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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.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Will the Thrill switches numbers

In an effort to emulate his idol Brett Favre, senior forward Will Hudson will again be wearing No. 4 this season, rather than the No. 11 fans have grown accustomed to seeing. The team's roster has accounted for the change, but Hudson graces the cover of the team's 2010-11 summer prospectus in his old number. .... Meanwhile, Hudson's front-court mate Keith Benson was picked as a preseason Wooden Award top 50 watch list player. The award is given annually to the top men's college basketball player. Benson averaged a double-double last season on his way to Summit League Player of the Year honors.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Another day, another preseason poll picks Oakland to win Summit League

On the same day it was announced that Blue Ribbon had picked Oakland to win the Summit League, CollegeHoops.net posted its Oakland preview, which like every preceding publication, has the Golden Grizzlies picked to repeat in the Summit League.
In summary: "Oakland cruised through the Summit League with an impressive 17-1 record. Things may not be as easy this time around without point guard Johnathon Jones and athletic forward Derek Nelson, but Coach Greg Kampe returns enough talent to repeat as conference champions."
The site had some praise for Reggie Hamilton, the expected point guard, saying: “Hamilton is not really a true point guard since he can be such a prolific scorer, but that is exactly what Oakland lost in Jones”
Forward Will Hudson should draw attention away from Summit Player of the Year Keith Benson and gobble up offensive rebounds.
“While Benson gets the glory, fellow senior Will Hudson does the dirty work in the paint,” CollegeHoops.net said.
Newcomers will be expected to spell the front court, it said, but Oakland will be benefit from the fact Benson typically doesn’t get into foul trouble.
Finally, CollegeHoops.net, which had Oakland at No. 98 overall, said: “That should not be much of a problem and Oakland could be dancing again as long as Hamilton is ready to run the point and find the scorers on the wings and under the basket.”

CollegeHoops.net’s projected starting five:
Reggie Hamilton, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Larry Wright, Senior, Guard, 11.0 ppg
Blake Cushingberry, Junior, Guard, 4.7 ppg
Will Hudson, Senior, Forward, 6.0 ppg
Keith Benson, Senior, Center, 17.3 ppg

Tryouts aren't for nothing

It may seem like something out of a Disney movie, but it's not impossible to think Oakland could find another player when the Golden Grizzlies hold tryouts Oct. 8. After all, it's happened before.
If you've ever been around Oakland practice, you may have seen the face of Ray Goodson, who made the team in 2008-09. He only played in one game, against Rochester College, but had Ben Woodside missed his game-winning jumper in the Summit League championship game, Ray would have himself a championship ring and boatload of memories from the NCAA tournament.
The open tryouts are from 10-11:30 a.m. Oct. 8 in the O'Rena.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The 'official' schedule finally released

From staff reports
Oakland University released its long-awaited 2010-11 schedule Monday, announcing it will face five teams that finished inside the top 12 in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and two teams that reached the Final Four — West Virginia (Nov. 12) and Michigan State (Dec. 11). Oakland also has five opponents from the Big Ten on its schedule.
“It’s almost like every year, we try and outdo the season before,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “At some point during the season, I’ll probably scratch my head and wonder, why did we do this? I know our team is really excited.”
The Golden Grizzlies again face a challenging non-conference schedule. Their slate last season included games against three Top 25 teams, including then-No. 1 Kansas, Wisconsin and Memphis. They now face six teams ranked in the preseason top 20, three of which are in the top five.
“The only thing missing from this schedule is a date with the Miami Heat,” Kampe joked.
The Golden Grizzlies will host Michigan State at The Palace of Auburn Hills Dec. 11 on Fox Sports Detroit. Oakland will also play two other games on FSD against IUPUI (Jan. 6) and IPFW (Feb. 12).
Oakland will travel to Mid-American Conference champion and NCAA tournament qualifier Ohio University (Nov. 15), Purdue (Nov. 21) and Wright State (Nov. 23), before heading to the Chicago Invitational Challenge Nov. 26-27.
The Grizzlies also face Tennessee (Dec. 14) in Knoxville, as the first in a three-game deal which has the Vols visiting the O’Rena next season. Oakland takes on Big Ten foes Illinois (Dec. 8), Michigan (Dec. 18) and Ohio State (Dec. 23) all on the road.
“We’ll play five Big Ten teams and we’re smack dab in the middle of Big Ten country,” Kampe said. “We’ll be on the Big Ten Network like it’s our home station. We’ll get a lot of media attention in the areas that Oakland recruits in, so I don’t think you could ask for a better schedule than this.”
The Golden Grizzlies will host the Lou Henson Award tournament Dec. 20-21, facing Rochester College and either Eastern Michigan or Valparaiso in the championship game.
“We’re excited to have this tournament inside the O’Rena and hope to host something like this every year,” Kampe said.
OU will open Summit League play on Dec. 2 and 4 against Southern Utah and UMKC inside the O’Rena. Oakland won the conference regular-season and tournament titles last season en route to its second NCAA tournament berth. The Grizzlies have been picked to repeat as league champions by preseason publications.
The Golden Grizzlies host Marygrove in an exhibition game Nov. 9.

Date Opponent / Event Location Time / Result
11/09/10 Marygrove # Rochester, Mich.
(Athletics Center O'Rena)
7:00 p.m. ET
11/12/10 at West Virginia Morgantown,W.V.
(WVU Coliseum)
8:00 p.m. ET
11/15/10 at Ohio Athens, Ohio
(Convocation Center)
7:00 p.m. ET
Chicago Invitational Challenge
11/21/10 at Purdue TV West Lafayette, Ind.
(Mackey Arena)
7:00 p.m. ET
11/23/10 at Wright State Dayton, Ohio
(Ervin J. Nutter Center)
7:00 p.m. ET
11/26/10 vs. Southern Hoffman Estates, Ill.
(Sears Centre)
12:30 p.m. ET
11/27/10 Austin Peay/Charleston Southern Hoffman Estates, Ill.
(Sears Centre)
TBA
12/02/10 vs. Southern Utah * Rochester, Mich.
(Athletics Center O'Rena)
7:00 p.m. ET
12/04/10 vs. UMKC * Rochester, Mich.
(Athletics Center O'Rena)
6:00 p.m. ET
12/08/10 at Illinois TV Champaign, Ill.
(Assembly Hall)
8:00 p.m. ET
12/11/10 vs. Michigan State TV Auburn Hills, Mich.
(The Palace)
12:30 p.m. ET
12/14/10 at Tennessee TV Knoxville, Tenn.
(Thompson-Boling Arena)
7:00 p.m. ET
12/18/10 at Michigan TV Ann Arbor, Mich.
(Crisler Arena)
12:00 p.m. ET
Lou Henson Award Tournament
12/20/10 vs. Rochester College Rochester, Mich.
(Athletics Center O'Rena)
7:00 p.m. ET
12/21/10 Eastern Michigan/Valparaiso Rochester, Mich.
(Athletics Center O'Rena)
TBA
12/23/10 at Ohio State TV Columbus, Ohio
(Value City Arena)
8:00 p.m. ET
12/28/10 at Centenary College * Shreveport, La.
(Gold Dome)
8:00 p.m. ET
12/30/10 at Oral Roberts * TV Tulsa, Okla.
(Mabee Center)
8:05 p.m. ET
01/06/11 vs. IUPUI * TV Rochester, Mich.
(Athletics Center O'Rena)
7:30 p.m. ET
01/08/11 vs. Western Illinois * Rochester, Mich.
(Athletics Center O'Rena)
6:00 p.m. ET
01/15/11 at IPFW * Fort Wayne, Ind.
(Memorial Coliseum)
7:00 p.m. ET
01/20/11 at South Dakota St. * Brookings, S.D.
(Frost Arena)
8:00 p.m. ET
01/22/11 at North Dakota State * Fargo, N.D.,br>(Bison Sports Arena) 8:30 p.m. ET
01/27/11 vs. Oral Roberts * Rochester, Mich.
(Athletics Center O'Rena)
7:00 p.m. ET
01/29/11 vs. Centenary College (Homecoming) * Rochester, Mich.
(Athletics Center O'Rena)
6:00 p.m. ET
02/03/11 at Western Illinois * Macomb, Ill.
(Waste Management Court)
8:00 p.m. ET
02/06/11 at IUPUI * Indianapolis, Ind.
(Conseco Fieldhouse)
1:30 p.m. ET
02/12/11 vs. IPFW * TV Rochester, Mich.
(Athletics Center O'Rena)
12:00 p.m. ET
02/17/11 vs. North Dakota State * Rochester, Mich.
(Athletics Center O'Rena)
7:00 p.m. ET
02/19/11 vs. South Dakota St. * Rochester, Mich.
(Athletics Center O'Rena)
6:00 p.m. ET
02/24/11 at UMKC * Kansas City, Mo.
(Swinney Recreation Center)
8:05 p.m. ET
02/26/11 at Southern Utah * Cedar City, Utah
(Centrum Arena)
9:00 p.m. ET

Saturday, September 11, 2010

JJ hits a 3 in preseason

Thursday, September 9, 2010

ESPN takes notice of Benson, Summit race

ESPN's College Basketball Nation blog suggests Oakland center Keith Benson as one of the names fans should know outside of the major conferences. What they said about the all-league center:

"This 6-foot-11 string bean could slip through a wet straw and emerge dry. But what Benson lacks in bulk, he makes up for with great timing and an ability to get off his feet quickly. Last season's Summit League Player of the Year dropped 28 points and nine rebounds on Pitt in the NCAA tournament. Luckily for Grizzlies coach Greg Kampe, a postseason thumb injury kept Benson from working out for NBA teams, thus a return for his senior season."

They also compliment another Birmingham Detroit Country Day alum, Ray McCallum, who chose to play for his father at Detroit. They call him "an instant Horizon League Player of the Year candidate."

"He is a true point guard with good size to go with off-the-charts basketball IQ. He has the ability to run the team, finish above the rim on the break and score with range to the arc, including a smooth midrange game."

(Two of the best mid-major players in the country in the same region and they can't get a game together?)

The blog went on to say the Summit League race is one to watch, citing Oakland, Oral Roberts and IUPUI as the main contenders:

"Of the three, the Golden Grizzles probably lost the most this offseason: Senior starters Derick Nelson and Johnathon Jones both graduated, leaving a pair of holes on coach Greg Kampe's perimeter. Of the three, Oakland also retained the most. That's thanks to the return of senior forward
Keith Benson, the consensus Summit League preseason player of the year and one of the best rebounders and interior scorers you've never heard of. With Benson back, the Grizzlies have the kind of player mid-major leagues like the Summit rarely see, and it's hard to imagine any of the league's teams slowing him down in 2010-11.
IUPUI and Oral Roberts will certainly try, though. IUPUI lost its best player in 6-7 forward Robert Glenn, but the rest of the squad is back. ORU returns three stars from last year's 20-win campaign: Sophomore Warren Niles, junior Dominique Morrison, and senior Michael Craion. Both teams will consider anything less than an NCAA tournament berth a failure, meaning a two-way race to top Oakland -- get ready for a lot more double-teams, Mr. Benson -- and a pretty equal three-way race for the top of the conference. Don't say you weren't warned. "

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Oakland adds a fifth Big Ten team to its schedule

According to a press release from Ohio State University, the Golden Grizzlies will visit Ohio State Dec. 23 at 8 p.m. The game will be carried on the Big Ten Network. Oakland already has games lined up with Michigan and Michigan State, Purdue and Illinois. All five matchups have been confirmed by the opposing schools, because Oakland has yet to release its official 2010-11 schedule.
Oakland has two wins over the Big Ten to date and now has five chances to pick up another.
OU's five Big Ten games this season:

Nov 21. @ Purdue, 7 p.m. (Chicago Invitational Tournament), BigTenNetwork.com
Dec. 8 @ Illinois, 8 p.m., BigTenNetwork.com
Dec. 11 vs. Michigan State, TBA, The Palace of Auburn Hills
Dec. 18 @ Michigan, Noon, ESPN3.com
Dec. 23 @ Ohio State, 8 p.m., Big Ten Network

Oakland also has Tennessee and West Virginia planned for its non-conference schedule, which once again, continues to pair the Golden Grizzlies with some of the nation's elite. Last season, they played No. 1 Kansas, N0. 5 Syracuse and No. 12 Michigan State as well as Memphis and Wisconsin.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hamilton makes all-league in Lindy's

The three preseason mags; Lindy's, Athlon and Sporting News, all have Oakland winning the Sumit League and Keith Benson as the league's player of the year. The biggest difference appears to be in the Lindy's preview (which has a picture of Keith Benson on the cover), which has another Oakland player in the all-league picks: Reggie Hamilton.
Lindy's tabbed Hamilton as a second-team all-league player in it's preview.
Here's how Lindy's ranks the Summit League:
1. Oakland
2. IUPUI
3. Oral Roberts
4. South Dakota State
5. North Dakota State
6. IPFW
7. Western Illinois
8. Southern Utah
9. UMKC
10. Centenary

Lindy's all-league first team is identical to the Athlon list:
Dominique Morrison, Oral Roberts
Ceola Clark, Western Illinois
Michael Tveidt, North Dakota State
Alex Young, IUPUI
Keith Benson, Oakland

Second Team
Clint Sargeant, South Dakota State
Reggie Hamilton, Oakland
Eric Carlson, North Dakota State
Michael Craion, Oral Roberts
Jay Couisnard, UMKC

Honor Roll
Best Shooter: Ben Botts, IPFW
Best Rebounder: Keith Benson, Oakland
Best Defender: Keith Benson,Oakland/Ceola Clark, Western Illinois
Most Versatile: Ceola Clark, Western Illinois
Best NBA Prospect: Keith Benson, Oakland

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sporting News also has Oakland No. 1

The recently released Athlon Sports college hoops preview had Oakland as the best in the Summit League and so does the new Sporting News preview. Like Athlon, Sporting News chose Oakland center Keith Benson to repeat as the league's player of the year. It also chose Greg Kampe as the league's coach of the year.
The publication, written by Mike Brown of the Tulsa World, a veteran beat writer, says the following about the Golden Grizzlies:

"(Oakland) set a record for league wins last season and made its second NCAA appearance in five years.
Larry Wright (11.0 ppg) and Will Hudson (4.9 rpg) had a stellar supporting cast, and the hope is transfer guard Reggie Hamilton can fill some of the void left by graduated point guard Johnathon Jones, who started every game over four seasons and became the league's career assist leader.
Coach Greg Kampe isn't sure anyone can match the leadership of Jones, but says Hamilton might have more raw ability. The 5-11 junior averaged 12.1 points and 3.4 assists over two seasons at league rival UMKC. As a freshman, he made the league's All-Rookie Team."

Sporting News breaks the league down a little differently than Athlon:
1. Oakland
2. Oral Roberts
3. IUPUI
4. North Dakota State
5. South Dakota State
6.IPFW
7. Western Illinois
8. UMKC
9. Southern Utah
10. Centenary

Accordingly, the all-league team is slightly different:
Keith Benson, OU
Ceola Clark, Western Illinois
Michael Craion, Oral Roberts
Dominique Morrison, Oral Roberts
Alex Young, IUPUI

Benson is also reportedly seen on the cover of the soon-to-be released Lindy's hoops preview. With Benson's presence on the cover and given the other league previews, it's safe to assume Oakland is the top team in that preview as well.

Kito graces cover of Lindys preview

Oakland senior center Keith Benson will be on the cover of the Lindys Sports regional college basketball preview to hit stores Tuesday. Benson's "cutout" appears on the cover with the images of Michigan State's Kalin Lucas and Michigan's Zack Novak. The publication has a list price of $7.99.
Lindys picked Oakland to win the Summit League last season and there's no reason it won't pick the Golden Grizzlies again this year. We'll have to see when it's released this week.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Oakland picked to repeat

As expected, the Golden Grizzlies have been picked to again finish first in the Summit League. Athlon Sports picked Oakland in its Summit League preview. And, to no one's surprise, Keith Benson was picked to repeat as the league's player of the year.
The magazine went as far as to say Benson is a legitimate NBA first-round pick. Benson averaged a double-double last season with 17.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and also had better than three blocks per game.
The Grizzlies were picked by several outlets as the class of the Summit League last season as well as in a league-wide poll including media members. They followed through on that promise, winning a conference-record 17 games en route to the school's best-ever Division I record and a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Athlon lists the all-league first team as: Benson, Western Illinois' Ceola Clark, Oral Roberts' Dominique Morrison, North Dakota State's Michael Tveidt and Indiana-Purude-Indianapolis' Alex Young.
The Summit League according to Athlon:
1. Oakland
2. Oral Roberts
3. IUPUI
4. South Dakota State
5. Western Illinois
6. IPFW
7. North Dakota State
8. UMKC
9. Southern Utah
10. Centenary