?

The program and coaches had a lot to do with it. Obviously, it was a big change, as Happy Valley was a lot bigger than Detroit with 40,000 undergraduates. It was also because of what Coach McCallum had done in the past with other Titan big men that had come through the program and been successful, and had gotten to the NCAA Tournament just two years earlier. I wanted that opportunity, and my dream is to go play in the NCAA Tournament one day and I wanted to come make that happen.

 

You were a standout at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts, even being nominated for the 2011 McDonalds's All-American basketball game and being rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com. If you were in your last year of high school right now, do you think the same rating would be assigned?

“I never really paid attention or cared too much about all that. I was just more focused on playing well and being recruited by different colleges, and getting a scholarship to have somewhere to play. So, I think at this point, I would still be concerned with and only concerned with finding the perfect fit for playing at the next level.” 

 

What vital on-court and off-the-court lessons did you learn from Coach McCallum and the rest of the Detroit coaching staff as a result of sitting out last season due to the NCAA’s transfer rules?

It was definitely painful at times. But I learned a lot in sitting out, both on the court and off the court. I was able to see the game from a different perspective because I wasn’t going out there every day. Although I wasn’t playing a lot at PSU, I was still preparing to play because you never know when your name is going to be called. It was a little different last year, with how I knew I didn’t have to get ready to play. I learned a lot about myself and the game, almost from a coach’s perspective – although I wouldn’t call it that. My role was to get the guys ready to bring their best every day in practice, while keeping guys hyped on the bench during games. So even though I was on the bench, I still had a role to fill.

 

McCallum called you a big man who had the capacity to “go inside and outside" prior to the start of last season. Is that still the case, and what have you heard so far about whether or not you’ll be in the starting five this season?

Every day in practice we’re switching up jerseys, trying to figure out which guys work best together and to see what lineups work the best. And even then there’s going to be certain games where the matchups will determine the lineup and favor one lineup one day and another lineup another day. My teammates and I honestly don’t know if the lineup will stay the same the whole season. This team is deeper. All I’ve ever heard is that Coach McCallum only plays seven or eight guys. But this year, we have 12 or 13 guys that can come in and be ready to play right away. It can change up any day, which was the good thing about the Canadian trip and the exhibition games – to see what will work.

 

What will you bring to the table?

Everything I can. It’s one of the big things Coach McCallum has been on me about all offseason and even last season. Losing NJ (Ugochukwu Njoku), he was a big presence inside in terms of defense and rebounding, so I’m trying to fill that void that we lost.

 

Can you stretch the floor?

I’ve got a mid-range jumper, and can pick and pop. I do what I can. I’ll play with my back to the basket, and I’ll step out to knock down a jumper. I’ll do whatever I need to do.

 

How was Happy Valley different during the PSU football scandal involving Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky? 

It just kind of picked everything up and flipped it upside down compared to how things used to be on campus and what people were used to. As terrible of a situation as it was, it kind of bonded the campus in a sense. They said football tickets are going to suffer. But instead, more tickets were actually sold than the previous year.

 

How is Detroit basketball different from basketball at Penn State?

Every coach has his own style and way of doing things. There are a lot of differences, specifically with the different conference and different schedule, which brings along with it different goals as a program.

 

Who's your favorite player to watch in the NBA right now?

He’s not playing right now, but I really love watching Kevin Durant play because he’s someone with the same size as me. He’s really fun to watch, knowing what it’s like to be his size and with KD being able to do all the things he can with that size.

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