Something Has to Change for Oakland

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To Greg Kampe’s credit, this years 2019-2020 Oakland Golden Grizzlies basketball team has been everything he told us they would be from the beginning. It’s not surprising that the long time coach knew what he was talking about. However, I’m sure most OU fans thought he may be exaggerating the struggles.

He wasn’t.

He said they couldn’t shoot. With one week left before conference play begins, they’re hitting at 29% from 3. Watching their games, it would appear even worse than that. The bright spot and surprise for this team has been the walk-on Blake Lampman, someone Kampe has admitted he didn’t even know who he was before former star Travis Bader called to tell him he “may have found the next me.”

However, counting on a freshman walk-on to be the big shooter that the dribble drive offense requires is a lot. Lampman is shooting at 39%. While that’s certainly something you would take from a freshman walkon, when you’re counting on someone like him to that extent it highlights the shorting woes for the team. Kevin Kangu has struggled with his attempts from 3 and Tray Maddox has been very streaky as he has struggled through a sophomore slump to find his place in the offense and with Kampe. 

Kampe said that point guard play would be a problem. He has pushed Kevin Kangu into the starting position. While Kangu has made strides to learn the position, it is very clear he isn’t comfortable playing it. And it is effecting him in other facets of his game. A prolific scorer in Canada while winning a National Championship with Vincennes, he is struggling to put the ball in the hoop with OU. Hard to imagine it’s anything more than trying to do too much, likely more than he is really capable of.

The other point guard options for OU are freshmen CJ Gettlefinger and Emmanuel Newsome. Gettlefinger has show a lot of razzle dazzle moments that have excited Grizz fans, but you get the impression that Kampe feels he needs to break him a bit and tone him down before he will let him go. The leash there is very tight. Newsome has seen the floor in 8 games and is averaging 4.5 minutes. Clearly a depth player for Kampe at this point.

(Photo: Anntaninna Biondo, Detroit Free)

So, what can change to make this team better getting into conference play? It’s hard to doubt a 36 year old pro in this business. However, it seems like the Kangu experiment needs to come to an end. The offense has struggled and been very stagnant with him at the point. OU’s advantage especially in conference will be it’s size. When the ball can’t get down to them though, it really clogs up and slows down the offense. 

Having Kangu as a backup point guard may take some of the pressure off of him and allow him to play his game more. He could also backup Maddox at the 2 as it seems their games are naturally very similar. Lampman needs to be kept as an important part of the rotation as a shooter is imperative to the dribble drive offense. It makes you wonder though why Kampe has forced the dribble drive offense on a team that was known to have shooting woes, point guard play issues and has a strength down low. 

Never count Kampe out from having his team prepared for conference play and that they will compete for a Horizon League title. To bet against him has proven foolish. However, you have to hope he stops being so stubborn at some point and plays to his team and individual strengths versus what he prefers.

Let CJ run the point; he’s an actual point guard. He will make mistakes. Don’t pull him or anyone else for one mistake. The team plays scared of being pulled every possession. Let Kangu play off the ball and get to the rim, where he has shown in the past he is best. Let the bigs feed each other down low and start asserting their dominance in the game, not spend 20 seconds of the clock fighting for position for a ball that isn’t coming down to them. To see an Oakland team without any offensive flow is alarming.

It’s time for something to change, or the change could be that OU isn’t in the top of the league come March.

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