Golden Grizzlies Complete Final Year of Transition

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Jason Rozycki

The table was set, the slate was wiped clean and the Golden Grizzlies men’s basketball team was ready for the tough road that lay ahead.   The goals were set a little higher then last year.  OU was now sitting at the head table, attempting to defend the Mid-Continent Conference title.  They knew it wasn’t going to be easy and they were just out to prove that they were worthy of the challenge. The Golden Grizzlies prepared the only way they knew how ... hard. They had no idea of the fate and fortune that they were about to encounter.

In addition to the Mid-Continent Conference competition, OU's schedule featured a game against defending national champion Michigan State and three prominent conferences in the nation -- Big Ten (2), Mid-American (4) and Midwestern Collegiate (3).

The Oakland University men's basketball team was predicted to finish second in the Mid-Continent Conference in the preseason coaches and media polls. OU finished 13-17 overall and 11-5 in the Mid-Continent Conference in 1999-00 and earned the regular-season championship title.

Individually for the Golden Grizzlies Dan Champagne (Linden/Linden), Jason Rozycki (Boyne City/Boyne City HS) and Brad Buddenborg (Garden City/Garden City) were all named to 2000-01 preseason all-conference teams.   Champagne returned to the Golden Grizzly lineup after a season-ending injury to his hand six games into the 1999-2000 season.

Oakland opened the season on an extremely positive note as OU defeated the University of Michigan 97-90 in the Athletics Center 'O'rena November 17 to open the season.  The victory extended the Golden Grizzlies winning streak to six.   OU lifted its record to 1-0 on the season, while UM dropped to 0-1.  This win marked Oakland's second victory in seven meetings with Big Ten schools and the second ever against Division I schools in Michigan.

The Wolverines opened the game with the first basket, but Oakland answered with a three-pointer by Buddenborg. Michigan scored another two on its return trip down the floor and OU's Kelly Williams (Detroit/Martin Luther King HS) gave Oakland the upper hand as he hit a trey, giving the Grizzlies a 6-4 lead at the 18:11 mark. Oakland never trailed again and took a 44-34 lead into the lockerroom at halftime. The Golden Grizzlies opened up the second half by jumping out to a 19-point lead, 58-39, at the 16:13 mark. The 19-point lead was the greatest of the game for OU. The Wolverines battled back to close the gap to seven with 2:19 remaining , but OU held on for the victory.

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Brad Buddenborg

Oakland was led by Rozycki with 32 points, eight assists and five rebounds. Buddenborg followed with 22 points and four assists after he missing most of the first half due to foul trouble. Williams and junior Dan Champagne rounded out the double figure scoring with 18 and 10 points, respectively. Williams also had seven rebounds and two blocks, while Champagne had four boards and one steal.  Michigan was led by LaVell Blanchard and Bernard Robinson Jr. both with 19 points apiece. Blanchard also recorded 13 rebounds and five assists.

This win marked a beginning that Oakland was looking for.   It gave the freshmen the confidence they needed and the upperclassmen the insurance to excel at any level. The Golden Grizzlies distinguished themselves as ones to be reckoned with, hence it was a night to truly remember. It will go down in history for OU as one of the biggest wins of all time.

Oakland then traveled an hour west to tangle with the kings of the court. Michigan State opened its season against Oakland, coming off a National Championship and holding the nation’s longest winning streak.  The game pitted the longest and second longest winning streaks in the country at the time.

Oakland fell behind early and could never recover as Michigan State defeated the Golden Grizzlies 97-61 in East Lansing Sunday, November 19th. OU's record fell to 1-1 overall, while MSU improved to 1-0 on the season.  The Spartans jumped out to a 5-0 lead and Kelly Williams answered back with a lay-up to put the Grizzlies within three. MSU continued to build its lead with almost flawless shooting. Michigan State never looked back and went ahead 51-22 at the half.

The Golden Grizzlies ran into foul trouble early in the first half as Dan Champagne had four fouls with 12 minutes still to go in the half. Kelly Williams and Rozycki each walked into the lockerroom with two fouls apiece to sting OU's offense.  Buddenborg led Oakland's shooting attack with 21 points, while Williams followed with 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Senior Jon Champagne (Linden/ Linden HS) had eight point and four rebounds, while Mike Helms (Detroit/Martin Luther King HS) added seven points, two steals and three rebounds.

Buddenborg was named the Mid-Con Player of the Week for November 20th. Buddenborg helped lead the way for Oakland to defeat Michigan in the Golden Grizzlies season opener, scoring 22 points, shooting .888 (8-9) from the field, including a perfect 4-4 from the three-point line. He also had four assists and a steal in the victory. In the loss to defending national champion Michigan State, the junior had a team-leading 21 points.

Oakland was 1-1 going into a game against Ferris State November 21.  The Oakland University men's basketball team made a late charge against Ferris State only to come up short, 75-70. Oakland fell to 1-2 overall and Ferris State opened its season at 1-0.

Ferris State jumped out in front early as the Golden Grizzlies shot only 27 percent from the floor in the first half and trailed, 35-24, after 20 minutes of play.  The Bulldogs continued to capitalize on Oakland's cold shooting as FSU led, 61-40, with 7:38 remaining in the game. OU's Rozycki sparked a Golden Grizzly comeback as he scored six points on a Grizzly 16-2 run at the 3:25 minute mark.  The two teams swapped baskets for two minutes and Rozycki hit a jumper with one-minute remaining in the game to pull Oakland within two, 69-67. Unfortunately for OU, the Bulldogs went on to sink five of the next six free throws to ice the Golden Grizzly comeback, 75-70.

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Dan Champagne

Forward Dan Champagne led all scorers with 27 points and seven rebounds. Rozycki had 19 points to complete the double-figure scoring for Oakland.   Kelly Williams grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds to lead Oakland on the glass.   Adam Anderson led Ferris State as he netted 22 points and six rebounds.

Oakland next played at home against the University of Akron November 25.  OU fell to the Zips 79-68. The Golden Grizzlies record slipped to 1-3 on the season, while Akron opened its season at 1-0.

Oakland and Akron played a close first half as the Golden Grizzlies took a 33-31 lead into the intermission. OU ended the half on consecutive baskets Dan Champagne and Mychal Covington (Pontiac/Northern HS) with six seconds and at the buzzer, respectively.  Unfortunately the Golden Grizzlies lost their lead early in the second half and weren't able to recover. The Zips led by as many as 16 in the final 20 minutes and OU rallied at the end to close the gap to the 11-point final deficit, 79-68.

Leading the way for OU was Covington with 23 points and Champagne with 20. Covington also recorded a team-leading six assists and had one steal and two rebounds. Champagne hit 8-11 from the field and was a perfect 4-4 at the line. He grabbed a team-high six rebounds, had one assist and two steals.  Akron's Nate Schindewolf led the Zips with a career-high 26 points and six rebounds. He was 7-14 from the field, including two three pointers, and hit 10-11 from the line.

OU next opened up its Mid-Con schedule at home as the Golden Grizzlies faced the Penguins from Youngstown State University November 30. YSU gave Oakland quite the run for their money, but OU held on for the 63-62 victory.  The Grizzlies looked like a team of the past as it began its defense of the 2000 Mid-Continent Conference title. Oakland improves to 2-3 overall and is 1-0 in the Mid-Con, while YSU falls to 4-1 and 0-1 in the Mid-Con.

With 10 seconds left in the game OU's Kelly Williams stole an inbound pass from Youngstown State and dished it off to Rozycki at the top of the key. Rozycki then drove around the top of the key looking for an open jumper and when it wasn't available drove the lane and went in for the power layup. Rozycki's basket proved to be the game winner (63-62) for the Golden Grizzlies with only two seconds left on the clock.   The game from start to finish was a close one as the Golden Grizzlies took a 36-33 lead into the break. The final 20 minutes saw the lead change six times and saw three ties. OU's greatest lead of the game was eight points twice in the first half of play.

Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies were Buddenborg and Dan Champagne with 16 and 14 points, respectively.  Rozycki scored seven points, including the game winner, and had a team-leading five rebounds and three assists. Williams recorded four points, a team-leading five rebounds, one assist and the steal that led to the winning bucket.

The Oakland University men's basketball team won its second straight Mid-Con game Saturday December 2 as the Golden Grizzlies downed Chicago State, 71-56, in Chicago, Illinois. The win increased OU's Mid-Continent Conference win streak to eight games. Oakland's record climbs to 3-3 overall and 2-0 in the Mid-Con. CSU falls to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in conference action.

Oakland, who had a 37-34 lead at the half, was led by junior Jason Rozycki (Boyne City/Boyne City HS) who nailed four treys for the Golden Grizzlies in first half of action. Rozycki went on to record 25 points on the night to lead the Golden Grizzlies in the victory. Buddenborg followed with 14 points, five boards, and two assists.  Covington ran a smooth offense while scoring 11 points, dishing out five assists and grabbing seven boards. Dan Champagne finished off the double figure scoring with 10 points, four rebounds, and two assists.  Kelly Williams helped OU on the defensive side as he grabbed a team-high eight boards.

The Golden Grizzlies sat on top of the Mid-Continent Conference for at least a month as they patiently waited to face their next Mid-Con opponent Oral Roberts on January 5.

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Kelly Williams

Oakland then traveled to crosstown opponent Detroit, 77-56, Tuesday December 5.  The Golden Grizzlies record fell to 3-4 overall, while the Titans improved to 5-2 on the season.  Oakland's Buddenborg scored the first basket of the ballgame on a three-pointer to give OU a 3-0 lead three minutes into the first half. Unfortunately for the Golden Grizzlies, Detroit took the 4-3 lead at the 16:09 mark in the first stanza and never relinquished that lead. OU trailed by as many as 16 in the first half and took a 34-20 deficit into the lockerroom at the break.

OU responded in the second half by closing the gap to seven, but couldn't muster the comeback. The final deficit of 21 points does not tell the story of the hard fought close game that was played.  The Golden Grizzlies shot only 35.3 percent (18-51) from the field, including a low 30 percent (6-20) from behind the three-point arc. During the first half of play, OU hit only 28 percent of its shots from the field (7-25) and 22 percent from three-point territory (2-9).  Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies were three in double figures. Rozycki scored 17 points, while juniors Dan Champagne and Buddenborg followed with 16 and 13 points, respectively. Buddenborg also led the squad with seven rebounds.

Buddenborg reached the prestigious 1,000-point plateau Saturday, December 9 in the 87-73 loss to Cleveland State. The Golden Grizzlies slipped to 3-5 overall, while CSU improves to 4-4 on the season.

Buddenborg needed only 13 points entering the game to become OU's 19th player in basketball history to reach the 1,000-point club. His 12th and 13th points of the night came just 1:18 into the second half as he hit two free throws. The Garden City junior joins teammate Dan Champagne as the second player in OU's Division I history to accomplish this feat.  Buddenborg scored 26 points and grabbed a team-leading six rebounds in the contest. Juniors Rozycki and Dan Champagne rounded off the double figure scorers for OU as Rozycki tallied 16 and Champagne finished with 13.   The Vikings were led by Theo Dixon with a career-high 28 points. Dixon was 9-10 from the field, including 4-5 from behind the three-point arc and a perfect 6-6 at the line. Dixon also led CSU with seven boards.

The Golden Grizzlies shot 46.2 percent from the field (24-52) and just 25 percent from three-point land (5-20). OU hit 20-24 free throws (83.3). Cleveland State hit 57.4 percent from the field (31-54) and 52.6 percent from behind the three-point arch (10-19). CSU was nearly perfect at the line hitting 15-16 (93.8)

The Grizzlies then traveled to No. 18 Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats.  Oakland was defeated Monday, December 9th 97-58 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Oakland’s record drooped to 3-6, while the Bearcats improved to 4-1.

The Golden Grizzlies scored first on a three-point jumper by Rozycki almost a minute into the game. After five lead changes Oakland and Cincinnati were tied at 22 apiece with 9:28 remaining in the half. After being defeated two seasons ago handily, the game looked like a complete turnaround for OU.  Unfortunately for OU, Cincinnati went on a 23-0 run in the next six minutes of play. The Grizzlies went into the intermission down 55-26. The Golden Grizzlies were also outscored 42-32 in the second half for the Bearcats 97-58 victory.

Leading the way for OU was Buddenborg with 21 points. He shot 50 percent from the field hitting 8-16 and was 3-6 from beyond the three-point arc. Buddenborg was a perfect 2-2 at the line and grabbed a team-leading six rebounds. Also scoring in double figures for the Golden Grizzlies was Rozycki with 10 points.

The Grizzlies then traveled south to face MAC opponent Toledo December 16.  OU was defeated 83-77 by the Rockets.  The Golden Grizzlies record fell to 3-7 overall and Toledo strengthened its record to 6-1.

The first half of play saw 12 lead changes and OU went into the intermission down to Toledo 37-33. Oakland led only once during the final 20 minutes of play as Dan Champagne hit a jumper for the 42-41 edge with 15:54 on the clock. From there Toledo took over and led by as many as 14 in the remaining minutes. The Golden Grizzlies didn't give up and closed the gap to six in the final minute of the game, but it wasn't enough as Toledo claimed the 83-77 victory.  Unfortunately for the Golden Grizzlies, the game was slightly lopsided at the free throw line. Toledo scored 25 of its points (in 38 attempts), while OU sank 14-22 at the line. OU had 29 personal fouls called on its players, while Toledo had 17.

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Mike Helms

The Golden Grizzlies were led by Helms, a freshman who scored a career high 23 points. Helms was 7-11 from the field, including one three-pointer, and 8-10 from the line. Helms also grabbed two rebounds and had one steal.   Also scoring in double figures for OU were Dan Champagne and Buddenborg.   Champagne tallied 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Buddenborg scored 13 points and pulled down a team-leading nine boards.

Oakland men's basketball team dropped a tight contest against Ohio University December 22, 92-85, in the Athletics Center 'O'rena. OU’s record slumped to 3-8 overall and Ohio stood at an even 4-4.

The Golden Grizzlies led by six at the half, 39-33, and were outscored 59-46 in the final 20 minutes for the final 92-85 score. OU led by 10 points twice in the first half of play and by as many 13 points in the second half.   Oakland finally gave up the lead at the 8:19 mark in the second half as Ohio tied the game at 64 on a layup by Brandon Hunter. After the lead changed 17 times in the next seven minutes, the Bobcats took a 87-85 lead with 1:01 left on the clock. The Golden Grizzlies couldn't invoke a comeback and Ohio scored five points in the final minute for the deciding 92-85 final.

Leading the way for Oakland was Rozycki with a season-high 36 points. He shot 56 percent from the field going 9-16, including 8-14 (.571) from behind the three-point arc. Rozycki was nearly perfect at the line going 10-11. He also grabbed five rebounds and had one assist.  Buddenborg followed with 25 points going 7-14 from the field and 5-8 from three-point land. Buddenborg was perfect at the line hitting all six free throws. He grabbed four rebounds, had four assists and one blocked shot.   Also scoring in double figures for the Golden Grizzlies was Helms with 10 points. Helms was perfect at the line going 6-6 at the stripe.

Finally, some light was shed upon the men as they picked up a much awaited 87-77 victory Wednesday, December 27 over Wright State University at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Oakland improved to 4-8 overall with the victory and Wright State sank to 9-2.

The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for Oakland and saw junior Rozycki reach the 1,000-point plateau. Rozycki also broke a school record with 18 free throws made. The previous single game record was 17 held by Tom Eller (vs. Edinboro,11-26-91).

Oakland and Wright State played neck-in-neck in the first half and the Raiders held a 38-34 edge at the intermission. WSU led by as many as nine in the first half, while OU's biggest lead was three.  In the second half of play the Golden Grizzlies outscored WSU 53-39 to claim the 10-point victory (87-77). Throughout the game there were 14 lead changes and the scored was tied on seven occasions.  In the final 20 minutes of play Oakland took its deciding lead with 7:36 remaining in the game on two Rozycki free throws (60-59). OU controlled the pace of the game for the next seven and a half minutes and led the Raiders by as many as 13 points.

Rozycki led the Golden Grizzlies with 31 points, including the 18 from the free throw line. Also in double figures for OU were Buddenborg with 18 points, Covington with 15 and Dan Champagne with 10. Champagne led the squad with eight rebounds and Covington guided the team with six assists.

The Oakland University men's basketball team defeated Western Michigan 80-75 in overtime Saturday December 30th in Kalamazoo. OU enhanced its record to 5-8 overall with the victory, while WMU dropped to 1-9.  The victory ended the Golden Grizzlies drought against Mid-American Conference opponents. This is OU's first win over a MAC school since 1993 when then Division II OU defeated Toledo 86-68.

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Mychal Covington

The Golden Grizzlies came out strong in the first half against the struggling Broncos leading 36-27 at halftime. OU connected on 48 percent of its shots from the field and 33 percent from three-point land.  Western responded in the second half as they bounced back to tie the game at the end of the regulation 65-65. Rozycki tried to marvel another buzzer beating performance as he drove to the basket and missed a shot from the outside lane as time ran out, sending the game into overtime.   Oakland outscored the Broncos 15-10 in the five-minute overtime. Rozycki recorded 13 of the Golden Grizzlies 15 points in the overtime ... a layup, a three-pointer and eight free throws.  The Golden Grizzlies outrebounded the Broncos 43-33 and shot 48 percent from the field on the night.

Oakland had season high performances on the afternoon as Buddenborg led the Grizzlies scoring attack with 26 points, tying his season high. Buddenborg also grabbed five rebounds and had three assists to add to his credit.   Jon Champagne in only his second start this season, scored a season-high 13 points, grabbed a season-high eight rebounds and dished out one assist at his old school. Rozycki recorded 22 points and pulled down five boards to help OU claim its second straight non-conference victory.

Junior guard Rozycki was named the Mid-Con Player of the Week after reaching the the prestigious 1,000-point club in the game against Wright State and scoring 22 against the Broncos.

The Golden Grizzlies then traveled to Mid-Con opponent Oral Roberts and suffered their first league loss, 91-77, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The loss ended Oakland's eight-game winning-streak inside the Mid-Continent conference dating back to last season. Oakland slipped to 5-9 overall, 2-1 Mid-Con, while ORU improves to 4-9, 1-2 Mid-Con.

Oakland and Oral Roberts exchanged lead changes for the first four minutes until Oral Roberts hit a three-pointer at the 15:31 minute mark to take a 8-5 advantage. The Golden Eagles pushed its lead all the way up to 12 with 6:55 remaining in the first half, 32-20. The Golden Grizzlies scored 11 of the next 15 points to trail 36-31 after 20 minutes.  OU continued its pressure as Rozycki hit a three-pointer at 19:45, to cut the lead to two, 36-34. That was as close as Oakland got as Oral Roberts shot 73 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes and led by as much as 18 points at the 8:24 mark. The Golden Eagles shot 66 percent from the field (33-50) for the game and went onto victory 91-77.

Rozycki and Buddenborg led Oakland offensively. Rozycki scored 22 points, including a 11-12 performance from the charity stripe. Buddenborg chipped in with 21 points and six rebounds.

The OU team bounced back from the loss and defeated UMKC at Municipal Auditorium 70-57 to earn a split on a tough road trip Saturday, January 6.   The Golden Grizzlies improved to 6-9 overall, and 3-1 in conference, while UMKC sank to 5-10 overall and 1-2 in Mid-Con action. Oakland is now 5-0 against the Kangaroos in head-to-head action.

The Golden Grizzlies started the game off slow, but eventually fell into their rhythm as they made back-to-back three-pointers by Buddenborg and Rozycki to end the half. Oakland trailed 29-25 going into halftime against UMKC.   OU started the second half right where it left off as both Buddenborg and Rozycki sank identical three-pointers to give Oakland the upper hand 31-29. UMKC came back to tie the game up but some timely shooting by Rozycki and Dan Champagne gave the Grizzlies the lead as time dwindled down.

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Jordan Sabourin

Rozycki once again was the leader of the pack, scoring a team high 34 points, eight rebounds, and was 16-19 from the charity stripe. This was the fourth game in the season that Rozycki scored 30+ points in a game. Champagne scored 12 points, brought down eight boards, and made crucial shots when the Grizzlies needed them most. Buddenborg rounded out the double figure scoring with 10 points, five assists, and four rebounds.  OU had a couple of career highs in the victory. Covington ran a seamless offense as he tallied a career-high nine assists on the night breaking his old record of eight that he set against Michigan earlier in the season. Sabourin scored a career-high four points and brought down another career-high eight boards.

Southern Utah proved to be a fierce competitor as the Thunderbirds came out on top Thursday, January 11, 77-68, at the Athletics Center 'O'rena.   The Golden Grizzlies dropped to 6-10 overall, 3-2 in the Mid-Con, while Southern Utah jumped to 12-3, 4-1 in conference.

The first 10 minutes saw a tight battle as both teams exchanged leads, but the Thunderbirds' Jeff Monaco nailed a three-pointer at the 9:21 mark to give SUU the lead it never relinquished. The T-Birds led as many as eight points in the first half. Kelly Williams cut the Grizzlies deficit to four as he laid one in with 4:44 left in the half and seconds later hit two free throws to make it 30-26 (4:24). Oakland trailed 34-30 at halftime.  The T-Birds' Fred House made a layup at the 8:23 mark to extend SUU's lead to 10, 55-45. The Thunderbirds were 12-14 from the free throw line down the stretch to cap the game at 77-68.  The Grizzlies shot a season low 48 percent (11-23) from the free throw line compared to SUU's 74 percent (17-23).

Leading the Golden Grizzlies was Rozycki with 17 points, including three three-pointers. Rozycki was 4-5 from the charity stripe. Helms followed with 15 points and Buddenborg chipped in 12 points and five rebounds. Dan Champagne led the Golden Grizzlies with eight rebounds.  Southern Utah's Fred House scored a game high 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds and recorded five assists. The T-Birds Jeff Monaco had 18 points and eight assists.

OU downed the IUPUI Jaguars, 94-89, Saturday, January 13 in Rochester, Michigan.  Oakland enhanced its record to 7-10, 4-2 in the Mid-Continent Conference, while IUPUI fell to 4-10, 0-3 in conference play.

Oakland took control of the game early as freshman Kelly Williams hit a three-pointer at the18:53 mark to give the Grizzlies an early 3-0 lead. The Golden Grizzlies led by as much as 21 in the first half and took a 41-24 lead into halftime.  In the second half the Grizzlies came out on fire as they hit four three-pointers in the first four minutes. Buddenborg hit two of OU's four treys in the Grizzlies 16-6 run. The Grizzlies were up by 29 points twice in the game before IUPUI started it's comeback. The Jaguars journeyed back from a 29-point deficit as they closed the gap to five at the end of the game.

Oakland’s Helms paced the Grizzlies as he poured in a season high 25 points and grabbed a season high 10 rebounds in 19 minutes. The double-double was the first of the season for Oakland. Following Helms was Jason Rozycki with 19 points, scoring 14 points in the second half. Freshman Kelly Williams chipped in 15 points and pulled down seven boards.  Leading the Jaguars was Don Carlisle as he collected a double- double with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Allen Sylvester poured in 26 points and five rebounds for the Jaguars.

The Grizzlies defeated Chicago State, 76-60, Thursday, January 18 in Rochester, Michigan. Oakland improved to 8-10 on the season, 5-2 in the Mid-Continent Conference, while the Cougars drop to 3-13, 0-5 in conference play.

The Golden Grizzlies scored the games first five points and never looked back. Oakland was up as much as 19 points in the first half as Rozycki drained a three-pointer at the 1:59 mark to give Oakland the 39-20 edge. OU took a 39-24 lead into the lockerroom at the intermission. The Golden Grizzlies shot 55 percent from the field compared to CSU's 48 percent in the first half.  Chicago State's Jason Wesenberg hit a three-pointer at the 19:42 mark to open the second half scoring (39-27). But Oakland's three-point arsenal kept the Cougars at bay as OU hit seven of its 12 three's in the second half. Oakland's biggest lead of the final 20 minutes and the game was 22 (3:02) as Rozycki hit one of his game-high seven three's to make it 73-51. In the final minute OU was 3-4 from the charity stripe to ice the game 76-60.

Leading the Grizzlies was Rozycki with 23 points and five rebounds. Buddenborg followed with 20 points, going 4-8 from the three-point arch. Buddenborg had a team high six rebounds. Guiding the Grizzlies offense was Covington as he tied his career high with nine assists and tallied six points and two steals.   Leading the Cougars was Tony Jones as he recorded a double-double with 25 points and 11 boards.

OU next increased its winning streak to three with a Mid-Continent Conference victory over Western Illinois, 83-74, Saturday January 20 in Rochester. The Golden Grizzlies improved to 9-10 overall, 6-2 in Mid-Con play, while WIU sank to 0-16, 0-5 in the conference.

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Charles Ford

Oakland and the Leathernecks battled back and forth throughout the entire first half as the lead changed hands 12 times. WIU scored first at the 19:00 mark and the Golden Grizzlies managed the final bucket of the half with :34 remaining. In the first half of play OU led by as many as 10 as junior Dan Champagne scored a layup to give OU the 22-12 lead at 14:49.  The Golden Grizzlies started the second half in command and never gave up their lead. OU opened the second half outscoring WIU 13-5 to increase the Golden Grizzlies lead to 11 (57-46), but the Leathernecks rallied to close the gap to one, 70-69, with just over four minutes left on a J.D. Summers jump shot.  In the final four minutes of the game, Oakland outscored WIU 13-5, to secure the 83-74 victory.

Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies was Rozycki with 25 points, four rebounds and four assists. Rozycki hit three three-pointers and was a perfect 10-10 at the line. Junior Dan Champagne followed with 20 points, going 8-10 from the field, grabbed three rebounds, had two assists, two steals and three blocked shots.   Buddenborg and Covington rounded off the double figure scorers for the Golden Grizzlies with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Buddenborg grabbed a season-high tying nine rebounds, tallied three assists and had two steals. Covington recorded two rebounds and five assists. Freshman Kelly Williams led the Golden Grizzlies with a career-high tying 12 boards.  Brian Williams guided the way for the Leathernecks with 20 points, three rebounds, five assists and two steals. Williams was 6-9 from the field, including two threes, and 6-8 from the line. Quentin Mitchell followed with 16 points off the bench and J.D. Summers and Jamel Richardson rounded off the double figure scorers for WIU with 15 and 11 points, respectively. Richardson led the Leathernecks on the boards with eight rebounds.

OU was edged out by Mid-Con opponent IUPUI, 68-67, Thursday, January 25 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Oakland fell to 9-11 overall and 6-3 in the Mid-Continent Conference, while IUPUI jumped to 6-11 and 2-4 in conference play.

IUPUI hit the games first three shots to give the Jaguars a 6-0 lead at the 18:42 mark. Junior Dan Champagne put the Golden Grizzlies on the board of a layup at the18:28 mark to cut IUPUI's lead to four, 6-2. The lead changed hands four times in the first half, but IUPUI led 29-28 at the break.  Oakland's bench scored 12 of the Grizzlies 28 first half points led Helms. Helms poured in 10 points, going 2-2 beyond the three-point arch.  In the second half IUPUI led by as many as eight points at the 5:48 mark until the Grizzlies staged a comeback. Oakland pulled within one point with 24 seconds left off a Helms jumper. Rozycki gave OU the go ahead basket as he made a layup with 12 seconds left, 67-66.  With four seconds left on the clock IUPUI's Taj Hawkins made a layup as he was fouled by Rozycki. Hawkins missed the free throw and OU's Kelly Williams pulled down one of his career-high tying 12 rebounds. After an outlet pass to Covington at half court OU couldn't get a shot off and fell to the Jaguars 68-67.

Leading the Grizzlies was Helms with a game-high 21 points, including a perfect 4-4 from three-point land. Champagne followed with 15 points and five rebounds.  Dominating OU on the glass was Williams as he pulled down 12 boards. Williams also chipped in eight points.  Oakland was in for a surprise as they faced Valparaiso, whom the Grizzlies wanted to beat more then anyone. They had a burning desire to shut down the Crusaders with destruction. This feat would be out of the Grizzlies hands as they lost their high scorer and key player in Rozycki who averaged 18 ppg ,3 rpg, and led the nation in free throws at 87 percent.

The Grizzlies fell to Mid-Continent Conference foe Valparaiso 89-57 January 27 at the Athletics-Recreation Center in Valparaiso, Indiana. Oakland dropped to 9-12 overall and 6-4 in conference play, while Valpo climbed to 14-6 overall and 5-2 in the Mid-Con.

Valparaiso jumped out to an early 8-0 lead, but Oakland went on their own eight point run to tie the game at the 16:05 mark. Valpo made another run at the 14:54 mark and never looked back. The Crusaders sailed into the lockerroom with a 53-29 lead at the half. Valparaiso recorded a school record 11 blocks against the Grizzlies. Oakland shot only 34 percent from the field compared to the Crusaders 54 percent.  With a little over six minutes to go in the first half Rozycki went down after attempting a layup in traffic with a season-ending knee injury. Rozycki left the game with only four points, one steal and one board.

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Tim Fralick

Buddenborg was the only Grizzly in double-figure scoring with 12 points. Buddenborg also added two rebounds and one steal on the afternoon. Jon Champagne and Mike Helms each scored eight points apiece.  Dan Champagne and Sabourin each recorded six rebounds to lead OU.

The Oakland University men's basketball team had the table turned on them as they faced Mid-Con opponent Western Illinois. The Leathernecks sought revenge on Oakland as WIU defeated OU 101-92 at Western Hall in Macomb, Illinois Saturday, February 3, 2001. The Golden Grizzlies dropped to 9-13 overall and 6-5 in conference action, while WIU improved to 3-18 overall and 3-7 in the Mid-Con.

Oakland led early and often as they held tight until the nine minute mark in the first half. Western Illinois then captured its lead on three-pointer by Quentin Mitchell and never let go as the Leathernecks led at the half 35-34.  OU tried to keep it close in hopes of regaining the lead and tied the score up three times in the second half. It wasn't until the fourteen minute mark that Oakland finally recovered as the Golden Grizzlies took a 56-55 lead on a Buddenborg jumper. WIU then stole the lead once more and kept it through the rest of the second half to seal its third victory on the season.  The defending Mid-Continent Conference champions have lost three straight games in hopes of defending its title. Buddenborg fouled out at the 6:34 mark as the shorthanded Grizzlies looked to their captain for direction. He ended the night with nine points, two rebounds, and two steals.

Freshman Helms stepped up his game in a big way as he led the Oakland offense with 27 points, two boards, two assists, and two steals. He was 11-for-21 from the field and three-for-three from the free throw line. Kelly Williams also helped the Grizzly scoring attack with 19 points, one assist, three steals, and a team leading 11 rebounds.  Juniors Covington and Dan Champagne rounded out the double figure scoring with 19 and 12 points apiece, respectively.Covington added five assists, one steal, and seven boards, while Champagne had five rebounds, three assists, and one blocked shot.  Western Illinois had a great night from the field shooting 64 percent to the Grizzlies 45 percent. OU out-rebounded the Leathernecks 33-29.

The Golden Grizzlies bounced back with a non-conference victory over Concordia College, 85-55, Monday, January 5, at the Athletics Center 'O'rena. Oakland’s record jumped to 10-13 on the season, while Concordia slipped to 14-14.

Oakland scored the games first two baskets and never looked back. OU's biggest lead of the first half was 27 points at the 2:09 mark and at halftime. Oakland took a 44-17 advantage into the break. Helms paced the Golden Grizzlies with 16 points at the intermission.  In the last 20 minutes, Oakland increased its lead to as many as 32 twice - first at the 19:24 mark and at the 6:49 mark ... both on Kelly Williams three-pointers.

Leading the Grizzlies was Helms with 17 points and five rebounds. Following Helms were juniors Dan Champagne and Ryan Williams each with 14 points.  Champagne tallied six rebounds, while Ryan Williams pulled down a team-high eight boards. Kelly Williams had 13 points, going 4-6 from the field and 3-5 from three-point land. Rounding out Oakland's double figure scoring was freshman Sabourin with a career-high 11 points and six rebounds.

Oakland finally snapped a three-game Mid-Continent Conference losing streak with a 78-72 victory over Oral Roberts, Saturday February 10 at the Athletics Center 'O'rena.  Oakland climbed to 11-13 overall and 7-5 in the conference, while ORU sinks to 7-15, 4-8 in Mid-Con action.

The Golden Eagles came out strong in the first half and held on to the lead for the first 10 minutes. With 9:46 remaining in the first half of play, the Golden Grizzlies tied the game at 18 on a Dan Champagne layup. One minute later Champagne scored again to give OU a 20-18 lead ... a lead it wouldn't relinquish in the first stanza. OU took a 38-31 edge into the lockerroom at the intermission.  Oakland and ORU traded baskets for the first 12 scores of the second half. At that time the Golden Eagles went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 53-53 (10:56). ORU managed to take a 58-56 lead with 8:56 remaining and then Buddenborg responded by hitting a three-pointer at the 7:16 minute mark to give Oakland a 61-60 lead. The Golden Grizzlies outscored Oral Roberts 17-12 in the last seven minutes for the 78-72 victory.

Helms led the way for the Golden Grizzlies offensively after scoring 25 points. He grabbed five rebounds, had one assist, one blocked shot and one steal.  Buddenborg followed with 15 points off the bench for the Golden Grizzlies. Covington and Champagne round off the double figure scorers for OU as they tallied 14 and 10 points apiece, respectively. Champagne led the squad with seven boards and Covington guided OU with nine assists.

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Ryan Williams

Oakland next faced the Valparaiso Crusaders in Rochester and fell to VU, 82-70, on Thursday, February 15.  Oakland slipped to 11-14, 7-6 in the Mid-Continent Conference, while Valparaiso successfully improved to 20-6, 11-2 in conference action. The win marks Valpo's ninth straight win as OU remained winless against the Crusaders.

The Golden Grizzlies came storming out of the gates and took an 11-point lead (20-9) off a Dan Champagne layup at the 13:14 mark in the first half. Oakland led by as many as 16 points three times in the last 3:30 of the half and took a 44-31 edge into the intermission. Valpo's Milo Stovall hit a three-pointer with 10 seconds left to cut OU's lead to 13, 44-31.  The second half saw Valparaiso turn the tables on OU as the Crusaders used a 17-4 run to steal the lead 50-48 at the 14:25 mark. The Crusaders led the rest of the way after the lead change. Valpo's lead reached as many as 14 points as sophomore center Raitis Grafs drained two free-throws with 54 seconds remaining, 82-68.Oakland's Covington hit a layup with five seconds left to close the final gap to 82-70.

Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies was freshman Helms with 19 points and Champagne followed with 17 points. Leading OU on the boards was freshman forward Kelly Williams with a game-high 10 rebounds.

A second half comeback wasn't enough on Saturday, February 17 as the Golden Grizzlies fell to Southern Utah, 91-73, in Cedar City, Utah. The Golden Grizzlies fall to 11-15 overall and 7-7 in Mid-Continent Conference play, while Southern Utah improves to 21-5 and 12-3 against Mid-Con opponents.

Oakland shot only 29 percent from the field in the first half of play and took a 50-29 deficit into the lockerroom at the break. OU hit only 7-24 from the field and 2-12 from behind the three point arch in the first 20 minutes.  OU responded by shooting 56 percent from the field in the second half, hitting 15-27 from the field and 5-14 from three-point territory. The Golden Grizzlies outscored SUU 44-41 in the final 20 minutes, but it wasn't enough as the league leading Thunderbirds held on for the 91-73 victory.

Helms led the way for the Golden Grizzlies for the fifth game in a row. He scored 20 points after going 5-8 from the field, 4-6 from the three and a perfect 6-6 at the line. Helms grabbed one rebound and had one assist.  Dan Champagne followed with 16 points and a team-leading nine rebounds. Champagne was 7-9 from the field, had two assists and one blocked shot.  Rounding off the double figure scorers for OU were juniors Ryan Williams and Buddenborg with 10 points apiece. Williams scored eight of his 10 points at the line, while Buddenborg hit three threes en route to his 10 points.

Oakland was defeated in a devastating loss to Youngstown State 88-84, Thursday, February 22, in Youngstown, Ohio.  OU dropped to 11-16,7-8 in the Mid-Con, while YSU improves to 19-10, 11-5 in the conference.

Youngstown State scored the games first five points and kept OU scoreless until the 17:43 mark. Freshman Mike Helms sank a pair of free-throws to give OU its first points of the game, 5-2.  There were six ties in the games first 20 minutes with all of them in the last 7:38 of the first half. OU trailed the Penguins 37-36 at intermission.  The lead changed hands several times in the second half, but OU's Helms made a layup with 2:05 left to put the Grizzlies up 79-78. YSU went on a 7-3 run in closing minutes of the game and held on to win 88-84

Leading the way for the Grizzlies was junior Dan Champagne as he recorded a season and game high 32 points. The Linden, Michigan native also collected a career high 13 field goals as she was 13-18 from the field, he also was a perfect 6-6 from the line.  Following Champagne was Helms with 24 points. Rounding out double figure scorers for the Grizzlies was Buddenborg with 10 points. Buddenborg led OU on the glass as he tied a season high with nine rebounds.

The Grizzlies wrapped up the 2000-01 season with a 69-59 Mid-Continent Conference victory over UMKC Saturday, February 24 in Rochester.   Oakland ended its season at 12-16 overall and 8-8 in the Mid-Con.  OU senior Jon Champagne played in his final game of his four-year career against the Kangaroos. The Linden, Michigan native scored six points and had one rebound in the victory.

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Jason Rozycki, second
team all-Mid-Con

The Golden Grizzlies and Kangaroos battled back and forth in the first 20 minutes of play and Oakland took what ended up being the deciding lead with 3:58 remaining on two Brad Buddenborg free throws (24-23). Oakland took a 29-25 lead into the break.  Oakland controlled the second half of play and increased its lead to 13 four times in the final half. The final 13-point lead came with 52 seconds remaining on two more Buddenborg free throws. The final bucket of the game was scored by UMKC freshman Michael Watson -- a three-pointer with 21 seconds left on the clock.  The win marks the sixth over UMKC in the three-year history of the series.

Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies was Buddenborg who scored a season-high 31 points after going 9-15 from the field, 8-13 from the three and a perfect 5-5 at the line. Buddenborg grabbed seven rebounds, had one assist, one blocked shot and two steals in the win.  Dan Champagne and Helms followed with 14 points and 10 points, respectively, for the Golden Grizzlies. Covington and Sabourin led the squad with eight boards apiece and Covington recorded a career-high 12 assists.

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Mid-Con Co-Newcomer
of the Year Mike Helms

Rozycki was named second team All-Conference in the Mid-Continent Conference, while Helms was tabbed Newcomer of the Year.

Oakland concluded the year at 12-16 overall and 8-8 in the Mid-Con, a record that they hope to build upon next year. With a little pressure off their backs, the Golden Grizzlies are ready to make a run at the Mid-Con title once again. The 2001-02 season will begin Oakland’s first shot to make a run for the Big Dance. With a corps of talented veteran players coming back, a solid starting lineup, and the loss of only one senior the Grizzlies have a shot to make dreams come true.

The same dream each player grew up with, hoping to see their smiling face on camera, cutting down a net in celebration of winning something more than just a game. A victory, a battle if you will that has taken lifetimes to build. With the taste still fresh in their mouths of winning the Mid-Con just a year ago, Oakland will seek revenge as they try to recapture the trophy.

Again, the table will be set, the slate wiped clean, and the hopes of being Cinderella in their own kind of way will be their focus. The move to Division I will finally be complete and Oakland will hope to travel upon the victorious road once again.

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