A Friday night in early November with the regular season looming was the perfect time for Oakland to bring in Lake Superior State University out of the GLIAC, a Division 2 NCAA conference. It was the final tune up for the Golden Grizzlies, and it was against a team that simply did not have the same level of talent or athleticism. The difference in the makeup of the teams was apparent with Oakland building a lead as big as 32 in the second half. The game saw 5 Golden Grizzlies score in double figures and a 16 rebound advantage for the home team. They also made their living at the foul line on the evening shooting 29 free throws to LSSU’s 4. In a game that was nowhere near as close as the 91-81 final may look, here are 5 key takeaways:
Micah Parrish is better than anyone realizes – After missing the first exhibition game against Eastern Michigan with a foot injury, Micah Parrish returned to the OU lineup to make sure he was ready for game action. He had 17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals in 28 minutes as the catalyst to the Oakland zone defense. LSSU struggled to move the ball within the zone and Parrish was a large part of that with his quickness and length. Parrish learned a lot last year as a freshman and has become an important part of Oakland’s success on both ends of the floor. He will likely have a size mismatch on the floor most of the time on offense as teams matchup with the rest of the roster. Look for him to work the matchups and be an alternative for Moore to get the ball to after Jamal Cain.
The Moore to Cain connection is going to be trouble for opposing teams – There has been plenty of discussion already about the excitement of Jalen Moore and Jamal Cain on the same team. When you have the NCAA top assist guy now able to find a high flying wing at the basket, it has potential for some exciting plays and a lot of offense. With 15 seconds left in the first half, Greg Kampe saw an opportunity to try one of the many plays he has drawn up for the duo. He brought them both back off the bench as Oakland got the ball back and called a timeout. Moore had the ball at the top of the key with the clock running down. OU fans were familiar with this. Moore would wait until the clock was around 5 seconds then try and break down the defense and get to the basket. But as Moore started his run to the lane, he stopped. He threw the ball near the rim where Cain was already waiting in mid air for a monster alley-oop. This will not be the last time those two connect on that and similar plays. Kampe loves to run the alley oop, but it has been awhile since he had the right combination of players. These two are definitely the right combination.
OU Bench is not ready for a bigger role – As is usually the case in an exhibition game against a lower tier opponent, it was a chance for Oakland to empty the bench and let some players see the floor that wouldn’t usually be out there. This included letting Will Shepard get almost 12 minutes despite as Kampe described him “running with a chicken with his head cut off” and the first appearance in the black and gold for Darius Sherman (who had some highlight reel dunks in the pregame lines) and Mason Gibson. Sherman and Gibson will be redshirted this year, but it was still nice to see them get a few minutes before they spend the rest of the season on the bench. However, the bench as a whole nearly lost the 30 point lead the starters handed them with only 10 minutes left in the game. With Blake Lampman and Osei Price trying to hold them together, they were simply not ready to hang on as a unit. While that’s not unexpected out of a group that is still new to the collegiate game, it wasn’t a great sight either. Hopefully they got great film to learn from and learn a lot during the season, but it further solidified the theory that Kampe would need to play a short rotation this season. Depth is not a strength for Oakland, but that’s not a surprise with a roster that has 7 players who have never played NCAA minutes.
Townsend is bringing back the 1980’s old school low post game – Trey Townsend came to Oakland as a slashing wing. Instead, he’s finding a niche as an undersized big in the post. After being pressed into the role last year, it’s clear he has taken it to heart that he’s going to be in the block and has worked on his low post game. He has an old school style about him that makes the oldest Oakland fans start to wonder if they’re actually watching his dad and Oakland basketball alum Skip in the block instead of Trey. With a bunch of up and under moves paired up with scoops around the rim, he looks like a 1980s big, and it is working for him. Trey smiled when asked about it after the game and credited not only his dad but also having worked with Oakland big Chris Conway as well as Oakland Associate Head Coach Jeff Smith in the offseason on his game around the rim.
OU backup PG battle is not finished – The only thing still unknown for Oakland going into the start of the season is who will be taking the 5-7 minutes per game left as the backup point guard to Jalen Moore. The battle is between Emmanuel Newsome who has been with the team for 3 years and true freshman Brody Parker, a local from nearby Troy. After the game Kampe said neither player did themselves any favors in the game. Newsome would seem to have the advantage having been in the system for awhile now, but Parker is getting every chance to take those minutes and not be asked to take a redshirt season. The biggest stat to takeaway from this game was Newsome was a +7 while Parker a -17. Newsome also got the first chance off the bench earlier in the game while the starters were still in but Moore needed a breather. At the end of the day, Kampe has said that will come down to what he sees in practice ahead of the season opener at West Virginia on Tuesday.