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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, March 24, 2012

Counteracting Utah State’s home-court advantage

As a Utah State victory became inevitable Wednesday, talk among Oakland fans began to focus on the incredible home-court advantage the Aggies cultivate inside their 10,000-seat arena in Logan, Utah, where they’ve won 99 of their last 105 home games. Of course, the Golden Grizzlies are no strangers to large, hostile environments, having played a challenging non-conference schedule for several seasons at Kansas, Syracuse and even Michigan and Michigan State.
“Hopefully our schedule pays off,” Oakland guard Reggie Hamilton said. “Guys on our team are used to that.
“The schedule we’ve played all year has us prepared for games like this.”
Besides Hamilton, fellow senior Laval Lucas-Perry and junior Drew Valentine, the Grizzlies play a young rotation, starting at least one freshman for much of the season. Freshman Corey Petros has started each of the past two games as classmate Kyle Sikora has been hampered by an ankle injury. Fellow freshman Dante Williams has played spot minutes in the CIT and Matt Poches has played just two minutes in the first three rounds.
“They’re not going to get too many minutes,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said of his freshmen. “If we need Dante, he’ll probably get his five to seven minutes. If we need him more, we’ll use him more. I’d like to get (Matt) Poches in the game. We can’t win if (Corey) Petros and Kyle (Sikora) don’t play well. We need one of those two guys to have a good game. One thing that’s been very evident in this tournament is that our post play has been good. That has a lot to do with the fact we’re winning.”
Petros had 16 points and seven rebounds in Tuesday’s win over Rice, while Oakland again held its own with a better rebounding team.

Turnover trouble
The Aggies committed a season-high 22 turnovers against Loyola Marymount Wednesday. Their previous high was just 18, but Kampe doesn’t expect the Grizzlies to force as many errors Sunday.  
“We’re not a team that creates a lot of turnovers for our opponents,” he said. “We don’t press. We don’t trap. We don’t do things Loyola Marymount does.”
The Grizzlies forced 17 turnovers against Buffalo in the second round of the CIT and 38 overall during the tournament.

Bader on the way back
Sophomore guard Travis Bader failed to reach double figures scoring for the first time in 14 games Tuesday, scoring just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting against Rice.
“Everybody has a night like that,” Kampe said. “He’s had 10 or 11 unbelievable games in a row. For him to miss some open shots, it’s going to happen. We were able to win because he didn’t miss in the first half. We need him to be back to his average or better to win this tournament.”
Bader was quick to get back to work, even though the Grizzlies took the day off Wednesday. He was in the gym with good friend Valentine hoisting shots.
The funk is also affecting Hamilton, who was 0 for 5 from 3-point range in his 30-point outing.
“Me and Bader are still a little bit off,” he said. “We have a couple days to get it back to where it should be.”
After going 0 for 7 from long distance in Tuesday’s second half, Oakland is in the midst of a four-day hiatus before playing Utah State Sunday in the CIT semifinal. 
It was announced Saturday morning the winner of the Oakland-Utah State semifinal will host the championship game of the CIT against the winner of the Mercer-Fairfield semi.

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