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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, April 29, 2011

It worked! NBA talent leads to much improved attendance at home games

Having an NBA-ready center and an explosive offense led the Golden Grizzlies to another NCAA tournament berth, and accordingly put butts in the seats. Oakland averaged 4,130 fans at home this past season, almost 1,400 better than the previous season, which was the 11th-largest increase in the nation over that time.
To put that in perspective, the O'rena's listed capacity is around 3,000. The average figure includes December's game at The Palace, which seated 17, 115.
Oakland achieved a season-high 3,934 in the O'rena for the home finale against South Dakota State Feb. 19. The Grizzlies twice hit 3,805: Jan. 8 vs. Western Illinois and Feb. 12 vs. IPFW.
Kentucky again led the nation in home attendance with 23, 603 per game. Tennessee, which Oakland upset in December, was fifth in the nation with 18,952 per.
Division I attendance in 2010-11 showed the fourth-best mark all-time at more than 27,600, but overall attendance was down less than 1 percent year over year.

No surprises on Oakland's home, non-conference schedule

It's only April, so obviously things could change, but Oakland released its season-ticket forms Thursday with five featured names on the schedule: Western Michigan, Rochester College, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan (at The Palace).
Coach Greg Kampe previously alluded to games at Arkansas and Houston next season.
Even though it won't be as complex a slate as the last few seasons, the final should be ready near the end of the summer.

2011 Hoops Seasontix Brochure

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

D-Nel hits the land down under

Former Oakland star Derrick Nelson has taken his talents to the Southern Hemisphere. He says he's ready to help 2-2 Hobart, making his Australian debut Friday.
Nelson most recently played in Finland during what the site refers to as "Northern Winter."
"The fans will see someone who plays hard all the time. I just try to be a team player and do whatever I can to help the team win," Nelson told the The Mercury.
"I'm a good rebounder, I can play inside and outside, so I can do a lot of different things, it is not just scoring for me."
Former teammate Johnathon Jones recently concluded his first season overseas, too, playing for MBK Rieker Komarno.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kito draft roundup

As the NBA draft nears, we'll likely see many more mock drafts. The latest from SBNation has Oakland center Keith Benson going as the final lottery pick, No. 14 to the Houston Rockets, if for no other reason than "The No. 14 pick seems to be the right time to play mid-major darts."
A Bleacher Report story considered how Benson might fit with the Minnesota Timberwolves:
"Benson has all the qualities an NBA team could want from a center. He has great height and length as he is 6'11" with a 7'2" wingspan. He is a very good rebounder and not only relies on his length for a rebound, but his leaping ability, as well.
"He has fantastic footwork in the post and above-average body control. Benson can finish around the basket with his left or his right hand. He can use the glass for his shots or he can dunk the ball with authority; he does both well and in the right situations."
Corey from Golden Grizzlies Gameplan wrote a sendoff piece for Benson for Ballin' is a Habit.

REPORT: Eastern Michigan interested in Kampe, but deal won't happen

Oakland coach Greg Kampe did not deny, but chose not to comment on a Tuesday report in Crain's Detroit, which says Eastern Michigan would offer the long-time Oakland fixture its head coaching position.
The report also says he's staying at Oakland.
The report went on to say former Eagles coach Charles Ramsey is being paid the $176,416 balance on the remaining final year on his contract and EMU would have to double its basketball coaching salary to attract Kampe. The 27-year coach at Oakland currently makes roughly $170,000, earning bonuses for the Golden Grizzlies' conference regular-season and postseason championships.
Kampe said about a report last month linking him to the opening at Dayton that he would only leave Oakland for a program which has a chance at a national championship.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Commitments alter Oakland's recruiting future

Despite Oakland fans’ best wishes for a brotherly reunion at the O’rena, Flint Powers standout Patrick Lucas-Perry announced Wednesday he will not be joining older brother Laval at Oakland, opting instead to attend Penn. Oakland was reported to be the other finalist in his decision-making process.
The younger Lucas-Perry would’ve been a good addition in coach Greg Kampe’s backcourt, which should start Laval Lucas-Perry and all-conference first-teamer Reggie Hamilton. Ryan Bass would be a solid backup at a point guard position that was in flux for much of the season, before the Grizzlies began to rely almost exclusively on Hamilton, despite his noted turnover issues.
“(Patrick Lucas-Perry) would’ve had a good chance to play after his freshman year,” Kampe said. “Point guards are hard to find, so you try to get as many as you can, so it’s disappointing.
“We’re set for next year, but it’s very important in that next recruiting class that we get one.”
The Grizzlies didn’t have to worry much about the point guard position during the four-year tenure of Johnathon Jones, who set several assist marks while starting each season.
“We went through a period there where we didn’t really have anybody but (Jones). I couldn’t take him off the floor, because nobody wanted to be his backup.”
Oakland also lost out on dynamic Doug Anderson from Mott Community College, who chose to take his talents to 6 Mile Rd. and play for Ray McCallum at Detroit. There was some concern last year, as it appeared Anderson had given a verbal commitment to Duquesne, but that proved untrue.
Anderson, who will have two years of eligibility remaining, averaged 15.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. He was in the top 40 junior college recruits this year and has been featured in the Top 10 plays on "SportsCenter" for his high-flying theatrics.
It was a tough day on the recruiting trail, we'll see how future Oakland classes look because of today.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Status update: Oakland’s two other potential pros

The NBA draft is still nearly two months away, but 6-foot-11 center Keith Benson has come to terms with an agent, but not yet signed, according to Oakland coach Greg Kampe. Benson flirted with the draft last season, before withdrawing after a physical revealed damage to his right thumb, which needed immediate surgery. He returned for another romp through the Summit League, and will head to New Jersey for the draft if he is one of the picks invited out east.
If you watched the Golden Grizzlies at all this season, you probably noticed Benson isn’t the only pro talent on the roster. Guard Larry Wright, a Saginaw native who transferred to Oakland from St. John’s two years ago to be closer to his family, is near a deal with a German professional team, Kampe said. Wright was rewarded for his patience, as Oakland's shuffling at the point guard position resulted in a reserve role for Wright, when he was awarded the Summit League's Sixth Man of the Year award.
Proficient rebounder Will Hudson is near signing with an agent and has hopes of getting invited to an NBA summer league.
“He’s got NBA aspirations,” Kampe said of Hudson, a second-team all-league pick.
“I’ve had calls interested in him for summer leagues, if there is a summer league,” Kampe said, noting the NBA’s current labor unrest which could result in another lockout for the league.
“Everybody is bracing for the worst and it’s bad for Will.
“He’s not going to get drafted, so his best chance is going to a summer camp and playing well. Not only does it enhance his chances of making an NBA roster, it gives him a better chance at a job in Europe.”
If Wright and Hudson make it overseas, they would join the hordes of former Oakland players to make the voyage. Benson would be the second Oakland player in the NBA, but the first to get drafted. Rawle Marshall, who starred on the 2005 Cinderella Oakland team which made the program’s first entry to the NCAA tournament, made the Dallas Mavericks’ roster out of their summer league roster. He played two seasons before moving overseas.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Real Deal

Oakland radio voice Neal Ruhl talked to MLive for the first of a three-part series reviewing the Golden Grizzlies' season. Here are some highlights:
“The win over Tennessee gave the program such tremendous exposure for those couple days after it happened. They were the lead story on ESPN. (Keith) Benson and (Greg) Kampe did multiple interviews with national sports agencies. You can't buy that kind of exposure.”
“The goal is going to be the same: Get to the NCAA tournament and do damage — that is the standard that has now been set by this program.”
About incoming guards Matt Poches (Hartland) and Dante Williams (Ann Arbor Huron): “Guys like these seem to be the new breed of college basketball player, very versatile and have the ability to do it all on the floor.”
Part II is supposed to be released Wednesday.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Greg Kampe isn't taking the Dayton job

Relax Rochester. Greg Kampe is not going anywhere. A Friday report of Kampe's interest in the Dayton coaching vacancy caused a stir, one which unwarranted, the Oakland coach said. When reached Friday evening in Houston at the Final Four, he said he hasn't spoken to anyone from Dayton or interviewed for any position.

I didn't mean to create such a (panic),” Kampe said. “I've gotten four million phone calls today.”

If I knew that reaction was going to take place, I would have just said 'No comment.' ”

Kampe did say if the Flyers contacted him, he would interview for the job.

In the past, when things like this have happened, I just didn't talk about it,” he said. “This year, I said 'Yeah,' and that creates speculation.”

Kampe did indicate he has been contacted by two intermediaries recently, gauging interest in their respective programs, but Kampe did not express interest in either position. He declined to specify which programs contacted him.

The answer was 'No' to both of them,” he said.

The previous report quoted Kampe saying he was interested in any job where he could potentially win a national championship, and Dayton presented that opportunity.

As long as I'm the coach at Oakland, (getting to the Final Four) will be our goal,” Kampe said.