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Rochester Hills

April 2, 2014

OU coach Greg Kampe talks past, future of basketball program

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Oakland University head basketball coach Greg Kampe, along with players and staff members, are pictured during a game against Michigan State University in December of last year. The Golden Grizzlies completed their first season in the Horizon League, which Kampe described as “exciting” but “difficult.”

Last season may be best referred to as a mixed bag for Oakland University’s men’s basketball team.

On the positive side, the Golden Grizzlies swept the season series against their rival, the University of Detroit Mercy, in their inaugural season in the Horizon League. Oakland also received national exposure after redshirt senior Travis Bader broke the all-time record for most 3-pointers made and attempted in NCAA Division I history.

While there were also other positives, including the emergence of point guard Kahlil Felder, who was selected as the Horizon League Freshman of the Year, Oakland’s overall record of 13-20 does not represent the type of season Grizzlies fans have become accustomed to.

Head coach Greg Kampe offered his evaluation of Oakland’s season as a whole.

“It’s a tough one to evaluate because a lot of great things happened,” he said. “We didn’t have the year we’re accustomed to having, but we lost four kids before the season even started; we lost two more during the season. And the new league — it’s a much higher level then the league we were in (Summit League). And then we played the toughest schedule in the country. When you mix all those things together, you probably have a recipe for not having the type of season we’re used to having.

“But on the other side of that, we did a lot of great things. We reaped a lot of publicity. We played on national TV double-digit times. We played a lot of great basketball games that created a lot of media attention. The record’s not good enough, but despite everything, it was a pretty good year.”

While competing in the Summit League, Oakland made the NCAA tournament three times. If the Golden Grizzlies hope to have the same type of success in the Horizon League, they will likely have to take a different path to get there.

“It was exciting, but it was difficult,” Kampe said of Oakland’s first season in the Horizon League. “We have to get deeper, and I think we have to get bigger. Most of the teams in the league were bigger than us. For us to be a top-three team in this league in a year-in, year-out basis, we’ve got to improve our quality at the four-spot (power forward).  Our goals now are in recruiting and changing the make-up of our roster. We have to get bigger and stronger. If we can do that, can see ourselves moving up in the Horizon League standings — a year or two probably to do. I like our team coming back — a young team, but I think pretty athletic.”

Recruiting will be a key factor in determining how successful Oakland will be in the Horizon League, and some of the new faces fans can expect to see in upcoming years are shooting guard Collin Weaver (Phoenix) and forward Femi Olujobi (Brentwood, N.Y.). Aside from Felder, the Golden Grizzlies also had a couple of other freshmen on their roster who could be big contributors in the future in forward Jalen Hayes and guard Nick Daniels.

And with veterans such as Corey Petros, who was selected All-League second team, also in the mix, Oakland may have an opportunity to trend upward in the Horizon League.

While Kampe indicated that he does “feel good” about the program moving forward, fans may have to exercise some patience as he tries to put together the kind of roster that is best equipped to compete for a Horizon League championship.

“It’s a transition stage,” he said. “We went from a league that was ranked 18-20 in the country to a league that’s ranked 10-12 — that’s a big jump. Our focus has to be improvement of our roster; the process has to be on that. And then the games will take care of themselves once we do that. We understand what we have to do and how to get there, and I believe we will.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.