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Clock ticking for McCallum

By VITO CHIRCO/ VN SPORTS EDITOR
On February 11, 2015

Second-half collapse here, second-half collapse there. 

It’s been the theme of the Detroit men’s basketball season. 

And it’s starting to define the tenure of men’s basketball coach Ray McCallum, who has suffered close losses to Bowling Green, Wichita State and Green Bay at home, as well as similar defeats to Cleveland State, Milwaukee and Valparaiso on the road this season – all a result of collapses of varying magnitudes down the stretch. 

Even in wins, the team’s inability to close out opponents in an efficient manner has caused troubles. The most recent example came on Jan. 29 against Youngstown State, a team with only one win in the Horizon League (as of publication). 

McCallum’s squad was outscored, 50-38, in the second half, after leading YSU, 34-22, at halftime. 

It took overtime and some dramatics from senior Juwan Howard, Jr., who scored the Titans’ first seven points in extra time, to secure the victory.

Should the game have come down to the wire? No. 

Which begs the question: “Who’s to blame for the team’s far-too-often late-game struggles?”

According to some close observers, McCallum should come under fire for his mishandling of players at the end of games. 

Recently, there have been alums and students who have also said that he lacks the fire and intensity to be a successful Division I men’s basketball head coach. 

Regardless, the UDM fan base needs to put its foot on the brake and allow McCallum to coach out the rest of the season with the personnel he’s amassed. 

And he’s more than deserving of the chance to do so with this talented bunch of individuals, featuring a proven scorer in Howard, a four-time Horizon League Freshman of the Week in Paris Bass and a former first-team all-state selection and three-time all-Catholic League first-team selection in Chris Jenkins

Plus, McCallum has posted a winning record in four of his last five seasons and has led the Titans to an NCAA Tournament appearance (in 2012). 

However, there comes a time when posting a winning record isn't good enough.

It’s when making the Big Dance on a semi-annual basis is the only feasible course of action and satisfactory performance.  

With Athletic Director Robert Vowels’ vision of having each UDM sports program in contention for a conference title at the end of every season – finishing in at least third place – McCallum had better change the negative tone that has been in place since last season when the highest revenue-producing program on campus could not hold its leads, blowing a second-half advantage in 12 of 19 losses.

If such losing ways are sustained for the remainder of this year and next, it’d be hard for Vowels, with his aforementioned vision in mind, to not cut ties with the genuinely all-around nice guy who is McCallum.

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