Greg Kampe faces alma mater once again; top scorers Hamilton, Lillard could meet in CIT
|Reggie Hamilton could see 2nd-leading scorer Damian Lillard in the CIT.|
“You feel sick about it. I feel bad for our fans and bad for our kids,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “I kept saying at the end of last year that people don’t realize how lucky we’ve been. … You get used to winning and it isn’t easy. Hopefully our players feel the same way I do watching this.”
Fellow Summit League standout Oral Roberts, which matched the Grizzlies’ 17-1 regular-season mark of a season ago, was the first team left outside of the field of 68 for the Big Dance. Kampe sympathized with the Golden Eagles’ plight.
“I wasn’t surprised by it but I felt bad about it,” he said. “They deserved it and earned it. … That could’ve been us.”
The Eagles defeated top-10 Xavier on the road as well as Texas Tech and carried an RPI of 46 on Sunday.
“The way things have changed and the landscape of college basketball and how good everyone is getting, they’re looking for reasons to keep teams out of that tournament. Oral Roberts scheduled well. You can’t blame them,” Kampe said.
“What they’re basically telling us is: ‘You’re not getting in unless you win your league.’ ”
As far as Kampe and the Golden Grizzlies are concerned, it’s a homecoming of sorts for the longtime Oakland coach, who will face his alma mater, Bowling Green, in Wednesday’s CIT first-round game.
Kampe is a 1978 graduate of the school where he became the first and only player in Mid-American Conference history to earn first-team all-academic honors in both football and basketball. The Grizzlies have won the past three meetings in the all-time series.
“I spent a lot of time there and I have a lot of close, good friends,” Kampe said. “It’s a program close to my heart. I’ve always wished them success and to do well, but I’m going to have to cheer against them Wednesday.”
The MAC is sending three teams to the CIT for the second consecutive season, while the Falcons (16-15) haven’t been to the postseason in three years.
The most notable other name in the CIT would be Big Sky runner-up Weber State (24-6), which features the nation’s second-leading scorer in Damian Lillard. He is, of course, second behind Oakland’s Reggie Hamilton.
It’s possible the two teams could later meet, as the CIT won’t actually be seeded until the second round.
“Two of the top scorers in the nation in the same tournament is pretty exciting, but the bigger picture is I get another chance to play a game in front of the Oakland fans," Hamilton said. "That’s pretty sweet and I’m excited for it.”
After collapsing in the Big Sky tourney championship game, the Wildcats were expecting an NIT berth, but were sorely disappointed.
Oakland kicks off its fourth consecutive postseason run Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the O’rena. The game can be heard on WXOU-AM (88.3) and a live chat will be available on “Grizzlies Den.”