To best describe the task of defending 5-foot-9, 176-pound Oakland point guard Kahlil Felder, whose team visits the Washington Huskies for a 1:30 p.m. game Saturday at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, coach Lorenzo Romar has to reach all the way back to his rec-league days.
Remember that old guy, the one who was smaller and slower than you, but still found a way to score every time down the court and help his team win the game?
“You were faster than them. You could jump higher than them,” Romar said. “(But) you could never beat them. Because they just knew how to play. They just knew how to get you looking that way, and then they’d take off that way. He’s like that, and their team is kind of like that. They just know how to play.”
The Golden Grizzlies, members of the Horizon League, also play more like the Huskies than most of the teams UW has faced to this point. Romar noted that Oakland, a university in Michigan, doesn’t play a “mad-dash, first-one-to-100-wins” style of basketball, but its tempo numbers suggest a quick pace: According to advanced statistics analyst Ken Pomeroy, Oakland ranks 13th nationally in possessions per game with 75.6, and 18th in average offensive possession time at 14.9 seconds (the Huskies, at 13.3 seconds, lead the country in that category).
“They’re going to be an opponent unlike any opponent we’ve faced this year,” Romar said.
The Huskies (7-2) will have to pay particular attention to Felder, who leads his team with per-game averages of 24.6 points and 8.9 assists, and plays an average of 37.2 minutes per game.
That’s partially because Oakland (6-3) maintains a short bench. The top six players in the Golden Grizzlies’ rotation average at least 23.9 minutes per game, with the next-highest checking in at 9.2.
Their offensive production is almost exclusively contained within their starting lineup, but it’s a good one. Romar rattled off the most impressive statistics: “At times, they’re even methodical in the halfcourt. But it’s just that when they get their opportunities, they capitalize. Seventy-five percent as a team from the foul line. Forty percent from three as a team. Forty-six percent as a team from the field. So they’re just very, very efficient.”
The free-throw and 3-point clips both rank in the top 25 nationally, and at 85.6 points per game, the Golden Grizzlies score more than all but 20 Division 1 teams, Washington included — though the Huskies allow opponents to shoot only 36.0 percent from the field, which ranks ninth nationally, and Oakland’s field-goal percentage defense ranks 93rd.
Saturday’s game is one of three for the Huskies in the next 10 days before they begin Pac-12 play on Jan. 1 against UCLA. Seattle University visits Hec Ed on Tuesday, and UW closes its nonconference slate with a Dec. 28 game against UC-Santa Barbara.
“I think our guys are starting to sense” that conference play is drawing nearer, Romar said. But the Huskies know that Oakland can make them look silly if they’re thinking about anything other than Saturday’s game.
“We talk about in the locker room, the next game coming up is our biggest game, so we’re not overlooking any team,” UW freshman guard David Crisp said. “Coming into this, Oakland is a very good, solid team. So we’ve really been preparing for them and trying to go one game at a time.”
OAKLAND (6-3) AT WASHINGTON (7-2)
1:30 P.M., HEC EDMUNDSON PAVILION, SEATTLE
TV: Pac-12 Networks. Radio: 1000-AM, 97.7-FM
All-time series: First meeting.
PROJECTED STARTERS (STATISTICS FOR 2015-16)
20 Kahlil Felder, G (5-9, jr.): 24.6 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game, 4.6 assists per game
30 Sherron Dorsey-Walker, G (6-4, r-jr.): 10.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg
2 Nick Daniels, G (6-1, r-so.): 4.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg
4 Jalen Hayes, F (6-7, r-so.): 11.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg
24 Percy Gibson, C (6-9, r-sr.): 15.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg
12 Andrew Andrews, G (6-2, r-sr.): 21.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.6 apg
5 Dejounte Murray, G (6-4 1/2 , fr.): 13.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 4.1 apg
4 Matisse Thybulle, G (6-5, fr.): 4.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg
15 Noah Dickerson, F (6-8, fr.): 7.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg
0 Marquese Chriss, F (6-9, fr.): 13.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Scouting report: Located in Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills, Michigan, Oakland University is in its third season as a member of the Horizon League after leaving the Summit League following the 2012-13 season. Oakland’s last NCAA tournament appearance was in 2011, and the Golden Grizzlies were picked by coaches and media to finish second in the Horizon League preseason poll. … Oakland’s wins this season: Eastern Michigan, Alcorn State, Abilene Christian, Robert Morris, Binghamton and Toledo. Oakland’s losses: at Colorado State (95-89), at Southern Illinois (97-88) and at Georgia (86-82). … The Golden Grizzlies have not scored fewer than 76 points in a game this season, and did not score fewer than 82 points in any of their three losses, so UW will likely have to prepare for a high-scoring affair. … Felder was picked by media and coaches as the Horizon League’s preseason player of the year. Two Golden Grizzlies players, Hayes and Daniels, were named to the league’s all-freshmen team last season.