#107 Oakland Men's Basketball Preview

Oakland Grizzlies

Overall Rank: #107
Conference Rank: #2 Summit League
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2010-11: 25-10
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Greg Kampe (470-333 at Oakland, 470-333 overall)

Coach Greg Kampe has built a solid program at Oakland and the success has culminated in three consecutive 20 win seasons and two straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. The 2011-2012 Grizzlies will look a lot different, but they will still be a team to contend with in the conference. Reggie Hamilton will once again lead the way. The 5-11 senior is a great leader, a better scorer and a fine point guard. Last season he averaged 17.6 points, 5.3 assists and 1.3 steals. With Hamilton, Oakland and Coach Kampe will look to make it four straight 20 win seasons.

Who’s Out:
Keith Benson will be sorely missed. He made life very difficult for Texas in the 2011 NCAA Tournament and ended up being drafted in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft. Benson finished off his senior season leading the team with 17.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game. Nobody is going to replace those numbers. Making matters worse for the frontcourt is the departure of Will Hudson. Hudson was usually overshadowed by Benson, and understandably so, but he tallied 12.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest a year ago and without Benson and Hudson, the experience in the frontcourt is pretty much non-existent.  Ilija Milutinovic would have been an option to take over some minutes, but he is no longer on the team. Sharpshooter Larry Wright and fellow guard Ledrick Eackles are the losses on the perimeter.

Who’s In:
The obvious need for Oakland is in the frontcourt. The Grizzlies picked up Korab Imami late in the process and he is a good inside-outside player. However, he will need to add more strength before he becomes too effective. Kyle Sikora and Corey Petros have had a year on the sidelines to bulk up a bit. Petros is widely considered the better all-around big man at this point. He is a physical player in the paint and that is exactly what this team needs. He has some offensive moves and the Grizzlies could definitely use a post scorer, but if Petros can come in and grab some boards and play solid defense, he will be doing his job. Incoming freshman Dante Williams is more of a small forward or even a wing, but at 6-6 he has the size to spend some time at the four position this season if Oakland gets desperate. Matt Poches is another wing who will battle for minutes off of the bench. The big name newcomer is Laval Lucas-Perry. The transfer from Michigan started 22 games for the Wolverines two years ago and averaged 4.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He can be a prolific scorer and he probably will be in 2011-2012.

Who to Watch:
With Benson and Hudson on the team, Drew Valentine started at the small forward position last year. This season the 6-5 forward will likely move to the power forward spot. For one, that will create a spot for Lucas-Perry in the starting lineup and more importantly, there are not any other experienced options in the frontcourt. Valentine has the ability to stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability and that will create a new dynamic to the offense with him at the four. Joey Asbury, a 6-7 sophomore, is the only other returning forward. He only saw action in 12 games as a freshman and it is hard to imagine him making major strides.

Final Projection:
The backcourt has a lot more talent returning. Travis Bader will likely team up with Hamilton and Lucas-Perry in the backcourt. The 6-4 Okemos, Michigan native had a great freshman campaign and came out shooting strong. He knocked down 44.3 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. At this point in his career he is pretty much a catch and shoot player, but he still has time to turn into a more dynamic offensive threat. Blake Cushingberry is also back after missing last season. Like Bader, he is pretty much a shooter, but Cushingberry is a nice experienced player to have available on the bench. Ryan Bass is yet another young player who saw some action last season and could see an increased role this season. However, the key for Oakland will be in the frontcourt. Whether it is Petros, Sikora or Imami, somebody has to step up and at least play some defense and grab some rebounds so the undersized backcourt can win games for Coach Kampe and the Grizzlies.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Reggie Hamilton, Senior, Guard, 17.6 points per game
Laval Lucas-Perry, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Travis Bader, Sophomore, Guard, 10.5 points per game
Drew Valentine, Junior, Forward, 7.9 points per game
Corey Petros, Freshman, Center, DNP last season

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