By: Ryan Taegel Saturday, October 26
ROCHESTER- Take what you want out of an exhibition game, but one thing is for sure. This is a much different Oakland basketball team than we’re used to seeing.
Oakland opened their preseason with a 61-59 win over Rochester University on Thursday night at the O’rena.
Oakland got off to a hot start. Well, Daniel Oladapo got off to a hot start. The 6-7, 220 pound sophomore scored 8 of Oakland’s first 12 points as they jumped out to an early 12-0 lead. Oladapo lead the Grizzlies in scoring with 19 total points along with senior leader Brad Brechting.
You can’t teach size and that’s where Oakland had their advantage and they used it. With 36 points in the paint, the Golden Grizzlies scored over half their total on the inside.
“We’re going to try and pound the ball inside,” Oladapo said. “We have a great front court with X (Xavier Hill-Mais) Brad and me. They’re our leaders. They’re going to make plays.”
It took the Warriors until the 12:59 mark of the first half to put their first point on the board. But after a 24-13 run by Rochester to end the half, the Golden Grizzlies found themselves scratching their heads going into the break only up 27-24.
Not to take anything away from the effort put in by Rochester, but Oakland Head coach Greg Kampe understood this was an exhibition game and he treated it as such. Eleven different Golden Grizzlies touched the court at one point in the first 20 minutes. That’s something you just won’t see in a regular season game.
“I wanted to get guys in,” said Kampe. “It’s not an excuse but if this was a league game, I wouldn’t have subbed like I did.”
The second half started much like the first. Oakland got off and running early and kept Rochester at bay defensively. As much as the offense struggled, the defensive effort was spectacular.
“This is going to be a different then we’ve ever had here at Oakland,” Kampe said. “We’re extremely big and athletic. This is going to be the best defensive team I’ve coached.”
Again, Rochester dominated the last 10 minutes of the half. Every time Oakland seemed to pull away just enough to breathe, the Warriors would claw themselves back.
With 19 seconds remaining and Oakland leading 59-56, RU guard Armand Cartwright pulled up for three from the right side and drew a foul on Tray Maddox Jr. Cartwright buried all three free throws directly in the face of the then hushed Grizz Gang to tie it.
Kampe decided against calling a timeout to draw up a play and left the ball in the hands of Maddox Jr. Maddox started his drive with two seconds left and was fouled by Cannon Campbell.
All night Oakland had been awful from the line. But Maddox did exactly what will be needed from him once in the regular season with an inexperienced back court. He stepped up, made both shots from the stripe and Oakland escaped with a narrow two-point victory.
“I told my guys this team you play tonight will play harder than any team you play all year,” said Kampe. “This was an outstanding exhibition game. We are a better team because of it.”
Up next for the Golden Grizzlies is another preseason matchup with Saginaw Valley State next Wednesday at the O’rena.
Photo Credits: https://goldengrizzlies.com/index.aspx?path=mbball