New all-Catholic conference could be good fit for UDM

This is my column from the Varsity News, Detroit Mercy’s student newspaper this week. The piece can also be found here:

There is no doubt that the University of Detroit Mercy’s biggest sport in terms of media attention is men’s basketball.

That squad is the highlighted team on campus.

So with that being said, the university should consider making a big push towards joining this so-called new “Catholic 7” basketball conference.

Obviously to be able to join, Detroit Mercy would have to receive an invitation from the conference. That is, if the conference technically existed. As of now, the all-Catholic league is not a conference. But the seven catholic schools in the Big East do plan on leaving the conference.

The seven schools – Georgetown, DePaul, Marquette, St. John’s, Providence, Seton Hall and Villanova – are all basketball-oriented schools and most of them do not have football programs, just like UDM.

Further, all of the basketball programs have rich histories and are still very good now, producing NBA talent now and again.

UDM would be a good fit for this new conference for numerous reasons.

A recent article on Bleacher Report featured a list of things that any team added to this league should have in order for the conference to be successful.

The first of the criteria was that schools must have a basketball-first athletic department. In my mind, UDM fits that requirement well. Just from being around the athletic department and being a student here, I can see that basketball is the centerpiece of the program and the main focus in its philosophy.

Second, a team would have to be in a “thriving media market.” The seven schools from the Big East exist in some of the biggest markets in the country, including New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. Detroit ranks 11th on the list. By adding UDM, the conference would gain another top media market.

Another solid reason: Our area is a recruiting hot bed. There is talent here – now and in the past. Obviously, the Titans have Ray McCallum, who played high school basketball locally. But we also have a number of other players on the roster who played in the state, among them Evan Bruinsma, Juwan Howard Jr. and Doug Anderson.

However, the conference is reported to be going after schools such as Butler (former Horizon League member), Gonzaga, Xavier, Dayton, St. Louis and St. Joseph’s.

I agree that the conference should look into these schools as well as many others. Reports also say organizers want to host their conference tournament at Madison Square Garden. I don’t think anyone involved with the basketball team would mind traveling there to play in a legendary basketball arena.

Location will be a factor in picking teams. Detroit is not too far from the East Coast. But the decision may depend on how far the conference is willing to reach out geographically.

This conference is early in the making and not even close to being a reality. Yet, if it is at all possible, UDM should consider joining it. It would make perfect sense in my book.

After all, who wouldn’t want to see the likes of Georgetown, Marquette and Villanova invade historic Calihan Hall for a three-game homestand?

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