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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.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Injury to North Dakota State’s Taylor Braun reminiscent of Oakland’s Derick Nelson

The substantial injury to North Dakota State’s Taylor Braun could have a far-reaching impact on the Summit League race this season. Braun is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after breaking a bone in his foot and is reportedly hopeful to return for the conference tournament in March.
Oakland coach Greg Kampe had pondered, along with his staff, if such an event were to transpire, how the Summit League would be affected.
“Any of the other (top three) can beat each other. Three or four losses could win the league. North Dakota State lost a great player,” Kampe said.
“We’ll see what they’re going to do with their depth.”
A lack of depth is common among the league’s top teams, Kampe said, noting there isn’t one team superior to the rest of the conference as in years past.
“This year is different than the last four or five years in the league where there has been a dominant team. The last three years, there’s only been one-loss (teams). Before that, it was two (losses). This year, there are four teams, I believe, that can run the table.
The Bison, after a win over Oakland in which Braun was hurt, improved to 6-0 and were tied with Western Illinois heading into Thursday’s league play.
A similar injury plagued Oakland’s 2008-09 season, when preseason first-team selection Derick Nelson went down with a foot injury and was unsuccessful in his attempt to return early in the season.
“We’ve seen that injury before in this league,” Kampe said. “You feel sorry for yourself the day it happens and then you sit down in your office and figure out what the hell you’re going to do.”
Oakland recovered, though, advancing to the Summit League tournament championship game against North Dakota State before enduring one of the most infamous moments in Oakland hoops history. North Dakota State's Ben Woodside hit a last-second shot to propel the Bison to the title and subsequent NCAA tournament berth.
“We ended up losing that year on a last-second shot in the conference championship game without (Nelson),” Kampe said. “We had a double-digit lead with seven or eight minutes to go in the game. Maybe we could have won that. Maybe it’s my fault we didn’t finish that game. 
"It says ‘Oakland’ across the jersey — you have to have that mentality that when someone gets hurt, it’s the next man up. For North Dakota State, somebody else has got to step up.”

Mirror, mirror
Fans and media alike aren’t taking well to the Summit League’s “mirror” scheduling where the conference's men’s and women’s teams are playing the same opponent on the same day -- in different venues. For example, the Oakland men hosted Kansas City Thursday, while the women played at the Kangaroos’ home arena.
From a coaches’ standpoint, however, there doesn't seem to be much change.
“That has no effect on me,” Kampe said. “I’d like to watch our women’s team play, but they always played before us and I didn’t get to see much of it anyway.”
The mirror strategy eliminates Saturday doubleheaders, as Kampe mentioned. Oakland began the season with a patented men’s-women’s doubleheader Nov. 9 -- against different opponents. There will be one more twinbill at the O’rena this season, however, Feb. 23. The women finish their home slate hosting Fort Wayne at 2 p.m. and the men host a Bracketbusters opponent (TBD) at 6 p.m.


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