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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oakland-Green Bay postgame thoughts

Oakland battled back in the second half to pick up a quality road win at Green Bay, 79-76 in overtime.

"It's a great victory and the way we came back at their place,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe told Oakland Athletics. “I'm upset the way we gave it back and some calls on JJ (Johnathon Jones) for palming, and we couldn't make a free throw. Sometimes that happens, but we had a chance to ice it with five or six free throws at the end of regulation, but we made them in overtime.”

In the second half, Johnathon Jones, Dan Waterstradt and Keith Benson helped out Erik Kangas, who carried the load in the first half.

Jones scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and overtime, Benson scored all nine of his points in the second half before fouling out 20 seconds into overtime and Waterstradt scored eight of his 11 points in the second half and overtime.

Overall the Grizzlies scored 39 points in the second half, including a 7-0 run early in the second half to tie the game and an 11-2 run that gave them an 11-point lead, 64-53, with 2:55 left in the second half.

A cause for concern was Oakland shooting 3-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final four minutes, which allowed the Phoenix to force overtime.

Jones had eight assists and 10 turnovers to go with his 16 points and is playing through an injury he suffered against Rochester College.

"JJ's hurt,” Kampe said. “What am I suppossed to do? JJ's hurt, (Derick) Nelson's hurt, Matt Samuels is hurt. We can't fly the ball up the court. We're running an offense where you are suppossed to drive the ball to the basket, so what are we going to do. JJ got hurt in the Rochester (College) game, it's a groin and that is two weeks, but we don't have two weeks. It was one of the worst games he's played and he made shots down the stretch, foul shouts down the stretch, and I want to hug him. Your mad at him because he played so poorly, but he did it on one leg."

The biggest shot of the game once again came from Kangas, who buried a 3-pointer with 52 seconds left in overtime to give Oakland a 75-73 lead, a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the way.

"We ran a set play, and the funny thing about it is that he had a layup and decided to shoot the three instead of going and getting the layup,” Kampe said. “You better make it when you do that because we were one point down. A layup puts us ahead, but you know he was feeling it and he's a senior and that's why we ran a play to him because we knew he would do something good."

Kangas finished with 27 points, including six 3-pointers and four assists for Oakland (7-5).

"We missed a lot of free throws, gave up some rebounds, and had some really critical turnovers that really hurt us, but it just shows how far we've come as a team,” Kangas said. “That we have the toughness to fight through it all and get a win."

Waterstradt was 4-for-5 from the field, including 3-for-3 on 3-point attempts and had nine rebounds. Will Hudson added six points, 11 rebounds (seven offensive), four steals and a block.

The Grizzlies, with the exception of Kangas, really struggled offensively in the first half. Kangas had 14 first half points on 5-for-12 shooting. The rest of the team shot 38.4 percent (5-for-13), scoring 13 points and turning the ball over 12 times. Oakland also did not shoot a free throw in the first half and had 12 turnovers.

The Grizzlies zone once again forced an opponent to shoot a lot of 3-pointers. Green Bay went 9-for-29 on its 3-point attempts, while Oakland shot an impressive 48 percent (12-for-25) on 3-pointers.

"We really defended, boy did we defend,” Kampe said. This is a great offensive team, a great shooting team and we got out there, flew around, took shots away and the threes they made were deep threes. I think they shot 31 percent from three, so I'm very pleased and this is a great win for us."

Senior Ryan Tillema did the most damage for Green Bay, netting 22 points and shooting 6-for-12 on 3-point attempts. Troy Cotton, the Phoenix leading scorer, finished with 16 points on 5-for-15 shooting, including 3-for-11 on 3-pointers.

My take: It took a lot of character to win a game at a place that is very tough to win. Green Bay was 15-3 in its last 18 games at home and had lost just one non-conference game in its last 17 at home. This is the second time the Grizzlies won at a place that nobody typically wins at, with the other being at Oregon.

Oakland can really be a dangerous team if its hitting its shots like it did against Green Bay. The Grizzlies can play with anybody in the country when its shooting 48 percent from 3-point range. If Oakland can carry that hot shooting into its next three then the Grizzlies could upset Michigan or Michigan State.

But as important as the next three games are, it is more important that Oakland get healthy for the start of league play. Kangas and Jones are both banged up, but will play through it. Hopefully they can get to 100 percent by New Year’s Eve.



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