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

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oakland at Centenary preview

The opponent — Centenary (2-13, 0-3 Summit) enters its matchup with Oakland on an eight-game losing streak. The Gents will be playing their first home game after playing 15-straight on the road to start the season, while their home arena underwent renovations.

Head coach Greg Gary, who was an assistant at Duquesne last season, is in his first year as the Gents’ coach.

Centenary’s strength is its backcourt of senior guard Nick Stallings and junior point guard Chase Adams (13.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists). Stallings in the Gents leading scorer (17.0), rebounder (6.6) and 3-point shooter (35-for-79).

“Stallings is a great player,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “He is one of the better players in the league. Chase Adams is a very good point guard. They’re a perimeter team. Our zone is going to have to guard the perimeter. We got to guard transition. They are very good in transition. And we are going to have to play against the enthusiasm they have of playing their first game in this place.”

The Gents also received a boost when senior forward Lance Hill (6-foot-7, 255) returned. Hill, who averaged 11.7 points per game last season, is averaging 7.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in his first three games back and started Centenary’s last game.

“We have to take advantage of the inside,” Kampe said. “Lance (Hill) just came back from an academic suspension, he’s their big guy and was a pretty decent player last year. He’s only played in three games so he’s getting better. I think you’re going to see this team improve as the year goes on with him back. Their weakness is inside and now with (Hill) coming back they could get a lot better quickly.

Junior forward Jerrald Bonham (3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds) and sophomore guard Gary Redus (9.4 points) round out the starting lineup.

Centenary’s two wins are over Troy and Alcorn State with both being in the LSU men’s classic.

Key matchup — Oakland’s Erik Kangas vs. Centenary’s Nick Stallings. Kangas is coming off the North Dakota State game where a cramp forced him to sit most of the game before he came in and nailed the game-winning 3-pointer. Oakland, which is already short-handed, needs a healthy Kangas and his scoring. Stallings is a huge part of the Gents’ offense and is an effective 3-point shooter (44.3 percent). Slowing down Stallings has to be Oakland’s No. 1 key defensively

“He’s a great athlete and nothing bothers him,” Kampe said of Stallings. “He can miss 10 in a row and he’s going to take five more. He’s got a great attitude. He’s a tremendous athlete. He is quick with the ball, he flies it up and down the court. He’s their leading rebounder. He is their whole team, he’s everything. Chase Adams is a guy that gets him the ball and does the right stuff. Those two guys are a very, very good backcourt.”

Matchup history — Oakland is 8-2 all-time against Centenary, has won the last five and is 4-1 at the Gold Dome The Golden Grizzlies won the last meeting at Centenary, 97-61, on Feb. 9, 2008. Derick Nelson led Oakland with 22 points and nine rebounds. Kangas added 14 points and Will Hudson had 11 points and seven rebounds. Oakland won the earlier meeting last season, 74-61.

The skinny — If Oakland wants to win a regular-season conference championship then this is a game it needs to win. The Grizzlies can’t look at Centenary’s record and think they can just show up and win. The Gents are a dangerous team with some streaky scorers and will no doubt want to win their first game in the newly renovated Gold Dome.

Oakland will be playing at least the next three weeks, if not the rest of the season short-handed with just 10 players and just eight that have seen quality minutes this season. The Grizzlies are still confident they can accomplish their goals with the guys they have and need to build on their win over North Dakota State. Oakland needs to start off its three-straight on the road with a win and then move on to Oral Roberts on Saturday.

For a story on the Oakland freshman click here.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Garry G said...

Dave ... I see Jay Thames sitting near the south end of the bench ... is he not capable of helping the team get through this injury crisis?

January 8, 2009 at 8:25 AM 
Blogger Dave Pemberton said...

Garry,

Jay Thames could help the team, but he's being redshirted and has already missed 17 games. If they play him now he loses a year of eligibility. As it stands right now he would be eligible for four more years. But if they suffer another injury, they might not have a choice.

January 8, 2009 at 9:08 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!!! Stallings is that good.

January 9, 2009 at 1:09 AM 
Blogger Dave Pemberton said...

There is no doubt Stallings is a good player. He is easily an all-league candidate. If he can get some help like he had against Oakland, then Centenary can be a solid team and possibly make the conference tournament.

January 9, 2009 at 5:48 PM 

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