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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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

What constitutes a bad loss for Oakland?

At this point, a loss outside of the NCAA tournament will be considered a bad loss for Oakland. But to this point, December’s 103-102 shootout loss to Valparaiso was the worst. It was a product of a maddening schedule, but there were three losses Oakland coach Greg Kampe was unhappy with when he spoke about it earlier this month on “Grizz Talk.”

“It just fit in there. Scheduling cost us that game,” Kampe said of the loss in the final of the Lou Henson Tournament. “We lost by one (to Valpo). We lost by two or three at Wright State.”

The Grizzlies played 11 games in the month of December, one of which was the Rochester College blowout. The heart of the non-conference schedule, Oakland played four ranked teams, beating one – Then-No. 7 Tennessee, Dec. 14.

Oakland had a late 11-point lead dissolve in a three-point loss at Wright State the first week of the season. That came on the heels of a productive showing at then-No.14 Purdue.
The Grizzlies (22-9) suffered six of their losses t his season to BCS schools, five from the Big Ten alone. Yet there’s one, at Michigan Dec. 18 that really sticks out.

“I would have never scheduled the Michigan game,” Kampe said. “If I sit back now and look at it, it was a real error on my part to play at Purdue, Illinois, Michigan State, Tennessee and Michigan all in a row like that and put Michigan at the back of that. Your in-state games are the important games. You make a name for yourself. You fight, scratch and battle for your program to become something. The kids want to win those games. We recruit against (them), so you want to win those games. We lost by one to MSU, but Michigan beat us pretty good four days after just beating Tennessee. … We played, played played and we didn't play very well at Michigan. (The U-M loss) is my fault, but those other games, I'm disappointed we didn't win.”
“I never thought we'd go undefeated in the league, no one ever has in the 30-year history of the league. With the travel in our league, I don't see that happening.”

A recent report by Bleacher Report cited two bad losses for Oakland. One at IUPUI and the other at home to Valparaiso. The site called the Grizzlies’ wins at Tennessee and home against the Jaguars as the good wins for the group, ranked No. 6 in the most recent mid-major poll.

Greg Kampe flashing his penmanship?

The annonymous sports blog in the latest issue of ESPN the Magazine is "NCAA Coach X." Sure, it could be anybody, but is it possible that the entry titled "Every coach likes to think he matters. And we do. A little" could have been written by Oakland coach Greg Kampe? The evidence: The lede (journo lingo for the first paragraph) mentions Tom Izzo in the first sentence. It could be nothing, but Kampe is known for referencing the maestro in East Lansing.
"Tom Izzo may have six Final Four appearances, but before that, he had none."
Later, another reference to one of Kampe's favorite coaches: West Virginia's Bob Huggins.
Kampe has mentioned in some interviews about how having talented players is of equal importance to having a quality coach.
"Look. I'm not afraid to admit it: Good players make good coaches. ... 6--9, 250 beats 6-6, 205 almost every day of the week."
Again, it could just be coachspeak, but I know I've heard it at least once this season.
The clincher - Self-depreciating humor the good-natured Golden Grizzlies' coach is known for:
"The one thing I can't do is act like I know what I'm talking about when I don't" and "In the end, coaches probably get too much credit when their teams win and too much of the blame when they don't."
Read it online with an ESPN Insider account or buy the mag on newstands. It's the fiction issue, but there's a very real possibility Greg Kampe just picked up his first byline (look it up).
UPDATE: Kampe, a broadcast journalism major at Bowling Green ('78) who used to teach a sports writing class at Oakland, denies writing the guest column in ESPN the Magazine.

Another Detroit-Oakland standoff

The cold war between Oakland and the University of Detroit could get uglier pending the outcome of a recruiting battle for Flint Powers standout Patrick Lucas-Perry, the younger brother of redshirt guard Laval Lucas-Perry.
The younger Lucas-Perry is rumored to have Oakland as one of his finalists and a source close to the family has said the Titans are another potential suitor. An article from MLive last week mentioned Pennsylvania in the mix.
Patrick Lucas-Perry's allegiance could be tested in the coming months. His brother will play for Oakland next season and his father played at Detroit. Does he play for the present or cling to his father's legacy?
Oakland has already lost out on one prized sibling recruit this year. Denzel Valentine, younger brother of Oakland sophomore Drew Valentine, already made his declaration for Tom Izzo's MSU Spartans.
If Oakland doesn't land Patrick Lucas-Perry, it will make for an interesting footnote. Perhaps the Titans would make that trip to Rochester for the game?

Bader showing his buoyancy

It’s well known by now that redshirt freshman Travis Bader gets most of his points from beyond the arc (he's takes the vast majority of his shots from there), as he shoots better from 3 than he does inside the arc.

What’s been as impressive as his ability to step into the starting lineup in his first game has been Bader’s wherewithal to recover from an off-night. He hasn’t had too many, but his resiliency was on display against South Dakota State, where he scored 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting from 3-point range two nights after going 0 for 8 from the floor.

“It was just an off-night,” Bader said. “Everybody has those. I just couldn’t find the hoop. I just went in the gym the next day and didn’t really think about the previous game. I didn’t want it to get in my head or anything. I just went about it like any other day of practice.”

He followed that up with a 15-point outing Thursday against UMKC and had two 3s against Southern Utah Saturday.

Bader, who started the season opener at West Virginia because two teammates missed the bus, is averaging more than 25 minutes per game.

“I didn’t expect my role to be this big coming in to the beginning of the season,” Bader said. “Now that it is, I’m just trying to work hard and do whatever I can for the team.”

He scored 15 at West Virginia, becoming the first Oakland player to reach double figures in their debut since Erik Kangas in 2005. Kangas, one of the program’s most noted scorers, is the player Bader is most often compared to. Bader is already ahead of where Kangas was at this point and time will tell if he can get to where Kangas ended up.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

UMKC Live chat

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grizz Talk: Final roadtrip

Oakland Press writer Paul Kampe chats with Oakland University men's basketball coach Greg Kampe (no relation) as well as sophomore Drew Valentine and freshman Travis Bader, as the Golden Grizzlies head into their final road trip of the season prior to the Summit League Tournament.

Click on a name to see each full-length interview:

Coach Greg Kampe

Sophomore Drew Valentine

Freshman Travis Bader

Follow @PaulKampe on Twitter for up-to-date news and notes

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Senior sendoff

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Grizz Talk: Greg Kampe explains deteriorated relationship with U-D

Oakland University men's coach Greg Kampe sat down with Oakland Press beat writer Paul Kampe to talk about the Golden Grizzlies' loss at IUPUI Saturday and their upcoming game against third-place IPFW Saturday. The coach also discusses why Oakland may never again play natural in-state rival University of Detroit after scheduling snafus.

Senior forward Will Hudson talks about his hometown Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl and sophomore Ledrick Eackles, fresh from running drills, hopes to pick up his play.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The next step

Golden Grizzlies coach Greg Kampe has made several strides with the Oakland program in the past 27 years, most notably moving to Division I, upsetting top-25 opponents, fielding an NBA prospect and making the NCAA tournament two times in a conference overlooked when it comes to at-large bids.
An expansion to the O'rena, which opened just 12 years ago, and an added practice facility could be the next step for the Golden Grizzlies, who have done everything they can to raise their stature on the court, most notably this season playing five top-25 teams and beating No. 7 Tennessee.
“If we're going to recruit against these people and we're going to try and beat (major Division I schools), and we're going to raise that level to become a Gonzaga or Butler, then we need the facilities," Kampe told the Detroit News. "We've got the (plans) all drawn up.”
The reports says the long-speculated rennovation would cost $11 million, adding two new practice courts, locker rooms, video rooms and expanded offices. The News went on to say the project would have to be funded by donations.

Loss at IUPUI not without positives

Oakland lost its first game of the conference season in the same place it lost its only Summit League game last season. The defeat at IUPUI Saturday, where coach Greg Kampe was tossed in the waning seconds for arguing with officials, is not without positives.
“This team took the loss a lot harder than the team last year,” Kampe said. “Last year, we got beat and it was like ‘Don’t worry about it. Let’s go out and win the next one and start the streak again and we did.
“They were really upset about it. They were upset because they felt there were some things that didn’t go their way. They were upset with some things that happened on the floor. They were very angry and we’ll see how they respond to that. I was glad to see them that way. They have an expectation they shouldn’t lose.”
Typically, the Golden Grizzlies expect to win on their home court, but extending that anticipation to rival courts has to make fans feel good about what’s developed in Rochester.
Kampe was ejected for the first time this season and has been a noted critic of the way Saturday’s game was officiated. Despite it all, he said the Grizzlies still had a chance to win late needing a defensive stop they didn’t get. The loss snapped their 20-game consecutive win streak in conference play.
“With everything that went wrong, we had the ball down three with a minute to go. We got probably the worst call of the game at that point and then we had to get a stop and we didn’t get it.
“We can blame the bad call, we can blame the travel and all that stuff, but when reality sets in, we had to get a stop with a minute to go in the game and we didn’t get it,” Kampe said. “To achieve perfection is very difficult, especially in our league with all the travel and all the things that can go wrong. With foul trouble, injuries and officiating, all those things can sway the outcome of a game. That’s why I never said we’d try to be perfect. If a team ever does that, that’ll be more luck than anything else. You have to be really good, but you have to be lucky, too.”
The Grizzlies (17-9, 12-1) have three consecutive home games, starting with Saturday’s televised affair with IPFW, and then a two-game road trip to end the season. Oakland has a 2 1/2 game lead over the Jaguars (9-3) and three games over IPFW (9-4). If the Grizzlies had won Saturday, they could have clinched first place in the conference as early as this Saturday. Now, that must wait.
“We’ve played the meat of our schedule,” Kampe said. “Now it’s a matter of hanging on and winning it. If we win our three home games, we’ll be league champions. I don’t see a way we wouldn’t be the No. 1 seed (in that case).”
The top two seeds to next month’s conference tournament get the benefit of a day off between the quarterfinals and semifinals. Oakland was the No. 1 seed last season on its way to its second-ever conference championship and subsequent berth in the NCAA tournament.

Leaders of the new school

After the record-shattering loss to IUPUI Saturday, a few unexpected voices perked up in the Golden Grizzlies’ locker room. With renowned leaders Johnathon Jones and Derick Nelson gone, Oakland hasn’t struggled enough yet to have to look toward is leader(s). They found it Saturday in the Conseco Fieldhouse dressing room.
“It was a combination of everybody,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “The whole locker room was mad. I wasn’t there for the end, so I didn’t know how that all went down. It was more of the underclassmen. Will, Larry and Kito are pretty quiet guys and just sat there. The underclassmen felt bad for letting the seniors down. They felt they had things taken from them and they weren’t happy. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond. We should have a good week of practice.”
Oakland has to wait a full week between games, but then has three straight home games to show its resolve before hitting the road to visit UMKC and Southern Utah, whip it handled easily to open league play in December at the O’rena.
Saturday’s tip against IPFW is scheduled before the women’s game to accommodate a TV broadcast, beginning at noon and will be aired on FSN Detroit.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kampe: Hamilton a gunslinger ‘like Brett Favre’

Reggie Hamilton has been at times the Golden Grizzlies’ best shooter. He’s also been their worst offender when it comes to turnovers. It’s a fact he and coach Greg Kampe have acknowledged on several occasions, but Kampe knows, you have to stick with the hot hand.
“He’s been making too many turnovers, but he’s also been making plays,” Kampe said. “He’s a Brett Favre-type quarterback. I refer to him as that type of player, he’s very similar. He’s going to make great plays and he’s also going to force the ball in there at times.”
Hamilton had eight turnovers in a win over Oral Roberts Jan. 27, but also had 21 points and crucial late-game free throws, negating the other portion of the Grizzlies’ Achilles’ Heel.
Hamilton has 47 turnovers in league play, nearly 30 percent of Oakland’s team total. He seemed to be the heir apparent at the point, shadowing Johnathon Jones in practice last season, but was subsequently moved over in favor of Larry Wright. Now Wright has been playing exceptionally in his role as a reserve, pushing Hamilton back to 1.
“We get better when (Wright) goes in the game. With him off the point, he’s more comfortable playing the 2. He plays a little point now, but Reggie has taken over that spot, wants it and is embracing it. We play a little bit faster with Reggie at the point. The fast we can play, the better we are.”
Wright had 17 points against Western Illinois Thursday, hitting 5 of 6 3-pointers. Hamilton had a team-high 20 points and just three turnovers, but played only 18 minutes against the Leathernecks.

More on Wright off the bench

Coach's Corner @ IUPUI

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.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Coach's Corner at Sunrise Cafe

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Highlights from Oral Roberts, Centenary

GRIZZ TALK: Why no BracketBusters?

Oakland men's coach Greg Kampe and Oakland Press beat writer Paul Kampe talk about plenty of things, including the Golden Grizzlies' Achilles' heels, traveling during the Snowpocalypse and why Oakland isn't in this year's BracketBusters, but plans to join.