Oakland vs. Syracuse

Saturday, December 28

By: Ryan Taegel

ROCHESTER – Oakland basketball has a problem.

The Golden Grizzlies, for a multitude of reasons, can’t shot. This was again the glaring issue on Wednesday night when the Syracuse Orange topped Oakland 74-62 at the Carrier Dome. 

The Grizzlies have now been held to under 70 points in nine of their first twelve games. That’s not saying it’s a surprise. Coming into the season, this Oakland team wasn’t expected to be a high scoring perennial. But you can see the frustration starting to build on the offensive side of the court. 

In back-to-back games now, the Golden Grizzlies have, to a degree, slowed down two college basketball blue bloods in Michigan State and the Cuse. But have left each game feeling a different type of disappointment. 

Oakland held the Spartans to 72 points on Saturday afternoon. Defending Big Ten player of the year Cassius Winston scored only nine points while shooting 1-9 from beyond the arch. But there was never one point in the game where the Grizzlies threatened to compete. But when you shoot 26 percent as a team, you can’t expect to win or even hang in with a top 25 opponent. This same issue reared its ugly head on Wednesday, but this time Oakland must feel they let a chance slip by. 

Syracuse controlled the game for a majority but never put themselves in a position of comfort. Oakland played to the style that head coach Greg Kampe has preached after every game this season. They get the ball to their big men and hope to use physical play to get to the line. That all worked according to plan. The Grizzlies were led in scoring by forwards Brad Brechting (20) and Xavier Hil-Mais (16). Oakland got to the line 24 times and shot 84 percent in doing so. But the two issues that have plagued this team all season to this point again kept them from possibly pulling the upset. 

It’s no secret Oakland doesn’t shoot the ball well. In fact, they just aren’t a good shooting team in general. And that was Kampe’s concern coming into the game. 

“They’re (Syracuse) usually really big and pack it in and play a zone and who’s going to shoot the ball for us,” Kampe said postgame against the Spartans. “It’s not a game I’m looking forward to.” 

But it wasn’t the shooting the came back to bite Oakland. It was sloppiness. Kampe has accepted this team isn’t a capable three-point shooting team and probably never will be this season. And he’s said there plenty of good basketball teams that don’t shoot the three well. But when your struggle is shooting, turnovers become that much more costly. The Golden Grizzlies turned the ball over 16 times to the Orange including five straight possessions in the first half. 

It doesn’t take a mathematician to understand if you cut that 16 in half and then score on four of those possessions, you’re looking at a possible one-score game. Turnovers are costly, on the road as an underdog they can be a death sentence. 

The Golden Grizzlies ended their six-game road trip with a 1-5 record. Oakland returns to the O’rena for the first time just over a month to face Fairfield on Saturday afternoon to conclude non-conference play, much to the delight of Kampe. 

“We play Detroit on the 28th of December. We’ll be ready.”

Featured Photo: nunesmagician.com