The Titans started and finished strong, playing off the energy created by the school unveiling Dick Vitale Court at Calihan Hall before the game. The ESPN analyst coached Detroit from 1973-77 and was athletic director during his final season.
Vitale was celebrated on the 32nd anniversary of becoming an analyst
"I've had many honors come my way, the ultimate was going into
the Basketball Hall of Fame, but having a court named after you is
an incredible honor and I'm emotionally spent about it," Vitale
said earlier in the day. "When they called to tell me about it, I
didn't feel comfortable with it.
"But they made it clear that this wasn't based on solely what I
did as a coach, but also for the visibility and exposure I've given
the school with my career at ESPN."
Detroit's athletic department presented Vitale with a check for
$5,000 during a first-half timeout for The V Foundation for Cancer
Research, which was started in 1993 and benefits from Vitale-led
Vitale led Detroit to the NCAA tournament in 1977 after earning
a bid by beating eventual champion Marquette coached by Al McGuire
in Milwaukee, winning on Dennis Boyd's jumper from the top of the
key just before time expired.
"To get the kids to relax, I told them, 'I'm so confident that
I guarantee I will dance at center court after we win in
Milwaukee,'" Vitale recalled. "We won the court and the buzzer
and the kids reminded me, 'You said you were going to dance.' So, I
did a little Disco Dick for them."
He was with the Titans from 1973-77 as their coach and was
athletic director during the 1977-78 season, his final one at the
school. After leading the Detroit Pistons for a season and 12
games, he was fired. He had a 78-30 record with the Titans and was
34-60 with the Pistons.
Vitale's passion for college basketball and platform on cable TV
helped him get inducted into Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in
"I can't run, I can't jump, I can't shoot, and yet I'm in 10
Hall of Fames because of passion," he said. "Passion plus hard
work ethic plus good decision making equals wins in the game of
The 72-year-old Vitale is from New Jersey and lives in Florida.
He has been given an extension by ESPN, which hired him soon after
its launch in 1979, that keeps him under contract through the
Matt Dery, who emceed the pregame ceremony, said Vitale
"carries the torch for the sport," and that his passion for the
game is unmatched.
"We love you Dickie V" a fan yelled.
"It's awesome baby!" another shouted, using one of Vitale's
School president Dr. Antoine Garibaldi said the basketball
program has produced greats such as Spencer Haywood, John Long and
Terry Tyler, but its former coach still creates a buzz.
"The one name that is always mentioned is coach Dick Vitale,"
Athletic director Keri Gaither asked for five minutes to be put on
the clock for Vitale to make his remarks.
The Titans (4-6) beat St. John's (4-5) before a season-high
The Red Storm was without coach Steve Lavin, who is recovering from prostate cancer surgery and has missed the Red Storm's last three games. St. John's was led by assistant coach Mike Dunlap.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.