So much for holiday cheer.
Oakland coach Greg Kampe is in a mood, with his Golden Grizzlies having started the season 4-7 — their worst 11-game start since they were 2-9 in 2013.
And things don’t get any easier for Oakland this week, with a trip to Georgia (5-4) of the SEC Tuesday, then in-state rival Michigan State (9-2) on Friday.
In the last two weeks, Kampe’s team has dropped three of four, and he’s let his frustrations show. During one in-game radio interview with lead play-by-play man Neal Ruhl, he lamented the rebounding, saying if that didn’t improve, “We’re not going to beat anybody.”
During a halftime interview Sunday, for the road game at Hartford, he blasted his team’s defense, saying to Ruhl, “We couldn’t guard you.”
Things really boiled over two games ago, at Northeastern (home of his former athletic director, Jeff Konya), when Kampe was ejected from the game for arguing with officials.
Kampe figures that was the seventh or eighth ejection of his career, which dates to 1984.
The last one came in December 2014, during a blowout loss at then-No. 3 Arizona.
“Bill Walton was doing the game and said the refs should have made me stay,” Kampe said. “They pounded us.”
During several of the radio broadcasts this season, you’ve been able to hear, clear as day, Kampe dropping one expletive after another, mostly at his team. After reading about that on social media, Kampe ordered the court mics removed from near the O’Rena bench, saying he really strives to keep things PG-13.
Anyway, you get the point. Things aren’t going swimmingly for Kampe’s crew, with the Horizon League portion of the schedule on, well, the horizon.
Oakland still figures to be plenty competitive in the conference, but there are warning signs to be sure — not idea, given this year, the conference is only taking the top eight of the 10 teams into the postseason tournament.
Oakland, by the estimation of many pundits, was expected to be down a bit this year after losing so many star redshirt seniors from last year’s team.
The Golden Grizzlies have replaced the scoring, to a point, thanks to junior forward Xavier Hill-Mais, who redshirted last season and has made up for lost time, averaging 22.9 points per game, 17th in the country. Freshman point guard Braden Norris has been a pleasant surprise, replacing Brailen Neely (who left the program early in the season). Norris takes good shots, makes a ton of 3-pointers and rarely turns the ball over. His assist-to-turnover ratio is 3.75, which ranks 15th in the country. Other freshmen have impressed. And junior Jaevin Cumberland has emerged as a long-range threat, making 44 percent of his 3-pointers.
But that’s about all Oakland is doing well.
It’s defense has been horrific, ranking 292nd in the nation at 78.1 points. And the rebounding margin has been even worse, 343rd in the nation, at minus-7.5.
That’s all made for a frustrated Kampe, and perhaps led to a few more gray hairs, even if he insists, in vain, his hair still is brown.
Tip-off: 7 Tuesday, Stegeman Coliseum
At Michigan State
Tip-off: 7 Friday, Breslin Center
TV/radio: BTN/760, 1130