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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, February 4, 2011

Oakland ruling league play without being dominant

Oakland has played the league’s two last-place teams in each of its previous outings, coming away with lopsided victories both times, but they haven’t truly been of the blowout nature Oakland was winning in convincing fashion in the early going in conference games against the likes of UMKC, Southern Utah etc. The Grizzlies are still going to the half with the lead. And though their advantage is in single digits, Oakland is bringing on the rout in the final stanza.

“It’s a long season, you win games different ways,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “Things are going to be different. We just dominated everybody the first seven or eight games. You can’t do that the whole year. We’ve had a few different ways the game went, and you just have to find ways to win any way you can. The last couple nights, this was the way to win.

“Every game is going to be a little bit different. Teams are coming at us … we had been starting so fast, and now we’re not. Now, we’re just pulling away late.”

One reason the Grizzlies couldn’t separate from Western Illinois Thursday was the play of Leathernecks point guard Matt Lander, who was forced into the role because of an injury, had 16 first-half points, but just eight in the final stanza.

“Defensively, we were much better in the second half than we were in the first,” Kampe said.

The Leathernecks shot 50 percent in the first, but just 38 percent in the second, as Oakland outscored them, 46-30. The Grizzlies beat Centenary in the second half, 56-34.

Oakland (12-0 Summit) isn’t going to have that luxury Saturday at IUPUI (8-3). The only team to beat the Grizzlies in league play last season, the Jaguars are coming off a big win over second-place IPFW Thursday and can pull closer to Oakland with a win Saturday in a game Kampe said is “huge” for them if they want to pry the championship from Oakland’s grip.

“We just have to keep playing to win the day and keep doing what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We’re going to have to make open jump shots against their zone. And we have to guard (Alex) Young and (Leroy) Nobles. We have to dominate the offensive glass.”

Young and Nobles each had 18 in the Grizzlies’ 14-point win early last month at the O’rena.

“We’re going to go about our business the same way. They’re going to play that zone and we’re going to have to make open shots,” Kampe said.

Oakland shot 51 percent in the January meeting, even better from 3-point range, where it was 15 of 23, led by Reggie Hamilton’s seven 3s.

Oakland (17-8), of course, has a 10-game win streak, a conference-record 20-game winning streak and 12-0 start to league play on the line.

Fore an in-depth look at the IUPUI matchup, visit Golden Grizzlies’ Gameplan.

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