Why Kampe fears playing SUU back to back
“The last time that happened was the worst loss of my coaching career,” said Kampe of a 2003 Mid-Continent Tournament loss to the Thunderbirds.
After blowing out Southern Utah, 92-77, on Senior Night March 1, Oakland was forced to play the Thunderbirds just eight days later in Kansas City (where the tournament was held before moving to Tulsa, Okla.), by virtue of a coin flip.
Oakland finished tied for second place with IUPUI, while former league front-runner Valparaiso won the league. All tiebreakers had been exhausted, leading to the “flip” of fate, which Kampe insists took place without his presence.
SUU whipped Oakland, 66-55, in the Mid-Con quarterfinals.
“That was the worst loss I’ve had as a coach because we went into the next season picked to win the conference. We finished seventh. After that, we had the worst 2-3 year period in Oakland basketball history since I’ve been the coach. It all started with those games.”
He said the program turned back in the right direction with its unexpected conference title in 2005.
After their first NCAA tournament appearance got them going back in the right direction, they’ve appeared in the conference championship game four of the past six seasons.
“This is a new year and a new day. I haven’t even talked to them about it, but in my mind, it’s still there,” Kampe said.
Oakland beat SUU by 16 points to open the conference season in December and 14 points in Saturday’s regular-season finale. We’ll see what the present has in store for the Grizzlies at 7 p.m. Saturday.