Oakland hoops gets drastic makeover. Now, where's the offense going to come from?
Oakland men's basketball fans have become accustomed to offense, lots and lots of offense. Frantic pace, 3-pointers galore, a scoreboard that seems to resemble the national-debt clock. Think Kay Felder, Travis Bader, Kendrick Nunn, and on and on.
Well, coach Greg Kampe has a bit of a warning for the upcoming season: Get ready to see something a whole lot different.
"It's going to be very different watching us play," Kampe said on media day Wednesday, before the Golden Grizzlies beat Saginaw Valley State, 84-63, in their final exhibition game. "We're not gonna win the old way.
"It's going to be a long year if we try to play the old way."
The main reason for the sudden change: Oakland lost two of its best shooters in recent memory this offseason to the transfer portal, with starting guards Braden Norris and Jaevin Cumberland moving on to Loyola-Chicago and Cincinnati, respectively.
The Golden Grizzlies have 10 new players, including seven true freshmen — highly touted guard CJ Gettelfinger from Tennessee and center Yusuf Jihad from North Farmington High School among them.
That's the most freshman Kampe's ever had, entering his 36th year on the job.
He likes the talent, to be sure, but freshmen are freshmen. In other words, unpredictable.
"Good one day, bad the next," Kampe said.
Typically, with a smaller number of freshmen, the veteran players can help ease the transition, so you can sort of hide the mistakes, at least to an extent.
With this many? Good luck with that.
"They're nervous," Kampe said Wednesday night. "We had four airballs tonight, and one almost broke the backboard. And the guys doing that are good shooters.
"I have to be more patient and I can't really coach with the iron fist that I'd like to coach with. There are so many of them (freshmen) that it would destroy them."
Oakland still is picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League, for a couple reasons. One, the Horizon League isn't very good. And two, the Golden Grizzlies have a reputation as an annual contender.
That's not to say there isn't talent. Big men Xavier Hill-Mais — a preseason pick to make first-team all-league — and Brad Brechting return for their senior seasons, and sophomore guard Tray Maddox Jr. from Novi is back.
An NCAA waiver for Detroit native Rashad Williams to play right away would help, too, though Kampe's not holding his breath. His old school is Cleveland State, another Horizon League school.
"We're preparing that we're not going to have him," Kampe said.
As good as Kampe's teams typically are offensively, it's plenty fair to say they've had their issues defensively.
It could be a total reverse this year, given the bulk he has on the roster. Through two exhibitions, Oakland has rebounded well, and limited its two foes (Rochester College was the first) to 34-percent shooting.
Oakland kicks off the regular season Tuesday night at home against Goshen, then heads to Florida for a tournament heavy on mid-majors. It visits Maryland on Nov. 16 and Syracuse on Dec. 18, and has its annual game against Michigan State, at Little Caesars Arena, scheduled for Dec. 14.
Horizon League play starts Dec. 28 at home against Detroit Mercy, a scheduling gaffe by the league, given its a rivalry game with both student bodies on winter break.
"It's gonna take time," said Kampe, who earlier this year signed a three-year extension that runs through 2022-23. "We need time. We've got until Dec. 28 when we play Detroit. That's only two months.
"We have a big saying around here, 'Do Your Job.'
"Well, this is my job, right here."
Oakland was 16-17 last season, 11-7 in the league, and lost to Northern Kentucky on a last-second shot in the Horizon League tournament semifinals. Oakland has yet to win the Horizon League tournament, since joining in 2013-14. Its last NCAA Tournament appearances were in 2010 and 2011, when it was in the Summit League.
►Brad Brechting, C, sr., 6-11/240
►CJ Gettelfinger, G, fr., 6-4/186
►Zach Goodline, G, fr., 6-1/175
►Jackie Harris, F, fr., 6-6/206
►Xavier Hill-Mais, F, sr., 6-7/261
►Yusuf Jihad, C, fr., 6-8/214
►Kevin Kangu, G, jr., 6-4/179
►Blake Lampman, G, fr., 6-1/171
►Tray Maddox Jr., G, so., 6-5/200
►Madison Monroe, G, fr., 6-3/185
►Emmanuel Newsome, G, fr., 6-0/151
►Daniel Oladapo, F, so., 6-7/220
►Kenny Pittman Jr., G, so., 6-3/181
►Babatunde Sowunmi, C, so., 6-10/254
►Rashad Williams, G, so., 6-2/185