Blogs > Pemberton's Point

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

Friday, January 23, 2009

Oakland-Western Illinois preview

The opponent — Western Illinois (6-13, 3-5 Summit) is another team coming to the O’Rena desperate for a victory. The Leathernecks have lost five straight after starting off the conference season 3-0.

Jim Molinari is in his first year as Western Illinois’ head coach. He has 28 years of Division I coaching experience and most recently was an assistant coach at Ball State last season and the interim head coach at Minnesota during the 2006-07 season.

Senior guard David DuBois (6-foot-5, 225) is the heart and soul of the Leathernecks team. He leads the team in scoring (18.1 points) and rebounding (5.7). In conference games only, he is second in the league in scoring at 20.3 points per game.

Senior guard Josh Rivers (11.2 points, 2.9 assists) is the only other Western Illinois player scoring in double figures and is the team’s leading 3-point shooter (2.1 per game). Junior guard David Nurse (8.6 points, 2.9 assists) is another quality shooter for the Leathernecks and averages 1.6 3-pointers per game. Freshman guard Tommie Tyler (3.3 points) has started 16 games.

Western Illinois has tinkered with its starting lineup all season. Sophomore forward James Granstra (2.5 points) and freshman guard Ceola Clark (5.5 points, 3.3 rebounds) started for Western Illinois in its loss at IPFW Thursday, with Nurse coming off the bench.

Junior guard Quenton Kirby (6.3 points) has been the Leathernecks most effective player off the bench and has made four starts. He had 11 points off the bench against the Mastodons. Junior Rodney Williams, Jr. (4.8 points) has also contributed off the bench and has made seven starts.

Western Illinois’ main weakness appears to be inside. The Leathernecks have gotten outrebounded by an average of 31.1 to 27.7 and have just 33 blocks as a team.

Key matchup — Oakland’s Erik Kangas vs. Western Illinois’ Josh Rivers. Kangas has been on an absolute tear the past few games and doesn’t show any signs of slowing. The Leathernecks will likely key in on Kangas and try to shut him down. The senior sharpshooter is used to the attention and typically finds ways to get open. Kangas is just seven 3-pointers away from breaking Jason Rozycki’s school-record of 292 career 3-pointers.

Rivers came off the bench in the Leathernecks last game, just the second time he has done so all season. Rivers has the ability to get hot quick, he hit six 3-pointers against Eastern Illinois earlier this season. Shooters have seemed to find their stroke against Oakland this season so shutting down Rivers will have to be a priority.

Matchup history — Oakland leads the all-time series 18-4 and has won the last four. Oakland is 8-2 all-time at home against Western Illinois. The Golden Grizzlies beat Western Illinois three times last season, including in the first round of the conference tournament. Kangas scored 26 points, including six 3-pointers in Oakland’s 80-66 win in the tournament. Derick Nelson added 17 points and nine rebounds and Johnathon Jones had 14 points and four assists. The Grizzlies won the other two meetings last season, 91-82, at home and 85-71 in Macomb, Ill.

The skinny — Oakland has done a nice job of protecting its homecourt and needs to kept it going by staying focused Saturday. The Grizzlies can’t afford another hiccup, especially with their trip to the Dakotas coming next week. Oakland should try to use its size early with Keith Benson and Will Hudson. Oakland point guard Johnathon Jones has done a nice job getting those guys involved as well as hitting Kangas perfectly so the senior can get his shot off. Jones can affect the game in so many different ways, which is a large reason why he deserved the preseason mid-major All-American tab.

A win over the Leathernecks and Oakland will still be in decent shape in the league race heading into the second half of league play. It will be interesting to see if freshman guard Matt Samuels, who has not played in the last two games, sees any minutes. Oakland coach Greg Kampe said he wants to get Samuels back in the rotation and the team can’t afford to have just a seven-man rotation.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home