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The Oakland Post

Men’s basketball welcomes new assistant coach

Connor McNeely, Campus Editor

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Last year, the Oakland University men’s basketball gave the Horizon League Conference its best performance since the 2010-11 season. The Golden Grizzlies advanced to the National Invitation Tournament, though ultimately suffered a disappointing loss to Richmond in the second round; a match that looked favorable for Oakland.

According to Head Coach Greg Kampe, the team has high expectations for this season and “NCAA” is in its vocabulary.

“It’s been a few years now since we’ve been [to the NCAA]” he said. “We’ve been upset in the conference tournament three years in a row and I think we’re angry about that and I think that we’ll have something to say at the end about it.”

Joining Kampe on the coaching staff this season is Assistant Coach Tony Jones. Jones is a Detroit native, who was an All-City player for Southwestern High School and went on to coach the school’s team after attending college. At Southwest, Jones coached then-to-be NBA greats such as Jalen Rose, Howard Eisley and Voshon Lenard before he advanced to the collegiate level.

Jones has contributed to the success of several college programs including a Sweet 16 appearance with University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and an Elite 8 with University Tennessee. In 2015 he became interim head coach for the National Basketball League of Canada’s Windsor Express. After a year of working with professional players Jones learned his coaching specialties were better suited for college ball.

“I had a good experience when I was the head coach of the Windsor express,” Jones said. “I really enjoyed my time there but after reevaluating the year, as we do at the end of each year, I came to the conclusion that I’m a college basketball coach. I’m better at developing 17, 18 to 23 year olds instead of working with professionals that are set in their ways and really experienced.”

Although team workouts are just beginning and Jones is still getting to know his new crew, his expectations are nothing short of Kampe’s.

“I think if it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it. The team won 9 straight games in the season,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, a disappointing loss in the first round of the Horizon League tournament to Youngstown State. Then they got the invite to the NIT and they beat a power 5 school in Clemson and then play Richmond down to the wire, so with everybody coming back except one guy, we’re adding Kendrick Nunn – a transfer from the University of Illinois, I think the future is bright.

“We’ve got an experienced team, we’ve got an experienced coaching staff and we really expect to compete for the Horizon League regular season championship and be right in the mix in the conference tournament to hopefully garner an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.”

According to Jones, he feels good about being back in the state he grew up in. While he gets acquainted with the new faces on the court, he is looking forward to seeing old friends and family he has not in quite some time. To make the transition even easier, he and Kampe are long-time friends already.

“He’s been a friend of mine for twenty years, known him for a long time and he’ll fit in perfect,” Kampe said.

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