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

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Oakland-UMKC preview

The opponent — UMKC appears to be a young and upcoming team in the Summit League. The Kangaroos (3-5) start two freshman, two sophomores and preseason all-Summit League first team selection senior Dane Brumagin, who is averaging 14.9 points and 1.9 steals per game.

Sophomore Reggie Hamilton is building on his sold freshman season and looks like a future all-league player. Hamilton is ranked in the top 10 in the Summit League in eight statistical categories. He is fourth in the league in scoring (17.9 per game), third in assists (4.5 per game), first in steals (1.9 per game), ninth in field goal percentage (47.5 percent), seventh in free-throw percentage (83.3 percent), fourth in 3-point percentage (50 percent), fifth in 3-point field goals per game (2.8 per game) and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1).

UMKC also starts two Michigan products in freshman forward Latreze Mushatt (Saginaw Arthur Hill) and freshman guard Dustin Dibble (Petoskey). Mushatt is averaging 10.9 points per game and is the team’s leading rebounder at 5.6 per game. Dibble, who was an AAU teammate of Oakland’s Blake Cushingberry and Drew Maynard, is averaging 3.5 points per game.

The Kangaroos lack height with 6-foot-7 reserve James Humphrey the tallest player on the team, but have seven players averaging over 18 minutes a game, who are all capable of knocking down 3-pointers. The Kangaroos are 58-for-176 (33 percent) on their 3-point attempts this season. Hamilton leads the team with 22 3-pointers this season and Brumagin had 18.

UMKC is playing its second home game of the season and first at the Municipal Auditorium. The Kangaroos lost to North Dakota, 61-56, on Nov. 14 at the Swinney Recreation Center on the campus of UMKC. It is also the conference opener for UMKC, which is 8-6 all-time in league openers.

Key matchup — Oakland’s Johnathon Jones vs. UMKC’s Reggie Hamilton. Both players do so much for their team on both ends of the floor. Jones has been the focal point of Oakland's offense and also the opponents’ defensive gameplan. His scoring is down in his last three games, but his assists are up. Jones averaged 13 points, 12 shots and 5.7 assists a game in the Grizzlies last three compared to 18.6 points, 20 shots and 3.6 assists per game in the first five games. Hamilton averaged 19.4 points, 5.6 assists and 2.9 steals per game during UMKC’s recently completed five-game trip to Florida. Both players need to provide scoring and get their teammates involved, whoever wins this matchup chances are their team will get the victory.

Matchup history — Oakland is 16-6 all-time against UMKC, including 6-4 on the road, and went 2-0 last season with a 114-105 overtime victory at home on Dec. 6, 2007 and a 85-75 victory at the Municipal Audtorium on March 1. Brumagin scored 40 points in the first meeting, including seven 3-pointers before fouling out at the end of regulation. Hamilton added 19 points. Derick Nelson led Oakland with 31 points, Erik Kangas added 22 points, Jones had 13 points and 13 assists and Keith Benson had likely his best game of the season with 17 points and 13 rebounds. In the second meeting Jones had 24 points and five assists, Kangas added 21 points and Nelson had 12 points and 14 rebounds. Hamilton led UMKC with 23 points and Brumagin added 15 points.

The skinny — Oakland (3-5, 0-1 Summit League) needs to avoid starting off the conference season 0-2 at all costs after a disappointing loss at Southern Utah on Tuesday. The Golden Grizzlies have to be exhausted after being on the road since Nov. 20 and making the long trip from Cedar City, Utah to Kansas City, Missouri. Oakland has to give its best effort even though it’s the final game of a 15-day, seven-game road trip and the final game of nine-straight on the road to start the season.

UMKC has not played since Sunday and has had a few days to practice and prepare for Oakland, while the Grizzlies had to play Tuesday and then travel to Kansas City. The Kangaroos are also excited to play their first home game since Nov. 14, especially after losing its first home game to Idaho.

"I think our players will be excited because they are finally back home," UMKC coach Matt Brown told the Kansas City Star.

To be successful the Grizzlies will likely need to limit the Kangaroos 3-pointers. UMKC is averaging over seven 3-pointers a game and has two guys that can really got hot in Brumagin and Hamilton. Oakland should also try to get its big men involved early, especially with a distinct height advantage. A good start is also key, especially with potentially tired legs.



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