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

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Oakland-Oral Roberts preview

For my preview in today's paper click here.

The opponent —
Oral Roberts (11-11, 9-1 Summit) rides into Oakland on an eight-game winning streak and have not lost in 2009. The Golden Eagles have won the eight games by an average of 17 points, with the closest game being a three-point overtime win over Oakland. Oral Roberts has won four-straight regular-season league titles and three-straight conference tournaments.

Senior guard Robert Jarvis is the Golden Eagles leading scorer at 17.1 points per game. He also leads the team in field goal attempts and by a wide margin, 133. He shoots 38.9 percent from the field, but is always a threat to go off and is not afraid to keep shooting until he finds his shot.

Senior Marcus Lewis (6-foot-8) leads a potent Oral Roberts frontcourt. Lewis averages 13.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and leads the team in assists with 50. Lewis was a role player last season after transferring in from Portland. He averaged 8.6 points and 5.5 rebounds, and was named to the Summit League all-newcomer team. He shed 40 pounds in the offseason to get in better shape and it has paid off. He is averaging 16.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists, while shooting 63.5 percent from the field in his last 11 games.

Junior Kevin Ford, who transferred in from Ball State, has made a huge impact since becoming eligible back on Dec. 13. Ford is averaging 9.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks, and the Golden Eagles are 9-5 since he became eligible.

Ford is just one newcomer making an impact. The freshman class of foward Dominique Morrison (9.4 points, 3.0 rebounds), guard Kyron Stokes (6.8 points, 4.1 rebounds) and guard Beloved Rogers (2.7 points, 1.0 rebounds) have all contributed. Morrison has started all 22 games, Stokes has started nine games and Rogers is a solid 3-point shooter off the bench.

Andre Hardy (7.9 points and 6.0 rebounds) is a solid inside presence off the bench, while Kelvin Sango (4.0 points) is a solid defender, who has started 13 games including all eight during Oral Roberts win streak.

During league play Oral Roberts leads the conference in scoring defense (61.7 per game), scoring margin (+13.7), field-goal percent defense (39.2 percent), offensive field-goal percentage (49.3 percent), offensive rebounds (12.0 per game) and rebounding margin (+7.6).

Key matchup — Oakland’s Keith Benson and Will Hudson vs. ORU’s Lewis and Ford. The matchup between Johnathon Jones and Robert Jarvis is no doubt huge, but this game will likely be won inside the paint. Benson and Hudson have stepped up their games tremendously this past few weeks, but Lewis and Ford will present the biggest challenge they will face in the Summit League. The game could come down to one or two possessions so every rebound will be critical. Benson leads the league in rebounding during league play, averaging 8.6 per game, while Lewis is sixth (7.7 per game) and Ford is eighth (7.3). Benson and Hudson also have to be careful not to get into foul trouble, especially with Oakland’s short bench. In the first meeting, Benson had 14 points, while Hudson had four off the bench. Lewis had 17 points (all in the second half and overtime) and 11 rebounds, while Ford had seven points and seven rebounds.

Matchup history — Oral Roberts leads the all-time series 16-7 and has won the last four. Oakland is 5-5 all-time at home against the Golden Eagles, but has lost four of its last five at home to Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles defeated Oakland, 68-65, in overtime back on Jan. 10. Jarvis had 17 points, while Stokes scored 11 off the bench. Jones had 16 points and seven assists before fouling out 12 seconds into overtime, while Erik Kangas had 20 points and Dan Waterstradt scored 11 points. The two teams have combined to win the last four conference tournamets, Oakland in 2005 and Oral Roberts in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The Grizzlies and Golden Eagles have met twice in the tournament championship game, with Oakland winning in 2005 and Oral Roberts in 2007.

The skinny — Oakland is coming off a pair of tough road losses and should be hungry to get a victory against rival Oral Roberts. The Grizzlies are 6-0 at home this season, winning by an average of 17.8 points. That number is a little deceiving considering Oakland beat Western Illinois by 40 and Rochester College at 34, but Oakland has been tough at home.

Oakland freshman Drew Maynard and Blake Cushingberry failed to score against Oral Roberts earlier this season, but have played much better at home. Maynard is averaging 11.2 points per game at home.

Kangas cooled off a little bit last week, but still averaged 15 points and shot 7-for-22 from 3-point range. He has shown all season he can go off at any point and Oral Roberts will certainly key in on him. Benson and Hudson can relieve some pressure off Kangas if they get going early and Jones admitted the inside game has become more of a weapon as of late.

“At first, at the beginning of the season they were like our second option,” Jones said. “Now when we start games they are our first option. With them playing so well it opens up the guard play, it opens our driving lanes and Kangas gets more open shots. They are playing really well right now. I think in the last couple games, they have both been in double digit scoring and rebounding so that’s huge for us.”



Blogger eredden said...


I appreciate your attention to detail in your blog. The info you provide is never just shallow headlines. You consistantly provide very good info on the Grizzlies. Even though I'm an ORU fan I know good reporting. Keep up the good work.

February 5, 2009 at 8:09 AM 

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