Detroit Mercy men’s hoops ready for new beginnings

Gamedays in Calihan Hall will look a little bit different this season, as record setting scorer Antoine Davis has moved on to the NBA with the Portland Trailblazers organization. Davis’ impact on this university was immense as his number zero will never be donned by a Titan again after being retired last season. The two-time Horizon League player of the year averaged over 25 points per game over his five-year stint at Detroit Mercy, which is almost 40% of all points scored by the team in that span. 

The banner of Davis will not be his family’s only namesake that is still around, as his father Mike is still the head coach and his older brother Mike Jr. is also on the staff as an assistant. Reflecting on the legacy and impact his son had on the program, the 62-year-old Davis said of his son that “he knew how to practice, and he set the tone for our culture by being an unbelievable worker,” something that Mike Davis thinks the Trailblazers would echo in agreement. 

The Titans will also have two other assistants back in Kerry Rupp and Donnie Marsh, who both have Division I head coaching experience in their careers. This continuity in the staff leaves only one question for the Titan faithful, and that is how this program is going to move on from Antoine Davis and build upon this culture that he helped establish.  

The first potential answer to that question comes by way of an 11,000-mile trip from Perth, Australia, to Detroit. The Aussie native Jayden Stone is back for the Titans after sharing the backcourt with AD for 13 games last year. The senior 6-foot-4 guard can shoot it at a high clip, shooting 49% from the field last season, and is an excellent rebounder, pulling down 5.3 rebounds per game. Stone has a comparable game to Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell, as he can shoot extremely well, but also has great athletic ability and size to get to the hoop at will. His numbers and usage should increase exponentially this year, and he will be the key for the Titans to put it all together. 

The team will look to returners like sophomore Marcus Tankersley, who came on strong at the end of the season, and an abundance of transfers to carry the rest of the load. Tankersley acknowledged the absence of Davis.

“Antoine made the game easier because he drew so much attention,” Tankersley said. 

This could potentially result in the Titans being able to play a different and more balanced brand of basketball especially on defense, something that transfer guard Donovan Toatley hopes to bring to the table, saying he wants to “bring Maryland toughness to Detroit.” 

The Titans are without a doubt deep at guard with Stone, Tankersley and Toatley, but also bring guards Mak Manciel and freshman Ryan Hurst into the fold along with returners in Kyle LeGreair and Jamail Pink, who will all play a vital role. 

However, something to watch will be the Titans added length, as Coach Davis has his tallest squad yet and will need production down low to win a league championship. Replacing the one-man frontcourt in Gerald Liddell will be handled by Alex Tchikou, Edoardo Del Cadia and Oton Jankovic. Tchikou, a former top 100 recruit, will need a waiver because he is a two-time transfer, but he has the ability to be an all-league player and a great 1-2 punch with Stone.