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

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oakland at Oral Roberts preview

The opponent — Oral Roberts (5-11, 3-1 Summit) looks to be hitting its stride with the conference season in full swing. The four-time defending regular season champion and three-time defending conference tournament champion Golden Eagles really struggled during their brutal non-conference schedule, but have won two straight at home and sit a half-game out of first place in the Summit League.

Senior guard Robert Jarvis (17.1 points) and senior forward Marcus Lewis (12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds) provide Oral Roberts with veteran leadership. Both were named to the preseason all-league team, Jarvis to the first team and Lewis to the second team.

Newcomers Kevin Ford (transfer from College of Southern Idaho) and freshman Dominique Morrison (10.5 points) have helped fill the void left by graduation. Ford is averaging 11.3 points and 9.1 rebounds in the eight games since he became eligible.

Senior guard Kelvin Sango (3.8 points) rounds out the starting lineup with sophomore Andre Hardy (8.0 points, 6.1 rebounds) and freshman guard Kyron Stokes (7.0 points, 4.4 rebounds) key players off the bench.

Head coach Scott Sutton was the Summit League Coach of the Year last season and has led the Golden Eagles to 93 victories in the last four years. Oral Roberts has won 29-striaght conference home games dating back to 2005. The Golden Eagles last home lost in conference play was to UMKC back on Jan. 29, 2005. Oral Roberts has won its two home conference games this season by an average of 25 points.

Key matchup — Oakland’s Johnathon Jones vs. Oral Roberts’ Robert Jarvis. Jones has consistently scored between 9-16 points over the past couple months, but is due for a game where he goes off like he did at Oregon. Time will tell when that will happen, but Oakland needs Jones’ passing (5.9 assists per game) and defense more against the Golden Eagles, especially on Jarvis. Oral Roberts’ senior guard can single-handily shoot his team in or out of games. Jarvis is averaging 16 shots a game and is shooting 38.3 percent from the field. He has hit an average of three 3-pointers per game, while no other Golden Eagles player is averaging more than one per game. Both Jarvis and Jones play a ton of minutes, Jones leads the league at 37.7 per game and Jarvis is sixth at 34.8.

Matchup history — Where should do you start? Over the past four or five years these two teams have developed one of the best rivalries in the Summit League. Oral Roberts leads the all-time series 15-7 and has won the last three meetings, which includes the 2007 Mid-Con championship game. Oakland defeated the Golden Eagles in the championship game in 2005 to earn its only Division I NCAA Tournament berth. Oral Roberts has dominated the matchup at the Mabee Center, going 9-1 and winning the last eight. The Grizzlies last won at the Mabee Center back on Jan. 20, 2000.

Last season the Golden Eagles won the first meeting, 66-60, at the O’Rena behind 20 points from Jarvis. Derick Nelson, who is redshirting this season, lead Oakland with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Jones added 15 points and nine assists. Oral Roberts won the second meeting, 60-53, with Jarvis leading the way with 14 points. Marcus Lewis scored just two points, but had 13 rebounds. Nelson led Oakland with 13 points, while Jones and Erik Kangas each scored 12.

The skinny — Oakland (10-8, 3-2 Summit) has dug itself a hole in the league standings after a 20-point loss at Centenary on Thursday. It was the Grizzlies second loss to a team in the lower half of the standings. Oakland can begin to dig itself out of the hole with a win at Oral Roberts, which Oakland coach Greg Kampe accurately described as a game that is worth two, in that it not only is a win for your team, but a loss for another contender. The Golden Eagles protect their homecourt and will likely have a nice crowd on hand. Oakland needs to have a good start and play a complete game. Having just eight scholarship players won’t help, but the Grizzlies have to play the hand their dealt. A big part of the Golden Eagles gameplan will be to stop Kangas so other players need to help shoulder the scoring load.

Oakland’s two weaknesses defensively have been allowing open 3-pointers and offensive rebounds. Other than Jarvis, Oral Roberts doesn’t have another great 3-point shooter, but it does have rebounders. The Grizzlies will need to protect the glass and limit the Golden Eagles’ second chance points.

For my preview in today's paper click here.



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