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Rochester — Oakland basketball coach Greg Kampe loves his tough schedules.

New athletic director Jeff Konya, though, is having Kampe dial it down a bit in hopes of bulking up the home schedule and showcasing the O'Rena's new blacktop court, which has created a lot of buzz nationally and will be accompanied by new lights, sound and flashy pregame introductions.

Last year, Oakland played Michigan State, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Clemson, Maryland and Iowa State in nonconference games — none at home.

This year, Oakland plays Michigan State, Georgia, Washington and Virginia — none at home.

Next year, Oakland plays as many as 18 home games, including Georgia.

"(Jeff) wanted to change our scheduling philosophy, and he is charge, so we've backed it down," Kampe said. "He has really made a push to build this place, fill it up and get people in here.

"Personally, do I want to play 10, eight (tough) teams? Yeah, I do. That was our philosophy to build the program. It kills our record, but it's been good to us. But this is a new way of doing things, and I'm on board."

More home games — and possibly victories — could help Oakland get back to the NCAA Tournament.

One thing that will not change, however, is Michigan State.

Oakland and Michigan State play Dec. 22 at The Palace, marking the 10th time in 11 seasons the teams meet.

Since Michigan State opened the O'Rena in 1998, the games have either been in East Lansing or The Palace, the latter considered Oakland's home game. Although Kampe has asked several times, Michigan State isn't likely to play on Oakland's campus again.

"Our relationship with Michigan State ... if I were to list five factors how you can go from Division II to Division I and have the success we've had, that would be one of the factors," said Kampe, who is 0-13 against Michigan State. "Tom Izzo's friendship has been true, and no matter what, he plays those games."

Kampe also would love to play Michigan — the teams met eight times from 1999-2011 — but Wolverines officials have no plans to restart the series.

He, however, respects the decision of Michigan coach John Beilein, who was 4-0 against Oakland before altering the schedule. Their relationship is good — they talk often, and Beilein participated in Kampe's cancer charity this year.

"We had that going ... Michigan State on the road, Michigan at The Palace, Michigan State the next year at The Palace, Michigan on the road," Kampe said. "We had it set up perfect.

"Do I wish that was still going on? Yes. But I cannot have opinions of a guy who wants to run a program how he runs his program. That's his decision."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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