Grizzlies Tower Over Roos

Elijah Ringler

The UMKC men’s basketball team has faced a number of opponents this season who are bigger, have more depth and are considerably more talented than the Roos; but they had not yet faced a challenge like they did on Feb. 24 against the Oakland Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies, who were the Summit League regular-season champions, were the first team in Division I to clinch a conference title this year.

The Grizzlies faced a Roos squad that was without most of its frontcourt due to injury, including leading scorer senior Jay Couisnard.

Compounding matters was the fact that Oakland’s frontcourt is one of the largest in the conference and includes 6’11” NBA prospect Keith Benson. The tallest player on the floor for the Roos was only 6’6”.

Despite being overmatched in the frontcourt, the Roos stayed close throughout the entire game before Oakland pulled away at the end for 103-90 victory.

Senior Bakari Lewis, junior Reggie Chamberlain and sophomore Max Rockmann each scored 20 points. Rockmann was particularly impressive despite being matched up against Benson for most of the night.

“I had to keep attacking,” Rockmann said. “I don’t worry about my shot getting blocked.”

Stopping Benson was another story. The 2010 Lou Henson Award winner as the nation’s top mid-major player scored 26 points on 10-13 shooting along with 14 rebounds and three blocks. Benson had little trouble getting position in the post and simply going above everyone else for easy points.

“We just tried to stay aggressive,” junior Dustin Dibble said. “We had different roles tonight. Coach [Matt Brown] challenged each of us to have a career-high in rebounds. We had to adapt.”

The Grizzlies were dominant on the boards, out-rebounding UMKC 39 to 24. Oakland had more offensive rebounds (14) than the Roos had defensive rebounds (12). Dibble stepped up to Coach Brown’s challenge, leading the team by tying a career-high with six rebounds.

UMKC struggled defensively all night, allowing the Grizzlies to shoot over 60 percent from the field and 45 percent from three-point range. Oakland would simply move the ball until they had a good jump shot when UMKC played zone and the attacked the basket when the Roos played man-to-man. The tried to front Benson and they tried to double-team him and nothing worked.

The Roos only played seven players and none of them are considered traditional post players. Cousinard and junior Bernard Kamwa suited up but did not play. Freshman Trinity Hall sat on the bench in street clothes.

Couisnard and Hall’s absences were apparent as UMKC sorely missed their two most athletic players as Oakland consistently made plays over the Roos. Kamwa, UMKC’s largest player, could have possibly provided the size needed to slow Benson down.

The loss was tough, but the Roos proved something against the Grizzlies. Despite being overmatched in almost every way, UMKC fought very hard with a small lineup and never let the game get out of hand.

NOTES: The Roos fell to 16-12 (9-8 in Summit League play) as the Grizzlies improved to 21-9 (16-1). Senior Spencer Johnson fouled out with 14:59 remaining in the game. UMKC’s reached the 90-point mark for only the second time this season. Court Warming festivities took place throughout the night with an ‘80s theme.

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