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By Jackson Gilbert

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It was the most brutal performance of the season.

Oakland University’s Men’s basketball stumbled and fell, 74-54, Saturday at University of Detroit Mercy.

The game was the most high-profile Horizon League match up so far this season for Oakland. More than 6,000 fans including busloads of Oakland students watched it in Detroit’s Calihan Hall and big-name regional media covered it.

Among the media was Pat Caputo, the well-established 97.1 sports talk show host and longtime columnist for The Oakland Press. Following the loss, Caputo posted a column that included criticism of the Oakland basketball program.

“The Titans swarmed upon Oakland’s stars, big man Corey Petros and point guard Kahlil Felder, and it was essentially over. It was indicative of the issues OU and venerable Golden Grizzlies’ coach Greg Kampe face,” Caputo wrote.

The column suggested that Kampe’s program is not currently competitive with Detroit’s and will face trouble in the Horizon League. Oakland joined the Horizon in 2013 after a successful run in the less-competitive Summit League.

Caputo wrote that some of Oakland’s Summit League rivals were essentially Division II-caliber programs.

Caputo’s article went on to question Kampe’s strategy to schedule tough non-conference games in November and December with the idea the Golden Grizzlies can make up for it in the conference season. That’s no longer feasible because Oakland can no longer guarantee cleaning up in the Horizon League, he wrote — although Oakland beat Detroit twice last season.

But the alternative viewpoint is quite obvious here: playing a tough nonconference schedule not only makes the program money, it also prepares players for the Horizon League matchups.

The concept is simply this — if the team plays the toughest games early on, the team will be better prepared to battle league opponents who are good but not necessarily national powers.

Caputo declared later in the article: “The Titans do have an upside, Oakland’s ceiling appears limited.”

This statement largely ignores the context of the game.

Oakland is a young team. It lost two of the best players in the Horizon League last year — Travis Bader and Duke Mondy — to graduation.

You could easily argue that Kampe is rebuilding.

Against Valparaiso last week, the Golden Grizzlies scored 89 points including 67 that were scored by freshmen and sophomores.

Three promising high school players from Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina have committed to the team for next season and two transfers from Iowa State will be eligible as well.

Kampe said they have bigger fish to fry.

“We have bigger issues than what a reporter says about us. We have a really really good future.”

Mr. Caputo is one of the most respected and well-established reporters in the Detroit area and his success is deserved.

But his article offered far-reaching conclusions based on one game, the worst game Oakland has played all season.

Kampe has faced a lot of challenges in three decades at Oakland. This might be his toughest yet.

Kampe had one last message for Caputo: “When we win the Horizon League in the next couple of years, we’d like to invite him to the banquet.”