Game 9: Michigan vs. Oakland Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
Who: No. 19 Michigan (6-2) at Oakland (6-3) OaklandLogo[1]
Where: Palace of Auburn Hills
When: 4:00 p.m. ET, December 10th, 2011
TV: Fox Sports Detroit/ESPN3 (no longer listed on ESPN3)
Radio: MGoBlue / WWJ (950AM), WTKA (1050AM), Sirius 94, XM 192
Preview: Oakland Q&A / Pick to Click
Opp. Blog: Summit Madness

In what will likely be its toughest challenge before Big Ten play, Michigan travels to the Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday to face the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. Greg Kampe’s program seems to improve every year and looks to be the favorite in the Summit League despite losing Keith Benson to the NBA. The Grizzlies have been up and down this season, most recently dropping a game to Ohio, but always prioritize their match-ups versus in-state foes. Last season, Oakland came up a basket short of upsetting Michigan State at the Palace.

The first thing that stands out when examining Oakland is that the Golden Grizzlies want to run. They want to push the tempo and they want to score, defending is clearly a level or two down the to-do list. Oakland is the fifth fastest team in the country and averages 74 possessions per game; that’s 10 more possessions per game than Michigan, which ranks 315th in pace. The Oakland offense has hummed along pretty efficiently this season but has ran into its fair share of hiccups, most notably early season struggles at Alabama and Arkansas.

The Grizzlies are fairly perimeter oriented, attempting 39 percent of their field goals from three point range, but are actually more effective when attacking the basket. Oakland connects on just 30 percent of its three point attempts compared to 53 percent of its twos. Most importantly, the Golden Grizzlies can get to the free throw line (FTA/FGA = 40%) and hold their own on the offensive glass (OR Rate = 35%), two traits that are uncommon for offenses which attempts that many three pointers. Despite the uptempo style of play, Oakland is relatively sound fundamentally – making free throws (77%) and valuing the basketball (18% turnover rate).

It’s on the defensive end of the court where the Oakland statistical profile begins to deteriorate. The Grizzlies lost one of the nations premiere shot blockers in Keith Benson and their interior defense has faltered. Not only are the blocked shots gone, opponents are finishing around the basket with ease – making 52% of their twos. Oakland does a decent job of cleaning up the defensive glass, defending the three, and preventing free throws but the proficient two point shooting and lack of forced turnovers scream of a passive defense. Ken Pomeroy ranks Oakland’s defense 259th nationally and this is a defense that Michigan should be able to score against effectively.


Reggie Hamilton takes 30% of Oakland’s shots and leads the Grizzlies with 20 points and four assists per game. His shooting numbers are very average – 48% on twos, 29% on threes – but he gets to the line often (52% FTA/FGA) and makes 91% of his freebies. 6-foot-9, 243 pound, redshirt freshman Corey Petros anchors the middle and averages 12 points and 12 rebounds per game, he’s also the only player over 6-foot-6 in the Oakland rotation. Travis Bader is the resident sniper, attempting over 70 percent of his shots from three point range and connecting at a 38 percent clip. Drew Valentine appears to play big minutes as an undersized four, averaging 12 points and seven rebounds per game while serving as one of Oakland’s better perimeter defenders.

There’s also former Wolverine Laval Lucas-Perry, who serves as Greg Kampe’s sixth man. Lucas-Perry played 58 games in a Michigan uniform before being dismissed and has apparently transformed his game in an Oakland uniform. He’s shooting just 25 percent from three point range but is getting to the free throw line at a dramatic rate — attempting 63 free throws to just 65 field goals. He’s already attempted more free throws in nine games this season than he did in either year in a Michigan uniform. Kampe doesn’t have a deep rotation with the bench playing just 20 percent of the available minutes (336th nationally), most of which are taken by Lucas-Perry.

Michigan has played Oakland three times in the last four seasons and won all three contests relatively easily. The Wolverine offense was nearly unstoppable in the first two games but it was Michigan’s defense that stifled Oakland at Crisler Arena a season ago. Oakland is a good match-up for this Michigan team. Oakland’s defensive profile is eerily similar to the Iowa State team that the Wolverines just dismantled around the basket.  Whether the three point shot opens things up on the interior or vice versa, Michigan should have success scoring the ball around the basket in this one. The Grizzlies offense will likely put up a stronger performance than a year ago at Crisler (their worst of the season) but Michigan should have the fire power to keep pace.

Pomeroy likes Michigan in a 69 possession game, giving the Wolverines a 76% chance of victory and predicting an 81-72 final score. Let’s hear your thoughts, predictions and more in the comments below.

  • skitchbeatz

    After a poor showing in VA and a shaky end to ISU I’m pretty nervous for this one.

    • I guess I’m not that worried about the finish to the ISU game because Michigan dismantled them for the first 30 minutes. As for the Virginia game, it’s a loss but it was a road game against a team that can really defend — Michigan’s offensive performance (as bad as it was) was still the best to date against UVA. 

  • Mattski

    Fascinating tidbit from today’s Free Press article about the game, also of interest to M fans because its subject is Laval Lucas-Perry:  
    “Kampe said this game is the end of the OU-Michigan series because U-M coach John Beilein said he ‘does not want to play us.’
    ‘I respect him for that, because he’s honest,’ Kampe said. “He told me, Greg, you guys are good enough to beat us, and Michigan fans don’t understand (potentially) losing to Oakland.'”

    • Flwolve

      I’m calling bullshit on that quote.  There’s no way that Beilein would say that to Kampe.

      • MGoTweeter

        i think it was definitely misquoted, especially the part about Michigan fans.  However, Beilein did say something close to that in the pregame presser.  Best guess, it seems it was more along the lines of, it does not make sense for us to play you guys on the road every other year considering the rest of the schedule.  We have enough tough games and need to make sure we get our “wins” scheduled at home.  

        I don’t think it had anything to do with Oakland in particular, and rather, it was more about making sure the schedule was balanced.  Considering Michigan already plays one guaranteed game in the ACC/BigTen Challenge, plus quality games in a tourney each year and at least one other big time out of conference game (Duke, Uconn, Kansas, etc.), I think Beilein was just saying that scheduling another difficult road game did not make sense.  If Oakland wanted to come play at Crisler each year, I bet Beilein would agree to it.  

        • Mattski

          Well, it’s the freep and snyder, and it’s Kampe quoting Beilein via the reporter, so. . . a paraphrase. Doesn’t cast Beilein in a great light at first glance, but it’s not SO hard to see how John might have said something like it in a jocular and flattering way to Kampe. The little guys often profit more from a game like this than the big fish.

          Nonetheless, I would love to see a home and home with Oakland; I admire their teams, and I think that building up local rivalries is fun, wish coaches didn’t shy from them. 

          • Mattski

            Should have said continuation of the series–I see they’ve played eight times now and the contract is at an end. Not the end of the world, I guess, if we play someone else. . .

          • rlcBlue

            Michigan has only one local rivalry; it’s with the team in East Lansing.

            It’s kind of obnoxious, but the big dogs probably do benefit from pretending that the other in-state programs don’t exist. I doubt Kansas ever loses a Trey Zeigler or Ray McCallum to Wichita State – every kid in Kansas wants to be a Jayhawk, no matter where his daddy coaches.

    • ZRL

      Yeah I have a hard time seeing the reason the series is ending is because Beilein is “scared” considering we’ve whooped them the 3 times Beilein has played them.

  • can the scholarship breakdown please be updated???