An unbelievable decade of Gonzaga basketball will conclude on Monday night when the top-ranked Bulldogs take on the Detroit-Mercy Titans. After a wildly successful three-game gauntlet against Washington, Arizona, and North Carolina, the Zags took care of business in what many thought could be a letdown against Eastern Washington. Now, they get one last low-major program to fine tune things before conference play and, perhaps more importantly, get their legs back after having nine days between games.
Meet the Opponent
Detroit Mercy Titans: 2-11 (KenPom 296)
Detroit Mercy comes to Spokane out of the Horizon League, where they finished 8-10 a year ago. They are off to a rough start to this season, losing a bunch of double digit games to mid-majors, and dropping road contests to Clemson, NC State, and Notre Dame. They did upset UC Irvine for a surprise victory, however, and they do have one of the best scorers in the country in Antoine Davis. His 25.3 ppg is third in the nation this year. As a freshman last season, Davis was also the third leading scorer in the country at 26.1 ppg. His 132 three-pointers broke Steph Curry’s freshman NCAA record. He was one point shy of breaking the school record for most points in a season. He has a cool story, from being homeschooled in Houston and not receiving any major school offers, to becoming a prominent scorer.
The reason he is at Detroit is because his father, Mike Davis, took the job there two summers ago. After originally committing to Houston, Antoine decided to walk on and play for his father and his older brother, who is an assistant on the team. You may remember Mike Davis from his wild Final Four run at Indiana after Bobby Knight left. Or you may remember him from coaching Texas Southern the last several years. He’s no stranger to the McCarthey Athletic Center, going 0-2 with TSU.
Detroit also has Brad Calipari, the son of Kentucky head coach John Calipari. After being a walk-on at Kentucky, Brad decided he would transfer for his senior season in hope of playing some meaningful minutes. He’s averaging 7.1 points in 23 minutes this year, but missed Saturday’s game with an illness. We’ll see if he’s healthy enough to play on Monday.
All of these fun back stories are a distraction from the fact that this is not a very good basketball team. They are 333rd in the nation in defensive efficiency. Outside of Davis and maybe Justin Miller, they have very little scoring ability on offense. But a team that has a lethal scorer and a team that shoots nearly as many threes as twos has a chance to hang around if Gonzaga doesn’t take care of business early.