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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sophomore Drew Maynard out for Summit Tournament

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Oakland begins its first league tournament as the top seed Saturday night against Missouri-Kansas City. And they'll be doing it without sophomore guard Drew Maynard, who has a severely sprained ankle. Maynard injured the ankle when he landed on a teammates's foot during practice Wednesday. He gingerly jogged around the perimeter of the team's practice facility Friday afternoon, as the team got in its first practice in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Oakland coach Greg Kampe said he plans to start sophomore Blake Cushingberry Saturday in Maynard's absence.
"It's an opportunity for (Cushingberry) to step up," Kampe said. "That's been the great thing about this team all year, we've had a lot of different players step up when something happens. We go 8-10 deep and now it's (his) turn to step up."
Maynard has started the past seven games, and the Grizzlies are 7-0 with him in the starting five.
In other injury news, senior forward Derick Nelson aggravated an injured groin in the regular-season finale against IPFW.
"Today, he went full-boar, he's ready to go," Kampe said. "But it's a situation where we could get out there for five minutes in the game and he's not be able to go. So, we're prepared for it and we're ready."
Kampe has maintained that it doesn't matter who the Grizzlies (23-8, 17-1) play, they're going to play to win, but the Kangaroos (12-17, 6-12) could give the Grizzlies fits.
"It's a bad matchup for us. Of all the matchups, it's the one I wouldn't want to see because they're small and they'll space you out. If they start making shots, it could start affecting our lineup," Kampe said. "By putting (Cushingberry) in there with them, we'll go small with them, (Keith Benson's just going to have to go out there and guard them. We can't allow their centers to just sit out there and make 3s. If they make some early, it could affect who we play and affect Benson's status, so we have to make sure we get out early and guard."
Senior point guard Johanthon Jones, just named to the Summit League First Team, said there shouldn't be any chemistry issues with Saturday's starting lineup.
"Cushingberry knows the offense. Last year, he started a lot of games for us when Nelson went down," Jones said. "He fits in really well and brings a defensive presence."
Jones has adamant about his desire for a championship, even joking he would trade his cherished SUV for a ring.
"I want this so bad. Ever since I've been here, I've been so close. This is my third year we have a a really good shot at winning. I can't even explain how much I want this."
The Grizzlies would get a day off Sunday if they win Saturday, which greatly increases their chances of a tournament championship, the team captain said.
"Not having to play in those games would really help us get our legs back," Jones said. "And we'd get to prepare for the next upcoming game. But we have to win the first game, we don't overlook anybody."
The Grizzlies played three games in three days in last year's tournament, which was evident by a late-game drought in the championship game that effectively cost them the title against North Dakota State.
Saturday's game can be heard on WDFN-AM (1130).

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