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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.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bracketbusters, Summit League Tournament forced Oakland-IPFW to new night

Oakland fans have likely gotten used to the Thursday-Saturday routine this season, but the Golden Grizzlies are making their final road trip of the season to Fort Wayne on a Wednesday. Why, you ask? Saturday’s Bracketbusters games for both schools and the upcoming Summit League tournament are big factors.
Oakland coach Greg Kampe said the teams were originally scheduled to meet the first weekend of conference play in December, but the game was moved after each team filed a petition with the league. They now meet Wednesday and March 2, with Saturday’s Bracketbusters game with Morehead State in between.
“We looked at our schedules and we both played this past Saturday and then all we had was the Bracketbusters game this Saturday and then the last game of the season,” Kampe said.
“In a three-week period, we would have played two games leading into the tournament. The tournament is the most important thing. We just felt that was a bad deal for both of us, so we decided to move that December game to this Wednesday so we would only have one bye week before the tournament."
Kampe added that Oral Roberts’ hastened departure from the league threw the conference schedule out of whack. Wednesday’s game was originally supposed to be played at Oakland, which could have briefly alleviated the travel burden that saw the Grizzlies play 15 of their first 19 on the road. Instead, the streaking Grizzlies (10-4), who have won seven straight games after beginning the season 1-3, close the season with consecutive home games. Oakland has been very successful at the O’rena, going 41-4 over the last 45 games and 9-1 this season. That lone loss this season came, of course, in the wakeup call game against South Dakota Jan. 19. Oakland went on to defeat Western Illinois, North Dakota State and South Dakota State, in succession, at the O’rena.
There is still a potentially hazardous consequence in shifting Fort Wayne to the end of the conference season, besides playing a Mastodons team that seems to be a few plays away from upsetting one of the conference’s best — meeting them in the first round of the conference tournament.
The ‘Dons enter Wednesday’s game in sixth place at 5-9, while Oakland is in fourth place, a half-game behind North Dakota State (11-4). If Oakland were able to surpass the Bison, as they did last season, and claim the No. 3 seed to the conference tournament, as they did last season, that would set up the third showdown in four games with Fort Wayne.
“Now you’re playing three times in 17 days,” Kampe said. “I’ve never done that with a team.”
It seems anyone can beat anyone else in the Summit League this year, so the final weeks should be entertaining.


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