Found March 03, 2012 on Fox Sports Detroit:
College basketball pop quiz: From 2008-2011, what college team led the state of Michigan in wins with 75? Here is a hint: They don't play in the Crisler Center (57), nor do they reside in East Lansing (71). They hail from Oakland County, and their list of recent accomplishments has been impressive. The Oakland Golden Grizzlies open up the Summit League tournament with a game against Southern Utah University at 9:30 p.m on Sunday. The tournament, like all Division-1A conference tournaments, offers an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament to its champion. The league tournament must feel like home for the Golden Grizzlies at this point, considering they have made all three title games since the tournament relocated to Sioux Falls in 2009 and they have won the last two. In all nine games that they have played there, they have extended a lead to double-digits. "On a level, the whole season is wrapped around this weekend," said head coach Greg Kampe, a tournament veteran, both Summit League and NCAA. "Everything you do, everything you prepare for, everything, comes down to this weekend. It's our mission, as we call it." But things this season have been sporadic at best for the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. The Summit League's two-time defending champion opened league play with an uncharacteristic 2-4 start, only to turn it around and finish 9-3 (17-14 on the season). Oakland can score, that much is clear. The Golden Grizzlies led the Summit League in scoring for the third straight year (10th in the country at 79.5 ppg), and for the third straight year they find themselves as a first-round favorite in the league's tournament, obtaining the three seed based on conference record. Although the overall play of the 2011-12 Golden Grizzlies has been somewhat irregular, the scoring, especially down the stretch, from 5'11 senior guard Reggie Hamilton has been anything but. Hamilton has averaged a nation-leading 25.5 points per game in Oakland's high-octane offensive attack. And even as a score-first guard, he has still managed to grab 3.8 rebounds and dish out 5.1 assists per game in addition to the scoring. Maybe the most impressive thing about Hamilton has been his recent stretch of dominant play. In a performance typified by the Golden Grizzlies up-and-down season, the senior came out on a down note, averaging 13.75 ppg through his first four games, while shooting an inefficient 34 percent from the field. But for however lackluster Hamilton's play was in the first four games, his play in the final six games of the regular season has been the polar opposite. In the last six games, Hamilton has been averaging 32.8 ppg on 52.89 percent shooting (and 53.5 percent from three). In addition to the high-volume scoring that he has provided, Hamilton has been averaging season best numbers as a facilitator, including 5.5 apg and 5.3 rpg during the stretch. And his high shooting percentage hasn't been an aberration (he has 14 games of 30 or more points, including two 40-point efforts), nor has it been due to a lack of attempts. He has hoisted 58 threes in the final six games, making 31 of those. Hamilton's 790 points are a Summit League record, and if he knocks down just two threes in the tournament he will make even more history. He and Travis Bader (104 threes) will become only the third tandem of teammates to knock down 100 three's apiece in the same season, and the first since 2001 to do so. The other two to do so were Jason Williams (132) and Shane Battier (124) of the 00-01 Duke National Champions, and La Salle's Ryan Woods (121) and Jack Hurd (113) in '91-92. But for as prolific as Hamilton has been on the offensive end, he says his main goal is to facilitate the offense. "My focus is on Oakland," said the stat-hoarding senior. "You know, how can I make LaValle better, how I can get Bader open shots. "While their focus is on me, I'm focusing on getting these guys around me more shots. My thought process is us, I really could care less about what other people are thinking about me." If other teams do key on the star, then Oakland still has a bevy of options, including Bader (14.6 ppg this season) and Drew Valentine (11.9 ppg), that can fill up the books, too. Now they just look to put it all together, and see if they can't ride the hot streak back to the Big Dance. Tournament play kicks off for the Golden Grizzlies on Sunday at 9:30 P.M. in Sioux Falls, and their matchup against Southern Utah will air on FOX Sports Detroit PLUS.
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