ROCHESTER – Golden Grizzlies Head coach, Greg Kampe, was confident coming into league play that no team would be able to match the Grizzlies’ size and physicality.
Kampe must’ve forgotten about Wright State.
The Raiders pounded Oakland, 96-69, at the O’rena on Friday night. It was the Grizzlies’ first loss in the early stages of Horizon League play.
Oakland got off to a quick start offensively by getting the ball to the interior and executing from there. Twelve of the Grizzlies first 17 points came from the paint. Senior forwards, Brad Brechting and Xavier Hill-Mais along with sophomore transfer Daniel Oladapo, set the tone early down low.
“Physically in the first 10 to 15 minutes I thought we were able to get the ball to the rim whenever we wanted,” Kampe said postgame. “The problem was on the other end when they missed shots, they out toughed us.”
Wright State didn’t miss many shots. The Grizzlies went 3-18 from behind the arch, a mere 16 percent compared to Wright State’s 47 percent.
Oakland continued to hang with the Raiders until a 30-12 run in the last ten minuets gave Wright State a 20-point lead heading into the locker room 53-33.
A major concern heading into this season was guard play. Youth and inexperience will always lead to mistakes. But against the team selected by most to represent the Horizon League in the tournament this spring, each error is that much more costlyand Kampe knows this problem needs fixing quick.
“I’ve got to do a better job of coaching. We’re 15 games into this and that point guard play was not good and that’s my problem. We need to put our point guards in a position where we don’t turn the ball over 30 percent of our possessions like we did in the first half.”
Toughness is supposed to be the calling card for this year’s team, and while it might not have been the difference in winning and losing this game, Oakland was out toughed and out worked from the midway point of the first half.
Wright State is the blueprint of what the Grizzlies want to become. Teams that compete for championships come March don’t take possessions off. No loss is ever good, but a game like this can bring a young squad to a quick realization of what it takes to reach that level.
“It was good for us to see a team that’s tough like that,” said Hill-Mais. “A team that hardly makes mistakes and capitalizes on our mistakes and we have to take it going forward.”
It doesn’t get any easier for the Grizzlies. Oakland welcomes in last season’s Horizon League champion Northern Kentucky on Sunday at 3pm.
Feature Graphic: bangthebook.com