The history of Titan basketball at the Joe Louis Arena

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The history of Titan basketball at the Joe Louis Arena

Postby Rogobob77 » Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:45 pm

The Red Wings' last game at Joe Louis Arena, scheduled to take place this Sunday, got me reminiscing about the history of Titan basketball at that venue.

Fresh off the sustained success of the Vitale/Gaines era (1973-79), U-D's new Athletic Director, Larry Geracioti, decided to schedule six home games at the newly built JLA for the 1979-80 season. Here are the results (and attendance figures) for the contests played that campaign:

Michigan 85, Detroit 72 (12,319)
Michigan St. 63, Detroit 57 (13,182)
Duquesne 72, Detroit 67 (5,132)
Detroit 102, Xavier 96 (8,232)
Detroit 100, Oral Roberts 85 (3,167)
Marquette 80, Detroit 76 (8,537)

That 1979-80 Willie McCarter coached team was deep and talented (future NBA players Earl Cureton and Joe Kopicki were on that roster, along with Jerry Davis, Dave Niles and Wilbert McCormick), but underperformed at the JLA (going 2-4), and overall (finishing 14-13). Crowds were decent, but where 8,000 fans would rock Calihan, the Titans lost the home court advantage with that same sized crowd in the cavernous JLA. Close losses to Marquette, MSU and Duquesne might have been wins if played on campus, and maybe that team gets in the NIT.

The U-D game against Michigan, played on December 12, 1979, was the inaugural event held at the JLA. Ticket range was $7 to $11. The following is a link to a story looking back at that contest:

https://www.nhl.com/redwings/news/uds-k ... a/c-872145

The Titans returned to the JLA for the 1980-81 season. Once again there were disappointing results in five games downtown (posting a 1-4 record), and overall for that season (9-18 record). Here are the individual game results (I don't have the attendance figures):

Syracuse 93, Detroit 79
Michigan 85, Detroit 68
Loyola 82, Detroit 80
Detroit 73, Dayton 70
Illinois St. 66, Detroit 62

With the sharp decline in wins, I remember that attendance dropped significantly, and it was clear that all those extra seats at the Joe weren't needed. The JLA experiment was over, and the following season all home games were back on campus.

The Titans would eventually return downtown in 1989, playing several seasons at Cobo Arena. To the best of my recollection they did not return to the JLA until 2016 when they played two games in the Horizon League tournament:

Detroit Mercy 92, Youngstown St. 79
Wright St. 80, Detroit 72

And the final Titan game at the JLA was in the 2017 Horizon tournament:

Milwaukee 85, Detroit Mercy 60

If my accounting is complete, the Titan MBB ledger at JLA was a disappointing 4-10.
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Re: The history of Titan basketball at the Joe Louis Arena

Postby uofdfan1983 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:13 pm

Don't ask why, but I just got sucked into the Tonya Harding Documentary on NBC. In some of the footage of the Nancy Kerrigan attack at the JLA in 1994, there are two different U-D banners in the hall ways where it occurred. IN fact, she's screaming "why, why me" right underneath one of our banners. For some of the younger guys: we used to play all our home games in Cobo during the late 80s and then periodic special games in the JLA during the 90s. Anyway, one of the banners read "Detroit Titans" and other was a "UDM" banner. I guess we were even inconsistent in our marketing pre-Garibaldi. For the record: Tonya did not blame us for anything. Neither did Nancy. But I don't think they share Thanksgiving with each other.
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Re: The history of Titan basketball at the Joe Louis Arena

Postby HSScout1 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:23 pm

uofdfan1983 wrote: For the record: Tonya did not blame us for anything. Neither did Nancy. But I don't think they share Thanksgiving with each other.


Even though is was before the time he was our coach, I'm sure we can assign Ray McCallum at least part of the blame :D
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Re: The history of Titan basketball at the Joe Louis Arena

Postby MooseGuy1 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:06 pm

I just always assumed it was Ray who clubbed Nancy. If he has an alibi for that time, I've never heard it.
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Re: The history of Titan basketball at the Joe Louis Arena

Postby Motor City Sam » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:17 pm

MooseGuy1 wrote:I just always assumed it was Ray who clubbed Nancy. If he has an alibi for that time, I've never heard it.


Moose and Scout, Ray clubbed Nancy and framed Tonya Harding's people for it. Diabolical.

Regarding the subject, I do wish the Titans had been able to put together good runs in the conference tournament at JLA the past two seasons. I hate that our last hoop performance there was the disappointing loss to Milwaukee.
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