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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, December 28, 2011

The (d)evolution of Oakland’s defensive play

Oakland coach Greg Kampe hoped that Friday’s 15-point blowout at home against Western Michigan was an aberration, but quickly pointed out teams are exploiting ball-screens against struggling Grizzlies. With a shortened eight-man rotation that features four freshmen and two sophomores, it could take longer than anticipated.
“Dribble-penetration got teams to the basket and wide-open 3s,” Kampe said. “We tried to take those 3s away and it led to wide-open layups. We have to fix that. It’s easy to talk about and show, but these are young kids … they have to learn and communicate. That’s the biggest problem. We’ve spent a lot of time on that the last few days. It’s not going to be fixed overnight because they’re freshmen.
“We’re going to find out (if Western Michigan) was an aberration in the next three games.”
The Grizzlies are at North Dakota State tonight and visit acclaimed South Dakota State, which entered the mid-major poll for the first time this season at No. 23, Friday. Then preseason No. 1 Oral Roberts visits the O’rena Tuesday.  
The Grizzlies’ defense was playing better during the season’s early games, before the scouting report on Oakland began its evolution.
“Our team defense was outstanding at the beginning of the year,” Kampe said. “We’re such a young team that grabbed the concepts early. Then people found we didn’t guard the ball-screen very well.”
Oakland’s first two league contests, both at home, came before they began getting exposed on defense. That resulted in an 18-point win over conference newcomer South Dakota (Dec. 1) and 13-point defeat of UMKC (Dec. 3).  
“We were guarding the 3-point shot at about 29 percent,” Kampe said. “In two league games, the 3 was shot at 19 percent against us. Somewhere after the Ohio game, people figured out if they spread us out they’d get some open looks.”
Oakland’s defensive performance in this season has been poor enough to land the Grizzlies dead last in the conference in 3-point field goal defense (.362) through 14 games thus far. They are ninth out of 10 conference teams in overall field goal defense (.478).
“We’ve not been good. It’s been a real struggle the last two weeks. … Our young kids are going to figure it out and we’re going to be OK,” Kampe said.

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