Men’s basketball begins shootarounds with uncertainties

Coach+Kampe+talks+to+the+team+after+practice+on+Media+Day.

Nowshin Chowdhury

Coach Kampe talks to the team after practice on Media Day.

Michael Pearce, Editor-in-Chief

The men’s basketball team narrowly avoided having their season cancelled by the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020. The Northern Kentucky Norse won the Horizon League title days before the outbreak halted the sports world.

Now, they are dealing with the aftermath. Just recently, the team regained access to the O’Rena to shoot around. Initially, the athletes and coaches were only allowed one at a time, but five on five is soon on the horizon.

“We haven’t done anything but shoot — that’s all,” Head Coach Greg Kampe said. “We are properly following the governor’s rules. They’re in there with masks on and we’re just one coach and one player. This week we’ll try and do some stuff with more than one player.”

Kampe felt the team was about a week away from practicing as a group in five on five scrimmages.

Eventually, the team will be back practicing as normal, but the bigger questions revolve around the schedule. The non conference schedule is up in the air, with Oakland’s marquee matchups depending on the other conferences’ decisions.

“We’re unsure of anything right now until all of the leagues decide what they’re doing,” Kampe said.

The annual game against Michigan State University (MSU) is an OU tradition. Despite the tradition and relationship between Kampe and MSU Head Coach Tom Izzo, that game is also not guaranteed anymore.

“It’s all going to come down to what the Big 10 does,” Kampe said. “They [MSU] have the Big 10/ACC Challenge — they have the Champions Classic. All those things are what’s going to determine whether we’ll be able to make up the game or not.”

Kampe has discussed the OU/MSU game with MSU, and both sides want to play the game this season.

The Horizon League schedule will also be revised, with the league planning on scrapping the league schedule and restructuring it. The current number of games is undecided, but Kampe felt there could be a shortened schedule in comparison to last season.

Potential options include playing a full 22-game Horizon League schedule or a shortened schedule of 16-20 games.

“Once that’s dictated to us, then we’ll know how many non league games we can play,” Kampe said.

With so much uncertainty, the men’s basketball team is in a state of limbo right now. Not having a guaranteed schedule has been tough, but according to Kampe, not being able to get into the gym until recently has been the most difficult part.

“I think everybody’s hated not being able to get into the gym,” he said. “That has been really hard on everyone. We’ve got six or seven new players and we’ve never seen them play.”

A disparity between OU and other Horizon League schools is the rules which vary state-by-state surrounding COVID-19. Michigan, being one of the stricter states, has put the Golden Grizzlies behind the eight ball.

“We want to get going and we want to get teaching, but we have to follow the rules like everybody else,” Kampe said. “We’re behind the curve. Our state has been a lot more stringent than the other states in our league and there are a lot of teams in our league that have already played five on five workouts.”

Above all else, though, Kampe stressed the importance of his student-athletes’ safety.

“We’re taking it one day and a time and we’re trying to do what’s best for the student-athletes — their health and welfare has to be number one, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” he said.