Kampe reflects on trip to Spain

The men’s basketball team returned from its 10-day trip to Spain on Sep. 2 and according to head coach Greg Kampe, the trip was successful for a variety of reasons.

First was the educational aspect, which the team received through sight-seeing and guided tours of cathedrals and castles in the three stops in Valencia, Ibiza and Barcelona.

“I think it was an experience of a lifetime for [the team],” Kampe said. “Where some of my kids come from, they would never, ever have that chance.”

Another educational point was the culture. The team learned how to exchange euros and tried cuisine that differs immensely from food in America.

Since Kampe has sent over 30 players to play professionally in Europe after graduation (that’s an average of about one player per year) experiencing life halfway around the globe gave current players a glimpse of what their future could potentially hold.

As for the basketball side of the trip, the Golden Grizzlies fared well. With ten players dressed, the team defeated all three professional international teams they faced by a margin of 23.3 points per game and put up an average of 99 points a night.

Junior Kahlil Felder, who is expected to be one of the front-runners for Horizon League Player of the Year again this season, led the team with 22.3 points, 8.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game.

Redshirt senior and Iowa State transfer Percy Gibson led the team on the boards with 7.7 rebounds per game.

Redshirt sophomores Jalen Hayes and Nick Daniels played solid as well, averaging 12.3 and 14 points per game, respectively. Daniels went 8-for-19 from three-point range.

In the team’s final game against CB Tarragona, Oakland won when freshman Brad Bretching laid up an alley oop pass from the sideline at the buzzer to give the Golden Grizzlies the 101-99 victory.

Kampe said the way Bretching played, handled the game and established himself as a player was the biggest surprise of the trip.

“When we signed him, I really felt that we would probably look at redshirting him because I think you’re going to be a lot better at 23 than you are at 18, but he played so well,” Kampe said.

“He’s going to play a major role on the team this year. He’s going to be somebody that plays a lot of minutes as a freshman.”

Games were played with a 24-second shot clock, which helped the team get more familiar with shorter possessions. This is important because the NCAA officially decided to shave five seconds off the shot clock this season, taking it from 35 to 30 seconds.

Kampe was also able to see the areas in which the team needs to improve on before the season begins – free throws and turnovers.

The two areas are going to be emphasized heavily before the season kicks off, along with individual skill work and strength training.

The team is allowed to practice eight hours a week until the first week in October.             

Although the trip ended over a week ago, its impact is expected to be felt throughout the 2015-16 season.

“Perfect example is Bretching, we would have never known until the fifth or sixth game of the season about the impact he could have,” Kampe said.

“Now during the preseason, instead of trying to just learn to sit, we expect him to play, so we’ll coach him differently. It’s a big difference.”

The team will play two exhibition games at home, one on Oct. 31 against Adrian College and the other on Nov. 11 against Heidelberg University. Regular season play will begin at home on Nov. 18 against Eastern Michigan University.