Last season proved to be a roller-coaster ride for the Oakland men’s basketball team. Posting a 20-16 record, OU boasted one of the best offensive attacks in the country, topping the 80 point plateau in 18 games.
Despite the hot scoring ability, Oakland would go cold for long stretches as well, putting together both a six-game winning streak, and a six-game losing streak during the campaign. A heartbreaking two-point loss in the Summit League tournament wiped away any chance at an NCAA bracket bid, but Oakland still gave fans an impressive postseason run to remember, making it to the Final Four of the CollegeInsider.com tournament.
Oakland returns four of its five starters from that Final Four squad, with junior guards Travis Bader and Ryan Bass, sophomore center Corey Petros, and senior forward Drew Valentine all looking to try and raise another banner in the O’rena.
“Personally, every year each team has had a different identity,” Valentine said. “We don’t necessarily need to replace what Reggie (Hamilton) did, we’re going to do things different. We have a good group of guys and I’m confident we will all be able to chip in individually in different ways.”
Head coach Greg Kampe agreed with his senior forward, citing Oakland’s system as one that will be able to not only recover from the loss of a star, but also create a new one.
“This is the 29th team I’ve coached, and every one of them had a star,” Kampe said. “Our system produces stars, because someone is going to score 18 a night.”
Expected breakout stars
Kampe pointed to Bader or redshirt junior Duke Mondy as the next potential highlight reel player. Bader proved to be a sharpshooter last year, nailing 124 three-pointers, which was third in the nation.
Meanwhile, Mondy is a name that is new to Oakland fans, as he had to sit out last season due to NCAA regulations for transfer students. Mondy led the Big East in steals his freshman year at Providence. He is projected to be the starting point guard for OU, and Kampe cannot wait to see him on the O’rena hardwood.
“You will be amazed when Duke Mondy plays,” Kampe said. “We have never had a point guard like him before, he may be the best passer I’ve ever coached.”
While Mondy is expected to run the offense this year from the point, his defensive prowess is making ripples.
“Since Duke has been here, he has made me think much differently on defense,” Bader said.
Mondy himself cites taking great pride in his craft on defense, and believes himself ready to help his new team at Oakland. However, what the new point guard was most excited for was the slate of upcoming games.
“I love this schedule,” Mondy said. “It gives us an opportunity to show how good we really are.”
The men’s slate features five teams that made the 2012 NCAA tournament, including a trip up to East Lansing to face local powerhouse No. 14 Michigan State on Nov. 23 and a trek to Morgantown, W. Va. to play the West Virginia Mountaineers on ESPNU Dec. 19.
Kampe has called this year’s schedule ‘stupid’ for the lack of home games and the immense amount of travel — trips to Louisiana, Boise State, Pittsburgh and Tennessee among others — but it will give Oakland a chance to show what it is made of.
“Our depth and balance across the board will help us along the way,” Valentine said. “I think with all the weapons we have we’re going to be very successful this year.”
Oakland opens the season with an exhibition home game against Davenport, Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Contact Senior Reporter Tim Pontzer via email at email@example.com