Oakland’s surprising loss to South Dakota relieved pressure to win Summit League
|Greg Kampe demonstrates proper FT technique|
After a stunning 19-point home court loss to South Dakota last week, the Golden Grizzlies’ hopes at a conference title were all but eliminated after being dealt a fourth loss in league play.
“Our goal of winning the league championship is probably something that’s not going to happen,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said prior to Thursday’s win. “We have to focus on the main goal, which is winning the (conference) tournament. We have to take each game one at a time and make sure we improve ourselves and get ourselves (invincible), so when March gets here, we’re ready. We want to make our typical February run and it’s important we do that to show improvement and that we’re learning how to win.”
Oakland rebounded for an 18-point win over the last-place Jaguars (1-8) Thursday. Meanwhile, Western Illinois, which visits the Grizzlies Saturday, defeated Fort Wayne in a very low-scoring affair, to go to 8-1 on the conference season. Idle North Dakota State is still 7-1, while South Dakota State is 6-2 after eight games. The aforementioned Coyotes are 4-5.
Kampe said he doesn’t see either of the Dakota State teams losing four games in conference play.
“To sit here and think if we win out, we’re going to win the league, that’s the wrong way of thinking,” he said.
“As a coach, I can start experimenting. There’s some guys who might need a few more minutes and now I can tweak and do some things without the risk of losing a championship, things I wouldn’t have done if we were in a championship race.”
Struggling Grizzlies resort to free throw challenge
With his team’s noted struggles from the free-throw line, Oakland was shooting just 70 percent from the line entering Thursday, coach Greg Kampe initiated a bracketed, seeded free-throw challenge this week. Kampe isn’t just watching, either. He entered the challenge himself.
“We just started something to lighten it up,” Kampe said. “Some guys aren’t shooting free throws so well. We’re just doing something for fun.”
Tuesday, Kampe made 9 of 10, but lost to Raphael Carter, who also made 9 of 10 but earned the tiebreaker for swishing more of his shots.
“It’s upsetting to lose to a 40-percent free-throw shooter,” Kampe joked. “Probably the first time this year he’s (done that).”
Thursday, the Grizzlies were 13 of 18 (72 percent) from the line including perfect performances from: Travis Bader (6 for 6), Duke Mondy and Drew Valentine were both 2 for 2. Corey Petros was just 2 for 6 and Matt Poches was 1 of 2.