Men’s basketball wins second exhibition game

As the Golden Grizzlies wrapped up their final game of the 2019 preseason by beating Saginaw Valley State 84-63, it was hard to ignore how different the men’s basketball team looked from previous seasons.

Oakland University focused on moving the ball around the court while looking for the best possible shot, instead of potentially trying to force three-point shots. This change in strategy was important as the team struggled beyond the arc, shooting 27.8% from three-point range throughout the game. 

The Golden Grizzlies also stepped up on the defensive end and held Saginaw Valley to 36% shooting. The transition from a heavy three-point shooting team to one build on rebounds and defense is difficult, especially when most teams leave offense as their top priority. 

“This Oakland team plays their tails off and can really [play defense],” Head Coach Greg Kampe said. “I believe we can be a great rebounding team, we’re really focused on it… [rebounding] is going to be our calling card which is going to be a lot different than it has been for years … it’s going to be fun to win a different way.”

Despite the changes in strategy, Xavier Hill-Mais recorded 26 points, six rebounds, two blocks and led the team in minutes played. In addition to being a force on the paint, Hill-Mais also demonstrated his range and shot 50% from three-point range. 

In the first half, the Golden Grizzlies struggled to keep up with Saginaw’s rapid pace of play and turned the ball over 11 times. However, Oakland noticeably slowed their pace of play to a more comfortable pace and despite turning the ball over eight times, appeared far more efficient in the second half. 

“Offensively the flow was faster, but we don’t want to be a fast flowing team,” Kampe said. “We want to be a team that lives low in the 50-60 point range… we want to get to the rim and get to the line, and that is how we’re going to be successful.”

Oakland’s corrections worked, as the team would go on a 19-point run and jump out to a 30-point lead in the second half. The second-half surge was led by Hill-Mais, Brad Brechting, and freshman Jackie Harris. Harris supplied eight points while playing 10 minutes in the second half and recorded the highest plus/minus of either team throughout the entirety of the game (+26). Harris also led the team in three-point shots both made and attempted, shooting five and making two. 

The Golden Grizzlies’ next home game is against Hartford on Monday, Nov. 18 against Hartford. The match-up against Hartford is one of only three home games in the non-conference schedule.

The next home game after Hartford will be against Fairfield on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. The in-conference schedule then begins for the Golden Grizzlies against the University of Detroit Mercy on Saturday, Dec. 28.