Vitale, ’77 team turn out to honor Duerod

A legendary coach returned to campus to honor one of his legendary players.

“Everything this man is celebrating tonight, he worked his tail off for it,” said Dick Vitale of Terry Duerod. “I could not be more proud of him.”

Before he became a famous ESPN broadcaster, Vitale coached the University of Detroit Titans men’s basketball team. He took his 1976-77 team, including Duerod, to the Sweet 16.

The team was five wins away from a national championship.

Vitale, Duerod and other members of that team reunited on campus Feb. 10 to see Duerod’s jersey retired at halftime of the men’s game.

“I used to see it happen to other players … and to have it happen for me is a blessing,’’ said Duerod.

He not only led his team to the Sweet 16 against Marquette, he also went on to win an NBA championship in 1981 with the Boston Celtics, playing alongside Larry Bird.

Duerod is the sixth leading scorer in school history.

“Everything I have today I paid the price for it years ago,” he said. “It all came with my love for this game and the extra hours I sacrificed. I did not do it by myself. The guys … (on the team) with me made it possible for me to get here.”

 After serving four years on the campus, Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons for a season.

“That experience taught me a lot, not only about basketball. I also gained a perspective on life as a whole,” he said. “It let me know who was really there for me. I may not have been a good pro basketball coach. However, I did end up touching 13 halls of fame.”

The 1976-77 team was one of the best teams in Michigan that season, beating both Michigan and Michigan State.

“Michigan was scared to play us back in this time period,” noted Duerod. “We were the most feared team in Michigan.”

And Calihan Hall was one of the most-feared sports venues in the country, Vitale said.

“No team ever wanted to come here,” he said.

The 1976-77 squad was a brotherhood, Vitale said, and the team members loved and cared for one another.

Ron Bostick was part of the historic run. Afterward, he played in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks after being picked in the seventh round of the 1977 draft.

 The team went 26-3 that year, the best record in the history of the school. The Titans upset Marquette, which was ranked number seven in the country that year.

 “We competed at the highest level at all times and never left the floor with any doubt that we gave effort,” said Bostick. “The Marquette game was a historic night for me and my brothers. We told ourselves that we will not let this team outplay us.”

In the tournament, the Titans wound up losing to the Michigan Wolverines, the number one team in the country that year.

It was the only Titans team in the history of the university to make it to the Sweet 16.

“Everybody who was on this roster had what it took to bring home the national title. I would not do anything different. I love these guys,” said Vitale. “I honestly feel if we did not come up short against Michigan, no other team would have been able to stop us.”

After his ball-playing days, Terry Duerod became a Detroit firefighter. He is retired now.

“To be able to share this moment with all of my brothers brings me tears of joy,” he said. “I would not want to share this with any other group. I am thankful for the game of basketball. Not only did I get an education, I also built lifelong friendships.”