AN EMO­TIONAL SATUR­DAY

Oak­land will honor trainer Tom Ford; Detroit Mercy will is­sue Reg­gie Hall award

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY TONY PAUL The Detroit News

It’s go­ing to be a very emo­tional Satur­day at Oak­land and Detroit Mercy.

At Oak­land, which will play Chicago State at 3 p.m., the Golden Griz­zlies will honor long-time ath­letic trainer Tom Ford, who re­tired in May and an­nounced he has been di­ag­nosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Dis­ease.

At Detroit Mercy, which plays West­ern Michi­gan at 2 p.m., the Ti­tans will hand out the in­au­gu­ral Reg­gie Hall Spirit of Detroit Mercy Award, an homage to the pro­gram’s big­gest fan, who died fol­low­ing a car ac­ci­dent in late 2015. He would’ve turned 60 this week.

Ford ar­rived at Oak­land in 1988 and worked mainly with the men’s and women’s bas­ket­ball pro­grams, and since has worked with many of the other pro­grams, in­clud­ing women’s soc­cer, and men’s and women’s golf.

Tom Ford is an in­sti­tu­tion at this uni­ver­sity, Oak­land ath­let­ics di­rec­tor Jeff Konya said. “He is al­ways wel­come within these walls and we owe him and his fam­ily a debt of grat­i­tude,” Konya said.

Former stu­dent-ath­letes can pur­chase a $30 ticket pack­age — (248) 370-4000 — that in­cludes a game ticket, a Tom Ford Bob­ble­head and a do­na­tion to the Team TFord Strong Foun­da­tion. Bob­ble­heads will be for sale for $20, with pro­ceeds go­ing to Ford’s fam­ily.

Ford has kept his spir­its up, par­tic­u­larly on Twit­ter (@TFordATC), de­spite the dis­ease’s pro­gres­sion. He plans to be in at­ten­dance Satur­day.

Hall was a reg­u­lar at Cal­i­han Hall for decades fol­low­ing his days as a stu­dent at Detroit Mercy in the late 1970s, where he stud­ied com­mu­ni­ca­tions and played base­ball. He could al­ways be found in his seat, tucked away in an up­per cor­ner, his boom­ing voice al­ways rec­og­niz­able.

To­day, a ban­ner hangs near that seat, read­ing, “Reg­gie’s Cor­ner.”

The spirit award was created to honor a Ti­tans fan who sup­ports the school’s teams at home and on the road, through thick and thin, just as Hall used to do.

Hall also had a three-decade­long ca­reer in lo­cal sports me­dia, in­clud­ing as a sports pro­ducer at Chan­nel 7 (WXYZ) for 26 years.

“He was a true Ti­tan and he touched ev­ery­one that has come into Cal­i­han Hall in the last 30 years,” Detroit Mercy ath­let­ics di­rec­tor Robert Vow­els said.

War­riors, meet Ti­tans

With­out much ad­vance no­tice, the folks at Detroit Mercy got some spe­cial sur­prise vis­i­tors Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

The de­fend­ing NBA-cham­pion Golden State War­riors, in town to play the Pis­tons on Fri­day night, de­cided to prac­tice at Cal­i­han Hall.

Al­most every­body from the War­riors was present, in­clud­ing Dray­mond Green and coach Steve Kerr, who min­gled with mem­bers of Detroit Mercy men’s and women’s bas­ket­ball teams. Steph Curry was the only no­table ab­sence, as he’s out with an an­kle in­jury.

Cal­i­han Hall was a log­i­cal place to prac­tice, given one of the War­riors as­sis­tant coaches, Wil­lie Green, is a Detroit Mercy alum. Green, who at­tended Coo­ley in Detroit, played for the Ti­tans in the early 2000s, and still is fourth on the pro­gram’s ca­reer scor­ing list.

Green, 36, went on to a 12year NBA ca­reer which ended af­ter the 2014-15 sea­son, and joined Kerr’s staff in Golden State last sea­son.

Cen­tral of at­ten­tion

Michi­gan is the con­sen­sus best women’s team in the state this sea­son, given it looks like a down year for Michi­gan State.

No. 2 just might be Cen­tral Michi­gan (6-1), which took a sixgame win­ning streak into Thurs­day night’s game at South­ern Illi­nois-Ed­wardsville.

The Chippe­was are com­ing off an ab­so­lute dis­man­tling of Oak­land, 103-85, at the O’Rena on Sun­day.

Col­legeIn­sider.com has Cen­tral Michi­gan ninth in its top-25 rank­ings for mid-ma­jor schools.

Coached by leg­endary Sue Gue­vara, Cen­tral is led by ju­nior guard Pres­ley Hud­son — like me, a Way­land na­tive (rep­re­sent!) — who is av­er­ag­ing 21.7 points and shoot­ing 48.5 per­cent on 3’s. Most im­pres­sively, she’s 29-for-29 on free throws this sea­son.

Four other Cen­tral play­ers av­er­age dou­ble-dig­its in scor­ing, in­clud­ing 6-foot ju­nior Reyna Frost, who av­er­ages 12.1 points and 12.9 re­bounds.

Don’t be sur­prised if the Chippe­was find their way into the NCAA Tour­na­ment for just the fourth time, and sec­ond since 1984.

This and that

West­ern Michi­gan guard Thomas Wilder flirted with the idea of the NBA last off­sea­son, but quickly de­cided it wasn’t for him. Not now. But soon. He’s look­ing like a le­git NBA player this sea­son, av­er­ag­ing 19.2 points through nine games for the Bron­cos (5-4). He’s been in dou­ble dig­its all nine games this sea­son, and 12 to­tal dat­ing to last sea­son, the 12th­longest streak in the NCAA.

... There are sev­eral pow­er­house bas­ket­ball of­fenses in the state this sea­son, on the men’s and women’s side. You can add Wayne State women to that mix, hav­ing twice scored 100 points this sea­son — the first time since 2002-03 that the War­riors have done that. Wayne State, led by se­nior guard Shan­non Wil­son (Bloom­field Hills; 18.4 points), had a chal­leng­ing game set for Thurs­day night, at nation’s No. 2 Ash­land.

... In Wed­nes­day night’s Oak­land-East­ern men’s gameJalen Hayes went to throw up an al­ley-oop — and the pass went through the hoop. Oak­land (5-4) lost the game, 95-89. It gets an­other crack at East­ern when the teams meet again Dec. 22, that time at the O’Rena.

Player of the week

James Thomp­son IV, East­ern Michi­gan, Jr., F: If the Ea­gles are go­ing to make some noise in the MAC this year, it’s go­ing to start with this guy, a sta­ple in the pro­gram who ear­lier this sea­son eclipsed the 1,000point plateau for his ca­reer.

He put on quite a show Wed­nes­day night in a 95-89 home vic­tory over Oak­land, with his seventh dou­ble-dou­ble in eight starts. Thomp­son fin­ished with 24 points on 11-for-11 shoot­ing, had 12 re­bounds and added four blocks. A week ear­lier in a loss to North Florida, he had 29 points, 15 re­bounds and two blocks.

Detroit Mercy

The late Reg­gie Hall was a pop­u­lar fig­ure in­side the walls at Detroit Mercy’s Cal­i­han Hall, and now is re­mem­bered with “Reg­gie’s Cor­ner.”

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