Local college notes: OU’s Kampe takes swing at cancer

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Like many middle-aged adults, Greg Kampe has had a few too many friends stricken by cancer.

So for the second year in a row, the Oakland men’s basketball coach is holding a neat fundraiser to combat the disease.

Kampe rounded up several of his basketball peers, including Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, to participate in the Coaches Beat Cancer event, which allows fans to mingle with the star-studded coaches and commentators, at an intimate dinner, in a casino and on the golf course.

“It was awesome,” Kampe said of last year’s inaugural fundraiser. “It’s one of the best events I’ve ever been associated with.”

Bidding is underway on nine of 11 packages — the package with Kampe and Izzo was sold for $24,000, in the buy-now function — at coachesbeatcancer.org. Bidding continues through 5 p.m. May 8, with winning bidders getting to hang with the coaches Sunday, June 4, and Monday, June 5.

Winning bidders get a private dinner with the coaches and a one-night stay at MotorCity Casino (there’s likely to be some hanging out on the casino floor after dinner), and then a round of golf the following day at Oakland Hills Country Club’s famous South Course. There will be a lunch and a dinner that day, plus the opportunity to see some pretty bad golf, Kampe conceded.

“There’s some bad ones,” he said of the coaches’ golf skills.

With no media in attendance, you can bet the celebrity participants are all too eager to share some epic stories.

Coaches’ packages still up for bid include Van Gundy, Tennessee’s Rick Barnes, Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin, Butler’s Chris Holtmann, South Carolina’s Frank Martin and Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard, as well as commentators Fran Fraschilla, Steve Lavin and Bill Raftery.

The starting bid for each package is $15,000, with winners getting to invite two friends. All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.

Kampe’s program has been faced with cancer over the years, most recently when star shooter Max Hooper lost his dad in 2016.

Maize and blue news

Some Michigan notables:

■ The wrestling program landed a big-time graduate transfer, Kevin Beazley from Old Dominion. Beazley, a Howell native, was an All-American at 197 pounds this past season, and has one year of eligibility remaining. He finished in eighth place at NCAAs in March.

■ The baseball team, with a series win over Rutgers this past weekend, is 33-10, its best start since 1989. The Wolverines are 21st in the Baseball America rankings, and remain No. 17 in the NCAA rankings. Sophomore Jimmy Kerr was Big Ten player of the week, after hitting .700.

■ The women’s water-polo team defended its CWPA championship, and will learn later Monday its placement in the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines beat Princeton, 5-4, in the conference championship game, and are ranked No. 7 in the contry.

OU AD optimistic about baseball

It was a grand experiment by Oakland athletic director Jeff Konya, hiring co-head baseball coaches. And while the Golden Grizzlies are 10-30 in the first year of the trial, Konya remains optimistic.

“The results are starting to come,” Konya said. “And you’ve gotta trust the process.

“We think the results are gonna be there at the end.”

Colin Kaline, the grandson of Mr. Tiger Al Kaline, and Jacke Healey are the co-coaches, and the start was rocky, as Oakland won one of its first 16 games. It’s 9-15 since, including 7-12 in the Horizon League. Oakland was swept over the weekend by Milwaukee, including the series finale at Miller Park.

Recruiting is going to be a major focus over the next several months, as the cupboard was left rather bare. Oakland is hoping Kaline can work some of his contracts on the junior-college transfer front, given his time at Florida Southern College.

This and that

■ Former Central Michigan basketball star Chris Fowler will continue his career Down Under, signing with the Rockhampton Rockets of the Queensland Basketball League in Australia. He will join the team in mid-May, after some rehab on an elbow injury. Central’s all-time leader in assists, Fowler played this past season for Fort Wayne, the Pacers’ affilate in the NBDL.

■ Detroit Mercy men’s lacrosse got some help out East, and as a result landed the fourth and final spot in the league tournament. Mercy lost to Cleveland State on Saturday, but because Marist rallied with three goals in the final 50 seconds to beat Siena, the Titans got in. They’ll face top-seeded Monmouth in the MAAC opener Friday.

■ Western Michigan sophomore Connor Smith, from Midland Dow, recently was named the nation’s No. 18 shortstop by D1Baseball.com. He’s batting .343 with 29 RBIs for the Broncos, and will participate in the high-profile Cape Cod League this summer.