Thanksgiving in Texas: Men’s basketball team celebrates holiday on the road

Kristen Davis

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The Oakland University men’s basketball team spent this Thanksgiving approximately 1,500 miles away from campus in Corpus Christi, Texas preparing for its third of six consecutive road games.

“It’s part of the business here,” head coach Greg Kampe said. “Very seldom do we spend the Thanksgiving at home, all the tournaments are played over Thanksgiving.”

The team spent the holiday morning practicing before eating lunch at iHop. They had a film session and will head to Cracker Barrel tonight for Thanksgiving dinner.

For redshirt senior Percy Gibson, being on the road during the holidays is tough, but since this is his fifth year playing college basketball, he’s been able to adjust.

“I facetimed everybody back home like I normally do and I called my mom on the phone as well,” Gibson said. 

Redshirt senior Max Hooper has also grown accustomed to being away from family during this time of year.

“Fortunately for me, my mom is making the trip to Corpus Christi so I will have the opportunity to see her on Thanksgiving,” Hooper said. “I called my dad and my sister on the phone and spoke to them for quite a while.”

The holiday away from home is just a part of the team’s early season road trip, which began on Saturday, Nov. 21 when it left for Colorado.

Due to the snowstorm that hit Michigan over the weekend, the team battled with several delays and didn’t arrive in Colorado until 2 a.m. on Nov. 22. Oakland fell to Colorado State 95-89 later that day.

The Golden Grizzlies then traveled to Southern Illinois University on Nov. 24. The team fell again to the Salukis, 97-88.

In addition to it still being early in the season, Kampe feels the tough travel has affected the team on the court. He doesn’t think the team has played “anywhere near its capabilities.”

He said the team competed well against Colorado State, but he was “disappointed” in the effort given during the SIU game. He added that the team needs to be more disciplined on the court moving forward.

“There’s some things we have to straighten up and get better and that’s why you play these early season games – to learn about your team,” Kampe said.

“We learned that we’re pretty talented but there’s some errors that we’re making defensively and we got to get better at that.”

Gibson said long road trips take some energy out of the team, but getting through them is done by bonding with one another and looking “forward to going out and competing with them that next day.”

“I want us to win the remainder of our games so we can go back home with something to build on,” Gibson added. “I think that road wins are the most important and that we will have positive energy if we get that accomplished.”

Oakland will face Alcorn State tomorrow at the American Bank Center at 1 p.m. On Saturday, the team will tip off against either Florida A&M or Abilene Christian at 2:30 p.m.

The team will then head to Georgia to face the Bulldogs on Dec. 1 before returning home for the first time in 12 days. Oakland will leave two days later to finish off the road trip against Robert Morris in Pennsylvania on Dec. 5.

“This trip has been similar to the Spain trip in the sense that we get to bond with one another as a team in a way that we wouldn’t be able to at home,” Hooper said.

“We have had two difficult losses, but we are going to get back on the right track and finish this thing strong.”