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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, February 28, 2013

Former Oakland star Reggie Hamilton joins Idaho Stampede of NBA D League

Reggie Hamilton returning to the states with Idaho Stampede of NBADL

According to NBA.com, former Oakland star and national leading scorer Reggie Hamilton has joined the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Developmental League, the Portland Trail Blazers' affiliate.
Hamilton led the nation in scoring last season at 26.2 points per game. He most recently played for Victoria Libertas Pesaro in Italian Serie A, the top professional league in Italy.
Hamilton worked out for the Trail Blazers, among several other teams, prior to last summer's NBA Draft. The Blazers ultimately drafted Damian Lillard No. 6 overall.  The former Weber State guard was second in NCAA scoring to Hamilton last season.
Former Oakland star Keith Benson and Hamilton's teammate in 2010-11 has played two stints in the NBADL and now plays in the Philippines.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oakland’s ‘Harlem Shake’ could have far-reaching effect


If you missed out on the latest Internet meme, Oakland is here to introduce you to the “Harlem Shake.” And they went to great lengths to differentiate theirs from the crowd.
Led by senior Drew Valentine who appears in a banana costume, the team released the video Tuesday afternoon and reported having more than 19,000 views at Wednesday morning’s practice.



Oakland coach Greg Kampe, who had not heard of the movement, donned the head of the Golden Grizzlies’ mascot Grizz for the shoot.
“I am utterly amazed by the attention it’s getting,” he said. “It makes me laugh. I like to have fun, so I think it’s cool our program … somebody said it’s the best one. I didn’t realize there had been a thousand of them.”
“Whatever the reason, people like it. I’m all for it. Any time you can promote Oakland basketball, that’s a great thing.”
The video circulated through the college hoops community Tuesday afternoon and evening and was even retweeted by ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, to which Kampe joked “That’s our recruiting video.” He was only half-joking.
“We talk about (recruiting) all the time,” he said. “We talk about how it’s a marathon. It’s a long season and you’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself and have some fun. And I’ve got some characters on this team, so it’s easy.”
The video, which was originally supposed to be filmed Friday, took only 15 minutes, Kampe said.
“I told them I’m in no mood after the Fort Wayne thing,” he said of rescheduling the shoot after Thursday's disappointing road loss.
Kampe and guard Travis Bader agreed the most difficult part of the process was to keep from laughing at Valentine in the beginning of the video.  
"I messed up the first take because I saw Drew and them behind me going crazy out of the corner of my eye,” Bader said.
Bader appeared in a serape and sombrero, paying homage to his notorious photobombing skill by standing motionless throughout the video.
“A lot of people asked if it was Photoshopped,” he said. “They told me to just stand there and hold that face.”
Valentine, who wore one sandal and one basketball shoe, said little details were considered in an effort to set Oakland’s “Harlem Shake” apart from the crowd.  
“A lot of the (Harlem Shake) videos I’ve seen have been corny and not funny,” he said. “I’m happy people actually find ours humorous.
“We were all just thinking about what we wanted to bring to the video.”
Valentine will play his final home game Saturday when Oakland hosts Fort Wayne at the O’rena. Don’t surprised if the “Harlem Shake” is there, too.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oakland coach Greg Kampe clears the air(waves) about Travis Bader

Travis Bader: Not a walk-on
Oakland coach Greg Kampe took to Twitter recently to clear up some confusion about red-shirt junior Travis Bader:

“Every (national broadcast) says ‘He was a walk-on,’ ” Kampe said. “We were the only Division I school to offer him a scholarship.
“I just got sick of hearing it.”
Kampe went on to add that Oakland was also the only Division I program to offer Keith Benson and Will Hudson, both enjoying professional careers after being polished under Kampe’s tutelage.
Bader, who still leads the nation with 125 3-pointers made, is just six away from predecessor Erik Kangas’ all-time Oakland mark of 348 — which took Kangas a full season longer to set. Kampe pointed out that Kangas played as a true freshman in 2005-06, whereas Bader sat out his first season in 2009-10, which was “a huge benefit,” Kampe said.
“They’re similar in size, but their body makeup is not quite the same,” Kampe said. “Bader is a little more defensively athletic than Kangas was and Kangas is a little more offensively athletic than Bader. Kangas could really elevate on his jump shot and go over people and take hits. Neither took many free throws early in their careers, but Bader is getting tremendous at the free-throw line.”
Bader is also just 10 3s behind Kangas’ single-season Oakland mark of 135. Kampe said he and his staff are busy trying to find the next Golden Grizzlies sharp-shooter.
We look for a pure stroke and we don’t worry about athleticism in shooters, we look at size,” he said. “Our great shooters … our shooters have all had size. We want that 6-3 to 6-6 range and we want some athleticism and that pure stroke.
“We’re out across the country right now looking for the next Travis Bader. We’ve probably got seven or eight candidates in the 2014 class that we’re looking at. There is one that is spectacular that could come right in, but he could go to a BCS school. We’re just hoping that what Bader has done in our system could help get that guy to come to Oakland. At (a BCS school), he’s not going to get to take a thousand 3s like Bader will here.”
Bader is also on pace to challenge former Duke star and NBA trade bait J.J. Redick’s all-time 3-point mark of 457.
Fans can rest assured, while they watch Bader rewrite Oakland records that weren’t expected to fall, Kampe and Co. are busy reloading.

Things have changed since Oakland hosted 2006 NCAA tournament

This will appear in Sunday's print edition of The Oakland Press with the main story about Oakland hosting the NCAA tournament at The Palace.   
  • The most significant change to the tournament itself is the addition of three teams to the field when the NCAA created the “First Four,” a play on the existing “Final Four” conclusion to the tournament, in 2011. The field now consists of 68 teams and begins play March 19 in Dayton, Ohio.     
  • The courts are the most obvious change to the tournament. The NCAA has stripped venues and host schools of any hint of a local connection. Around these parts, this is known as “The Oakland rule,” after the Rochester school got hip to the marketing opportunity at its disposal in 2006. A large cursive “Oakland University,” without any of the traditional Oakland logos, ran from center court to near the 3-point arc. 
  • TV coverage: Turner Sports has vastly expanded its coverage on television and the web. Utilizing the various cable networks at its disposal, Turner turned TruTV and other forgotten cable channels into March Madness mavens, soaking up the ratings boost as well. Last season, Turner and CBS, which broadcasts tournament game exclusively once the field is narrowed to just eight teams, jointly launched an online companion platform for last season’s tournament which featured coverage of each of the tournament’s opening-round games. This season, the NCAA has created a YouTube channel where users can watch highlights, for free, of recent March Madness highlights, including those created at The Palace in 2006. 
  • Social media: In its infancy as “Web 2.0” in 2006, it will likely play a big role in the user experience for CBS and Turner, not to mention alter the way many fans digest the tournament from their couches or bar stools.  
  • Rise of the mid-majors: George Mason in 2006 became the first so-called “mid-major” to make the Final Four since Pennsylvania in 1979. With increasing parity in college basketball, schools from lesser-known conferences, such as Butler in 2010 and 2011, have become a more frequent occurrence in the tournament’s crown jewel. Oakland University competes in the Summit League, a conference, which like other mid-majors, typically only receives on bid to the tournament field. Men’s basketball coach Greg Kampe attributes the ascension of small conference schools in part to the NCAA’s acceptance of “one-and-dones,” players who depart for the NBA after just one season in college, which has created a more level playing field.
Tickets for second- and third-round NCAA tournament games at The Palace can be purchased at www.ncaa.com/mbbtickets, all Ticketmaster outlets and TicketMaster.com, The Palace Ticket Store inside the West Atrium or by calling (248) 377-0152.

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.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Could theoretical move to 'Catholic 7' by Detroit clear way for Oakland to Horizon League?

Today, in "As College Sports Conferences Turn," the latest supposition comes from The Washington Post, whose Josh Feinstein attempts to fill the remaining spots in the so-called "Catholic 7" formed by basketball schools leaving the Big East.
Butler, which caused a flurry of Oakland-related speculation last May when it bolted from the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10 could be at the center of the latest swarm of talk. Then again, it could be Detroit itself causing the shift.
Feinstein supposes the aptly-named "Catholic 7" solicit membership among like-minded schools, making an exception for Butler, a private institution but not Catholic. But if Butler should decline, an invite could be extended to current Horizon League member Detroit.
"If Butler decides not to leave the Atlantic 10 — which it joined only this season — or if the presidents decide to go with Catholic schools only, the University of Detroit Mercy would come into the picture."
A "Titanic" departure by Detroit would knock the conference down to just eight teams, dangerously close to the threshold to maintain its automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. 
The Horizon has been deliberate in its search, or lack thereof, for possible replacements for Butler. Oakland and Summit League mate IUPUI have been theorized as possible substitutes.
Oakland coach Greg Kampe told The Oakland Press in a December live chat the Horizon had not contacted Oakland about membership, seven months after Butler's exit.
"Oakland University has never been contacted by the Horizon League. They have very smart people running the league and there's a reason their league has been successful.
"The Horizon League is going to do what's best for the Horizon League. No more than that. They're going to put in their due diligence. We're not going to do anything to jeopardize our standing in the Summit League."
Meanwhile, the Summit has added Denver in 2013-14, while recently learning it will lose UMKC after this season.
Oakland has made no secret of its desire to enter the Horizon and the long-rumored snub by conference member Detroit was put on record shortly after Butler's departure.
It seems like, if Detroit was to ever leave the Horizon, the conference would want to maintain its Detroit-area footprint and Oakland would quickly accept metatarsal appointment. There would be no more "Detroit veto" and Oakland would likely be able to come up with the cash to part ways with the Summit, which it joined (and won) when it moved up to Division I competition in 1999-2000.
Kampe also mentioned in the live chat that the stalemate in scheduling a rematch with Detroit, which Oakland hasn't played since 2003-04, was again at a standstill.
"My email lit up a few weeks ago when Ray McCallum said they'd be interested in playing us," Kampe said then. "They haven't called us since that statement. I've made yearly calls for several years. It's only going to happen if we end up the same league someday.
"We'll play them. I'll change my schedule. It's a game that should be play. Fans want to see it. It's economically smart, too."
Like the conference alignment rumors before it, the latest round of speculation is anybody's guess.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Another time for transition at Oakland with Duke Mondy

Oakland coach Greg Kampe is well-versed at transitioning transfer players into the Golden Grizzlies’ high-powered offense. After a rough beginning to Reggie Hamilton’s tenure, the UMKC transfer had become one of the nation’s most prolific scorers, leading the country in scoring last season at 26.2 points per game.
Kampe quickly found Providence transfer Duke Mondy and Hamilton are different players — and different people.
“With Reggie, it was more emotional,” Kampe said. “Reggie pent up emotion in himself and Duke is a quiet guy where you don’t always know what he’s thinking. You knew exactly what was on Reggie’s mind. (The transition) is different, but it’s the same. It’s the same amount of work and the same amount of give and take. It’s just a different amount of interaction.” 
Although they have different personalities, Mondy, like Hamilton, has a knack for providing clutch baskets for the Grizzlies. Mondy sealed Oakland's victory Thursday at South Dakota from the free-throw line, marking the third time this season he's scored the winning basket for the Golden Grizzlies. 
After an impressive 26-point, six-rebound, six-assist and four-steal night Saturday in a win over South Dakota State, Kampe remarked, almost stunned, at Mondy’s thorough presence in the box score. 
Mondy has come off the bench the past six game for the Golden Grizzlies, and he and Kampe seem to have found a middle ground after a bumpy start. More recently, Mondy has 12 assists to just one turnover in the last two games.
Kampe was quick to give Mondy partial credit for the Grizzlies’ turnaround after a blowout loss at home to South Dakota last month. The game-changing defender continues to come up with remarkable steals. He now has a national-best 85 steals, an Oakland single-season record.
“I don’t think you can have a better stat line than (Saturday),” Kampe said. “He had a big game against a first-place team. To throw a stat line like that, 24 games into your career here shows you’re making progress. He’s not fighting me. He’s trying to accomplish what we want and I’m backing down on him a little bit. … We don’t want a robot out there. We’ve got to let him play.”

Travis Bader-Nate Wolters matchup as good as advertised


The entertaining subplot to Oakland’s last close victory, last Saturday over South Dakota State at the O’rena, featured two of the Summit League’s best players and nation’s best scorers in Travis Bader and Nate Wolters. Four NBA scouts were expected to attend to see Wolters, an NBA hopeful receiving much critical acclaim in his senior season, and Bader, the nation’s leading 3-point shooter. Fans were even speculating how many points the duo, which both wear No. 3, would combine to score.
The game was even on TV to boot, and didn’t disappoint viewers, as Bader’s 31 points were only bested by Wolters’ 36-point outing.
“It was a TV game and it was good for the league and both universities,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “They’re great players and they showed they were great players. It was tremendous basketball. A lot of people have emailed me to tell me how much fun it was to watch and see points being scored in college basketball.”
At one point, Wolters, who had two days earlier topped Bader’s Division I-best 47-point game with a 53-pointer of his own, split two Oakland defenders, going around the back to get the lay-in and the foul.
“Back in my day, those were things you did in warmups, but you never thought about trying in the game,” Kampe said. “That was very impressive. It just shows how confident he is and he plays with an aura of how good he is. And he is.
“He’s very unassuming. He shakes and he walks and he very rarely changes expression. I saw him grimace a little bit when Bader made one of his 3s like ‘Are we going to stop this guy.’ He wanted to get mad and show emotion, but he didn’t. That’s probably the only time we’ve played them and saw any expression from him.”
Saturday’s showdown could be the last time Kampe and the Golden Grizzlies see Wolters, in person anyway, barring a showdown in the Summit League tournament, where they met in the 2011 semifinals.
“Hopefully we get to see him one more time and then he’ll be a memory,” Kampe said. “A bad one.”

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Win dinner and tickets to Oakland's final home game against Fort Wayne

The anticipation is building for Oakland's final game of the regular season March 2 at home against Fort Wayne. Coach Greg Kampe has promised to break out his famous sweater-vest for the game if he reaches 1,500 Twitter followers by the day prior.


You and a guest of your choosing could be there to witness this monumental occasion, and likely a pivotal game for Oakland's seeding in the Summit League Tournament a week later.
The Oakland Press is sponsoring a contest where you can win a $150 gift card to Mesquite Creek and two tickets to the aforementioned game. Click this link to enter. You can enter once each day through Feb. 25 for your chance to win. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Oakland coach Greg Kampe gets to celebrate 500 wins ... again

Nearly two weeks after celebrating the 500-win plateau after a storybook victory over then-league leading Western Illinois on Homecoming, Oakland coach Greg Kampe was able to relive the moment with a win Thursday over North Dakota State.
Apparently, the NCAA does not count two of Kampe’s previous wins from Oakland’s Division II era because they were won by forfeit.
According to the Associated Press’ Dave Hogg, an Oakland alum and former Oakland beat writer, two of Kampe’s wins — a 1986 game against Aquinas and a 1996 win over Cal-Riverside — are not recorded as victories.
The Associated Press game story Thursday (written by another writer), read the following: “Kampe now has 500 victories according to NCAA records, although Oakland credits him with two more because of forfeits."
Kampe reiterated that he doesn’t care about the feat.
“It’s just a bunch of crap,” he said. “We lost two games by one possession way back in the old days and in both games, the guy that made the winning shot was an illegal player.”
Because the player had an effect on the outcome, Kampe said, it goes down as an Oakland victory, but the NCAA does not count either of those.
“I really don’t care,” Kampe said. “I could have 1,000 wins and it wouldn’t help us Saturday against Nate Wolters.”
The game Kampe was referencing is South Dakota State’s visit to the O’rena. Jacks guard Nate Wolters went off for a new Division I-high 53 points Thursday at Fort Wayne, topping Travis Bader’s previous single-game season high of 47 points last month.
“(Wolters) can’t do that two nights in a row, can he?” Kampe joked afterward, noting he was going to have fun watching game film in preparation of the Jacks’ visit.

Kangaroos courted to WAC
News broke Thursday afternoon that Missouri-Kansas City will be leaving the Summit League for the Western Athletic Conference after the season. Information about specifics is sparse, as a press conference is expected next week. The Summit League released a vague statement Thursday night: “We wish UMKC all the best in the future. We remain steadfast in strengthening our league and are excited about the University of Denver joining us as a new member in 2013-14."
Denver, which will be departing the WAC after this season for the Summit, will have immediate conference championship eligibility in its first year. Recent Summit League additions Nebraska-Omaha and South Dakota were forced to wait one season before being eligible for postseason play.
“I would really have to ask them why,” Kampe said of UMKC's impending departure. “It makes no sense to me. You look at those teams in that league vs. the teams in our league, their RPI isn’t even going to be in the same ballpark. But maybe they feel they can compete better there or maybe it’s a better fit for them.
“Denver is coming to us, but Kansas City is going west. None of that stuff makes sense to me. There’s got to be a reason behind the move. They’ve got to be smart people making smart decisions, but it doesn’t seem like it. It looks like it’s going to cost them a heck of a lot more money to travel, and at our level, money is a big deal.”

Joey Asbury energizes lineup
Center Joey Asbury, who had played just 47 minutes total this season prior to the Thursday’s game, played a season-high nine minutes against North Dakota State. His teammates credited him for bringing energy they didn’t have in a loss at North Dakota State last month. Kampe went a step further.  
“For a kid that hasn’t played, he was unbelievable in that first half,” Kampe said. “I went with him instead of Raphael (Carter) because their kid was so big and strong, I didn’t think Raphael was ready for that. (Asbury) stepped into the ring and he threw a haymaker and he’s going to get to play some more because of it.”

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Oakland coach Greg Kampe releases 2013-14 schedule via Twitter

Fans usually have to wait until after several other teams’ and leagues’ schedules have been released before they get a glimpse at Oakland’s slate.
Not this year.
Oakland coach Greg Kampe, who has quickly acclimated himself to Twitter, harnessed the power of social media Tuesday afternoon, confirming contracted opponents for the beginning of the 2013-14 season first mentioned in our “Grizz Talk” live chat in December.
“We have verbal deals with some very, very prestigious teams,” he teased at the time.
Kampe confirmed Tuesday Oakland will open the season at North Carolina Nov. 9 before heading across the country to UCLA Nov. 12.


Oakland then plays at California (Nov. 15) and Gozaga (Nov. 17).
Kampe showed respect for the Zags during the live chat.
“That's who we aspire to be,” he said.
Kampe said the Golden Grizzlies would be getting paid $95,000 to play at North Carolina and a similar amount for the UCLA game. 
After the first four games, Kampe said in December, Oakland will travel to Myrtle Beach the weekend before Thanksgiving (Nov. 28-31) to play Coastal Carolina and two other teams to be determined.
Kampe also said Oakland’s home schedule won’t be as barren as this season, which it started with 15 of its first 19 games on the road. Fourteen games, including matchups with Eastern Michigan, Ohio and Illinois State await the Grizzlies at home. At the time of the live chat, Kampe hinted that a deal to bring Michigan State back for a game at The Palace was “90 percent” complete as well.
Kampe tweeted there could be as many as six home games in December alone next season.
The schedule revelations came a day after the pairings for ESPN’s Bracketbusters, which Kampe notably opposes, were announced. His typical stance against the series is that he doesn’t have any trouble filling gaps in Oakland’s schedule with big-name programs and TV games. He again proved his point just hours after the pairings for the final year of Bracketbusters were announced.
Oakland last faced UCLA in  2006-07 when the Bruins were ranked No. 1. The Grizzlies bumped into eventual champion North Carolina in the 2005 NCAA tournament. It will be the first meeting with Cal-Berkeley and Gonzaga.
The game with Illinois State is a return game from last season’s Bracketbusters matchup.
Kampe tweeted a previous mention of a verbal deal with Florida State “will have to wait.” He even joked that he attempted to schedule a game with the Los Angeles Lakers after noting how much he’s enjoying the Twitterverse. Seems like he’s getting the hang of it. He even has an outstanding wager with a fan that he will wear his patented sweater-vest for the Grizzlies’ final home game March 2 against Fort Wayne if he reaches 1,500 Twitter followers by March. 1.