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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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Slow your role: Oakland takes a different approach

After getting blown out by North Dakota State Wednesday, Oakland coach Greg Kampe made the critical decision to slow the team's offense in an effort to control the game's tempo. The result was a much closer game, trailing by just two at half, albeit a loss to the surging Jackrabbits at South Dakota State. The loss was Oakland's fourth straight, something it hasn't done since 2006-07.
The decision to walk the ball up the court Friday came because the uptempo pace the Grizzlies have become known for had failed them on the defensive end.
"We didn't believe we could come in here and run with them," Kampe said in postgame video from the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls. "We're a very young team and we learned if we play fast, we don't control the ball and we play sloppy. We made a decision tonight, if we're going to compete for a championship, we're going to have to control the tempo and take care of the basketball.
"Maybe in a year or two, these guys can go back to playing the pace they like to play. ... If we had done that tonight, they would have beaten us 120-80."
Other positives to take from the game: Oakland outrebounded the Jackrabbits, 29-27, and had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio (+1) for just the fifth time this season. The Grizzlies also shot 49 percent from the floor.  Corey Petros reached double figures scoring with 12 points for the first time in five games. Drew Valentine got his third double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
More woe: Travis Bader failed to connect on a 3-point shot for the second straight game. Reggie Hamilton and Drew Valentine played all 40 minutes, while fellow starters Laval Lucas-Perry and Bader were forced to play 37 minutes apiece. The Grizzlies bench contributed just two points in 19 minutes to the cause, as Corey Petros was forced to sit because of foul trouble. Petros scored eight points early, but picked up his third foul with seven minutes remaining before halftime. Ryan Bass played just six minutes in second game back after sitting out six games due to concussion symptoms.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Grizzlies already in ‘must-win’ conference games after blowout

Prior to Wednesday's 27-point loss to North Dakota State, Oakland coach Greg Kampe pointed out the league race could actually be settled by the second week in January, something unlikely in almost any conference. That’s because all the top-tier programs play each other in the next week. Oakland lost to the Bison, faces South Dakota State Friday and then comes home to Oral Roberts and IUPUI next week. 
It's also worth mentioning the Golden Grizzlies have lost just one conference game each of the past two seasons, yet find themselves at 2-1 in late December.
“The league is good,” Kampe said. “There’s a reason it’s a 13 RPI. We’ve been as high as 24 and we’re usually between 18-25. It’s going to be a heck of a year. I’m hoping there isn’t going to be another 17-1 team this year. It’s possible you could be 14-4 and win this league. … This is going to be as competitive of a three-, four- or five-team race we’ve seen since 2000.”
That aforementioned conference race was won by Oakland. But the Bison threw their names into the fray, dominating Oakland in historic fashion. Previously, South Dakota State was to be the third team in an Oral Roberts-Oakland battle (like most seasons.) However, the Jackrabbits, with a historic win of their own over Washington, combined with Oakland’s struggles, have likely moved into the second, or even first spot in the minds of Summit followers. The Grizzlies could even be No. 5 in the minds of some behind the Golden Eagles, Jackrabbits, IUPUI and even North Dakota State.
North Dakota State became just the second Summit League team to beat Oakland in regular-season play in the past three seasons, handing the Grizzlies their fourth-worst conference loss in program history. The only other team to do beat Oakland, albeit on the road each time, is IUPUI. The Grizzlies host the Jaguars Jan. 7 after a brief respite vs. Western Illinois Jan. 5.
“If we have a disastrous trip at the Dakotas and come home with a hangover against Oral Roberts … this is a big week,” Kampe said.  
The long-tenured Oakland coach uttered that statement Tuesday prior to leaving for the Dakotas. It took on added importance in light of Wednesday’s disaster.
The possibility of an 0-3 run from the Dakotas and back with the Oral Roberts game became an all-too-real scenario for Oakland with an upset in Fargo, N.D. This predicament adds even more importance to its showdown with Nate Wolters and the Jackrabbits Friday.

GRIZZ TALK: Summit race could be decided in first full week

Oakland coach Greg Kampe joins beat writer Paul Kampe to discuss the Golden Grizzlies' road trip to the Dakotas and the ensuing conference race, which could be over shortly after it began.

For complete interviews with players and Coach Kampe, click below:

Coach Greg Kampe

Forward Drew Valentine

Former PG Johnathon Jones

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Oakland coach Greg Kampe taking in BCS National Championship

After playing every one of the upper-tier teams of the Summit League over the next week, Oakland coach Greg Kampe will likely be ready for a vacation. Having a week between games, he’ll have quite a trip, going to the BCS National Championship Game Jan. 9 between LSU and Alabama.
While he could be scouting high school basketball players on the trip, the official purpose of the getaway is to watch son Branch, who is an LSU freshman. Branch Kampe, a quarterback at Royal Oak Shrine a season ago, plays linebacker for the Tigers. He has yet to see the field, but will remain on the sidelines, potentially earning a national championship ring.
“He gets the crap kicked out of him every day in practice,” his proud father joked. “He may not get one play in that game, but he’s got all the bumps and bruises to show he was part of it."
Branch Kampe’s ring wouldn’t be the first in the family trophy room. Greg Kampe’s father was on the 1947 U-M national championship team.
“It looks like my son is going to beat me to a national championship ring,” he joked.  
The Coaches Trophy, awarded to the game’s winner, is also sponsored by Greg Kampe’s favorite soft drink, Dr. Pepper.

Oakland has a history of limiting Nate Wolters

Reggie Hamilton has earned two Summit League Player of the Week awards this season. Both times he’s had to share with South Dakota State standout Nate Wolters, who is also receiving similar national attention.
Hamilton hit a game-winner in a 41-point performance against Valparaiso nearly two weeks ago. The next day, Wolters had 34 points in 40 minutes, as the Jackrabbits upset Pac-12 opponent Washington, ending the Huskies’ 32-game home-court winning streak.
“What they did to Washington, that was a clinic,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “It was as well played of a game I’ve seen by a mid-major on a BCS floor.”
That combined with Oakland’s late-November win over Tennessee and Oral Roberts’ win over No. 9 Xavier the same day as SDSU’s upset, have propelled the Summit League to its highest-ever Sagarin Rating.
“It’s going to be a heck of a year,” Kampe said.
Oakland visits South Dakota State Friday in the second of three early tests in the conference season. Hamilton is third in the nation in scoring at 23 points per game, while Wolters is fifth (21.5).
“In the past, (Wolters has) gotten numbers against us,” Kampe said. “But he’s gotten his numbers with 22 to 25 shots. We’ve rotated players on him and you really can’t stop him. The big key is keeping him off the free-throw line.
“If he gets those 25 points on just 12 or 13 shots, we’re in trouble. … I don’t care how many points he gets, as long as it’s a high number of shots.”
Wolters went for 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting in the teams’ last meeting in the conference tournament semifinal in Sioux Falls, S.D., last March. He had 29 points on 24 shots Feb. 19 at Oakland and just 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting last Jan. 20.
Of course Oakland won all three of those games and the two regular-season meetings the season prior.
Wolters and the Jackrabbits should make a good home game for the Grizzlies when they visit the O’rena Jan. 26, as well.

What a difference two years makes

Former point guard Johnathon Jones, a four-year starter under Greg Kampe, visited practice Tuesday. He made light of the obvious difference between the last team he captained in 2009-10 and this year’s squad.
“We had a different system (with Keith Benson),” Jones said. “They’re more up and down and shoot a lot of jump shots.”
That they do. Especially 3-pointers. Oakland has taken 353 to be exact, but are connecting on just 31 percent of those. Those numbers will likely increase during conference play, as they typically do. The Grizzlies will be putting up a lot more points if they can boost that percentage even single percentage points, as 40 percent of Oakland’s shots are coming from beyond the arc.
The Grizzlies' field-goal percentage was 45 percent, their 3-point percentage was just 32 percent Jones’ final season, but Oakland’s offense was predicated around its big men, Benson and forward Will Hudson.
“When you have a 7-footer and a 6-8, 6-9 guy, you try to use that,” Jones said. “Here, they have a lot of wings and Coach Kampe is just using his strength.”
The Grizzlies are ranked No. 66 in offensive efficiency, but are still shooting just 43 percent through 14 games. Drew Valentine (54 percent) and Corey Petros (50 percent) are the only starters shooting better than 50 percent. Excluding those two players, nobody in the rotation who has played in all 14 games has shot better than Reggie Hamilton’s 42 percent.
The Grizzlies shot a season-low (35 percent) in the season’s second game at Arkansas Nov. 16, but their best performance (52 percent) came Dec. 7 against Ohio, a two-point loss.
The Grizzlies’ coaches and players would be the first to tell you, their biggest strength has yet to be realized.

A tale of two Coreys

After starting his collegiate career with a bang, averaging a double-double at one point, Oakland freshman Corey Petros fouled out scoreless in consecutive games at Valparaiso and Arizona. He came back with a nine-rebound, five-point effort in his next game against Western Michigan Friday.
“He hasn’t handled success very well, and that’s good,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said.  
“It’s simple to sit here and point a finger, but when you’re out there living the experience … he’s just a freshman and all of a sudden he’s being written about in national magazines and showing up on scouting reports. Nobody knew who he was and now they’re scheming and gameplanning and hitting him and doubling him. When shots go up, they make sure they find him.
“It’s part of the maturation process.”
Petros put up seven points and seven rebounds in his debut against No. 16 Alabama Nov. 14 and was quickly putting up double figures in each category. He corralled 16 rebounds against Ohio Dec. 7, the most by any league player this season. That outing earned him StatSheet Freshman of the Week, as Petros was averaging 17.5 points and 12.5 rebounds and shooting 83 percent from the floor. He has four double-doubles this season, but hasn’t had one since the meeting with the Bobcats.
Petros is still averaging 9.9 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game.
“He played really well for a freshman early and nobody expected that,” Kampe said. “He hasn’t played as well and everybody wants to know what’s wrong. It’s part of the process. He’ll be fine.”

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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How good could Oakland be when it's hitting shots?

Aside from unprecedented depth, Oakland's ability to shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor was heavily promoted prior to the season. The depth is being tested regularly, as Ryan Bass missed his fourth straight game with concussion symptoms and the team dismissed junior guard Blake Cushinberry last week.
That leaves the shooting to be addressed. Besides clutch defensive stops, the Golden Grizzlies could have helped themselves back into the lead Tuesday by shooting better.
Averaging just 44 percent from the floor entering Tuesday, the Grizzlies shot just 42 percent against the Wildcats, who have been holding visitors to just 38-percent shooting at McKale Center.
“We haven’t shot well all year,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe told WDFN postgame. “When are we going to start making shots?" 
In addition, the Grizzlies slumped just a bit from 3-point range, going 9 of 32 against the Wildcats.
“You’re not going to beat a team shooting 30 percent from the 3," Kampe said. "We got a lot of good looks.” 
Travis Bader broke a 1-for-18, two-game slump from long range, hitting three 3s. The downside: Bader had 14 attempts, nearly half of Oakland's attempts.
The poor shooting led Kampe to suggest: “I wonder how good this team can be if we start making shots.” 
Chances are they would be unstoppable. They shot a season-high 52 percent against Ohio, but hasn't shot better than 44 percent in the four games since.
Never one to hold back, Reggie Hamilton (12 of 21) was the only Oakland player to shoot better than 50 percent Tuesday. He finished with a game-high 31 points, his second-best outing against a "BCS" opponent.  
"We have some great shooters," Hamilton told WDFN after the game. "You have to shoot and whatever happens, happens.” 

Notes: Kampe switched his starting lineup for the third time Tuesday, inserting Laval Lucas-Perry against his former team (he played five games in 2007 before transferring to Michigan) in favor of freshman Dante Williams, who started the previous eight games. Lucas-Perry scored 11 points (seven from the free-throw line) in 29 minutes. He has reached double figures scoring in  nine games this season. The previous lineup was 6-2 with wins over Utah Valley, Tennessee and Valparaiso. Hamilton, Bader, Corey Petros and Drew Valentine have started every game this season.
... Oakland failed in its potentially last chance to defeat a "BCS" team twice in the same season with Tuesday's 85-73 loss to Arizona. It hasn't beaten a "BCS" team other than Oregon or Tennessee since 2003, when the Golden Grizzlies beat Texas A&M at the O'rena.  
... Freshman Corey Petros fouled out scoreless in his second consecutive game. 
“Teams are starting to scheme against Corey and he’s struggling with it," Kampe said. "Part of it is him being a freshman and he’ll learn from it and get better.” Kampe, however, was encouraged with his other freshman center, Kyle Sikora, who scored two points in 11 minutes.  
... Oakland moved up two spots to No. 19 in the latest Mid-Major poll, while conference foe South Dakota State made its first appearance of the season at No. 25. Oral Roberts and North Dakota State are the only other Summit League teams receiving votes.  

Reggie Hamilton puts nation on notice

As he's done almost every time Oakland has taken on a "BCS" school, Reggie Hamilton came through on the big stage. With another primetime performance, 31 points on 12-of-21 shooting, which came after a career night Saturday against Valparaiso. Tuesday was his second game with 30 or more points in a "BCS" showdown after scoring 28 two weeks ago vs. Michigan. More notably, the output raised Hamilton's scoring average to 22.7 points, good for third in the nation.
Oakland coach Greg Kampe, who has been recruiting Division I talent for more than a decade, is floored by the performance.
“I’m impressed by him,” said Kampe, in his 28th season as Oakland's coach.
After Saturday's career-high 41, which surpassed his previous high of 35 set Nov. 28 in a win over Tennessee, Hamilton earned his second Summit League Player of the Week award of the season. He was also named player of the week by Beyond the Arc, an NBC affiliated college basketball site.
Hamilton scored 11 of his 20 first-half points Tuesday over the final six minutes before the break, pulling Oakland within a manageable four-point halftime deficit. That came on the heels of a 14-0 Arizona run.
“He almost plays better when a team makes a run on us. It’s almost like he has the freedom to go stop the run," Kampe said. 
Oakland slashed a 19-point second-half lead to just six with just under six minutes remaining, but Hamilton quickly thereafter picked up his fourth foul. He, Laval Lucas-Perry and Corey Petros; who later fouled out scoreless for the second consecutive game; all played with four fouls late in the game. 
A short Oakland bench forced Kampe to play three of his starters 37 minutes or more Tuesday, as Hamilton played a team-high 39.
“I have to fight through," Hamilton told WDFN after the game. "I can’t get tired, I can’t get fatigued.”
If he keeps it up, and he's shown no evidence of stopping, fans aren't likely to get tired, either. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

VIDEO: Reggie Hamilton's game-winner at Valparaiso

The announcer, who sounds sort of like Jonah Hill, was none-too-impressed with Reggie Hamilton's 40th and 41st points Saturday night at Valparaiso.
Hamilton set a career high for the third time this season, a feat that didn't quite seem possible after his consistently high-scoring feats last season. Hamilton topped his previous career high, 35 set against Tennessee nearly three weeks ago, by six more points. The last two were some of the best.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Postgame video from Rochester College

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oakland bench even shorter without Blake Cushingberry

The Golden Grizzlies announced pregame Tuesday that Blake Cushingberry will not be with the team for the rest of the season. Without him, that makes Oakland’s bench even shorter. Oakland coach Greg Kampe used just eight players against Rochester College, including freshman Matt Poches, who just played Saturday for the first time this season. Poches got 13 minutes Tuesday, making some freshman mistakes, but Kampe insisted Poches would be fine.
“He’s supposed to get that out of him the first couple game,” Kampe said.
Ryan Bass missed his second consecutive game with concussion symptoms, but Kampe sounded optimistic the Grizzlies would have him back in time for their trip to the Dakotas at the end of the calendar year.
“Not having (Ryan) Bass Saturday at Michigan was a big deal, because he’s a kid that could guard Trey Burke,” Kampe said. “We got in trouble late in that game because we couldn’t keep Burke out of the paint and Bass could’ve done that.”
That defensive intensity wouldn’t have gone unnoticed Tuesday.
“(Rochester) isn’t used to the type of pressure we put on them,” Kampe said. “They don’t see that every day. Bass could’ve had a field day out there tonight.”
Laval Lucas-Perry played a season-high 36 minutes against Rochester, but the rest of the bench  consisted of just two players and 14 minutes and play (13 of which went to Poches).
Because Tuesday’s game was close, Oakland didn’t take its first double-digit lead until the final 10 minutes, Kampe was forced to play five players more than 30 minutes. As Kampe pointed out, that doesn’t often happen in a game against a non-Division I opponent.
Kyle Sikora earned his third consecutive did not play Tuesday. Kampe anticipates Sikora will see more minutes as Oakland faces teams with traditional big men. Sikora has played just 33 minutes this season, including a season-high 10 vs. South Dakota.
The Grizzlies’ reserves outscored Rochester, 23-7, Tuesday, but all of those points came from Lucas-Perry.
Prior to the season, Kampe touted the team’s depth, but his bench is being tested early and often.

Another slow start for Oakland; Petros looks like a freshman and Bader breaks his streak

Slow starts doomed Oakland in its two losses last week and put them behind early Tuesday against Rochester. The Warriors’ early eight-point lead was their largest in the all-time series and they came within two points twice in the second half.
“We didn’t come out sluggish against Michigan, the ball just didn’t go in,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe clarified. “We were too hyped against Michigan. As for Ohio, we played during exam week, which you shouldn’t do. … After a 10-day road trip, we come home to Utah Valley and Tennessee. We turn around and there’s Ohio, one of the best mid-majors in the country, and then Michigan. You come home and you look at a non-DI game, and if you’re a mid-major power, you’re supposed to take care of this. But I’m smart enough to know how well this team is coached and that it’s going to be tough, but it’s a win and we move on. We’ll worry about how we played tonight when we’re getting ready next summer.”
… Corey Petros had a season-low four rebounds, but still chipped in 13 points.
“Tonight might have been the first night (Petros) was a freshman in my eyes. They swarmed him underneath and he didn’t handle it well. Eventually, when you’re 6-foot-10 and you’re that big and talented, you’re going to wear people down, and he got a few (baskets),” Kampe said.
Petros has already had four double-doubles this season and was named freshman of the week by StatSheet.
“He wasn’t awful tonight, but it isn’t what we’ve come to expect from him. He wasn’t physically or mentally ready to play today,” Kampe said. ...
Travis Bader missed all nine 3-point attempts he made Tuesday, his first game without a 3 since Feb. 17, 2011, a streak of 18 games. He’s made 3s in 42 of 46 games in his career.
“Bader got a lot of good looks and had two or three of them just rattle out. It just wasn’t meant to be. We had to find a different way to win the game,” Kampe said. …
Laval Lucas-Perry, who set a new career high with 23 points, played a season-high 36 minutes. He’s averaging 26 minutes per game.

Grizzlies draw for big games, but get icy reception otherwise

While he appreciated the break from the road, Oakland coach Greg Kampe was unsettled by the attendance for a seven-game home stretch, except  for the Tennessee and Michigan games.
Just over 2,000 fans showed up Tuesday to the O’rena one game after the Grizzlies played in front of more than 17,000 fans at The Palace Saturday. The attendance against Tennessee was just the seventh-largest in the O’rena’s history and just the third-highest for a contest vs. a team from the so-called BCS conferences.
Oakland is 42-3 in last 45 games at home.
“It’s very seldom people walk out of here with a loss. Fans are used to winning and they expect it,” he said. “I’m gravely disappointed in the turnouts.”
Oakland has lost just three home games in each of the past three seasons inside the O’rena. Those losses came by a combined margin of five points. Ohio beat Oakland by just two last week.
“I’m disappointed we lost the Ohio game and I can see why we did lose that game,” Kampe said. “They’re a heck of a basketball team.”
The actual home games at the O’rena all broke the 2,000 mark in the 3,000-seat arena, but the largest attendance outside of the Tennessee game was 2,285 to see UMKC.
All the games at the O’rea fell on weeknights, the only Saturday contest came when the Kangaroos visited. The homestand stretched across Thanksgiving weekend, finals week and now the beginning of holiday break, notable dead periods for student social activity.
Kampe suggested the fans possibly aren’t used to having the team around so often this early in the season, as they just wrapped an unprecedented seven-game homestand.
“If I worry about that kind of stuff, I won’t be coaching basketball here,” Kampe said.  
Oakland hits the road for a game at former conference rival Valparaiso Saturday and visits Arizona Tuesday. The Grizzlies return home Dec. 23 to host Western Michigan.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Lions weren't the only crazy finish Sunday

Oakland guard Sharise Calhoun, in just her fifth game of the season, hit her first 3-pointer, a running, line-drive heave from halfcourt to win the game Sunday. Watch below and hear her reaction and comments from coach Beckie Francis.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What my story would've looked like if the wi-fi never returned

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Highlight of the night

I knew right after I'd seen it that Laval Lucas-Perry's reverse, hanging lay-in and foul, on which he completed the three-point play was my favorite play of the season. It's still early, but that was amazing. Watch below, as it's the first highlight in Fox Sports Detroit's recap.

<a href='' target='_new' title='Highlights: Michigan outmaneuvers Oakland 90-80' >Video: Highlights: Michigan outmaneuvers Oakland 90-80</a>

Michigan game just like any other for Laval Lucas-Perry

Oakland guard Laval Lucas-Perry, like his teammates, started off cold Saturday, but he and the Grizzlies turned up the heat late in the second half Saturday against No. 20 Michigan at The Palace. He finished with 14 points in his first game against his former team, including an incredible hanging, reverse lay-in off the backboard that drew a foul.
“It wasn’t as emotional as I thought it would be,” Lucas-Perry said. “It just felt like another team we had to beat.”
Lucas-Perry said after the game he didn’t speak to any of his former teammates, but he can’t remember a team at any level shooting as well as the Wolverines did Saturday, going 63 percent from 3-point range in the second half.
Oakland had a chance to cut the Wolverines’ lead down to four when Lucas-Perry’s 3 rimmed out with 4:07 to play.
“I thought it was going in,” he said. “It felt good. It went in, out and back in, then out again. That was a game-changing play that could’ve cut the lead to three.”
The Golden Grizzlies take on Lucas-Perry’s other former team, Arizona, Dec. 20. Oakland coach Greg Kampe insisted this week it was a coincidence both teams are on the schedule this season.

Missing backup PG becoming a pain in the Bass

The concussion issues for Ryan Bass led to a shortened bench for Oakland coach Greg Kampe Saturday against Michigan at The Palace. Kampe opted to play just seven players most of the game, opting to bring in freshman Matt Poches late Saturday.
“(Bass) could have done a really good job on Trey Burke," Kampe said. "That’s what his calling card is. He’s a little guy who’s a great athlete and can really get after it. Not having that hurt us, but it wasn’t a game-changer.”
Playing Poches Saturday means Bass isn't likely to return this season because the team had initially planned to red-shirt the guard from Hartland because of a logjam at the position. That option is no longer available since Poches saw time, less than a minute, Saturday.
“Every team has injuries and has bad things happen to them and you play through them,” Kampe said. 
Bass collided with Blake Cushingberry in practice this week and the team says Bass is out indefinitely.

Friday, December 9, 2011

GRIZZ TALK: Oakland takes on No. 20 U-M at The Palace

Oakland coach Greg Kampe, freshman Corey Petros and guard Laval Lucas-Perry talk about Saturday's game at The Palace against No. 20 Michigan.

Click on each name for a full version of each interview:
Coach Kampe
Laval Lucas-Perry
Corey Petros

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oakland on the upswing could have negative effect on in-state rivalries

Oakland is finally at the point where it expects to win big games, but there is a down side to that. After losing by one point to then-No. 7 at The Palace last season, Michigan State wasn’t on the schedule this season. However, coach Greg Kampe insisted after the schedule was released it was just a one-year hiatus for the Spartans.
There has been talk even before Oakland beat Tennessee (not in-state, but still a big name) last week that the three-year deal would be the end of that.
And now there comes word from Kampe himself that Saturday’s matchup with Michigan at The Palace could be the last time the programs meet for quite a while.
“He said they can’t afford to lose to us because we got too good, and it makes no sense to play us because their fanbase wouldn’t understand losing to Oakland,” Kampe said. “He complimented us and those types of things we can handle, when someone is honest.”
Honesty is key, as the saying goes. But the end of that comment is sort of vague and came shortly after he discussed refusing to play Detroit in the ESPN Bracketbuster on WXOU’s “The Greg Kampe Show.”
Oakland hosts Western Michigan Dec. 23 and Central Michigan was rumored to be on the schedule at one point. Eastern visited the O’rena, handing Oakland a loss in its home opener (my first game on press row) in 2009.
Beating Michigan would not only help Oakland’s status at large in the state, but the residual effects for the program are endless.
“Beating Michigan is a very good game to lay claim to what we’re trying to do here,” Kampe said.
The short of it is, as Oakland gets better, you’re more likely to see the M-A-C in the O’rena than the B-1-G.
The Palace is even offering $10 seats to Saturday’s affair with a special log-in and password (P1210, Pass: BASKET). Groupon was also sharing a deal on group tickets earlier this week. So, if you missed Tennessee, here’s your chance to see the Grizzlies on another big stage against a marquee team they probably won’t see for quite some time. 
WXOU - The Greg Kampe Show Dec. 6, 2011 by paulkampe

Tennessee crowd symptomatic of flagging attendance

Attendance has been down through the first five games of the home schedule for the Golden Grizzlies. Fans are wondering about a ticket increase, most notably after the Tennessee game. As a member of the media, I don’t pay for tickets, as you may have guessed, and I wasn’t aware of a price increase. Coach Greg Kampe wasn’t aware of the increase, either, when asked on “The Greg Kampe Show” Tuesday on WXOU.
“They don’t call me in to talk about ticket pricing,” he said.  
Kampe suggested the increase isn’t necessarily related to the sagging attendance figures.
“We’ve never drawn well in November and December and we’ve never had a home schedule like this,” he said.
Oakland is in the midst of a seven-game homestand that includes Saturday’s game at The Palace, hosting Michigan.
The long-time Oakland coach did admit prices “probably” affected attendance vs. Tennessee, for which more than 3,700 were reported in attendance. Many remarks were made during the game by those in attendance concerning the relative emptiness of the 3,000-seat arena. Several spots in the bleachers were vacant throughout the game.
The reported attendance was just the seventh-largest in the venue’s 13-year history. The O’rena draws more fans for games against conference rival Oral Roberts. Its largest audience, more than 4,000, came to see then-No. 3 Missouri in 2003.
Fans complained about the increased price for last week’s marquee matchup, chief among their concerns was the facts students were being charged for admission. They usually get in for free. Also, some fans were unhappy that tickets were being bundled into three-game packages. And yes, some fans were even mad at me for incorrectly tweeting that tickets had been sold out. (I corrected that tweet less than an hour later after a helpful phone call from the athletic department.) I found one ticket stub on the ground after the game left for “Ben,” seated in row 10, seat 26. The price, though, was blank, so that doesn’t particularly help my comprehension.
Kampe credited the crowd with helping Oakland beat Tennessee for the second consecutive season.
“From start to finish, I thought we were in the Breslin Center,” he said. “I can’t tell you how big of a homecourt advantage that was.”
The Golden Grizzlies traditionally pick up more fans as the season progresses, but Kampe didn’t sound terribly optimistic about the idea of packing fans in for their late-season schedule.
Oakland hosts just two games in February, the last month of the season and neither is a traditional seat-filler. IPFW visits, minus coach Dane Fife, now an MSU assistant, Feb. 11, and Southern Utah enters the O’rena Feb. 15. The Grizzlies’ final three games are on the road.
January, however, is more promising, as perennial Summit contender Oral Roberts visits for possibly the final time Jan. 3. Alex Young and IUPUI arrive Jan. 7 and Nate Wolters brings South Dakota State to Rochester Jan. 26.

Practice facility in the 'development stage'

Late last season, there was word Oakland was working toward funding a practice facility. Then we didn’t hear much else. That was until Tuesday, when WXOU’s Matt Pocket breached the subject on the “Greg Kampe Show,” which now airs Tuesday’s at 4 p.m. on 88.3 FM.
Oakland coach Greg Kampe said the facility is very much in the developmental stage and could vary in cost from the reported $11 million reported last season.
“We know if we want to continue to improve our status in the world of college basketball, we have to upgrade our facilities,” Kampe said.  
“We have to put that vision down and find the people willing to share the vision and fund it. The University isn’t going to ask students to pay for an athletic building. … It’s a dream and a vision and there are people working to make it a reality.”
Kampe mentioned prior to Tennessee’s visit to the O’rena last week he dreams of a day when the Golden Grizzlies outgrow the 13-year-old arena, but the arena isn’t in a position to be expanded.
WXOU - The Greg Kampe Show Dec. 6, 2011 by paulkampe

'Zero' chance Oakland pairs with Detroit in ESPN's Bracketbusters

The Summit League, to Oakland coach Greg Kampe’s dismay, is participating in ESPN’s Bracketbusters series this season. The defending conference champions are scheduled to be a road team in their matchup Feb. 18. The Grizzlies’ opponent will not be known until Jan. 30, however.
The minds of fans and the media collectively wandered, supposing the four-letter network pairs Oakland with Detroit, two area schools everyone wants to see, in a game that would likely be a regional ratings bonanza and a cash cow at the box office.
Apparently, Oakland coach Greg Kampe has already spoken with ESPN, telling the network Oakland will not play at Detroit, because the Titans still owe Oakland a return visit to the O’rena. 
In fact, Kampe said there’s “zero” percent chance the two meet.
“We said we won’t play them if it’s a BracketBuster,” Kampe told Matt Pocket and Bryan Everson on “The Greg Kampe Show" Tuesday. “We’re not playing them there. They owe us a game. They can come here and play us and everything will be all nice again, but until (then) it’s not going to happen.
“We just said if they pair us up with Detroit, we’re not going.” 
The programs met for three consecutive seasons from 2000-03, with Detroit taking two of those three, with both wins coming on its home floor. The Oakland losses came by 16- and 21-point margins. Oakland's win at the O'rena Dec. 6, 2001, was a 26-point blowout.   
I jokingly came up with some other spots they could play the game, but they weren’t serious (Aboard the Boblo Boat, Cobo roof), but I wonder if the game will eventually get shifted to a neutral site, like even The Palace. But with the remodeling of Cobo Center, I wonder if it’s possible to put a basketball court in there. Whenever, wherever it is, I’m sure fans will show up. 
WXOU - The Greg Kampe Show Dec. 6, 2011 by paulkampe

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

'Glue' guy Dante Williams pasted up in feature story

Our sister paper, the Ann Arbor Journal, ran a feature in this week's edition about native Dante Williams. The story focuses on Williams' ascension to the starting lineup and his ability to remain as coach Greg Kampe's glue guy. Enjoy!
A2SportsFront 12-8-11

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oakland freshmen continue to make strides

Oakland coach Greg Kampe was quick to point out after Thursday's 101-83 win over South Dakota that the Grizzlies played well through what could have been a mental letdown after an emotional win over Tennessee Monday. Starting two freshmen in that situation could have been troublesome to other teams, but not Oakland.
Kampe can't praise Corey Petros enough and fans can now see why, as Oakland has played three straight games at home, including one on ESPNU. Petros got his second double-double of the season in just Oakland's seventh game, picking up 10 points and 10 rebounds Thursday vs. South Dakota.
Petros has been joined by true freshman Dante Williams, a long and athletic trump card for Kampe's lineup. Williams is averaging just two points per game in his 16 minutes per game average as as starter, but it's his presence that Kampe can't get enough of.
“He brings something to the table we don’t have and that’s a body between 6-foot-5 and 6-9," Kampe said. "He’s 6-6, he’s long and athletic and when he’s on the floor, he’s not a guy that looks to score. It’s comforting to have one guy out there who doesn’t have to have the basketball in his hands.” 
Kampe likes to compare Williams to another former freshman he couldn't get enough of: Drew Valentine.  
“You have to have a glue guy," Kampe said. "That role player. Two years from now, he’s going to be starting for us, but right now, he’s similar to Valentine was, he’s playing a role and I’m very pleased with how he’s playing it.”  
Kyle Sikora had his best game of the season, getting his most significant playing time ,10 minutes, contributing nine points on 4-of-5 shooting to go with six rebounds. 
“He was playing against our league, not Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee," Kampe said. "He got some good minutes tonight because they have a couple big guys and that was a good matchup to have him running around chasing some 6-7 guy, which will happen in our league at times. He’s not ready for (BCS opponents), but he’s ready for a 6-10 guy like he saw tonight. I’m pleased he played with confidence and tried to score.
"Our freshmen centers had 19 points and 16 rebounds in a league game. That’s pretty good production," Kampe said. 
Being Thursday's game was just the first of 18 conference games, all three freshmen should continue to see the ball coming their way. 

Travis Bader runs wild on Coyotes

Judging by his postgame comments regarding his shooting, it seems some have questioned Travis Bader's ability this season. After his meteoric rise to a starting role as a freshman, Bader drew early comparisons to Erik Kangas -- comparisons that could still come to fruition.
Thus far this season, Bader is playing several more minutes and scoring more, averaging 15 points per game in 34 minutes per game. His shooting percentage is down slightly (38 percent), but many of Oakland's early games came against tough non-conference play.
“Some games I may go 2 for 7 and people ask me questions like ‘You’re not shooting as well as last year, what’s going on?’ ” Bader said. 
Enter South Dakota. The Summit League newcomer brought the best in Bader Thursday, as he opened the game with consecutive 3-pointers, eventually hitting a career-high eight triples.
“I was surprised they zoned us. Nobody really ever comes in here and zones us," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said.
“It allowed Travis to get some open looks. He’s not going to get a lot of open looks against Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee. They’re going to be draped to him. It was good for him to get in a rhythm and get him where he can set his feet and get some shots off.” 
Bader was 10 of 16 shooting and reached a new career high 38 points. Let the Kangas comparisons commence once again.