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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, August 31, 2012

Oakland coach Greg Kampe apologizes to fans for 'tough,' 'stupid' schedule

Despite orchestrating another competitive non-conference schedule, Oakland coach Greg Kampe was apologizing to fans for a lack of home games.
The Golden Grizzlies played an unprecedented 17 games at the O'rena last season (three of which came from the CollegeInsider.com Tournament) and another at The Palace.
The other side of having consistently-competitive schedules is playing away from home. Oakland again has to spend the opening weeks of the season on the road following its opener Nov. 9 vs. Albion.
"Fans have to understand. It's circular," Kampe said, promising brighter schedules in the future.
This schedule is nothing to make excuses for.
 In addition to the previous dates noted in yesterday's post, Oakland will also play at Boise State Nov. 13 and then head to Pitt, which it last faced in the 2010 NCAA tournament, Nov. 17. Add to that a date at MAC champion Ohio Dec. 8 and a visit from former conference mate and defending Horizon League regular-season champion Valparaiso Dec. 17.
There are five NCAA tournament teams from a year ago on Oakland's schedule counting Summit League champion South Dakota State.
Fans should understand when Kampe calls the schedule "stupid," he's probably referring to a three-week stretch beginning Nov. 11 where Oakland plays seven road games before returning home Dec. 6 to host former fan favorite Drew Maynard and Rochester College.
In that span, Oakland travels to Louisiana, Idaho, Pittsburgh, Houston, East Lansing, Knoxville, Tenn. and Kalamazoo.
"Fans have to understand where we are in the pecking order," Kampe said.
Kampe also mentioned he is working on a deal to keep the Spartans on the schedule long term, hinting at games at The Palace. Oakland nearly beat then-No. 7 MSU at The Palace in 2010, just days before upsetting new No. 7 Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.
And don't forget the parity created in the Summit League last season.
The Grizzlies will have a tough test back to back at Western Illinois and IUPUI, a place they didn't even win in consecutive 17-1 conference seasons, after visiting West Virginia and Eastern Michigan. The nationally-televised game against the Mountaineers should get Oakland amped up, but the Grizzlies still have three more games on that swing, two of which are ever-important conference games.
In recent years, Kampe has lamented the early arrival of the conference season, typically the first weekend in December. This season, however, Oakland doesn't begin Summit League play until Dec. 27, the aforementioned game at Western Illinois, the conference runner-up of a year ago. 
Also, Oakland's early January trip to the Dakotas is muddied by a Jan. 5 non-conference date with Alabama.
And if it seems Kampe included the kitchen sink in this schedule, he did. His own hometown Defiance (Ohio) College visits for the second of two exhibitions Nov. 6.
Kampe doesn't need to defend this schedule unless the non-conference road games take the Golden Grizzlies out of sync prior to conference play.
A very young team lost its footing last season after a 6-2 start that included wins at Houston and at home over Tennessee.
After splitting with Michigan and Rochester College, on the heels of a disappointing two-point loss at home to those same eventual Sweet 16 Bobcats, Oakland lost six of seven games. The one win came during a superhuman effort from Reggie Hamilton in a two-point win at Valparaiso. Four of those losses came in conference play, one of which by the largest margin Oakland has ever lost to a conference opponent (27 points at North Dakota State).
The early slippage cost Oakland, as the Golden Grizzlies worked feverishly and were left to rely on other teams as well as their performance to secure a top seed at the conference tournament.
It's easy to think the Golden Grizzlies could lose focus again. They have five newcomers and only one senior who saw regular minutes, Drew Valentine. But this team does have four returning starters. It also has the experience of last season in its five juniors and four sophomores.
There's a lot of travel on this schedule -- even by Summit League standards. But what lies in between are good non-conference tests against other strong mid-majors including Ohio and Valparaiso. And if Oakland can keep its collective heads straight -- win or lose -- and take care of business in the conference portion of its latest behemoth schedule, there will be nothing to apologize for.
Watch Kampe's comments below in the latest edition of "Grizz Vision," hosted by Neal Ruhl, the voice of Oakland radio.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Like each season, Oakland's non-conference schedule leaking out

Last month, I updated readers on a few non-conference games on Oakland's schedule. Now, we have dates and times for some matchups as other conferences are releasing their schedules.
Oakland coach Greg Kampe tweeted in response to a fan question this afternoon that the Golden Grizzlies' schedule should be released this week (presumably Friday).
BallinMichigan lists a couple of Oakland's matchups in its roundup of big-name non-conference games for in-state mid-majors.
Building Oakland's schedule by piecemeal, here are the games we know:

Nov. 23 at Michigan State, Time TBA
Nov. 26 at Tennessee, Time TBA
Dec. 1 at Western Michigan 2 p.m.
Dec. 19 at West Virginia 9 p.m. ESPNU
Dec. 22 at Eastern Michigan, Time TBA
Jan. 5 at Alabama, Time TBA
Feb. 23 ESPN Bracketbusters Time TBA

*Expected dates with Pittsburgh and Valparaiso are still TBA.

As it appears, Oakland fans will have their picking of quality in-state games to travel to. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oakland gets commitment from Lansing Sexton's Jalen Hayes for 2013

Oakland is keeping the Lansing pipeline running with another Sexton High School commitment, this time coming from 6-foot-8, 195-pound forward Jalen Hayes.
Hayes, who was also being pursued by Iowa State, Dayton, DePaul, Xavier and several Mid-American Conference schools, according to BallinMichigan, is Oakland's second commitment for the class of 2013. Westland John Glenn's Nick Daniels gave his verbal commitment earlier this summer.
Hayes has started each of the past two seasons for the two-time defending Class B state champions, and according to WILX, is the fourth player from last season's team to accept a Division I offer. 
Oakland senior Drew Valentine is also a Lansing Sexton alum, as is Oakland assistant coach Saddi Washington and teammate Jordan Howenstine.

Former Oakland star Mike Helms playing in Canada

Before Reggie Hamilton tore through the Oakland record books, there was Mike Helms.
The Detroit native was the third-leading scorer in the nation in 2002-03 with 26.9 points per game, an average a half-point better than Hamilton's nation-leading 26.2 this past season. Helms' average, however, remains the Summit League's single-season best, Hamilton's second.
Like many former Oakland stars, Helms has become a world traveler in his professional career, with stops in Argentina, Australia, Singapore, Israel and Mexico. Helms will now be a short distance from his hometown after being acquired by the Windsor Express of the National Basketball League of Canada, according to The Windsor Star.
The Star reports Helms, now 29, is expected to lend a veteran presence to the expansion Express team.
"It’s something we were looking to build from,” Express coach Bill Jones told the Star. “We wanted an experienced point guard."
The NBL, formed in 2011, is the country's only professional basketball league (if you don't count the NBA's Toronto Raptors) and features eight teams in two divisions. 
Oakland coach Greg Kampe said last month Helms was enrolled in classes at Oakland in an effort to finish his degree and was hoping to get one more season playing professionally. 
Also, recently former Oakland forward Derick Nelson announced he will be playing in Saudi Arabia this season and Hamilton was expected to leave for Italy in recent weeks. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Family ties help Oakland women add two for 2013

Chesapeake Va.'s Nola Anderson
Nola Anderson, Oakland's first commit for 2013, confessed she hadn't heard much about Oakland University until the recruiting process. But after a relative passed along a newsclip of Anderson's  accomplishments to Golden Grizzlies coach Beckie Francis and her staff, Oakland University knew quite a bit about her. 
Anderson, a 5-foot-7 shooting guard from Grassfield High School in Chesapeake, Va., said she had a good experience at Oakland's Elite Camp this summer. Having family in the area helped her decision, too.
"I've been coming up here every summer since I was 8," Anderson said. "It's the same (as Virginia), but it's just colder up here." 
That comfort level may have helped Anderson, who said she quickly learned Oakland's offense and bonded with her future Golden Grizzlies teammates.
Anderson led Grassfield in 3-point shooting and is a two-time All-Southeast District selection. Her coach, Michael Hyman said Anderson, who averages 14 points per game, is expected to pass 1,000 points for her high school career this season.
"She'll do anything you need her to do," he said, adding Anderson has transitioned into a shooter as the team graduated its best players.
Schools such as Radford, William & Mary and Stony Brook showed interest in Anderson, Hyman said, but "once she visited Oakland, she knew it was for her." 
Hyman said Anderson is a versatile player and tenacious defender.
"She can score when she needs to," he said. "But she has the ability to get her team involved."
Oakland has also gotten a commitment from Saint Louis trasnfer and Detroit native Kim Bee, who will have one year of eligibility remaining in 2013-14. She will have to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Kim Bee (courtesy of Saint Louis University)
The 21-year-old Bee, who chose Saint Louis over the University of Detroit after two years at Schoolcraft College, wanted to move back to the Detroit area to be with her family.
"It was the wrong decision, now," she said. "Being nine hours away from home  for the first time wasn't smart for me being from a big family."
The 6-foot-1 Bee is a natural shot-blocker who had 35 rejections in 30 games for the Billikens last season. She started five games and averaged 2.5 points in 13.6 minutes per game.
"I wasn't progressing at SLU," she said. "It's a lot easier to play to play at Oakland," Bee added, because she was able to "show the type of player I can be" during open gym play with the Golden Grizzlies.
"It was just a blessing from God," Bee said.

Monday, August 13, 2012

REPORT: Former Oakland guard Reggie Hamilton signs with Italian team

Days after former teammate Larry Wright announced he would be returning to play in Germany, former high-scoring Oakland guard Reggie Hamilton may be taking off for Italy.  European site Sportando reports Hamilton has signed with Italian team VL Pesaro.
Hamilton played briefly with the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Summer League before spraining his ankle early in the opener and missing the rest of the team's games. His agent, Austin Walton, said previously Hamilton had an invite to Pacers minicamp this fall.
Hamilton led the nation in scoring, averaging 26.2 points per game and was named the nation's best player under 6 feet tall. He also took part in the Portsmouth Invitational scouting combine.
Sportando previously reported Greek team Rethymno was pursuing Hamilton.
Former Golden Grizzlies point guard Johnathon Jones, who recruited Hamilton to Oakland after Hamilton left UMKC, also recently announced he will be playing in Germany after shining in Slovakia. Former Oakland workhorse Will Hudson recently signed with a team in New Zealand and his frontcourt mate Keith Benson had a good showing in the NBA Summer League with the Atlanta Hawks.
According to BallinMichigan, former Oakland forward Derick Nelson also expects to sign a new deal soon.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Point guard Nick Daniels Oakland's first 2013 recruit

Oakland's potential point guard of the future hasn't even seen a game in the O'rena. Nick Daniels, from Westland John Glenn, became the Golden Grizzlies' first verbal commitment for the 2013 class last month.
The 6-foot-1, 160-pound guard was also shown interest by Eastern Michigan, Toledo and Bowling Green, but Oakland was his first official offer. He accepted July 2.
Playing the point is still relatively new to Daniels, an All-KLAA South selection, who picked up the position last season.
"I can defend and get to the basket and share the ball well," he said.
Oakland's exposure in two of the last three NCAA tournaments helped sway Daniels, who bonded with his future Golden Grizzlies teammates during open gyms.
"It just seemed like family," Daniels said.
Daniels is expected to break John Glenn's career scoring record this winter. He's only about 300 points shy of that mark, according to coach Dan Young.
"He's been on everybody's radar," Young said of Daniels. "Nick will be an even better college player.
"He's a point guard with great vision. He can run a team and score as well. He's not afraid of anybody."
Young said his four-year starter needs to bulk up, but expects it to come with age. He feels he's left Daniels in the right hands to become a successful Division I player.
"They've proved they can develop guards," Young said. 
Watch Daniels' highlight reel below: