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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.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Is sixth-man role the Wright fit?

In attempt to ease senior shooting guard Larry Wright back from a lingering ankle injury, Oakland coach Greg Kampe has been bringing guard Larry Wright off the bench. Nothing changed in the Grizzlies’ record-breaking win at North Dakota State except Wright’s production.

In 24 minutes off the pine Saturday, Wright scored 20 points, including 4-of-4 shooting from 3-point range in one of his highest-scoring games of the season.

“I came back a little slow at South Dakota (State), but that happens when you have an injury,” Wright said. “You lose your rhythm and everything. (Coach) Kampe was on me to keep shooting and get my rhythm back.

“I was looking to be aggressive, that’s when I play my best. I wasn’t trying to pass it off, I was trying to force the issue and it worked out for me.”

Wright has started 16 games this season. He sat out Jan. 6 at IUPUI and played sparingly in his first game back vs. Western Illinois. Freshman Travis Bader assumed Wright’s position in the starting lineup Dec. 30 at Oral Roberts, where Wright played just three minutes. Kampe likes the way Bader helps the team get going from the tip.

“We’ve really been coming out in games strong,” Kampe said. “Larry’s a senior. He’s meant a lot to the program and it’s basically up to him (whether he starts).”

Kampe said he owes it to start Wright if the senior so desires, but added “if it doesn’t work out, if it changes the way we’ve been playing, we’ll make the changes,” Kampe said.

Kampe said he and Wright met Monday about Wright’s role with the team.

“He just looked at me and he hasn’t told me yet,” Kampe said Tuesday.

Based on Saturday’s play, it looks like playing off the bench might be an ideal spot for Wright, who has shown glimpses of just how sweet his shooting touch can be in the past two seasons. He seems receptive to the change.

“It wouldn’t bother me,” Wright said. “We have Travis Bader playing good. Reggie (Hamilton) has been very good at the point. Everybody is playing well right now.”

Early indications point to Wright coming off the bench again Thursday against Oral Roberts.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

MEN'S BASKETBALL: Dedication makes Keith Benson a pillar of Oakland hoops WITH VIDEO -

Let's go streaking

Oakland and its players aren't hiding from the fact they're about to break the conference's all-time consecutive wins streak Saturday for fear of a jinx. They're taking it head-on.
“We talk about it every practice, every game," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. "We talk about it before and after games. We talked about it all day (Friday) and we’ll talk about it all day (Saturday). It’s on our goal board. It’s not something we’re hiding from. That’s been all we’ve talked about since the league (season) started. We’ve never even mentioned the fact we’re in first place or what our record is.
"We knew if we hit the streak, we’d be in first place. Not so much the streak, but breaking the record. … We want to break the record. We want to be the best ever.
Kampe said center Keith Benson and front-court mate Will Hudson will have to be the focus of Oakland's offense to beat North Dakota State Saturday to get consecutive league win No. 17. The Grizzlies' defense can't worry too much about Bison leading scorer Michael Tveidt (14.2 ppg), but focus on holding his teammates in check.
“(Michael) Tveidt is going to get his," Kampe said. "We’ve got to take care of the rest of those guys. We have to make sure somebody else doesn’t go off. … He’s just too good of a player to shut down."
It's cold everywhere right now, but it's -11 in Fargo, N.D., with a wind chill of -27.
“This is where I think the streak and goal is good for us," Kampe said. "It’s keeping us focused on the mission. We’re not worried it’s cold. We’re not worried where we’re at. We know this is the game we have to win."

... The Bison, of course, were the last team to beat Oakland in the Summit League Tournament, beating Oakland on a last-second shot to win the title and go to the NCAA tournament. ... Kampe said senior guard Larry Wright is 100 percent and sophomore guard Ledrick Eackles is just 85 percent, but would play in a pinch.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

CAPUTO: Oakland basketball on verge of unprecedented success WITH VIDEO -

Columnist Pat Caputo says perfection would be the biggest thing Oakland basketball has achieved.
CAPUTO: Oakland basketball on verge of unprecedented success

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

IPFW highlights

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Numbers don't matter to Keith Benson

As long as Oakland keeps winning, center Keith Benson doesn't care if he scores 25 points each night as long as the Golden Grizzlies are winning, coach Greg Kampe said after Saturday's win over Western Illinois.

“It's not about numbers in the draft, they want to know if you can win," Kampe said. "He's bought into that and that's all he cares about. Our record and where we go and what we do will be a determining factor for him (in the draft).”
Kampe cited the case of Butler swingman Gordon Hayward, who departed for the NBA following his sophomore year. It was a season in which he led the Cinderella Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament championship game, where they came perilously (for Duke) close to making a last-second 3-pointer to win the game.

Kampe said the added exposure from the Bulldogs' run helped Hayward land at No. 9 with the Utah Jazz.

That doesn't mean Benson won't be contributing, but his name may come over the PA at the O'rena less and less, and as teams continue to double- and triple-team him, shooters like Reggie Hamilton and Travis Bader are going to get a lot of time on the mic.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Valentine on guard in accelerated role

Sophomore Drew Valentine, a player Oakland coach Greg Kampe continuously praises showed his mettle again Thursday, after being charged with defending preseason all-league first-teamer Alex Young, who the numerous NBA scouts in the crowd were also taking a quick look at.
Young did score 18 points, but it came on 6-of-15 shooting.
“The guy who nobody's talking about here is … Drew Valentine. He is a guy who played tonight. His effort tonight was Herculean,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “He took a future pro in Alex Young and even though (Young) got 18 points, it was a battle. Every basket he got was a battle. Valentine did a hell of a job on him on defense and he played great offense.”
Valentine has typically played 19 minutes per game, but went 36 against the Jaguars, a career high.
Valentine's 10-point, nine-rebound effort Thursday came on the heels of a 6-for-6 night at Oral Roberts.
“He is just getting better every time he takes the floor and that's why we have a good basketball team.”
Valentine started his 11th game of the season against the Jaguars and eighth in a row after making zero starts last season. He's averaging 6.2 points per game.
… Kampe was doubtful for a Saturday return of guards Larry Wright and Ledrick Eackles, both suffering from ankle injuries. Wright played just three minutes in the win at Oral Roberts and sat out multiple practices during the week leading up to the IUPUI game. Eackles tweaked his ankle coming down awkwardly after completing an alley-oop in the first half Thursday.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Live chat vs. IUPUI

Join Oakland Press reporter Paul Kampe at 7 p.m. for a live chat, as Oakland hosts IUPUI in a rematch of last year's Summit League Tournament championship game. The Golden Grizzlies prevailed, making their second trip to the NCAA tournament after the Jaguars handed Oakland its only loss of the regular season, the only defeat to keep them from conference perfection.

MOREOakland readies for championship rematch

Monday, January 3, 2011

Highlights from win at Oral Roberts