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Inside look at high school and Oakland University sports from Oakland Press sports writer Dave Pemberton.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nelson update/Oakland notebook

Oakland coach Greg Kampe had some interesting comments at the postgame press conference about the status of Derick Nelson, who broke his foot before the season started.

"He has an x-ray on Wednesday," Kampe said. "One of three things can happen. They are going to look at it and say, ‘It’s healing and let’s try it.’ (Or) ‘No it’s going to be 6-8 (weeks) like we said originally.’ Or, ‘You’re not going to play this year.’ We don’t know which of the three. ... I don’t want to hear he’s not going to play this year. But if it’s 8-10 (weeks) I don’t know if I’ll play him. Why would I bring him back after we played 19 of our 31 games? Maybe because he is going to graduate and he’s got a kid, and he wants to play in Europe. So I might have to because he might want that.

"Obviously we think we can win without him, but obviously we are better with him. You don’t want to mortgage the future, but we are going to make the decision with him and his mom and dad. It’s really got to be what’s best for Derick Nelson. I wish it was what’s best for Oakland. But it’s going to have to be what’s best for Derick. He wants to play. Right now he wants to play. It’s killing him."

Kangas hits 1,000
Erik Kangas became the eighth player in Oakland’s Division I era to surpass 1,000 points Sunday. Kangas needed seven points entering Sunday’s game and had 22 points against the Rockets.

“That was one of my goals that I really wanted to reach this year,” Kangas said of reaching 1,000 points. “I had no idea I was even that close to it so I was kind of surprised when (the PA announcer) said that when I made it. It’s makes me fell like I’ve made my mark here on the program and I’ll be remembered here.”

Kangas has gotten to 1,000 points largely due to his 3-point shot. The senior is really starting to develop other parts of his offensive game, but the numbers are pretty amazing. After Sunday’s win Kangas had 1,015 career points and 717 of them have come off 3-pointers. Also 96 of his points have come at the free-throw line, which means just 202 of his career-points have come off 2-point shots.

On Sunday, Kangas scored 10 of his 22 points on 2-pointers and has looked to score more in other ways than just 3-pointers this season.

“(Kampe’s) been telling me that my whole career, ‘You can’t be so one-dimensional,’ ” Kangas said. “I been working at it, working at it. I always says, ‘It’s a work in progress,’ but I think I have improved a lot.”

Road weary
Oakland returned from its long road trip Friday and had practice at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Kampe joked after the game that he thought about calling the Saturday morning practice off because he was so tired from the trip.

“We got back Friday,” Kampe said. “Saturday morning we had practice at 10 and I woke up at about eight, and there was no way I wanted to come into practice. I haven’t played a minute so I couldn’t imagine what it was like for the players and what they felt like. In 31 years of coaching, I’ve never felt that way before.”

Kampe detailed the entire road trip and it was a mouth-full.

“We drove to Cleveland,” Kampe said. “We flew to Oregon, think of that time zone. Then we flew to Detroit, we were home for a day then we flew to Syracuse, New York. Then we flew to Iowa. We bused six hours to Kansas State. We bused two hours to Kansas City. We flew to Las Vegas. We were there five days in the Western time zone. Then we drove up the mountain into Utah, two-and-half hours, and played Southern Utah. We drove back down the mountain. We flew to Kansas City. We played Kansas City. We flew home and two days later we play Toledo.

“Now think about that,” Kampe added. “That’s why I said that. I’m serious I did not what to come to practice (Saturday). I was thinking to myself, ‘Maybe we should call it off.’ I’m getting old. Imagine what they felt like. I’m on them all the time. It’s not like, ‘Oh, let’s go play basketball.’ Everything has to be done right. We warm-up the same every day, we practice the same every day. Their being made to do things. They can’t take any breaks. That’s a long, long stretch. I’m really proud of them. I told them after game, ‘I’ve never been as proud of a group of kids as I am right now.’ ”

Oakland will actually have some time to practice this week before hosting Rochester College next Sunday.

Back-to-back big games for Benson
For the second straight game, Keith Benson played a huge role in an Oakland victory. Benson had 17 points (13 of them in the second half), nine rebounds and three blocks in the Grizzlies win over Toledo. He also shot 7-for-9 from the free-throw line.

Oakland coach Greg Kampe expressed some of the frustration and joy he has coaching Benson after the game.

“Keith is a guy that has been hard to coach,” Kampe said. “You try to figure him out because he is such a quiet kid. What motivates him? I’m a guy that gets after kids. How do I coach him? I have even worked with a sports physiologist on how is the best way to coach him. He really needs time and to work his way through things. He needs to make mistakes, figure it out and show him on tape because he is an intelligent kid. He’s a thinker. He’s not a reactor.

“When he first got here, he would get a rebound and he would go, ‘Oh I have the rebound, now my next move is to outlet it.’ Now he’s to the point where he can get a rebound outlet it and think, ‘Oh what’s my next move, I got to run back on offense.’ So he’s kid that thinks ... and it’s been problematic for him as a player because basketball is a reactionary game.

“He has all the ability in the world,” Kampe added. “He has worked very hard at getting physically stronger. He is still nowhere near strong enough, but he is only a sophomore. Our kids are starting to believe him and we got him the ball down the stretch. This is the first time in his career that in a close game the players believed in him enough to get him the basketball. I think today will do wonders for him.

“He had a huge game Thursday night for us,” Kampe continued. “The offense we are running, we have changed to this dribble-drive and we are spreading the floor, mixing in our sets, it’s really helped him because what it does is get him away from contact by spreading the floor so much, he is by himself a lot. You can’t really double him because we got many shooters around him so he’s starting to blossom.

“I’m sure there is going to be some step back in there because he’s come so far,” Kampe contiued. “He’s improved more than any other player I’ve coached in two years. The sky is the limit for him. He could end up being the greatest player in Oakland history or just end up being Keith Benson or end up never playing a minute after the next game. It’s such a crap shoot with him. But he is very talented and the thing I like about him is that I’m finally starting to see some emotion for him. And see that he does really want to become good. I think that’s why he is taking his steps. He’s finally found out how to release his emotion and become a good player. He is very well liked by his teammates, very well liked."



Blogger tmgeneral said...


Thanks for the update. That is some of the best inside info I have ever seen for Oakland basketball. Keep up the good work.

December 8, 2008 at 7:45 AM 
Blogger Dave Pemberton said...

Thanks for the kind words tmgeneral, glad you enjoy the blog.

December 9, 2008 at 10:50 AM 

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