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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.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Oakland’s Travis Bader dismisses transfer talk

Travis Bader says he's staying at Oakland

Oakland guard Travis Bader spent some time talking with Jack Ebling and Joe Rexrode Wednesday on Lansing’s WVFN-AM (730). The soon-to-be senior covered a wide variety of topics with the hosts, including the pursuit of J.J. Redick’s career 3-point record, Oakland joining the Horizon League, and most notably, his decision to stay at Oakland for his final season rather than transferring.
Bader, a fifth-year senior who red-shirted in 2009-10, is eligible as a graduate transfer — and would retain immediate eligibility having already received his undergraduate degree from Oakland.
Typical transfers are forced by NCAA rules to sit out for a season before playing for their new team.
Bader graduated in 2012 with a degree in communications and has been taking graduate classes since.
Despite the national attention he’s received of late, the Okemos native told the show’s hosts he couldn’t fathom leaving Oakland.
“Oakland has given me this great opportunity and they saw a great player in me when nobody else did,” Bader said.
“I’m just really comfortable with the coaches and the players here ... I couldn’t imagine leaving my brothers here at Oakland.”
Bader, who has made at least one 3-pointer in 53 consecutive games, owns an Oakland record with 357 career 3-pointers made. Redick’s record of 457 is within reach considering Bader made 139 triples, a single-season school record, last season. He also made 124 baskets from long-distance as a sophomore in 2011-12.

“I try not to think about (Redick’s record),” Bader said. “I just put it in the back of my mind and work on my game.
“At the same time, it means I’m in a great system right now with coaches who have a lot of trust in me. They let me take shots other coaches might not let other players take.”
Bader, who grew up around Tom Izzo’s Michigan State program, said he dreamed of playing at the highest level in college basketball. He talked about being recruited by Oakland after first being pursued by Division II schools.
“I wasn’t the strongest, or the quickest or the best shooter,” Bader said. “I really had to work. When I started getting looks from Division II schools, I worked a little bit harder. A couple Division I schools started calling me and asking me to come in to work out and talking about having me as a walk-on.
“I just started talking to the assistant coaches here and Coach Kampe and they said they wanted me here at Oakland and they saw great things in my future and they could work with me to become the player I am today. From that point, it was an easy decision.”
Drew Valentine, Bader’s best friend and roommate, has graduated, leaving a leadership void, which coach Greg Kampe has even noted as a possible struggle this season.
“(Valentine) was seen as ‘that’ guy who led the team,” Bader said. “I’m trying to become a better vocal leader.” 
Bader echoed the sentiment of Oakland and its administrators in regards to the school’s impending move to the Horizon League.
“It’s amazing for Oakland,” he said. “We had a lot of success in the Summit League. Whenever you switch conferences (to a higher-profile conference) ... it means Oakland is moving in the right direction.”
Bader, who led the nation in 3-point shooting last season, was also recently pegged as the nation’s top 3-point shooter by Bleacher Report.
Kampe mentioned in a live chat with the Detroit Free Press last week he expects Oakland’s non-conference schedule to be completed by the end of next month.

Friday, May 17, 2013

'Oakland Basketball All-Access' nets Emmy nod for Fox Sports Detroit

Most Oakland basketball fans have likely seen the introspective "All-Access" program on Fox Sports Detroit. The production could soon become an Emmy-award winning program. It was one of 33 nominations for Fox Sports Detroit from the Michigan chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
"Oakland Basketball All-Access" is nominated alongside FSD's "Pistons Live Pregame Compilation" and "Red Wings Live Compilation Reel" in the Sports Program category. WXYZ-TV's "Ford Lions Report" is the only other nominee in the category.
FSD's other collegiate programs for Michigan State and the University of Detroit are also nominated in other categories.

The series features in-depth stories about Oakland University athletics and its student athletes with a primary focus on basketball.
The winners will be announced June 15 at  the annual Michigan Emmy Awards.
Watch the most recent episodes of "Oakland Basketball All-Access" here

O'rena floor gets another makeover

As tweeted by director of athletics Tracy Huth
Less than a year after Oakland University modified its home court to update the school's logo, it was again sanded down to replace their conference affiliation.
The Summit League emblem near the free-throw line was replaced with the yellow Horizon League logo.
The logos of former Summit League conference opponents will also have to be removed from the north wall.

VIDEO: Oakland coach Greg Kampe discusses benefits of joining Horizon League

Oakland men's basketball Greg Kampe held court at an introductory press conference at the Detroit Athletic Club to announce the school joining the Horizon League. Kampe promoted the seemingly limitless benefits of entering the conference as well as the potential changes to his team's style of play in a different conference.

Oakland University shares roadmap to the Horizon League

In a nod to the Grizz Gang, Oakland University quickly published a road map highlighting the highways leading to the campuses of its new Horizon League rivals just hours after announcing it had joined the conference.
The travel within the Great Lakes region is accentuated with estimated time of travel.
The creators even included the "scenic route" through the Upper Peninsula, which would likely still be a shorter travel than most road trips within the Summit League.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Oakland coach Greg Kampe’s ‘scheduling-up’ philosophy could be winding down

Greg Kampe’s rigorous scheduling philosophy came with several benefits for Oakland and its players — exposure, experience playing in the craziest atmospheres, RPI — and equally important, money. For opening the 2013-14, Oakland will take in more than $90,000 for games at North Carolina and UCLA.
In addition to making chartered flights to far-off lands of the Summit League possible, a travel philosophy Kampe credited in part to Oakland’s in-conference success in recent years, paydays like these help fund the entire athletic department.
With a change in Oakland’s travel itineraries coming this season in the Horizon League, the athletic seasons will likely involve far fewer chartered flights and a lot more busses. Director of athletics Tracy Huth said fewer “guarantee” games are likely in the future.
“(Coach Kampe has) tried to schedule the upper-RPI teams so recruits see who we’re playing,” Huth said. “We think playing in the Horizon League will be better when dealing with recruits. We think we can cut down on those high-end games. We’ll certainly keep some. You know Coach Kampe, he’s a competitive guy and he wants to play against the best. We’ll sit down, and we’ve talked about that."
Huth did say the previously-agreed upon games for 2013-14 are still on the schedule.

Oakland gaining natural rival Detroit through forced Horizon reunification

Much has been speculated about the fractured relationship between Oakland and new conference mate University of Detroit. Oakland coach Greg Kampe noted Detroit utilized its veto power to keep Oakland from the Horizon more than a decade ago, with the perception the school may have wanted to keep the Metro Detroit market to itself.
Oakland director of athletics Tracy Huth offered another theory Tuesday.
“Years ago, we were just coming out of Division II,” he said, adding Detroit possibly saw Oakland on a lower level and they didn’t want to play. “I guess you can’t blame them.”
“Over the past 14 or 15 years, we’ve been able (to complete the jump to Division I) and they recognize that it’s good competition. It’s going to be good for both institutions … in a number of sports.”
Kampe has said he would be willing to schedule the Titans if they were to visit the O’rena for the first rematch, feeling owed a game based on the order of the previous series.
It remains to be seen when the conference schedule is released this summer when (and where) the first Oakland-Detroit rematch takes place.

Fans could attend Horizon League Tournament at the O’rena

It had long been speculated Oakland could possibly be excluded from the Horizon because of a minimum-seating requirement for basketball venues set at 5,000 seats. Oakland’s O’rena, as you may know, has a capacity of 3,000 seats, but can be stretched to nearly 4,000 with the help of standing-room only admission.
Oakland director of athletics Tracy Huth addressed the stipulation early in his presentation to the Board of Trustees Tuesday, saying the school will apply to the conference seeking leniency through a waiver. Huth was confident the Horizon would grant such a request, but noted a backup plan is in place for Oakland to play its conference games at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Another intriguing factor unfathomable in the Summit League, is the possibility Oakland could host conference tournament games at the O’rena.
The Horizon tournament plays opening-round games at the site of the higher-seeded team, with semifinals moving to the home court of the No. 1 seed. The championship game is then played on the home floor of the highest-seeded remaining team.
“It will be a packed house and we’ll pack them in,” Huth said of the possibility. “You’re probably not going to find a more exciting venue to play in. That’s an attractive thing. If you look at the numbers of the conference tournaments, whether it’s on the men’s or women’s side, some of the bigger conferences have great attendance, but attendance is an issue at those conference tournaments, so the ability to pack the place to the rafters and to give your students the ability and fans the opportunity here, that’s a great thing. It will be great whether we’re playing here or Valpo, or (wherever).”
Oakland had previously pitched a joint bid with Palace Sports and Entertainment to host the Summit League tournament at The Palace, but the plans were scrapped because The Palace was already obligated to host Disney on Ice.
Likely an afterthought to the reduction in conference travel, potentially having a home crowd to cheer them during a conference tournament game is another welcoming thought to joining the Horizon League.