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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, September 16, 2011

Get ready to attend more games if you want to see Oakland

Last year, it was as if you couldn't keep the Oakland Golden Grizzlies off television. In fact, coach Greg Kampe once joked his team would be on the Big Ten Network more than Northwestern. The Grizzlies were on BTN, ESPN and Fox Sports Detroit three times each during the regular season. And then there were postseason appearances from the Summit League Tournament and NCAA tournament, where Oakland got lofty CBS coverage, as Turner Sports deflected its coverage onto several different networks under its umbrella.
This year is shaping up to be a little bit different.
The schedule was released Wednesday with just two televised games: Nov. 28 vs. Tennessee (ESPNU) and Dec. 10 vs. Michigan at The Palace (FSD).
It's likely any Grizzlies fans who would watch those games will already be sitting in an arena seat. It will be interesting, however, as the Tennessee game is a 9 p.m. start. Kampe said that's the latest an Oakland game has ever started.
The Tennessee game will be the first time ESPN has carried a game on Oakland's campus.
"We're very excited about that," Kampe said.
Kampe said more Oakland games could be picked up by FSD, including Western Michigan's visit to the O'rena Dec. 23, which has been reported to be carried by FSD, but Kampe said negotiations were ongoing.
"There's a lot of scheduling they're going to lose and they're going to be looking for things," he said.
"The Western Michigan game would make sense because it's two Michigan schools. I can't be definitive because it's really just speculation."
As the NBA lockout drags on and more pundits pile on their pessimism about a resolution, the more likely it becomes fans will get to see the Grizzlies from the seat of their couch, while the pros spend the winter skiing.
"Until the lockout situation is resolved, we won't know a lot of stuff," Kampe said.
As it concerns the Grizzlies, it seems to be a wait and (maybe) see situation.

Oakland games won't move despite NBA lockout

There has been some buzz lately about the possibility of Oakland moving some games from the O'rena to The Palace, which is only 3 1/2 miles from the Rochester campus, in the event the NBA lockout persists into the winter.
Grizzlies coach Greg Kampe put an end to that speculation, saying Wednesday following the release of Oakland's schedule no games that aren't already scheduled to be played at The Palace will be played at the Pistons' home.
"We want teams to play us in the O'rena," Kampe said.
The Grizzlies have one game, Dec. 10 against Michigan, scheduled for The Palace. Oakland suffered a one-point loss to then-No. 7 Michigan State there last season. The Grizzlies picked up their first top-25 win in 2007, taking down then-No. 21 Oregon, in Auburn Hills.
Oakland of course got its second win over a top-25 program, beating Tennessee last December. The Volunteers visit the O'Rena Nov. 28 in the second of a three-game deal and it could set a new record for attendance at Oakland's home floor.
The attendance record at the O'rena, 4,055, was set when then-No. 3 Missouri visited in 2003 (which was also former beat writer and good friend Dave Pemberton's first Oakland game). An extra set of bleachers was brought in for the day to expand the capacity of the 3,000 seat arena.
Kampe was unsure what seating arrangements will be made to accommodate the likely overflow crowd.
Director of Athletics Tracy Huth said last July:
"If we could blow the roof off for one day and put a couple more thousand seats, we certainly would. But we’ll definitely put in there what we can."
Huth also touched on the importance of getting Tennessee to visit Rochester.
"The excitement level is several times higher than it would be if we were at a neutral site.”
The Grizzlies pulled off a program-defining upset in Knoxville, Tenn., last season and this year's game should help them set another program benchmark in attendance. And you can't do that at The Palace.

Offseason injury news

The three-game Canadian exhibition was supposed to be a good test for Oakland's freshmen, but it could prove to be a good test of coach Greg Kampe's patience. It seems junior forward Drew Valentine triggered an old knee injury on a dunk attempt, which needed surgery to repair cartilage. Kampe said his staff wouldn't know Valentine's status for the upcoming season for 6-8 weeks. Valentine is once again expected to be the glue in the Grizzlies' starting lineup.
"We're in a lot of trouble if he can't play," Kampe said.
Surgeons removed a quarter-sized piece of cartilage in a procedure Kampe called "fairly complicated."
Kampe said he is planning at this point to have Valentine available when the season rolls around.
If that wasn't big enough injury news, point guard Reggie Hamilton had a growth removed from his chest this week. Hamilton's family has a history of breast cancer, Kampe said. Hamilton also has a lingering hip problem and Kampe is hoping the rest between now and the beginning will help rest his gunslinging PG.
"I'm probably the only one who is healthy," joked Kampe, who had double knee replacement surgery in May.
Practice begins in October and the Grizzlies open the season vs. Spring Arbor at the O'rena Nov. 3.