Kampe hot during loss: coach thinks team lacks mental toughness right now


The Oakland Golden Grizzlies men’s basketball team was defeated by the Georgia State Panthers 83-78 Wednesday night in the finale of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic hosted at the O’rena.

It was the second loss of the tournament for Oakland (1-5) with its only win coming against Chicago State the night prior. Western Carolina took the team to double overtime in the first match with the Grizzlies falling 88-79.

“We’re not ready to beat a team like that yet, and we proved that again tonight,” head coach Greg Kampe said. “All the situations that came down when it’s winning time, we didn’t get it done.”

The Golden Grizzlies got out to a slow start and despite pulling close at times, the Panthers countered with baskets of their own, ultimately keeping Oakland at a comfortable distance most of the game.  

The Grizzlies never held a lead in the game.

“It’s something we can fix because it wasn’t talent,” Kampe said. “I feel really pleased about this tournament. We played some very good teams, we lost some heart-breakers, but through that it’s going to make us better.”

Transfer Max Hooper was one of the players who played better this game leading Oakland scorers with 21 points on 7-17 shooting. All shots were from behind the arc.

“Taking a lot of shots like that against a zone defense, it’s something to be expected,” Hooper said. “Any time I step on the court I’m very aggressive looking for my shot.”

He said he didn’t feel out of the ordinary, and was just trying to help add points for his team. He had another strong performance against Eastern Michigan hitting six 3-pointers in that contest: one less than he finished with Wednesday and also against a zone-defense.

R.J. Hunter, Panther guard and son of coach Ron Hunter, finished with a game-high 29 points on 9-of-14 shooting.  Hunter is on watch for the Wooden Award, which is given to college basketball’s best player.

Kampe said he’s familiar with Georgia State coach Hunter from his days at IUPUI. He felt comfortable attacking with his offense, but it was getting stops that cost his team.  Offensively the Grizzlies outshot the Panthers by 15 and grabbing 13 more offensive rebounds, but allowed 63 percent team shooting to their opponents.

“We lack that mental toughness, we lack that winning mentality right now.” Kampe said.

Kampe did something he doesn’t normally do: calling a timeout after battling and fighting back from being down as many as 13 in the second half to getting to a score of 76-70.

“I knew that was an important moment,” Kampe said.  Oakland inbounded the ball to one of its seniors who had been playing tough all game before the ball was stolen from behind.

“We don’t have this wherewithal, of down in distance, what’s going on, the game is on the line, people are going to play hard, they’re going to gamble, and we do this and they take it from us,” Kampe said.

Georgia State guard Kevin Ware (formerly of Louisville) stole the ball from Dante Williams and held it the length of the shot clock before getting an easy layup to separate the teams by eight with about two minutes to go.

Oakland turned the ball over on their next possession. Kampe was hot.

“That’s pretty much the game,” he said.