State hoops: Oakland's Rashad Williams can make more free throws in a row than you can

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

You can see what Rashad Williams can do with a hand, or two, in his face. The Oakland junior guard scored 32, with 10 made 3-pointers, against Oklahoma State, and then scored 36, with eight made 3-pointers, against Michigan State.

Well, you should see what he can do with a clear look at the basket.

Last week during practice, Williams made 193 free throws in a row. The 194th went in and popped out.

"It was incredible," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. "Everybody stood and watched. They gave him a standing ovation when he missed.

"It's the most I've ever seen in a row."

Oakland's Rashad Williams, right, has scored 68 points over the past two games.

Williams was trying to make a point to Kampe, after he had missed three of five attempts in the loss to Oklahoma State.

"I was (bleeping) on him," Kampe said.

So, at practice, he made 75 in a row. Then practice stopped for several minutes as Kampe addressed the team. Then, after the mini-meeting, Williams made 118 more.

Once he got close to 100, Kampe tried to end the show.

"At 96 or 97, I was bumping into him, knocking him off his spot," Kampe said. "But he went right on for 193."

Kampe said the most he'd ever seen before was probably in the 90s, by Travis Bader, the sharpshooter who played for Oakland from 2010-14.

Kampe said he couldn't remember the exact number, not that it mattered, because "he shattered it," Kampe said of Williams.

Of the 193 free throws, Kampe estimated he hit the rim maybe four times.

"The other ones," said Kampe, "the net never moved."

In his next game, Williams was 4-for-5 on free throws against Michigan State, but did his damage from beyond the arc, despite being guarded by players 4 inches taller than the Detroit native's 6-foot-2 frame. 

Along with JUCO transfer Jalen Moore, Oakland might have the best backcourt in the Horizon League — and Oakland (0-7) starts league play this weekend, with two games at UIC. Williams was limited early in the season because of a shoulder injury that probably will require surgery at season's end, but he's back to his old self now.

For his performance against Michigan State, he was named co-Horizon League player of the week. He won the award outright last week.

Reserves on the way

Detroit Mercy picked up its first win of the season, beating Western Michigan, 67-57, on Saturday, following losses to Michigan State, Notre Dame and Kent State.

Interestingly, the Titans only used seven players all game — and one of those players, Brad Calipari, only played three minutes.

Detroit Mercy only played eight players in each of the first three games.

The depth is about to change, with junior forward Chris Brandon, last season's leading rebounder, getting close to returning from a wrist injury. Tulane 7-footer Buay Koka has joined the program and is eligible and should play soon, and Niagara 6-11 swingman Noah Waterman is expected to be declared immediately eligible Wednesday.

The NCAA could actually rule to make all transfers immediately eligible Wednesday, at least all the transfers that are still waiting. Most already had been approved.

Waterman might not have been available for many of the early season games anyway, as he's been among the Detroit Mercy players in contact-tracing protocol.

Despite the lack of depth, Detroit Mercy has held its own in the early going — and also despite poor shooting from junior guard Antoine Davis, who is making just 33% of his field goals this season, and 12% on 3-pointers.

Slam dunks

►On Tuesday afternoon, longtime Oakland broadcaster Neal Ruhl started getting a stream of text messages from friends and colleagues, and he was a bit confused. Apparently, folks had noticed Oakland posted a job ad for a broadcaster. "Welp, see ya later," Ruhl said in a text message, with the picture of the ad, joking about the situation while using his signature sign-off phrase. Ruhl, of course, is staying on the job. The ad was required to be posted by Oakland, before it officially hires former Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins to call four Golden Grizzlies' games on ESPN 3, Dec. 26-27 against Northern Kentucky and Jan. 1-2 against Wright State.

►The Eastern Michigan men have played just three games, none in nearly a week, and won't play Valparaiso on Wednesday because of a lack of available players for the Eagles because of COVID-19. The game will be made up next season. It's not clear when Eastern will play again; it has a home game against Olivet scheduled for Saturday. The Eagles were barely able to play Michigan State this year, with six players out, mostly for contact-tracing purposes.

►Oakland women are 2-0 in Horizon League play for the first time since 2016-17. That also was the team's last winning season. "After these last two years," said head coach Jeff Tungate, "I can assure you cocky is not a problem." Oakland has won 17 games, total, the last two seasons, and Tungate missed most of last season recovering from back surgery, and most of this preseason recovering from COVID-19.

►Western Michigan women scrapped a home game set for Friday because of COVID-19 testing issues with the Loyola-Chicago program. Loyola-Chicago has since scheduled a home game with Purdue Northwest instead.

►Western Michigan men are worth keeping an eye on because of some pretty good defense, but the offense is way down, to 61 points a game (293rd in the nation), with last season's leading scorers, Michael Flowers and Brandon Johnson, having transferred.

►Oakland, shut down for two weeks in preseason because of a COVID-19 outbreak, was the only Division I men's program to play its entire regularly scheduled nonconference schedule.

►Michigan junior forward Naz Hillmon is averaging 24.8 points, 14th-best in the country — a big reason why the Wolverines are 6-0 and ranked 19th.

►Detroit Mercy earned a $42,000 payday from its game at Michigan State.

State power rankings

MEN

1. Michigan State (6-0)

2. Michigan (6-0)

3. Detroit Mercy (1-3)

4. Western Michigan (1-4)

5. Oakland (0-7)

6. Eastern Michigan (1-2)

7. Central Michigan (3-3)

WOMEN

1. Michigan (5-0)

2. Michigan State (4-0)

3. Central Michigan (3-1)

4. Oakland (2-2)

5. Eastern Michigan (3-2)

6. Western Michigan (1-2)

7. Detroit Mercy (0-6)

Games of the week

MEN

►Western Michigan at Central Michigan, 2 Friday, ESPN3

►Wright State at Detroit Mercy, 2 Saturday and 2 Sunday, ESPN3

►Oakland at UIC, 7 Saturday and 5 Sunday, ESPN+

►Michigan State at Northwestern, 7 Sunday, BTN

WOMEN

►Central Michigan at Michigan State, 5 Friday, BTN+

►Michigan at Illinois, noon Saturday, BTN

►Eastern Michigan vs. Gonzaga, 4:30 Sunday

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984