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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 21, 2012

Oakland lands California juco transfer Raphael Carter

After a wild summer in which Oakland acquired two transfers and three recruits for the class of 2013, Golden Grizzlies and coach Greg Kampe got a player that can fill an immediate void left by by 7-footer Kyle Sikora's departure and the academic ineligibility of Viktoras Merkevicius and Michael Lewis.
Diablo Valley (Calif.) Community College transfer Raphael Carter, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward, has joined Oakland and will be eligible immediately. Kampe expects Carter to serve as a backup for sophomore forward Corey Petros and possibly start at power forward.
"He could really help us," Kampe said. 
Carter was an All-Big Eight honorable mention last season, according to the school's website. He was No. 66 in the top juco players of 2012, according to
Carter, originally from Columbus, Ohio, was released from his commitment to Nevada after failing to meet academic standards. Kampe watched him play at a Las Vegas tournament in July.
Carter is, by Kampe's estimate Oakland's first juco transfer since the 2005 Cinderella NCAA tournament team.

Oakland programming ideas to replace Red Wings coverage on Fox Sports Detroit

Faced with what is potentially its second programming nightmare of lengthy lockout a professional sports league in as many seasons, Fox Sports Detroit is asking viewers what coverage should fill the time. 
The options on its survey aren't exactly Oakland friendly: Classic Red Wings games (which would surely be a great ratings draw); Pistons preseason games (the exact opposite effect on ratings); Grand Rapids Griffins games, surely some diehard Wings fans would tune in to see the team's future players; and/or college hockey games.
With the exception of Pistons preseason games, it seems FSD is trying to fill its airtime with replacement hockey. But that doesn't mean Oakland fans can't have their say -- there is a write-in box for other programming ideas.
FSD added "All Access" programs of both Oakland and Detroit last season, and an announcement hasn't been made regarding the continuation of those series this season.
Fox Sports Detroit typically picks out 2-3 Oakland conference games for air and has picked up the MidCo cable feed of the Summit League tournament in recent seasons. Bearing in mind FSD (and no one besides ESPN) hasn't released an Oakland broadcast schedule of yet, here are some decent non-conference matchups that could be good filler:
Nov. 23: Oakland at Michigan State
Dec. 1: Oakland at Western Michigan
Dec. 8: Oakland at Ohio
Dec. 17: Oakland at Valparaiso
Dec. 22: Oakland at Eastern Michigan

Summit League further explains dropping acronyms

As I noted earlier this month when Oakland released its schedule for the upcoming season, the Summit League plans to eliminate some of the potentially confusing acronyms from its member schools. Certainly, as a beat writer, I'm in favor of reducing the number of times I have to type "UMKC," "IPFW," and now "UNO," although I tried to stay away from that in game stories anyway.
One point I made in my previous post was clarified, as The Associated Press went further in depth on this development: IUPUI can't (or more likely won't) be shortened for fear of confusion with Division II University of Indianapolis.
Also, despite the move's base in clarity, new member "Omaha's" move to the block "O" could get confusing with Oakland's increasing use of its own "block O."
Also of note in the story, the AP refers to the Summit League as a "low major." 
The full read below:

Summit League axes acronyms to showcase big cities

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — An NCAA Division I conference composed of mostly Midwest teams has decided that alphabet soup isn't terribly appealing.

The Summit League chose this school year to refer to three of its teams by the university's last name in standings and media releases, in part to highlight the conference's metropolitan areas and to make the schools more recognizable nationally. Some schools want to make the changes permanent.

League officials will call the University of Nebraska-Omaha simply Omaha, the University of Missouri-Kansas City as Kansas City and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne as Fort Wayne.

No more UNO, UMKC and IPFW — at first glance, anyway.
"It's one thing if you're UCLA," said league consultant Jeff Orleans, who worked on the new branding plan. "But no one else can or needs to do that."
The nine-team Summit League includes Omaha, Kansas City, Fort Wayne, North Dakota State, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Oakland, Western Illinois and the lone tongue-twisting holdout, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, or IUPUI.
As much as the league would like to eliminate a few vowels, referring to IUPUI as Indianapolis could conflict with their Division II neighbors, the University of Indianapolis.
"I know they would like to make a change, but I don't know if they have the solution yet," Orleans said of IUPUI.
Omaha has already completed its own rebranding campaign that offered an alternative to the UNO acronym, which also is used at the University of New Orleans. The Nebraska school bills itself as "Omaha's team." The new look includes an "O'' insignia to replace a hodgepodge of logos that were used by the Mavericks.
"For the 40,000 alumni who live in the greater Omaha area, we will always be UNO," said Dave Ahlers, Omaha's director of communications. "But from more of a national perspective, it made more sense.
"People know Omaha. It's a lot easier to put that on a ticker," he said.
The UMKC chancellor and others associated with the university have suggested changing the official name of the school to Kansas City. There's similar discussion regarding IPFW, which is seeking to distinguish itself from Indiana and Purdue universities.
The Summit League's move follows the lead of other schools and conferences. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is now just Green Bay; its separate athletic website is Same goes for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which goes by Milwaukee, and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
"In this day and age," Ahlers said, "shorter seems to be better."
And bigger also can be better, league officials say. With the exception of USD, SDSU and Western Illinois, schools in the league are located in major metropolitan areas of 200,000 or more people. Kansas City is the only D-I athletics program in a 40-mile radius.
Since changing its name from the Mid-Continent Conference to the Summit in 2007, the conference has produced 54 All-Americans, 37 academic All-Americans and seven NCAA champions — five in track and field and two in swimming and diving. The league also offers baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball and tennis.
In the past seven seasons, Summit teams have been ranked nationally in six different sports, won NCAA regional championships in two sports and advanced to three NCAA championship tournaments.
"I am just incredibly impressed how those cities and those institutions matter in those regions," Orleans said.
Even so, Summit is considered a mid- to lower-major conference. Therefore, it needs to work harder to attract national attention than, say, Michigan or Alabama.
"I think everybody has that branding challenge," said NDSU assistant athletic director Troy Goergen, who handles the department's marketing. "We're in the mode like a lot of schools are, trying to gain that notoriety."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Detroit Pershing PG Kahlil Felder latest addition to Oakland's 2013 class

Point guard Kahlil Felder became Oakland's third verbal commitment for the 2013 recruiting class Monday. And the point guard, whom ESPN says "will be an immediate impact player as soon as (Oakland coach Greg) Kampe puts the ball in his hands," should have a smooth transition.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Felder plays in an offense similar to Kampe's noted dribble-drive attack.
"He'll benefit well from it," Doughboys coach A.W. Canada said. "He's a natural scorer and he's hard to guard because he's physical."
Felder said it didn't take him long to choose Oakland over other potential suitors such as Eastern Michigan and Akron, adding that he's already bonded with Kampe.
"He'll push you," Felder said. "Me and him developed a good relationship."

Felder joins Westland John Glenn's Nick Daniels and Lansing Sexton's Jalen Hayes in the 2013 recruiting class.
"They said 'you have to come battle for minutes.' Nothing's given," Felder said.
Felder, who assumed the point position after Keith Appling departed for Michigan State, averaged 19 points and more than seven assists per game last season, according to Canada.
Felder said he spoke with Oakland coaches about the Golden Grizzlies' past point guards, including reigning national scoring champ Reggie Hamilton.
"I can score just as well as him," Felder said. "He's a good leader. I want to be better than him."
Canada said Felder readily studies game film in a effort to improve. He said Felder needs to become more vocal at the Division I level and more of a 3-point shooter. 
Felder has also played high school hoops against Oakland freshman Lloyd Neely, who starred for Detroit Crockett, earning "Mr. PSL" honors as the city's best senior last season.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Summit League attempts to confuse fewer people by eliminating some acronyms

The Summit League is home to some of the zaniest mascot names and acronyms, bu the conference made some headway in terms of trying to become easier to remember. Case in point: No more trying to differentiate between IPFW and IUPUI. The conference will henceforth refer to the former as "Fort Wayne."
The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel reported the move in July.
The same can be said for UMKC, which is simply "Kansas City." Conference newcomer University of Nebraska-Omaha will be simply "Omaha."
Beat writer Tom Davis reported IPFW athletic director Tommy Bell was not notified of the move and sounded less than thrilled of the rebranding effort he had been tasked with.  
The report mentioned this is similar to regional rebranding efforts of the Horizon League and IPFW will put the change into effect for one year as a sort of trial balloon.
"This is not a name change," Bell told the News-Sentinel. "We’re trying it for a year and we’ll see if there is any push back.”
It's easy to understand why the league would want to make its schools easier to remember, but why not also refer to IUPUI as "Indianapolis?" 
Oakland fans noticed the change when the Golden Grizzlies' schedule was released Friday. The change should be nothing new for Oakland coach Greg Kampe, who always referred to his team's nearest conference rival as "Fort Wayne" anyhow.
(h/t to our good friend at Summit Madness for sending this story our way)