Detroit Mercy Titans MBB 2023-24 Season Preview

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Photo courtesy of Detroit Mercy Athletics

Mike Davis and his shark mentality hope to get the Titans over the hump

The Antoine Davis era at Detroit Mercy is over after 58 wins 3,664 points and 588 three-pointers. However, the family affair is not over just yet as head coach Mike Davis still remains in Detroit, and still has something left to prove to the Titans faithful.  

The 63-year-old Davis, who has the most NCAA tournament victories out of current Horizon League coaches, is the only active Mid Major coach with a Final Four or National Championship appearance (sorry Gonzaga). While he has quite the resume, unfortunately Davis has not been able to find the same kind of success at UDM, posting a near .500 record in conference play and never advancing past the Horizon League quarter finals. An abundance of injuries, lineup changes and academic issues have plagued MD’s tenure at Detroit Mercy there is no doubt about it. Sitting in historic Calihan Hall’s upper bowl watching the women’s team practice, Davis acknowledged this with a chuckle saying, “there must be something in the water here man, I have never been somewhere with so many guys missing games”.  

Davis pointed to how important it is to stay healthy throughout the season to run a deep rotation, citing last year’s team who got thinner and thinner as the season progressed as a blueprint for what he does not want to happen (12 different starting lineups, four opening day key contributors did not even suit up the last game). That squad who finished 14-19 (9-11 HL), while extremely talented on the offensive end, struggled to match up defensively especially in man to man, and was forced to claw back into games often. Playing from behind saw the Titans in close matchups, dropping seven conference games by five or less points, including a heartbreaker to YSU in the conference tournament.  

Much like last year’s team, the Titans look to be heavily led by veteran transfers that have not seen a ton of recent gametime due to a variety of factors. In seasons past Detroit Mercy has seen players come in and see exponential increases in their individual production. Whether they put it together or not is dependent on a lot of variables, but Davis emphasized that for this team to be successful his team will have to do the little things. “It really comes down to what you want to do and what you respect” adding that “Goldfish wait to be fed, and even if a shark is full, he’s going to eat again”. 

The Lineup  

Jayden Stone – The Perth, Australia native is back for another year at Detroit Mercy and will look to shine in the absence of Antoine Davis, who he shared the court with for all 13 of his games as a Titan. The 6-4 200+ lbs. guard shot and rebounded the ball extremely well when he was on the floor (49% from 2, 51% from 3) averaging 13.9 PPG and 5.3 RPG. The former Grand Canyon transfer is extremely athletic and can get to the hoop at will. Stone will be the key to the Titans’ success if he can stay eligible academically.  

“It really hurt us last year losing him,” said Davis, “That’s six or seven wins in conference lost. 5 games with 20 points scored. He’s stronger now and more mature on the court and mentally”. 

Mak Manciel – The 6-3 Detroit native did not suit up for Arkansas State last year dealing with a knee injury, but Manciel projects to thrive alongside Stone. While transfers in the Mike Davis era have seen the most success inside, Manciel has the chance to break that mold and give Titan fans the consistent two-guard tandem they wished to see with Davis and Stone. His sophomore campaign at Henry Ford College resulted in 15 PPG at a 47.6% clip, 4.3 RPG, 3.7 APG and 69 steals on the way to a first team All American appearance (NJCAA).  

Edoardo Del Cadia- Who will lineup in the third spot for the Titans is a tough call, but the 6- 8 240 Del Cadia, who’s had two stops in Division 1 college basketball (UNLV, Nicholls State) has logged 10 starts in that time. He can shoot the ball when he’s open and is a tough physical player who will make the right play for the team, something the Titans haven’t had much luxury of in the past. While his production doesn’t show up on his stat sheet, Del Cadia was referred to by Mike Davis as a “special passer” and if he can hold his own defensively will be a mainstay in the lineup.  

Donovann Toatley – Toatley is a grad transfer who has stopped at 3 schools along the way and has played in 45 career games with 8 starts. He did not see any game action with Bethune-Cookman last year but put-up solid production at Monmouth and was even better at UT Chattanooga his freshman year averaging 11.4 PPG on 42% shooting. Depending on how much Jayden Stone will run the point, Toatley can handle the ball and should mesh well with Stone and Manciel.  

Alex Tchikou- The one-man front court in Gerald Liddell is gone and UDM will look to Tchikou to fill a part of that production. The 6-11 big man from Paris, France has also had two stops at the D1 level (Alabama, Rhode Island) and because he is not a grad transfer, he may have an issue getting a waiver but if he is out there for the Titans, he will play a big role. The former top 100 recruit started 14 games for Rhode Island last season and averaged 4.2 PPG and 3.7 RPG, numbers that could go beyond 10 and 10 in the Horizon.  

Key Reserves 

Marcus Tankersley – The 6-4 sophomore guard saw action in 24 games last season, but caught fire in the Horizon League tournament, scoring 26 points on 10-19 shooting in two games and recording three steals vs PFW in the first round. Upperclassman on the team last year sang Tankersley’s praise citing his work ethic, and he could play himself right into the lineup if the production is there.  

Oton Jankovic – The 6-10 grad student is a huge question mark to say the least, as he has not played much at all in the last few years. After appearing in 21 games at Vanderbilt his freshman year, he ended up transferring to Tulane and would only see action in 21 games total over the next three seasons. The big can step out and shoot it and will help the Titans on the glass, especially in a potential no waiver situation for Tchikou. Jankovic could play a similar role to Damezi Anderson, who missed 2 seasons prior to suiting up for every game in 2022-2023.   

Emmauel Kuac- The 6-7 New Mexico transfer will give the Titans an athletic presence on the wing that can match up 2-4. After seeing six starts in 4 years at UNM, the Canada native has shown glimpses of what he can be in the Horizon League, posting 11 and 9 in a game his junior season, but injuries have kept him out of the lineup and Mike Davis will face another task of keeping a guy healthy.  

Ryan Hurst – The Farmington, Michigan native comes into the fold for the Titans this year after finishing fifth in the Michigan Mr. Basketball award and a first team All-State senior campaign. How he fits into the rotation will be interesting to watch, but the 6-3 230 guard can play averaging 22 PPG and 7 RPG his senior year in high school. Davis emphasized that just getting acclimated to college basketball was the focus for Hurst, but don’t be surprised if he finds his way into the rotation at some point.  

Kyle LeGreair – LeGreair is the longest tenured player on the team and has logged 852 minutes over three seasons as a Titan. The Detroit native, and Cass Tech graduate saw three starts last season and played an increasingly significant role as the season went on. He is not much of a scorer but is an extremely athletic player who can help the Titans defensively and play significant minutes.  

Jamail Pink – Another veteran guard in the Mike Davis system, the 6-1 Pink will look to provide good bench depth for someone who knows the system and can shoot the basketball. Pink saw two starts last season (both in the HL tournament) and will look to compete on a guard heavy team. 

Outlook

The Titans are talented and not very deep, but they are built to win basketball games. Davis plans to “play to our personnel” in terms of the lineup. They’ll look for shots on the perimeter like they always do, but their guards scoring ability should intrigue your average HL enthusiast that the Titans will be a more efficient team and will score in the paint much more. If the Titans can stay healthy and eligible, their length and scoring ability will be a problem and this will be Mike Davis’s highest finish in his Detroit Mercy tenure.  

HoriZone Roundtable Prediction

11th Place

Miss anything from Preview Week? Check it all out below:

Predictions

Men: Preseason Poll | All-League
Women: Preseason Poll | All-League

Podcasts

Preview Week Recap Part 1 | Preview Week Recap Part 2

Men

IUPUI | Green Bay | Cleveland State | Milwaukee | Robert Morris | Detroit Mercy
Youngstown State | Wright State | Oakland | Northern Kentucky | Purdue Fort Wayne

Women

Green Bay | Cleveland State | Milwaukee | Robert Morris | Youngstown State
Wright State | Oakland | Northern Kentucky | Purdue Fort Wayne

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