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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Monday, March 12, 2012

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.
For the first time in three years, Oakland wasn’t participating in Selection Sunday as the NCAA tournament field was announced on CBS. The Grizzlies already knew their fate, a return to the College Insider Tournament.
“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.”


Blogger Rick Longsworth said...

As in IPFW alum and booster I have been thrilled with the growth of the competitive stature of the Summit League. With the league's higher RPI this season and Oral Robert's record and RPI, ORU deserved an at-large bid. The fact that didn't happen is very disappointing because if it didn't happen this year, will the Summit League ever get an at-large bid? The Summit League, like many of the mid-major conferences, is undervalued but it seems to be given no respect. I suppose that won't change until the Summit League wins some games, but that is tough to do when you are always seeded 13 or 14. I wonder if the lack of respect paid to the Summit League is one of the reasons Ron Hunter left IUPUI for Georgia State and the CAA.

March 17, 2012 at 10:06 AM 

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