#78 Oakland Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview


Oakland Golden Grizzlies


2017-2018 Overall Rank: #78

Conference Rank: #1 Horizon

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Once again Oakland was one of the best teams in the Horizon League. But once again the Golden Grizzlies failed to win a game in the conference tournament. That has now happened three years in a row and the program had to settle for a tournament other than the NCAA. Last year Oakland went 14-4 in conference play and was upset by Youngstown State in their tournament opener. Coach Greg Kampe managed to rally his troops and pull off a nice upset victory at Clemson in the NIT, but the lack of conference tournament success is beginning to haunt a very good program. Once again this is an Oakland team that should finish near the top of the standings, but in March it will all be about ending the losing streak at the Motor City Madness.
2016-17 Record: 25-9, 14-4
2016-17 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Greg Kampe
Coach Record: 583-424 at Oakland, 583-424 overall
Who’s Out:
Sherron Dorsey-Walker, a 6-4 guard, was the only senior on the roster last year. He did it all for the Grizzlies, averaging 13.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 steals. The 6-4 guard connected on 36.6 percent of his 191 three-point attempts. While Oakland had a couple other options when it came to taking the big shot, Dorsey-Walker was always dangerous. Stevie Clark opted to transfer after averaging 6.6 points and 4.0 assists during his lone season with the Grizzlies. Isaiah Brock started 29 games at center as a freshman and averaged 6.1 points and 6.2 rebounds. Losing Brock does sting a little, but this program should be capable of replacing him without too many problems.
Who’s In:
The big newcomer is Illinois transfer Kendrick Nunn. The 6-3 senior averaged 15.5 points per game during the 2015-2016 campaign, his final year with the Illini. He is a big time scorer and has proven it for three years in the Big Ten. At Oakland he will step right into the starting lineup and could average 20 points per game relatively easily. The backcourt also adds incoming freshman Stan Scott and redshirt freshman Chris Gilbert. James Beck, a 6-8 wing, is a versatile player who could spend some time on the perimeter. With his size though, he will likely spend more time at the four spot as a freshman. Tom Cotter, a transfer from Wayne State, will add more frontcourt options.
Who to Watch:
Martez Walker and Jalen Hayes will compete for the team’s top scoring honors along with Nunn. Walker, a 6-6 senior, averaged 17.8 points and 4.0 rebounds after transferring in from Texas. He is a great all-around scorer and should be in for a huge senior season. Jalen Hayes is the scorer in the paint. The 6-7 forward averaged 15.9 points and a team high 8.0 rebounds. There are not many opposing defenders in the Horizon League who can contain him in the paint. Walker, Hayes and Nunn form an impressive trio, but others need to play a role as well. Brailen Neely was a part-time starter as a freshman. He is not much of a scorer, which is fine when there are three great senior scorers on the team, but he did dish out 3.0 assists per game with just 1.1 turnovers. With that year of experience, Neely can turn into a very good point guard. Nick Daniels is a decent scorer and will likely be the team’s top guard off the bench, although the newcomers and Jaevin Cumberland will push for minutes too.
Final Projection:
The development of Brad Brechting will be very important. As a sophomore last year the 6-11 center averaged 3.0 points and 2.7 rebounds while playing fewer than ten minutes per game. Xavier Hill-Mais and wing Chris Palombizio will get some minutes in the frontcourt, but Brechting is the biggest player on the roster and needs to at least play tough on the defensive end. But even without much production from the rest of the team Walker, Nunn and Hayes will lead this team towards the top of the Horizon League. Northern Kentucky figures to give the Grizzlies a run for their money and it should be an interesting race between those two. Of course, when it comes to getting to the NCAA Tournament, Oakland will have to win some games in the conference tournament. And this should be the year they do it.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Brailen Neely, Sophomore, Guard, 3.1 points per game
Kendrick Nunn, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Martez Walker, Senior, Guard, 17.8 points per game
Jalen Hayes, Senior, Forward, 15.9 points per game
Brad Brechting, Junior, Center, 3.0 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.4 (43rd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.1 (143, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.5 (114, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.7 (32, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.3 (183, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.5 (249, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 76.1 (24, 3)
Rebound Margin: 2.3 (107, 5)
Assists Per Game: 17.0 (12, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.6 (238, 6)