Golden Grizzlies Make History; Finish 17-13

Helms(JJ)DunkSmall.jpg (48905 bytes)

Sophomore Mike Helms was
tabbed first team
All-Mid-Continent Conference

It was one of the most anticipated season in Oakland’s basketball history. The season that made the previous years of playing in an inflated dome on a raised wooden court all worthwhile. It was the season that sat in the back of everybody’s mind as the Grizzlies sat home waiting their turn for their chance in March. For five seniors it was their first and only chance for a date with March Madness. OU set the goals high, the only way they have ever known as Oakland basketball players. They knew they would have to dig deep and reach above and beyond anywhere they had ever been before. Dedication was written on their faces as each game approached. Opponents knew they meant business as different players stepped up when another wasn’t at the top of his game.

The 2001-02 season marked the third official Division I season for OU and the first that the men's basketball team was eligible for the Mid-Continent Conference postseason tournament and the automatic bid for the NCAA tournament.

The Oakland University men's basketball team opened the 2001-02 pre-season with a 72-70 loss to the AAU Premier All-Stars Saturday, November 10 in Rochester, Michigan. The All-Stars Issac Bullock nailed a shot from behind halfcourt with one second left to lift the All-Stars past Oakland 72-70.

OU traveled to Ann Arbor Friday, November 16 and was defeated by the University of Michigan 81-73. The Golden Grizzlies opened the season at 0-1, while Michigan improved to 1-0 overall. In the final 20 minutes the Golden Grizzlies cut the lead to two points, but couldn't hit the basket that would put them on top. OU then lost its momentum as Michigan went on an 11-0 run. The Grizzlies made every effort to get back in the game but was unsuccessful as they fell by the final margin of eight points, 81-73. Leading the veteran Golden Grizzly squad was senior captain Champagne with 18 points, two boards and two assists. Covington followed with 15 points, a team-leading six boards and five assists. Rozycki also finished with 15 points, four rebounds and an assist. Helms added in 15 points, five boards, two assists and one steal. Rounding out the double-digit scoring for OU was Buddenborg with 10 points, three boards and one steal.

The Golden Grizzlies picked up their first season win in home opener defeating St.Mary's 94-73 Tuesday November 20 in Rochester. The Golden Grizzlies improved to 1-1 overall while St.Mary's fell to 3-6. The Golden Grizzlies had 11-of-12 players score on the evening. The seniors combined for 49 points and 17 boards in the victory. Leading the Golden Grizzlies was Covington with his first double-double of the season. He scored 10 points, dished out 13 assists, grabbed three rebounds and one steal. Sophomore Jordan Sabourin (Sarnia,Ontario/Sarnia Northern Collegiate) led all scorers with 17 points and seven boards. Buddenborg finished with 15 points, six rebounds and one steal, while teammate Helms poured in 14 points, three boards, four assists and one block. Rounding off the double-digit scoring for OU was Rozycki with 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Oakland’s next outing was at the University Hoops Classic in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Oakland faced Pittsburgh (11/23/01) in the opening round and then played against UC-Irvine and host Robert Morris.

Buddenborg(JJ)Small.jpg (273360 bytes)

Senior Brad Buddenborg was
named second team
All-Mid-Continent Conference

Oakland came out strong, but couldn't hold on as Oakland was defeated by Big East Conference opponent Pittsburgh, 70-53. Oakland fell to 1-2 overall, while Pitt improved to 4-0 on the season. Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies was Buddenborg with 15 points and five rebounds, one assist, one blocked shot and one steal. Helms also scored in double figures with 14 points and he co-led the team with the five rebounds, had one assist and two steals. Rounding off the double figure scorers for OU was Champagne with 13 points.

The Golden Grizzlies posed a late second half comeback, but coundn't take the lead back as Oakland lost to UC-Irvine, 68-61, on Saturday, November 24. OU slipped to 1-3 overall, while UC-Irvine improved to 3-1 this season. Oakland outscored the Anteaters 38-27 in the first half, but was outscored 41-23 in the final 20 minutes. Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies was Helms with 21 points and eight rebounds. The final OU scorer in double figures was Buddenborg who scored 13 points after hitting three three-pointers.

Oakland captured its second win of the season against Robert Morris, 77-53, November 25. The Golden Grizzlies started out strong and played tough the entire game to claim the victory. Oakland improved to 2-3 with the win, while the Colonials fell to 0-4. The Golden Grizzlies led by as many as 18 points in the first half of play and took a 35-22 lead into halftime. The Golden Grizzlies outscored Robert Morris 42-31 in the second half. OU shot 47 percent from the field (26-55), 36 percent from three-point territory (8-22) and an outstanding 90 percent from the free throw line (17-19). Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies was Helms with 16 points and he was followed by Buddenborg with 15 and Rozycki with 15. Champagne rounded off OU's double figure scorers with 10 points. Buddenborg also led the team with eight rebounds and he had four assists to lead the team.

The Oakland University men's basketball team broke a two-game losing streak against the University of Akron with a 71-64 victory on Friday, November 30 in the first round of the 2001 Boilermaker Invitational. Oakland improved to 3-3 overall this season, while Akron fell to 2-3. OU and Akron battled back and forth for the first 10 and a half minutes of the game and with 9:07 on the clock, a Helms jumper gave OU a 15-14 lead ... a lead the Golden Grizzlies would not relinquish. Helms was the only Golden Grizzly to score in double figures as he finished with a career-high 32 points. He went 12-21 from the field, 1-2 from the three and 7-9 at the line. Helms grabbed one rebound, had two assists and four steals in the game. Following Helms were seniors Rozycki and Champagne with nine points apiece. Champagne and sophomore Kelly Williams grabbed six rebounds each to lead the squad, while senior Covington tallied eight assists in the OU victory.

The Oakland University Golden Grizzlies were defeated by Purdue University 89-71 on Sunday, December 12 in the championship game of the 2001 Boilermaker Invitational. OU fell to 3-4 overall, while Purdue improved to 4-2 with the victory. OU's Helms was named to the All-Tournament team. He scored 32 points in the win over Akron on Friday and tallied 13 in the Sunday contest against host Purdue. Oakland's biggest downfall of the afternoon was the 36 percent shooting from the free throw line (5-14). Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies was Champagne who finished with 19 points, four rebounds and two assists. Rozycki recorded 17 points, grabbed two rebounds and had two assists, while Helms and Covington rounded off the double figure scoring with 13 and 12 points apiece.

Champagne(IMG110email).jpg (54930 bytes)

Senior Dan Champagne earned
honorable mention
All-Mid-Continent Conference honors

Oakland then defeated crosstown rival Detroit 93-67 Thursday, December 6 in Rochester. The Golden Grizzlies improved to 4-4 overall, while the Titans fell to 4-2. This was the first victory for Oakland over the Titans. Oakland jumped out of the blocks and led throughout the entire game. OU was led by Helms with 28 points, two boards, two assists and three steals. Covington was one rebound and one assist away from a triple double. Covington scored 19 points, tallied nine assists, grabbed nine rebounds and had two steals. Buddenborg finished with 15 points, two assists, and one steal. Rounding out the double-digit scoring for Oakland was Champagne and Kelly Williams with 10 points apiece.

OU made a slow-paced game exciting as OU defeated the Air Force Academy 57-53 on Saturday, December 8 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Golden Grizzlies improved to 5-4 overall, while Air Force fell to 4-4 with the loss. Oakland opened the second half with a 6-0 run taking a 34-28 lead at the 16:36 on a Rozycki driving layup, but the next five points belonged to Falcon players. The Golden Grizzlies and Falcons played a neck-in-neck slow methodical second half and with 3:48 remaining in the game, OU senior Buddenborg hit a three pointer to tie the game at 47-47. This was the momentum the Golden Grizzlies needed. Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies was sophomore Mike Helms with 19 points. Seniors Champagne and Buddenborg also scored in double figures with 11 points apiece.

Sophomore Helms was named Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Week December 10 following OU's victories over Detroit and Air Force. The 2001 Mid-Con Newcomer of the Year scored 28 in the 93-67 win over Detroit and 19 points in the victory at Air Force (57-53). Following OU's split at the Purdue Boilermaker Invitational and a total of 45 points, Helms was OU’s lone representative named to the Boilermaker Invitational All-Tournament Team.

Despite a second half charge, the Golden Grizzlies men's basketball team was defeated by the Raiders of Wright State University, 74-54, Tuesday December 11 in Dayton, Ohio. Oakland moved to 5-5 overall this season, while Wright State improved to 5-3 with the victory. Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies were sophomores Helms and Sabourin. Helms led the team in scoring with 21 points and he grabbed five boards, while the 7-0 Sabourin recorded his first career double double with 11 points and 10 boards. The double double is the second of the season for OU. The Golden Grizzlies shot only 34 percent from the field (23-67), 13 percent from the three (4-30) and 44 percent from the line (4-9), while Wright State hit 49 percent from the field (24-49), 47 percent from three-point territory (9-19) and 68 percent from the charity stripe (17-25).

Down by one with 17 seconds remaining, the Oakland University men's basketball team had the opportunity to take the last shot. Unfortunately for the Golden Grizzlies, the last shot of the game didn't fall and OU was defeated by Ohio 71-70 in Athens, Ohio on Saturday, December 15. OU fell to 5-6 overall, while Ohio improved to 4-2 this season. The entire second half was close from start to finish as the biggest lead by either team was five points, 53-48 Ohio, at 13:22 in the final half. Oakland's latest lead of the game was 62-60 with just over seven minutes remaining. Also scoring in double figures was Rozycki with 16 points and Helms with 12. Covington scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and tallied nine assists in the loss.

Covington4(JJ).jpg (109229 bytes)

Mychal Covington

The Golden Grizzlies men's basketball team fell to No. 17 Michigan State in East Lansing on Wednesday, December 19, 78-50. Oakland slipped to 5-7 overall, while MSU improved to 8-3. Oakland fell behind by as many as 18 points in the first half (33-15/2:39) after shooting only 25 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes. Oakland found itself down by 36 points at one point in the second half (60-24/11:15), but managed to close the margin to 28 for the 78-50 final. Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies was Buddenborg off the bench with 14 points. He was 5-12 from the field, including four three-pointers.

The OU men's basketball team returned to the friendly confines of the Athletics Center 'O'rena to defeat Mid-American Conference foe Toledo 93-68 on Thursday, December 27. The Golden Grizzlies improved to 6-7 overall this season, while Toledo fell to 3-6 with the loss. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak on the road. After a seven-day rest, the Golden Grizzlies came out on fire Thursday night against Toledo in Rochester. Oakland jumped out to a 17-5 lead in the first six minutes and never looked back. OU led by as many as 25 in the first 20 minutes as the Golden Grizzlies took a 58-33 lead into the intermission. The second half saw Toledo cut the lead to 17 points at the 15:49 mark, but OU put a stop to that. The Golden Grizzlies regained composure and increased their lead to 33 points with just over five minutes remaining in the game, 89-56. The Golden Grizzlies played out the next five minutes and took away the 93-68 victory. Oakland was led by Champagne who finished with 26 points after hitting 11-14 (.786) from the field. Rozycki followed with 20 points, while Helms and Covington rounded off the double figure scoring for Oakland with 15 and 12 points scored, respectively.

The Oakland University men's basketball team went to overtime for the first time this year as OU downed Western Michigan 100-94, Saturday, December 29 in Rochester. Oakland improves to 7-7, while WMU drops to 6-5. The win extends the Golden Grizzlies home winning streak to four games. This was the third time in four years that Oakland and Western were tied at the end of regulation. Leading the Grizzlies was Helms as he poured in a career-high 45 points hitting 16-20 from the field. Covington chipped in 14 points and he dished out seven assists. Rounding out the double-figure scoring for OU were Rozycki and Champagne as they had 11 and 10 points apiece, respectively. Pacing Western was Reynolds as he recorded 23 points.

Helms was named CollegeInsider.Com Co-National Star of the Week following the 60-point combined total in the two victories last week for the Golden Grizzlies. Helms shot a blistering 80 percent from the field, on 16-for-20 shooting, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc in OU's victory over Western Michigan. The 45 points scored was a career-high for the Detroit native and only seven points shy of the OU school record. He also recorded five rebounds, three steals and one blocked shot. The Grizzlies guard totaled 60 points on the week, with 15 points against Toledo. Helms also earned his second Mid-Continent Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week award after posting a spectacular scoring effort in a win over Western Michigan.

RWilliamsAction2000-01.jpg (23794 bytes)

Ryan Williams

OU allowed Chicago State to score first, but that was the only lead for the Cougars during the 88-77 Golden Grizzlies victory Thursday, January 3. Oakland improved to 8-7 overall and stood at 1-0 in the conference, while Chicago State fell to 2-10 and 0-1 in the Mid-Con. The Golden Grizzlies had six players score in double figures in the victory over CSU. Leading the way was Helms with 19 points and he was followed by Covington and senior Ryan Williams with 14 points apiece. Rounding off the double figure scorers were senior Buddenborg with 13, Champagne with 11 and Rozycki with 10. Williams' 14 points tied a career high for the Toledo native. Rozycki and sophomore Sabourin led the Golden Grizzlies on the boards with six rebounds apiece.

A free throw with two seconds remaining by senior Jason Rozycki gave the Golden Grizzlies a 58-57 victory over Southern Utah, Saturday, January 5, in Rochester, Michigan. Oakland improves to 9-7 and 2-0 in the Mid-Con, while SUU drops to 3-11 and 0-2 in conference play. The win marks OU's fourth consecutive win and seventh straight home victory, dating back to the UMKC win that ended the 2000-01 season. Oakland held a 57-53 lead with 1:14 remaining as Buddenborg hit two free-throws. After a time out, SUU's Beus cut the lead to two, 57-55, as he made a jumper with 56 seconds left. Beus then tied the game at 57-57 with eight seconds remaining on a layup. OU's Rozycki brought the ball up the court looking to set up the winning basket when SUU's Ross Day fouled Rozycki with two seconds left. The senior guard made the first shot and missed the second giving the T-Birds a final chance. The final chance didn’t fall and the Golden Grizzlies held on for the 58-57 victory. Leading OU was Buddenborg as he recorded a game-high 21 points. Also scoring in double-figures for OU were Helms and Rozycki as they had 16 and 11 points, respectively.

Helms racked up another accolade as he was named Mid-Con Student-Athlete of the Month for December. Helms twice earned Mid-Con Men’s Basketball Player of the Week honors for his play in the month of December. He helped the Golden Grizzlies to a 4-4 record for the month, which gave the Golden Grizzlies their best start since moving to the NCAA Division I level. He averaged 19.9 points per game in eight contests, while also adding 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. He led the team in scoring four times, scored in double figures seven times, and netted better than 20 points on three occasions.

The Oakland University men's basketball team tasted defeat for the first time inside the Mid-Continent Conference this season dropping a 72-63 battle in Kansas City, Missouri on January 10. OU dropped to 9-8, 2-1 Mid-Con. UMKC jumped to 9-4, 1-1 Mid-Con. Leading the way for Oakland was Rozycki with 23 points, two rebounds and two assists. Helms scored 18 points, three rebounds and five assists. Buddenborg was the final Grizzly in double figures with 13 points, nine rebounds and four steals.

Rozycki(IMG072-RD).jpg (70356 bytes)

Jason Rozycki

The Golden Grizzlies were then defeated by Mid-Continent Conference opponent Oral Roberts, 93-61, on Saturday, January 12 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Golden Grizzlies slipped to 9-9 overall and 2-2 in the Mid-Con, while ORU moved to 9-9 and 3-0 in conference play. The loss marked the Grizzlies fifth straight road loss this season. Leading OU in scoring was Champagne as he had 14 points and senior Covington rounded out OU's double-figure scoring with 13 points.

Oakland returned home to the friendly confines of the Athletics Center 'O'rena and claimed an 83-69 victory over Mid-Continent Conference foe IUPUI on January 19. The victory extended their home winning streak to eight games, including the season-ending win last season over UMKC. Oakland is now 10-9 overall and 3-2 in the Mid-Con, while IUPUI falls to 9-8 overall and 3-2 in the conference. Buddenborg scored a layup at the 13:27 mark to give Oakland the 13-11 lead, an edge that it wouldn't give up. Oakland's largest lead of the half was 19 points as OU took a 45-26 lead into the lockerroom at intermission. The Golden Grizzlies capped the victory with a sophomore Alex Miller layup to give OU the 83-69 win. Helms led the way with 36 points, while Covington recorded his second double double of the year scoring 10 points and tallying 12 assists. Also in double figures for the Golden Grizzlies was Buddenborg with 10 points.

The team next claimed a 93-75 victory over Mid-Continent Conference opponent Western Illinois on Thursday, January 24 to give head coach Greg Kampe his 300th career victory. The Golden Grizzlies improved to 11-9 overall and 4-2 in the Mid-Continent Conference, while the Leathernecks fell to 10-9 overall and 1-5 in conference play. Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies was Champagne with 21 points going 7-8 from the floor and 7-9 from the line. Rozycki and Helms each scored 20 points apiece, while Sabourin and Buddenborg recorded 14 and 10 points in the victory, respectively.

The Grizzlies suffered its first loss at home on Saturday, January 26 at the Athletics Ceneter O'rena against Valparaiso, 86-77. OU fell to 11-10 overall and 4-3 in Mid-Con play, while Valpo jumped to 16-6 overall and 6-1 in conference action. OU took a 40-37 lead at the half after leading by as many as 16 on two occasions in the first half. Valpo came out with a vengeance in the second half taking the lead with a three-pointer by Milo Stovall. The Golden Grizzlies could never relinquish the lead from the Crusaders as Valpo defeated Oakland for the seventh time in seven meetings. Covington and Rozycki led the Grizzlies' offensive attack with 19 points apiece. Covington added seven boards, six assists and three steals. Rozycki finished with two rebounds, four assists and three steals. Helms ended the evening with 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and four steals. Buddenborg rounded out the double figure scoring with 10 points, two assists, one block and one steal.

WilliamsK(IMG019-RD)Small.jpg (45103 bytes)

Kelly Williams

IPFW defeated OU 77-71, on Monday, January 28 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Oakland dropped to 11-11, while IPFW improved to 4-15. The loss marks the first time the Golden Grizzlies have ever been defeated by IPFW as OU has a 6-1 lifetime record against the Mastadons. Oakland outscored the Mastadons 38-34 in the first half but were outscored 43-33 in the second half. The Golden Grizzlies turned the ball over 22 times in the 77-71 loss. Leading OU was Rozycki as he scored 18 points, while Helms added 15 points. Sabourin recorded 14 points and led the team in rebounds as he pulled down eight boards. Rounding out OU in double-figure scoring was Champagne as he had 10 points. Leading IPFW was Terry Collins as he posted a career high of 25 points.

Oakland dealt Southern Utah its worse loss since 1997 as the Golden Grizzlies defeated the Thunderbirds 84-60 on Thursday, January 31 in Cedar City, Utah. OU moved to 12-11, 5-3 in the Mid-Continent Conference, while SUU slipped to 8-12, 5-3 in conference action. The 24-point margin of victory is the biggest for OU in the four-year history in the Mid-Continent Conference. The Golden Grizzlies' victory at SUU marked the first in Cedar City for OU and snapped a five-game Southern Utah winning streak. One of the biggest stories for OU was on the boards as the Golden Grizzlies grabbed 44 rebounds to SUU's 28. Oakland grabbed 23 offensive rebounds, while the Thunderbirds pulled down only eight. Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies was Buddenborg with 22 points and six rebounds. Helms scored 19 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists, while Rozycki followed with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists. Kelly Williams rounded off the double figure scoring for Oakland with 11 points and he grabbed five rebounds. Champagne scored eight points and pulled down a career-high tying 12 rebounds.

Despite trailing much of the game, the Golden Grizzlies men's hoops team pulled out a 78-73 victory over Chicago State on Saturday, February 2 in Chicago, Illinois. Oakland improved to 13-11 overall and 6-3 in the Mid-Continent Conference, while CSU dropped to 2-19 overall and 0-9 in conference action. The Golden Grizzlies shot 50 percent from the field on the game, following a 70 percent shooting performance in the second half. Leading the way for the Golden Grizzlies was Champagne with a season-high tying 27 points hitting 11-12 field goals. Rozycki followed with 22 points and senior Covington scored 12 points, dished out nine assists, grabbed five rebounds and had two steals. Rounding off the double figure scoring was Helms with 10 points.

OU turned the table and defeated Oral Roberts, 85-76, Thursday, February 7 in Rochester. Oakland improved to 14-11, 7-3 in Mid-Continent Conference play, while ORU slipped to 12-12, 6-3 in conference play. The Golden Eagles and Golden Grizzlies played to a 35-35 tie at the half and Oakland opened up the second half on a 6-0 run at the beginning of the second half to go up 41-35. OU extended its lead to 17, but Oral Roberts battled back and cut OU’s lead to five, 61-56 as Tyrone Tiggs drained a three with 9:45 left. OU once again increased its lead to 11 as Covington hit a layup at the 2:55 mark to make it a 74-66 game. The Golden Eagles hit two three-pointers down the stretch, but the Golden Grizzlies proved to be too much as Oakland downed ORU, 85-76. Leading the Grizzlies was Champagne as he recorded team highs of 24 points and nine rebounds. Buddenborg poured in 22 points and grabbed seven boards, while Covington had 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Rozycki and Helms each recorded 11 points in the victory.

Sabourin (BK) Small.jpg (38594 bytes)

Jordan Sabourin

OU also turned the tables on UMKC and registered a 72-59 victory in Rochester on Saturday, February 9. The victory marks the fourth in a row for the Golden Grizzlies and the 10th at home this season. OU improved to 15-11 overall and 8-3 in the Mid-Continent Conference, while UMKC falls to 13-9 and 4-6 in the Mid-Con. Oakland led by as many as 20 in the second half , 70-50, with 5:33 remaining, and held on for the 72-59 victory. All five Oakland seniors -- Buddenborg, Champagne, Rozycki, Covington and Ryan Williams -- scored in the Mid-Con win. Buddenborg and Helms both scored 18 points, while Champagne rounded off the double figure scorers with 15 points. Rozycki and Covington both scored eight points apiece and Williams scored the last two points of the game at the 2:38 mark.

The Golden Grizzlies upped its record in overtime games to 2-0 this season with a 94-92 victory over the IUPUI Jaguars on Saturday, February 6 in Indianapolis. The Golden Grizzlies improved to 16-11 overall and 9-3 in the Mid-Continent Conference, while the Jaguars fell to 12-13 overall and 5-7 in league play. OU's Rozycki had a chance at the end of regulation, but couldn't get a shot off, and the game went into overtime with the two teams knotted at 77 apiece. The Golden Grizzlies opened up the additional five-minute period on a 10-3 run to take an 87-80 lead. The Jaguars didn't let up and closed the gap to 89-84 with 1:11 remaining in OT. The Golden Grizzlies held on and claimed the 94-92 overtime victory. Helms scored 23 points, including 11 in overtime, to lead the Golden Grizzlies. Senior Brad Buddenborg followed with 22 points and he grabbed six rebounds, recorded two steals and had one assist. Covington scored 12 points and dished out eight assists, while Champagne and Kelly Williams rounded off the double figure scorers with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Champagne grabbed five rebounds and Williams pulled down four and had one blocked shot. The victory marks the fifth in a row for the Golden Grizzlies.

OU traveled to Valparaiso, Indiana to face Valpo for first place in the Mid-Continent Conference on February 21. The Golden Grizzlies trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half but made a late charge to get within three. Oakland couldn't come up with the tie and Valparaiso made its free throws in the final minute to foil Oakland's comeback, 79-72, in the Athletics-Recreation Center. Oakland slipped to 16-12, 9-4 Mid-Con, while Valpo jumped to 21-7, 11-2 in conference play. Leading Oakland was Covington as he had a career-high 14 assists. He finished the game with a double-double scoring 10 points. Buddenborg scored a game-high 23 points for the Golden Grizzlies. Also in double figures was Champagne tallying 12 points and five rebounds, while Helms ended the game with 11 points and nine rebounds.

The Golden Grizzlies used a 55-point second-half to comeback and defeat Western Illinois, 86-82, in Macomb, Illinois. With the win the Golden Grizzlies finished the regular season at 17-12, 10-4 in the Mid-Continent Conference and will enter the conference tourney as the number three seed behind Valparaiso and Oral Roberts. Western Illinois finished the regular season 12-15 and 3-11 in conference play. The win caps the Grizzlies first winning season at the Division I level. The Leathernecks fought back with a 4-0 run that cut their deficit to two, 82-80, and again, 84-82, with five seconds left as WIU's Johnny Johnson scored the final six points for Western on two layups and a pair of free throws. Rozycki sealed the win for OU with a pair of free throws with five seconds left. Leading OU was Helms as he poured in a game-high 25 points as he was 12-16 from the free-throw line. Buddenborg collected 17 points, while Rozycki and Covington each added 13 points in the victory. Rounding out OU's double-figure scoring was Ryan Williams as he had 11 points.

Oakland placed three on the All-Mid-Continent Conference teams with Mike Helms earning first team honors. Brad Buddenborg was tabbed second team and Champagne was placed on the honorable mention team. The team was named prior to the Mid-Con Tournament.

Martin(IMG128-RD).jpg (34495 bytes)

Adrian Martin

Sixth-seeded IUPUI proved that it is indeed difficult to beat a team three times in one season, as the Jaguars upset No. 3 Oakland, 90-84, in the final quarterfinal game of the 2002 Mid-Continent Conference Men's Basketball Tournament. Oakland had beaten IUPUI twice during the regular season, but the Jaguars used strong inside play and a solid effort from the free throw line to advance to the tourney semifinals for the second straight year. The two teams played a close contest for much of the first half, and were tied at 27-27 with just under seven minutes left in the half. IUPUI (14-14) outscored Oakland by a 21-11 margin to close the first 20 minutes of play, and led by ten (48-38) at the half. Oakland (17-13), playing in its first-ever Mid-Con Tournament, went on a 19-10 run to start the second half, cutting the lead to one point (58-57) at the the 13-minute mark. IUPUI could only push its lead to seven points over the next nine minutes. A three-pointer by Brian Buchanan pushed IUPUI's lead to eight points, but that was the last field goal the Jaguars would score. IUPUI made 13 of 15 free throws the rest of the way, holding off a variety of Oakland rallies. The Jaguars made 32-of-39 free throws for the game, outscoring the Golden Grizzlies by 20 points (32-12). Charles Price led IUPUI with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Brian Buchanan had 16 points, including four treys. Matthew Crenshaw and Taj Hawkins each added 14, with Hawkins adding 10 assists for a double-double. All five starters scored in double figures for Oakland, including Helms and Rozycki, who each had 20. Buddenborg added 19, while Covington posted 12 points and 12 assists; the latter number tied a tournament record.

One chance came and one chance went.  It was suppose to be Oakland’s year. With stunning upsets at home against Detroit, Western Michigan and a clump of Mid-Con foes, the Golden Grizzlies experienced success without an NCAA appearance. It was a special group with big hearts, three 1000-point career scorers, players that re-wrote the record books and big players that came through with big games. Each set of eyes told their story as the final buzzer sounded at the Mid-Con tournament. After years of climbing it was over just like that. Next year new faces will take the court and a new era will begin. Perhaps this season will be overlooked down the road as just another season, but for the seniors, players and coaches who carried the program to Division I and the fans that believed in their success on and off the court, this team will live on in Oakland basketball history.

Golden Grizzlies Photo Galleries