Corey from over at the Oakland Grizzlies blog, Golden Grizzlies Gameplan was kind enough to introduce himself and do a Q&A session with us this week. Since I was very unfamiliar with the defending Summit League Champions, I was anxious to get some answers. Let's see what we found out:
TSM: What kind of style does Oakland bring to the court? Up tempo, low scoring/hardnosed D, etc?
GGG: Early indications are that Oakland will be playing a bit quicker on offense this year than last year and guarding the full length of the court. The switch up is because OU has three rather quick, athletic guards in Reggie Hamilton,, and . Our offensive will be geared toward getting the ball in the paint where the team has two senior big men in and Will Hudson. Benson gets most of the looks downlow and has shown up on more than a few NBA draft projection boards. If the offense is running through him, then expect to see some shots open up on the perimeter for a number of players who can knock down deep jumpers.
More after the jump...
TSM: Does the style of ball Huggs' teams play figure to give Oakland more/equal/less trouble than other styles of play?
GGG: West Virginia plays a physical brand of ball and has a ton of big and quick athletes. That is certainly a style that is not always present in Oakland's conference, The Summit League. However, OU's coach puts together a brutal non-conference slate every season so most of the guys on this team are used to that physical style with tough defense. Last season, they played against Syracuse and Pittsburgh from the Big East so it's likely Oakland isn't afraid of that brand of basketball. Now whether they can keep up this year is a different story. Obviously, as an Oakland fan I'm hoping for them to keep it close.
TSM: We've read that Oakland is one of the favorites in the Summit League this year. What are the fans expectations? Do you think a NCAA bid is in the works?
GGG: Expectations over here are to repeat as Summit League champions on the way to a second-straight NCAA bid. That's always the goal in these one-bid conferences, but especially for this team. Oakland's frontcourt is the best in the conference and the guard play should be solid and consistent throughout the year. There are a few schools who have great teams coming back, but Oakland has been getting most of the preseason spotlight thanks to last year's run and the big man in the middle, Keith Benson. Honestly, though, anything can happen in these kinds of conferences where the only way to the NCAA is by winning the conference tourney. It'll be tough but this team has a lot of big advantages over many of the other conference schools.
TSM: We're not real familiar with Oakland in general. Why did the University move away from California, the weather is so much nicer over there? Kidding. Seriously though, who are the players we should be aware of and why?
GGG: Sadly, that is a common thing heard when talking about Oakland, which is actually in Michigan. One thing I really enjoy about the non-conference schedule is it does spread the name of the school out there a bit more to the point where folks actually learn it's in Michigan and not California. But yeah, Keith Benson is the star of the team and should give the WVU big men a solid test in the middle. Hudson does the dirty work and will be looking to have a strong senior season. The three guards - Hamilton, Wright, and Eackles - will be guys to watch. Wright played at St. John's for two years prior to coming to Oakland, and I'm happy to point out he had 15 points and 20 points in two games against WVU in 07-08.
There you have it folks. You can see my responses to his questions in his Game Preview over at Golden Grizzlies Gameplan. Thanks for playing along, Corey.