Friday, December 19, 2008

UM-Oakland Preview: Mid-Major Trap?

Due to the massive amounts of snow that were dumped on Southeast Michigan (and much of the Midwest), I spent most of the day digging my car out from underneath all the powder.  The roads sucked and getting to Crisler on time for the Women's bball match-up was not happening.  However, props to Stu and Kyle or giving us our first Women's Bball experience of the season (To hear this game: Click on the YouCastr link to the right and find the UM-Cincy match-up for all the highlights).

On to the Preview... Oakland University, out of the Summit League, is located in Rochester, MI.  This is their 10th season as a Division 1-A program, making the jump in 1998.  Largely a commuter school, Oakland has employed only one head coach the last quarter century. OU's coach Greg Kampe has been an institution for their Men's Basketball program.  He's been the head man for 24 years and received his 400th victory this season.  While many notable mid-majors have pretty loyal fan bases, Kampe has never able to establish a big following during his tenure. 

Fun Fact: Kampe's father was a O-lineman for the Wolverines 1947 Rose Bowl and National Championship squad.

The Grizzlies' Peak:  Oakland is 7-5 coming off an OT road win against Wisconsin Green-Bay and will begin the 1st of what looks to be their toughest three week stretch of the season. The Grizz are riding a four game win streak, but will need all the momentum they can get for their upcoming slate of games. They will play Michigan, Eastern Mich, and Michigan State next week, with both the Spartans and Wolverines traveling to the Palace for the match-up.  Oakland's biggest win came against Oregon in Eugene earlier this year.  However, this mercurial team has also sustained miserable loses to teams like Iowa and Southern Utah.

Rise and Shine:  The Wolverines are well rested, having had the past week off for final exams.  They beat a weak EMU in a battle in which neither team had their head coach.  However, John Beilein returned to practice this week and looks to pick-up right where his team left off in a 30 point drubbing of the Eagles.  Beilein's team looked good without him, so don't expect the time without their coach to affect the Wolverines too much.

OOOOOOOOO CAN-A-DA!: Well, it took 3 years and 9 games to see the Jevohn Shepard be the player everyone thought he would eventually become.  Shepard played a complete game on both ends of the court.  And his timing couldn't be better: OU's leading scorer, Eric Kangas, is a perimeter scoring threat who can find his own shot coming off screens.  Shepard's defense, length, and athleticism could be used as a shut-down option on Kangas.

Speaking of Shepard: We need to STOP calling this guy Air Canada.  Vince Carter? Sure.  He is Air (Fill in the city name).  That's fine.  Brent Petway? OK.  Air Georgia is fine, because that guy 
did nothing else but dunk.  But let's find a better nickname for Shepard.  Yes, he is athletic and has good jumping ability... but the kid has not dunked on ANYONE yet.  Nor does he have a career defining dunk.  When people are able to say "Oh yeah... that was the game where Shepard dunked on (insert team name here)" we can then bring it back.  

The Twine Twins:  The freshman sharp shooters have been making gradual progress, so I have decided to graduate them to their next nick name. Why? Because at times, it seems like these kids never hit the rim.  While both have played well individually, Zack Novak and Stu Douglass haven't both played well in the same game yet.  When Douglass seems to have played big in games, Novak seems to have disappeared.  Same with Novak (playing well against MD, and Duke) and Douglass vanished.  Could this be the game where we see both come together to play well instead of being interchangeable parts?  If so, Michigan will see their three-point total hit the teens for the second straight game.

Super Sims:  No one has been able to stop DeShawn Sims this season.  He has been the biggest player in the biggest spots or this team.  Manny Harris might be the one with the better scoring average, but Sims has hit the biggest shots (Savannah State) and been the best player in a career defining game (Duke).  He has had to play the 5 spot, and has faced much larger front lines.  OU's front line boasts the 6'10 Dan Waterstadt  and 6'11 Kieth Benson.  Benson leads all Grizzlies with 6 boards a game.  While neither team seems to
emphasize crashing the boards, Michigan will need Sims to stay out of foul trouble early in order to keep OU of the boards. 

Faces in the Crowd:  Expect Michigan fans to show up nicely to this game. While the game is only 5 minutes away from Oakland's Rochester campus, expect alumni and students alike to show up in droves for the Maize and Blue.  

For those not able to make it: FSN will carry the game at 4pm.  Mario Impemba (the Tiger's play-by-play man and Rod Allen's better half on the FSN's baseball coverage) will have the call and does an excellent job in basketball as well.  I'm actually kind of surprised the BTN didn't call Impemba's number as one of their broadcasters for basketball coverage.  I think he'd be a great guy to have as like a B or C team guy behind guys like Gus Johnson and Mike Reghi.

UPDATE:  One big story-line not mentioned in the original post is the primere of Laval Lucas Perry in the Beilein offense.  The reason I haven't written much about it is due to the fact that I don't buy what people are selling about this kid. There is a lot of hype surrounding this guard and there has been for a while. has been carrying the storyline for the better part of a week now.  While I think LLP will play a part in the offense, I'm not buying the hype of this kid being a perennial scorer.  Not yet anyway.  I watched him in person when he played at Flint Powers and wasn't overly impressed.  And that was against Catholic School League Teams!  Not to mention, LLP had the benefit of sitting out on the perimeter to hit open jumpers while teams doubled Powers' 7-ft Center Tom Herzog (now with MSU).  While his jump shot was smoothe, I question his ability to get his own shot.  Tomorrow should give people a lot of insight into the type of player he will be and how far he has come in just over a year.

HOWEVER: FSN carries the game on a slight delay.  For unfiltered, LIVE coverage, click the YouCastr link to the right at game time because we will be carrying this game right HERE.  Special Guest broadcaster Mike Silverman (broadcaster for the Daytona Cubs of the Chicago Cubs Single A affiliate) will join me on the call.   

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