Changing of the guards
"We've gone from a team that's lost Jones and Nelson to a team that's lost Jones, Nelson, Cushingberry and Maynard," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. "It's a different team now."
While Ledrick Eackles and Drew Valentine both saw good chunks of playing time last season, they're just sophomores and Valentine has been struggling as of late.
"He's in hurry-up mode and he's making too many mistakes," Kampe said. "He's got to learn how to value the basketball."
And while Larry Wright is in his final year, he has never been asked to play the point, something he's expected to do this year.
Of course transfer Reggie Hamilton will take some of the pressure off, but Hamilton was initially expected to be the lone man at the point. That seems to have since changed.
Freshman Ryan Bass is expected to contribute, as the shortage has now made a red-shirt season impossible for the athletic guard from Dayton, Ohio. Bass himself has been hurt, sidelined with a groin injury.
Kampe is enamored with red-shirt freshman Travis Bader and the potential he has.
“I’m really, really excited about the way Travis has progressed. He brings that (Erik) Kangas-like shooting. I’m not saying he’s Kangas, but he brings that to the table. He’s very confident and he’s worked his tail off and he’s had the best preseason. He’s the guy that’s made the biggest impact when you wonder about who’s going to step up."
Despite keeping his typical rotation in limited supply, Kampe will be stretching it this year.
“I like the fact we’re nine deep, and if Maynard ever makes it back, we can be 10 deep. I’m not afraid to do it. I’ve never done it in my career. I’ve never been able to play more than seven or eight guys, but with this team, I feel we can play 10 and I want to do that.”
Watch Kampe's post-game press conference following the Grizzlies' blowout win over Marygrove Tuesday.