After suffering a tough 64-63 loss to Bowling Green at the buzzer on Sunday and dropping to an overall record of 4-3. Just about everyone agreed that the Detroit Titans needed to learn from their mistakes on Sunday and get a victory on Monday against Aquinas College and despite some doubts that’s exactly what they did, as they blew out Aquinas 109-59, giving them an overall record of 5-3 so far this season.
For me, it wasn’t about the win itself, it was about the way that the Titans won. For the first time this season, the Titans looked great both offensively and defensively. If you ask me, it started with the coaches decisions to change the starting line-up and make better substation decisions and it ended with the overall execution and productivity of the players as a whole on both sides of the court.
Changes In Starting Line-Up Make A Difference
Since the season began, I have made a number of comments, where I questioned head coach Ray McCallum Sr. decision to not start Carlton Brundidge at the point guard and play small ball with Juwan Howard Jr. at the center. Although, it took about five games for it to happen, coach McCallum finally switched up the staring line-up against Aquinas on Monday night as he elected to start Carlton Brundidge, Matthew Grant, Anton Wilson, Jaleel Hogan and Juwan Howard Jr.
Now mind you that the Titans have at least seven plays who are capable of starting every game. While it would not be wrong or weird for the Titans to consider a different starting line-up every game, I like the idea of having a consistent starting five that doesn’t change unless necessary, meaning that it doesn’t change unless injuries takes place.
The reason I like this particular starting line-up tonight is because it fits to the Titans strength. At the guard position, I like the fact that the Titans started two strong combo guards who complement each other. When it comes to Grant, he is what I call game-manager, meaning that he makes the extra pass and doesn’t shoot to many bad shots. As where Brundidge, is more of the scoring point guard, who creates a lot of drive and kick situations, not to mention he has become crafty-ball handler who can create for himself and get to the rim. Then when you add that with Anton Wilson, who can shoot from anywhere on the floor and hit the boards offensively, it’s almost a win-win on the perimeter, with those three guys.
The same goes for Detroit’s post presence. Now I know that the Howard Jr. and Hogan aren’t necessarily considered big men considering they are only between 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6 in height. However, it doesn’t change the fact that both players have a solid post game to offer, not to mention both can play effectively on the perimeter which allows the Titans to spread the floor offensively and be versatile defensively. Plus, I like the fact that Hogan and Howard Jr. complement each other. When it comes to Howard Jr. he is scorer but with Hogan, you’re getting “Mr. Hustle”, who will go out on the floor and the get those second chance points on the offensive end while defensively both can be counted on to make the big play.
That being said, there is no guarantee that coach McCallum will continue with this starting line-up moving forward. However, if he does, I think it will benefit him in the long run or at least until they get Patrick Onwenu and Chris Jenkins back on the floor.
Flow Of Substitutions
Besides the starting line-up, I also like the consistent flow of substitutions for the Titans. So far this season, coach McCallum has had a bad habit of over playing certain players or not giving certain players enough minutes, which is not surprising considering McCallum has not had a team this talented since being hired at Detroit. Nevertheless, it was very important that McCallum start to find a better rhythm with his player substations so that everyone gets equal opportunity which only increases team productivity and all-around chemistry.
A perfect example is the fact that all nine Titan players score points in this game. While it may have been against a weaker NAIA Aquinas team that they did this against, it doesn’t change the fact that all Titan players got quality minutes, allowing each player to play their role and still get their shine on the stat sheet. If you think I am exaggerating, keep in mind that all nine Titan players score in this game, not to mention, six of those nine players scored in double digits.
Paris Bass Effective In Every Way
Bass may only be a freshman but the future is certainly bright with the Titans, as the perennial stud of the future, as he finished the game with a total of 17 points, nine rebounds, five steals, four assists, and two blocks
The great thing about Bass, is that it doesn’t matter whether he is offense or defense, the point is that Bass makes an impact wherever he is on the court.
Defensively, at 6-foot-7, he has a great wing span and overall instincts which allowed him to finish the game with five steals and two blocks. Plus, he is always on the boards out-rebounding those who outweigh him by 40 pounds or more. Then offensively, he is even more impressive, as you can always count on him to score in the paint or on the perimeter. Then if that’s not enough, he is extremely unselfish, as he is always willing to create for others, showing that even at 6-foot-7, he has the potential to be point guard if needed.
That being said, keep in mind that while he is truly gifted and beyond some people’s expectations, it doesn’t change the fact that he is still a freshman who is growing and continuously getting better with certain things like shot selection. Nevertheless, it doesn’t change the fact that as a freshman, he is showing a fully rounded skill set, which means he can only get better from here.
Brandan Kearney Seems Comfortable In Sixth Man Role
When it comes to Kearney, I am convinced he can succeed regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench. However, it doesn’t change the fact that Kearney looked comfortable in the sixth man role against Aquinas, as he finished the game with a career-high 17 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Now mind you, Kearney could have just as well been feeling it on tonight but I think coming off the bench as the sixth man, allowed Kearney to come in have the shine with second group and establish his self as go-to scorer, which is sometimes difficult to do in the first group with Howard Jr. on the floor. Then if that’s not enough, he just seem more at ease coming off the bench. He was extremely efficient, plus, he just had better rhythm as he was able to create a lot more offense for himself, while still being a creator for his teammates.
Again, I’m not saying that Kearney couldn’t produce this same to play in the starting line-up because anybody who has seen Kearney knows that he can produce in any situation. However, I think the sixth man role may be a nice spot for him, moving forward. I suppose only time will tell.
As I said above, this game was more about the way that the Titans won, than the way that they won. That being said, I like what I saw from the Titans tonight and I hope to see it as they continue their non-conference play and get ready to head into Horizon League conference play.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, this team has the skills and overall capabilities to go far this season but the coaches decision-making and the players overall level of execution on the court will determine how far this team goes.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Producer of “The Morning Heat” on Hot 107.5 and Sports Editor of Radio One Detroit
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