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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

Late first-half collapse leaves Oakland coach Greg Kampe speechless

Oakland coach Greg Kampe wasn’t his typical, boisterous self for much of Thursday’s game against Kansas City. He seemed to wind down as Oakland’s 13-point first-half advantage disintegrated following nine turnovers, five of which coming from point guard Duke Mondy, over the final 5:30 of the first half.  
“(He) facilitates the offense very well within the offense,” Kampe said. “But (he’s) not very good at this stage of his career in getting us into the offense.”
Mondy has greatly reduced his turnovers after fellow guard Ryan Bass was introduced into the starting lineup in early December. Kampe credited Bass with steadying the point guard position, adding Mondy is struggling with confidence.
After the game, Kampe said he remained subdued in an effort to calm his team.
“This team has been a real challenge for me because we think we play a cerebral game,” Kampe said. “While this team might have the best GPA of any team I’ve had in years, it’s been a real struggle with us on the floor. We have not been the smartest team.”
The longtime coach cited several instances during the game where his team rushed or made unforced errors.
“There’s a big difference when you’re behind and you’ve got to make plays,” Kampe said. “We don’t understand ‘down and distance’ and we’re 20 games in and that’s frustrating to me. I pride myself that our teams are cerebral, smart teams.
“We’ve got to get smart, and that’s my job.”
The Grizzlies committed 17 first-half turnovers Thursday, compared to just three in the second half. Kampe seemed to return to his normal, vocal self late in the game.
Both teams were equally sloppy early on Thursday, as the Golden Grizzlies held an eight-point advantage midway through the first half.
“The first 10 minutes of the game, we should’ve been ahead 15 or 20 points,” Kampe said. “We had all kinds of fast-break opportunities off steals and … it kind of looked like a pickup game at the rec. But that’s who we are and we’re probably going to give up some pretty good field goal percentages. But if we can create 20 turnovers, we can make up the difference.”
That’s what the Grizzlies did Thursday, and are averaging 13.17 turnovers in conference play.
Kampe said the Grizzlies are in a position where they need to gamble by playing aggressive without a shot-blocking presence, which also contributes to opponents’ shooting success against Oakland. Opponents are shooting 49 percent this season, while North Dakota State shot 61 percent against Oakland last weekend.
Oakland is also outrebounding Summit League opponents by 2.83 rebounds per game through six conference matches this season.
“We’re rebounding the ball well,” Kampe said. “I thought that would be a weakness of this team and it hasn’t been.”

Bader diversifying his game
After a sophomore season in which Travis Bader was second in the nation in 3-point shooting, he knew opponents would be focused on preventing his open looks. Some opponents have found great success focusing on Bader this season, but most have fallen victim to Bader’s newfound aggressive streak.
In one particular instance Thursday, Bader collected a pass in the corner, pump faked, waited for a UMKC defender to go flying past, faked again, waiting for another defender to lunge into the audience, then Bader stepped forward to hit a 15-foot jump shot.  
“Coming into the offseason, I really wanted to focus on attacking the basket and being able to do more than just shoot because I knew they were going to try to take that shot away this year,” Bader said. “I need to find more ways to pump fake it more.”
The effort is resulting in several more trips to the free-throw line. Bader has already taken 15 more free-throw attempts this season than he did in 36 games last season. He entered Thursday’s game second in the Summit League in free-throw shooting percentage at 86 percent, before a perfect 9-for-9 performance from the line Thursday.
“I still need to find more ways to get to the free-throw line, but I’m doing better,” he said.
Oakland was a much-improved 21 of 27 (78 percent) from the line as a team Thursday, but the more Bader gets to the line, the better.

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