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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, February 21, 2014

Oakland freshmen Jalen Hayes, Artis Cleveland progressing in red-shirt seasons

Late in Wednesday's edition of "The Greg Kampe Show" on WDFN-AM (1130), Oakland coach Greg Kampe offered a quick update on freshmen Jalen Hayes and Artis Cleveland, who are both sitting out this season for different reasons. 
Hayes, a former Lansing Sexton standout, played just 13 minutes in three games following a bout with mono which sidelined him leading up to the season. The illness caused the 6-foot-7, 200-pound Hayes to lose too much weight to be competitive, Kampe said previously.
“He has a chance to be the top defensive player in the Horizon League from what I’ve seen in practice, Kampe said. "Will he be able to take that over into games? I don’t know, but he’s long and athletic and he can guard at the point and at center." 
Hayes' offensive potential also gives Kampe reason to look forward to next season. 
“He can score the ball by the basket," Kampe said. "He’s an inconsistent shooter, but if he was playing for us this year, he would’ve played a lot of minutes. Hayes will seek a medical red-shirt following the season.
A transfer from Mississippi Valley State, Cleveland has been busy putting muscle onto his 6-10, 215-pound frame.
“He’s long, but he’s not physically strong enough to compete in the Horizon League at this point, but he’s going to be before it’s done," Kampe said. 
The Detroit native is sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, but Cleveland could fill a big void in the post for the Golden Grizzlies.
"He’s a guy who can protect the rim for us," Kampe said. "If you take a look at our team the last couple years, our biggest weakness is we don’t protect the rim. We had a great one in Keith Benson and we got used to having him, but we haven’t had that in the last couple years. We’re trying to get that done in recruiting and we may be very close. Art is somebody we think can be that, (too).” 
Oakland is also without senior guard Ryan Bass, who is suffering an undisclosed injury and has not been cleared to return to action. Kampe said Bass' future with the team will be re-evaluated this summer.
Freshman guard Nick Daniels broke his foot weeks before the season began and senior forward Raphael Carter opted for season-ending surgery for a hip injury.
If all these aforementioned players suit up next season, it's going to be a crowded Golden Grizzlies bench.

Ralph Hill excels for Oakland as Tommie McCune sits due to suspension

Ralph Hill drives to the basket against Detroit Feb. 14. Photo by Dylan Dulberg
Although he'll be appearing in his 21st game of the season tonight at Illinois-Chicago, junior transfer Ralph Hill's presence in the lineup has had more of an impact than Oakland coach Greg Kampe likely could have predicted.
Hill, who has been sidelined with a leg injury since transferring from Dayton, is taking full advantage of the opportunity he got only after typical frontcourt starter Tommie McCune was suspended for two games for violating team policy prior to the Detroit game last Friday.
Hill scored a career-high 15 points in a loss to Wright State earlier this week after adding 11 against the Titans. He's expected to start a third in the Windy City.
“It’s like we added a new player to our team," Kampe said on "The Greg Kampe Show" on WDFN-AM (1130). "He’s been injured and I kind of gave up on the injury and figured he wasn’t going to do much. And then, with Tommie’s suspension, Ralph had started to practice extremely well and had some confidence. We gave him the opportunity and he can look at me and say ‘Why wasn’t I out there sooner?’ That’s how well he’s been playing. (His struggles) have all been due to the injury and how far behind he’s been. He’s caught up quickly. It’s like we’ve added a new player and that can only help us down the stretch.”
Hill has spent much of his time in black and gold attempting to overcome bone density problems, Kampe said last week after Oakland's victory over Detroit.
"He was told he may never play again," Kampe said of Hill. "And then what happened to (Louisville’s Kevin Ware), we’re worried about that happening on our court. A whole year, he didn’t do anything and he’s coming back to practice winded and overweight. He can’t guard. Instead of quitting, he’s just kept getting better and then two weeks ago, out of nowhere, he had this great practice."
The veteran coach, known for voicing his frustration, promised patience with Hill. 
“We told him ‘we’re not going to yank you," Kampe said. 
Kampe has also been expending his patience with McCune, who was also sat out the first half of a game earlier this season after missing class. The West Virginia transfer was dismissed from the team during his red-shirt season last year after getting arrested following a domestic dispute, according to documents obtained by The Oakland Press through a Freedom of Information request.
McCune, who was not charged with a crime in the incident, was reinstated shortly before this season began and Kampe has repeatedly stated his commitment to the Saginaw native, but declined to elaborate on the events surrounding the latest suspension.
“He’s had a checkered past and he’s someone I care a great deal about and my job is to get him through here with a degree and make him a productive citizen," Kampe said following the win over the Titans. "Where he came from, that’s going to be a challenge. He’s made great strides, but he slipped up and made a mistake. I could easily turn my back, but we’re not going to do that because we love the kid and we want him to be successful. So, we suspended him for two games and he’ll be back next week.”
Friday's would be the first back from suspension for McCune, who has started 19 games and is averaging 6.2 points in 17.1 minutes per game. He's also gotten notice for his highlight-reel moments, landing the Golden Grizzlies on Fox Sports 1's "The1" for his dunk against Illinois State Dec. 16. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

PREGAME NOTES: Detroit at Oakland

The Valentine's Day rematch is finally here, as Oakland (9-17, 4-7 Horizon League) hosts Detroit (12-14, 5-6) at the O'rena for the first time since December 2001. The Golden Grizzlies took a 26-point victory and the well-documented frosty relations between the programs began. Friday's game will be nationally televised on ESPNU, the second time the four-letter network has broadcast from the O'rena. The game tips off at 7 p.m. and can also be heard on WDFN-AM (1130).

- The highly-anticipated game is sold out and could possibly break the O'rena attendance record of 4,055, set Nov. 29, 2003 when they hosted then-No. 5 Missouri. Oakland brought some 2,000 fans to Calihan Hall for the teams' previous meeting, which topped out at 7,000 fans.

- Ralph Hill gets his first career start Friday night, replacing Tommie McCune, who has been suspended for violating team policies. McCune was kicked off the team last season while sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules. He was reinstated shortly before the season began. 

- The Golden Grizzlies are four-point favorites by Bovada LV.

- Last weekend at Valparaiso, Oakland set a new low for first-half futility. The Golden Grizzlies, who haven't led a single Horizon League game at half, scored a season-low 23 points in the first half at the ARC.

- The Grizzlies began their habit of second-half awakenings at Detroit Jan. 11 at Calihan Hall, first road win in nine tries, coming away with a 77-69 victory. Oakland rallied with a 10-0 run to tie the game at 61-61 with 5:52 to play. The Titans still lead the all-time series, 11-2, however. The programs are an even 2-2 in Oakland's Division I era, though.

- You can follow my live coverage of tonight's game here.

- In case you missed it, Oakland coach Greg Kampe was named one of college basketball's 100 sexiest coaches by College Insider.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Detroit at Oakland rematch live blog

Sunday, February 9, 2014

PREGAME NOTES: Oakland at Valparaiso

If their previous meetings are any indicator, this afternoon's Oakland-Valparaiso meeting will come down to the final few possessions. The Golden Grizzlies (9-16, 4-6 Horizon) picked up their first conference win Jan. 4 vs. the Crusaders (14-11, 6-4), when they began their streak of double-digit, second-half comebacks, coming back to win by five points after trailing for nearly 30 minutes, and by 15 in the second half. Oakland could use the win, having lost two straight after getting its second consecutive one-point win at home against Youngstown State Jan. 31. Today's game tips off at 2:35 p.m. from the ARC and can be seen on Horizon League Network and heard on WDFN-AM (1130)

- Despite losing six of the last seven meetings to Oakland, the Crusaders are a 7.5-point favorite this afternoon from Bovada LV.

- Oakland is still looking for its second road victory of the season. It is 1-10 on the road and 8-3 at home this season.

- Lloyd Neely is expected to make his second consecutive start today at Valparaiso.

- Of the Crusaders' last-second loss Friday to Detroit, Oakland coach Greg Kampe said in Oakland athletics video: "that just made our job a lot harder." The veteran coach also admitted his Golden Grizzlies are lacking three key elements to success in their new conference home. "You've got to have depth. You've got to have size. And you've got to make shots. And those are three things we haven't done. Our depth was depleted with injuries and we're not a very big team." He did go on to say the team's future recruiting efforts could remedy that deficit.

- Travis Bader continued his media rounds Friday, appearing on ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and The Game 730-AM. He told ESPN radio taking a red-shirt season in 2009-10 was "the best thing that could've happened to me." Of the record-breaking 3 at Milwaukee, he admitted it wasn't the best-looking attempt he's ever made, but it did go in, after all. "There was a lot of relief when that shot went in." He's made 14 more 3s since, including 10 against Cleveland State Thursday.
On "The Drive With Jack" Ebling, Bader called his choice to attend Oakland "the best decision of my life." Later in the interview, Bader said he would wait until the end of the season to focus on his professional prospects.

- Bader has 471 career 3-pointers with at least seven more games in his collegiate career. Will he make it to 500? One fan makes his estimate. Bader is now the second active NCAA scoring leader with 2,172 points, behind only Creighton's Doug McDermott, who has 2,741 points.

- Oakland had a 20-game conference home court winning streak in the month of February snapped against Cleveland State last week. That stretch dated back to 2008. The Golden Grizzlies also continued their dubious streak of halftime deficits, failing to lead at the break of a conference game for the 10th time this season.

- Horizon League opponents have shot 50 percent or better in eight of 10 conference games this season, with the Vikings shooting 60 percent against the Golden Grizzlies for the second time this season Thursday.

- Oakland has the week off following today's game, returning to the O'rena Feb. 14 to host rival Detroit for the Titans' first visit to the campus in more than a decade. Oakland coach Greg Kampe said the Titans' refusal to return a visit to the Rochester-area campus was one of the sticking points keeping the programs from renewing their series after their final non-conference meeting in 2003. The game will be nationally televised by ESPNU as well as WDFN-AM (1130). Limited tickets are still available.

Friday, February 7, 2014

VIDEO: Oakland's Travis Bader follows 3-point record with 10 3-pointer performance



For the second time this season, Oakland's Travis Bader hit 10 3-pointers in a single game, falling just one shy of his personal and school record of 11 3s. He now has 471 career 3-pointers with at least seven games remaining in his collegiate career. His 35-point outing Thursday was not quite enough, though, as Oakland lost to Cleveland State, 92-85.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

PREGAME NOTES: Cleveland State at Oakland

After breaking the NCAA's all-time 3-point record, Travis Bader and Oakland (9-15, 4-5 Horizon) return home to the O'rena to take on Cleveland State (15-9, 6-3) at 7 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN3. The first 250 students arriving to the game will receive a special edition T-shirt honoring Bader's accomplishment. Horizon League Network will air the postgame ceremony marking the accomplishment.

- Bader has been a popular guy since Sunday's game, appearing on WDFN-AM (1130), Detroit Sports 105.1 FM, Sirius XM's "College Basketball Nation" and CollegeInsider.com. 

- Oakland coach Greg Kampe appeared on WJR-AM (760) Monday morning to discuss Bader's achievement and eventually got to talking about Bader's chances as a pro: "He's going to have to prove his shooting overcomes other shortcomings," Kampe told host Frank Beckmann.
Minutes later, Bader added his two cents on the subject on WDFN: "It's been a dream of mine to play in the NBA. ... (but) if that doesn't happen, I'd be happy to play overseas."

- The Horizon League made a snappy video to congratulate Bader.


- Bader stands at 461 career 3s going into Thursday's game with at least eight more games to play.

- Glantz-Culver has the Vikings, who won the team's previous meeting last month, 86-76, as a one-point favorite. Cleveland State scored on its final six possessions in the victory. The Vikings lead the all-time series, 4-0.

- Oakland has won all four of its Horizon League victories by a combined 15 points, an average of 3.75 ppg., including consecutive one-point victories over Illinois-Chicago and Youngstown State. Oakland has also overcome double-digit, second-half deficits in each of those wins.

- For the fifth time this season, point guard Kahlil Felder is the reigning Horizon League Freshman of the Week.

- Kampe said, in an OU-produced video, if Oakland has any chance at getting a home game in the Horizon League tournament, tonight's game against Cleveland State is a must-win. Going into Thursday's game, the Golden Grizzlies are 8-2 at the O'rena this season. A win tonight would be the 150th in O'rena history.

- The Vikings, playing their third road game in a four-game trip, have won four straight games and are tied for second place in the Horizon League with Valparaiso. Oakland is in seventh place.

Monday, February 3, 2014

VIDEO: Oakland's Travis Bader breaks J.J. Redick's 3-point record



Oakland's Travis Bader broke the all-time 3-point record held by J.J. Redick Sunday with a shot from the right corner with 6:17 left in the first half, pulling Oakland within 29-28.
"I was in rhythm, caught it and shot it in the corner. It went in," Bader told The Associated Press. "I practice those shots all the time. It's just constant repetition and confidence that I'm going to make every shot."
Enjoy multiple angles of Bader's record-setting 3 courtesy of Horizon League Network with the radio call from Oakland's Neal Ruhl.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

VIDEO: Greg Kampe and Travis Bader discuss pursuit of NCAA 3-point record

PREGAME NOTES: Oakland at Milwaukee

The big day is finally here, as Travis Bader (avg. 4.3 3-pt. FG per game) is likely to break former Duke standout J.J. Redick's all-time 3-point record, as Oakland visits Milwaukee at 1 p.m. The Golden Grizzlies were forced by weather to rearrange travel plans, opting leave via bus Friday night following another comeback victory over the Penguins, their second straight one-point victory at the O'rena. Sunday's game can be seen on Horizon League Network and heard on WDFN-AM (1130).

- Bader needs just three more 3-pointers to break the mark, set in 2006. Redick discussed the chase with Los Angeles Area News Group Clippers beat writer Phil Collin.

- Oakland (9-14) made its first turn through the Horizon League at a .500 pace, tied for fifth place at 4-4. The Panthers (14-9) are in seventh place at 4-5.

- The Panthers, who beat Oakland, 84-75 Jan. 8 at the O'rena, held Bader without a field goal (0 for 9 and 0 for 8 from 3-point range), the first time he failed to reach double figures in 44 games. They are favored by 1.5 points today, per Bovada LV and lead the all-time series, 7-1.

- Milwaukee held Oakland to just 3-of-25 shooting from 3-point range Jan. 8, its worst since playing at then-No. 5 Syracuse in 2009. 

- The Golden Grizzlies have come back from double-digit second-half deficits in each of their four Horizon League victories this season. They've also never led at halftime in eight conference games, but did make an improvement of sorts Friday against Youngstown State, as they led at the final media timeout with less than four minutes to play, a first in a league game.

- The Panthers have come back from double-digit deficits five times this season, including at Oakland, where the Golden Grizzlies led by 11 points early in the game.

- Oakland has won just one game away from the O'rena this season, Jan. 11 at Detroit.

- After upsetting Oakland at home, the Panthers went on to lose four of their next five games before beating Wright State last week.

- Milwaukee has four players averaging in double figures, led by Matt Tiby’s 13.6 points per game.

- Joey Asbury is expected to make his fifth start of the season.

- Friday's victory was just the second time the Golden Grizzlies held a league opponent to less than 50-percent shooting.

- The win over Youngstown State was Oakland's 700th victory in 47 seasons of play, their 251st in the Division I era.

J.J. Redick talks about Travis Bader's pursuit of NCAA 3-point record


Photo by Dylan Dulberg
 Phil Collin, the Los Angeles Clippers beat writer for L.A. News Group, blogged about his interview with J.J. Redick about the possibility of Oakland's Travis Bader breaking his NCAA 3-point record, 457, set in 2006. Collin was kind enough to send the entirety of the interview, used below. 

Clippers guard J.J. Redick has been reading up on the bomber in black and gold rapidly closing in on the former Duke star's heralded mark.
"I just found an article the other day about him, so I learned a little bit about him, a skinny little kid coming into college and he works his butt off, that he's a good representation of his school.
"I heard something this summer, someone said something about it to me so I knew it was going to be broken this year."
Redick shared his recollection of the mental toll the chase can put on its chaser.
"It was interesting because it was like a two-week period where there was the 3-point record, then the Duke record, then the ACC record. By the end of it, I was just mentally exhausted, and looking back, I probably shouldn't have been. But when you're in the moment, it's all you think about. Mentally it fatigues you a little bit."
Bader said his family and friends are steering clear of the subject. 
"I do my best not to talk about it," he said. "It has affected me a little bit." 
Redick recalled the time after he set the mark, Feb. 14, 2006.
"It didn't really affect any of that (on court or personal life). When it was over, there was a little week stretch where we had a couple games that I wasn't as good as I had been. Maybe it was just partly because I hadn't had a bad game in a while (laugh). There was a little bit of just like mentally and emotionally some of the things that happen -- I don't think Travis started his career thinking 'Hey, I'm going to break the all-time 3-point record.' I don't know many people that set out to do things like that. Most people think about 'I want to win a championship at this school,' or if you're a mid-major 'I want to get to the NCAA, or the Sweet 16.' So to have something happen and have it become a reality, it takes a lot out of you."
Like Bader now, Redick's success came as a result of the typical game plan put forth by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
"If you look at the games, beside the Temple game in which they ran a box and one, it was my normal shooting percentage, very efficient stuff. I don't think (Coach K) would go out of his way to change a game plan so I could get a record. His focus was always on Duke winning basketball games." 
Oakland coach Greg Kampe said after Friday's win over Youngstown State, he actually gotten upset with Bader because the sharpshooter had not been demanding the ball as he typically does. After a 1-for-6 effort from behind the 3-point line in the first half, Bader decided that was enough, hitting four more triples in the second half, two early on, in a stretch where he scored 10 consecutive Oakland points in about two and a half minutes. 
Friendly encouragement for Bader by the pole-sitter may not be necessary. 
"I thought about texting him the other day, telling him to stop being such a head case. I'll just wait til he breaks it," Redick said.
Bader revealed in a recent interview with MLive, despite his father's longtime employment at and the Bader family's proximity to Michigan State, Bader grew up as a North Carolina Tar Heels fan. But that didn't stop him from admiring Redick, a marksman for the rival Blue Devils. 
"I won't hold it against him," Redick said of Bader's support for the rival Heels. 
Bader said after Friday's game, he was drawn to Carolina Baby Blue by Michael Jordan.
"I loved Michigan State growing up, but I was a big UNC guy," Bader said.
A recent feature story about Bader in The Associated Press points out the Oakland guard is on pace to break the mark in fewer games than Redick. 
Redick played in 139 games, while Bader has appeared in 127 games with Oakland. The Golden Grizzlies have eight more regular-season games, beginning Sunday at Milwaukee, and at least one conference tournament game.  
Collin notes the Clippers are preparing to send Bader a congratulatory video once the record is broken. Oakland coach Greg Kampe said the Golden Grizzlies will request the game ball and honor the mark with a celebration when the they return home to the O'rena. 
As for future honors for Bader, Kampe quickly deflected the possibility of Bader's No. 3 joining Nos. 1, 5, and 34 on the south wall of the O'rena.
Redick's No. 4 was retired the following season by the Blue Devils.
"I guess he'll have to hit three more 3s," Kampe said of Bader. "That would be a good reason to put (his jersey) up there."

POSTGAME VIDEO: Oakland defeats Youngstown State







PHOTOS: Oakland comes back to beat Youngstown State