Wildcats look to bounce back at home

Arizona will look to bounce back from a loss to Gonzaga as it returns home to face Oakland. Read on for a closer look at Tuesday's game.

Oakland head coach Greg Kampe is in his 28th year with the Golden Grizzlies, and he's been able to build a very successful mid-major program during his tenure. His 2010-11 team was one of the best in school history as it won 25 games, including 17 of its last 19, played four top-ten opponents and five top-25 opponents and captured its second consecutive Summit League championship.

He's had three consecutive 20-win seasons, and in league play the past two years, Kampe's teams have gone 34-2 in Summit League play. Oakland would've met Arizona in the third round of the NCAA tournament had its upset bid of Texas not fallen just short, but the Golden Grizzlies were unable to complete the challenge.

OU and UA have a common opponent this season, as Oakland came back from a 17-point deficit for a 82-80 victory against Valparaiso at the buzzer on Saturday. The Golden Grizzlies were voted as the Summit's second best team in preseason media polls, trailing only Oral Roberts in the standings. They bring a 8-4 record to McKale Center, and will tip off at 6pm MST against the Wildcats.

Kampe uses a very short rotation, as four of his players average at least 32.1 minutes per game and five Golden Grizzlies average at least 11.1 points per outing. The team's best player is 2010-11 All-Summit League First Team and 2011-12 All-Summit League Preseason First Team point guard Reggie Hamilton, who is a point guard not many people know about but is very skilled.

Hamilton, a 5-foot-11, 176-pound senior, is the team's leading scorer and assist man with 22 points and 4.2 assists in 32.8 minutes per game. He's also averaging 2.3 steals and 3.4 rebounds per contest, and is shooting a respectable 42.1 percent from the field. It would be very ill-advised of UA to send Hamilton to the free-throw line, where he's connecting on 89.8 percent of his attempts.

If he's give a clear lane, Hamilton will drive the ball coast-to-coast and take the ball to the basket every single time down the court. He has the first-step quickness and explosion to get by his defender and give himself high-percentage looks, and he'll be given the green light from the get-go to make things happen for the Golden Grizzlies. He's coming off a career high 41 points against Valparaiso on Saturday, and he'll be looking to keep it rolling on the big stage at McKale Center.

The primary beneficiary of Hamilton's penetration skills is 6-foot-5, 179-pound sophomore Travis Bader, who averages eight three-point attempts per game and is connecting on 34 percent of them. He's the team's second leading scorer at 13.3 points in a team-leading 34.8 minutes per game, and looks for his openings in transition and kick-out passes from Hamilton or the OU big men.

Arizona's best bet would be to just deny Bader the ball, but when he does get the ball, UA defenders will need to keep their hands up at all time to prevent him from getting open looks and potentially getting into a rhythm shooting.

Oakland has a capable big man in 6-foot-10, 235-pound freshman Corey Petros, who has made the transition to the college game quite smoothly through 12 games. To start his career, Petros averages a double-double with 11.1 points and a team-leading 10.2 rebounds per game.

He's not a player who will take over the game with his skill, but he is someone who works hard, has a solid understanding of the game, and wants to compete. He's not quite of the same level as Robert Sacre or Patric Young just yet, but nevertheless, he'll be a decent challenge for Arizona's big men in the interior.

Drew Valentine, a 6-foot-5, 219-pound junior, is a do it all guard/forward for Oakland and the 2010-11 team's steal leader. In his third season with the program, Valentine is the third in scoring on the team with 13 points per game, and is second on the team with 8.2 rebounds in 33.3 minutes per contest.

Either 6-foot-3, 261-pound junior Blake Cushingberry or 6-foot-6, 171-freshman Dante Williams will be the fifth starter for Oakland, but neither will be much of a factor on the game. Each averages about 13 minutes per game and the two combine for a mere 4.2 points in that time.

A familiar face returns to McKale Center, as journeyman guard Laval Lucas-Perry is a member of his third team of his collegiate career. Lucas-Perry came to Arizona as part of Scout's eighth ranked recruiting class in the country in 2007, which included Jerryd Bayless, Jamelle Horne, Alex Jacobson, and Zane Johnson.

His Arizona career ended after just five games in which he averaged four points and 1.6 rebounds for the Wildcats, and he transferred to Michigan in hopes of finishing his college career. After being dismissed from the Wolverines last year, Lucas-Perry joined the Oakland program for his final year of eligibility.

He's the team's sixth man, but the 6-foot-2, 217-pound redshirt-senior sees 27.4 minutes of action off the bench and is the team's fourth leading scorer with 12.3 points per game. Expect to see an inspired effort from Lucas-Perry, who will be looking to make a splash on the court where his college career was expected to unfold.

The Golden Grizzlies run one of the fastest paces in college basketball and put up 80.2 points per game, which is good for 23rd nationally. Transition defense will be huge, and on three-point attempts, Arizona will need to get back on defense to prevent long misses from becoming easy transition buckets.

If Arizona can force Oakland into a half-court game, it has a very good chance of securing a victory. But playing into OU's style and making the game an up-and-down affair may not be the best idea for the Wildcats. UA will need to dictate the tempo from the get-go and force Oakland out of its comfort zone from the tipoff.

Wildcat Authority Top Stories