Jan. 30, 2017

| Terry can be reached at Terry.Foster@cbsradio.com

The freshman was on the defensive and his head hung low as head coach Greg Kampe lit into Brailen Neely during a halftime scalding for lackadaisical point guard play.

"If you keep doing that I will put Chris Palombizio in at point guard," Kampe screamed. "I can't have that. You are not valuing the ball."

Neely was too casual on the floor and did not put his guys in position to succeed. All Kampe could see was another home game slipping away Sunday afternoon. During one of his bad plays, Neely threw the ball into the post for Jalen Hayes. There was just one problem. Hayes was not there.

The tirade was the loudest rant of the season for Kampe. But it was all hugs and kisses after Oakland finally pulled away to a 79-70 overtime victory over Milwaukee at the O'rena.

Neely blocked out the screaming, hung onto the message and rebounded from the tongue lashing with a solid second half. Teammates told him all season his moment would come and to be prepared for a Kampe undressing. He could not pout and sulk. He needed to respond.

He did and finished with 10 points and seven assists.

Neely played 43 minutes and ran the team in the second half without a turnover. He hit a pair of clutch shots in regulation and four important free throws without a miss in overtime. Neely was singled out by Kampe again after the game, but this time the words were more tolerable and complimentary.

"Bugs you did an unbelievable job," Kampe told Neely. "That is what a point guard is supposed to do. That is the expectation. You should want to be in that position. You played an outstanding half and you were there for us in the clutch."

The Black and Gold is officially being run by a freshman after junior point guard Stevie Clark broke his left hand while playing against Cleveland State on Jan 16. He is expected to have the cast removed on Feb. 7th and the team hopes he can return three days later against UDM at Calihan Hall.

In the course of a few months the point guard position morphed from a future NBA player into a freshman who was a change of pace guy.

"The coach gets on me because he expects me to be perfect and run his team," Neely said. "So when I do stuff like that (in the first half) I expect him to get in me so it won't happen again. I try to block out all the yelling and take the good out of it."

The Golden Grizzlies needed the youthful leadership of Neely in their quest to salvage this season. Oakland (16-7 overall, 6-4 in the Horizon League) remains in a tie for third place with Wright State in the Horizon League, one game behind second place Green Bay. But they are three games behind in the loss column to first place Valparaiso with eight games remaining.

Kampe hopes this game jump starts his team, which has fallen asleep the last couple weeks. Neely wants to be a big part of the process.

"It took a minute for coach to trust me with the ball as a freshman," Neely said. "It took some time. The coaching staff told me to be ready."

Oakland can still tinker with other guys at the point. Nick Daniels can play the position along with Sherron Dorsey-Walker. Jaevin Cumberland is in reserve too, but has not been getting much playing time.




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