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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oakland-South Dakota State preview

Oakland is set to restart league play on New Year’s Eve when it hosts South Dakota State for a 4 p.m. game. The Jackrabbits are coming off what is likely the biggest win since it turned Division I, a 65-58 win at Iowa State.

“That’s a great win for them,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “They have been going through the transition and they found out how hard it is. It’s been difficult. (Scott Nagy) is a great coach. I’m telling you, the guy is really, really a good coach. You look at the guys record before they went Division I, it’s unbelievable. When we played them last year, I thought they were one of the best prepared teams in the conference. I thought they knew what we were doing, they ran their stuff well. I just think they are very well coached.

“They are going through the transition, they are learning how hard it is. They had a great win and that scares the hell out of me because that’s what it takes for the kids to start believing,” Kampe added. “You get beat, get beat, get beat and you don’t believe in what the coach says and you don’t believe in yourself. Now all off a sudden, their record is pretty decent and they go and win at a BCS school then the rose just blossoms so that scares me. I think you’re going to see South Dakota State have a good year and I think they’ll make the tournament. Then they will be home for the tournament so I think they’re the scariest team in the league.”

SDSU (6-8, 1-1 Summit League) has tweaked its starting lineup over the last few weeks and had a transfer student Griffan Callahan become eligible. Griffan Callahan, whose brother Garrett is the Jackrabbits leading scorer at 16 points per game, made his first start of the year in the Iowa State win.

“When (Garrett) Callahan’s brother (Griffan Callahan) became eligible, he’s played two games now, I think that’s going to change their lineup,” Kampe said. “What (Nagy’s) trying to do is toughen his kids and get them ready. He keeps moving people around. But when it’s all said and done, it doesn’t matter who starts. Kai Williams is going to play a lot of minutes, whether he starts or not. Callahan is going to play a lot. (Clint Sargent) is going to play a lot, (Anthony) Cordova is going to play a lot. Whether they start or not doesn’t matter, they are going to be out there. It’s winning time now. All the learning and all the excuses you don’t have now. Now you got to find a way to win games. That’s what they’re going to do. They are going to come in here and try to steal one in their minds and I’m sure after beating Iowa State, they believe they can.”

Oakland enters Wednesday’s game 8-7 and 1-1 in league play. The Grizzlies have battled injuries, started the season with nine-straight games on the road and Wednesday’s game will mark just the third time they have played at the O’Rena so Kampe is pleased with where his team is at right now.

“If you would have told me with the schedule that we played, that Derick Nelson got hurt the day before for the first game, that we would be 8-7, I would have told you, ‘OK, I’ll take that,’ ” Kampe said. “Now obviously, we wanted to be 2-0 in the league and we’re not. I’m OK with that. No team has ever gone through our league undefeated in the history of the league, since 1983 no one’s ever been undefeated. Where we play and how we travel, there is going to be a game or two people lose. Oral Roberts is going to lose one like that, everybody is going to lose one like that. We just can’t do it again now. We’ve got to win the games that we are favored to win.”

n Expect a major announcement from Oakland this week on Derick Nelson, who did not practice Tuesday.

“I will tell you that there will be an announcement within the next 24 hours about what we’re doing with Derick Nelson,” Kampe said after practice Tuesday. “We are not 100 percent, to where we can make the announcement. Within the next 24 hours there will be an announcement about Derick Nelson.”

n Kampe is hopeful Ilija Milutinovic can return from a sprained foot in about a week. Milutinovic was hurt back on Dec. 21.

“He came out (Monday), he was OK, he was OK and then he cut left on it and he fell to the ground,” Kampe said. “I’m hoping another week. It’s really weird. He sprained his foot. I’ve seen an ankle, but I’ve never seen a foot before. … The swelling is all down in the toes. I’ve never seen it before, but I’ve never had a 7-foot Serbian before.”



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