IUPUI 64, Oakland, Mich. 76Mar 10, 2010 - 6:13 AM By ERIC OLSON AP Sports Writer
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- The Oakland Grizzlies don't have much name recognition heading into the NCAA tournament.
What they do have is a lot of confidence.
Moments after Oakland, Mich., finished a dominating run through the Summit League tournament with a 76-64 victory over IUPUI in Tuesday night's championship game, coach Greg Kampe called the Grizzlies the greatest team in league history - and ripe for ruining NCAA brackets across the land.
"We have a goal board in our locker room, and on that goal board is to make the Sweet 16," Kampe said. "So we're not just happy to be there. A couple years ago, we were really happy to be there. We're happy to be there, but not just happy."
The Grizzlies (26-8) earned their second NCAA berth with their school-record 11th consecutive win. Their only other NCAA appearance was in 2005.
Derick Nelson, who broke his nose early in the Summit tournament opener against UMKC on Saturday, scored a career-high 36 points and was named the tournament MVP. Nelson provided a spark after top-seeded Oakland missed its first eight shots against the No. 2 Jaguars.
"I'm all right," said Nelson, who wore no protection over his nose. "Nothing's going to stop me from playing this game. It didn't matter. I wouldn't dare miss this tournament."
Oakland, which set a school record for wins, has won 20 of its last 21 against Summit opponents. Kampe pointed out that his team had double-digit leads in 19 of those games, and in only two of them did Oakland trail in the last five minutes.
The Grizzlies' 17 regular-season Summit wins were the most by any team in the league's 28-year history, which goes back to the days it was known as the Association of Mid-Continent Universities.
"I told the team before the game that people will argue with me on this, but we'll be the greatest team in the history of this league if you win tonight," Kampe said. "If you don't, we're not."
Oakland didn't reflect that greatness early. The Grizzlies fell behind 6-1 and didn't score their first field goal until Nelson turned a steal into a layup five minutes into the game. A few minutes later he started a run in which he scored 11 straight points.
"Me and J.J. (Johnathon Jones) talked about it from the beginning of the year, that this was our last chance to get to the NCAA tournament," Nelson said. "I didn't want to be thinking I could have done something more to help us out. Tonight, I had a big game."
Larry Wright added 16 points, and Summit player of the year Keith Benson had 17 rebounds for the second straight night to go with his eight points.
"This is one of the most competitive teams I've ever been on," Wright said. "We don't want to lose at anything, not even video games."
Alex Young led IUPUI with 19 points, while Robert Glenn added 18 and Leroy Nobles 14.
Nelson's 3-pointer with 6:33 left in the first half gave Oakland the lead, and his fastbreak layup early in the second half pushed the advantage to double digits.
Nelson finished 15 of 23, including 3 for 8 on 3-pointers, and he eclipsed his previous career high of 31 points against Michigan in 2007.
IUPUI (24-10), the only Summit team to beat Oakland this season, now must wait to learn its postseason fate. The Jaguars are hoping for a NIT bid, but coach Ron Hunter is skeptical.
"These guys overachieved, and yeah, I want to lobby for our team," Hunter said. "I understand how this business works. If our name was anything different than what it is, with our record. ... For mid-majors, it's real frustrating. I see teams with a worse RPI. Mediocrity, you're rewarded for it. That's the politics of college basketball. We deserve it, but it's sexier to take the seventh place team in the Big 10 or the ninth place team in the Big East. It's not fair at all."
Meanwhile, Oakland awaits its NCAA tournament assignment. Kampe hopes to get a No. 13 seed.
"We won't be scared of any team or any player," he said.
- Oakland University agrees to 3-year, $864K deal with Kampe Apr 11
- Oakland U's Kay Felder hires agent, will stay in draft Apr 8
- Oakland's Felder declares for draft, has not hired agent Apr 5
- Werner, N. Dakota St. beat IUPUI in Summit tourney quarters Mar 6
- Oakland beats Robert Morris 92-74 behind Hooper Dec 5
- Wells helps No. 15 Maryland beat Oakland Dec 27
- Terps close out non-conference slate against Grizzlies Dec 27
- No. 3 Arizona routs Oakland Dec 17
- Oakland hits road seeking upset of No. 3 Arizona Dec 16
- Niang guides Iowa State over Oakland Nov 15
- Oakland pays visit to No. 14 Iowa State Nov 14
- Oakland's Bader sets NCAA 3-point mark Feb 2