After entering the transfer portal in early April and receiving interest from multiple power-5 and top mid-major programs, guard Antoine Davis announced in May he would return to play his final season at Detroit Mercy under his father, head coach Mike Davis.
With the 2021-22 Horizon League Player of the Year secured for his last season of collegiate eligibility and reportedly splitting a portion of his NIL deadlings with teammates, the Titans hit the transfer portal hard in preparation for the 2022-23 season.
First it was just Jayden Stone coming over from GCU in early May but he was later followed by Damezi Anderson having previously represented Indiana and Loyola-Chicago and former top-100 prospect Gerald Liddell who spent time at Texas and Alabama State.
And just for good measure, Detroit Mercy also added Clemson and Old Dominion guard AJ Oliver II, South Carolina and McNeese State product TJ Moss, and to round out the group, Temple defensive stalwart Arashma Parks.
With a proper team now built around Davis at Detroit Mercy, many expected vast improvements on a 14-16 finish from a season ago led by a top-5 scorer in the nation.
However, while Davis has maintained his scoring prowess – he’s averaging 24.3 PPG as the second highest scorer in the nation – the Titans as a program haven’t quite reached that next gear that many thought they might achieve given all their new transfer talent.
For Detroit Mercy, the season would start with a win over NAIA Rochester followed by a loss at Boston College who’ve had a tough time against mid-major competition bolstering defeats to Maine, Tarleton State, New Hampshire.
After managing the program’s first D1 win of the season against Ohio, an 0-2 run at the Paradise Invitational would see the Titans earn losses to two top tier mid-major’s in Florida Atlantic and Bryant. Averaging 25.5 PPG across the two matchups wasn’t enough for Davis to get the job done as Detroit Mercy were held to just 55 points by the Owls and couldn’t match the output of Doug Edert and Earl Timberlake allowing Bryant to score 98.
The Titans would rebound with their third win of the year dominating Charlotte 70-49 on home court but couldn’t maintain any stability traveling to Pullman, WA for a second power-5 test on the season which marked a 96-54 blow out loss to Washington State.
Once again Detroit Mercy would rebound with a 75-66 win against conference preseason favorites Purdue Fort Wayne in which Davis broke the Horizon League’s all-time scoring record with 2,915 career points.
— Detroit Mercy MBB (@DetroitMBB) December 2, 2022
However, once again the Titans struggled to continue a good run of form picking up a 92-77 loss against Cleveland State, the team selected to finish seventh in the Horizon League which meant a 1-1 start to conference play.
Davis and Co. would manage another win the following week picking up a road victory against Tulsa but in a reverse fixture against Charlotte, the Titans would succumb to the 49ers in overtime 82-80 at Halton Arena regardless of a season-high 36 points from their leader.
Despite the constant ups and downs of the Titans season, this has been a year of record shattering for Davis who’s now the Horizon League’s all-time leading scorer, a member of the 3,000 point club, and chases the NCAA’s all-time leaders in points and three-pointers.
3⃣0⃣0⃣0⃣ career points for Antoine Davis👏
He becomes the 11th player in D-1 HISTORY to achieve this feat 🤯 pic.twitter.com/kS4GU8GDR2
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) December 10, 2022
Furthermore, Gerald Liddell’s clearance to play has been huge for head coach Mike Davis with the 6-foot-8 forward averaging a double-double of 18.5 PPG and 14.8 RPG in his first four appearances playing a key role alongside Antoine.
With plenty of basketball still on the docket for the Titans, there is lots of time to set this program on the right path but while Davis has already left a historic mark on his final season at Calihan Hall, how will this team react with two big matchups in Eastern Michigan and Cincinnati on the horizon.