“More experienced” men’s basketball team ready to hit the court


Photo courtesy of the OP Archives

The Oakland men’s basketball team’s season starts this week.

Coming off a season that ended with an unexpected run to the Horizon League Championship game, the Oakland University men’s basketball team is looking to get over the hump. 

“We were 40 minutes away from the Holy Grail,” Head Coach Greg Kampe said. “The motivation to get back and have a chance to get there — I think [the team has] handled that very well, and it’s exciting as a coach to see a really good group of kids working their tail off in pursuit of a dream.”

Last season, the Golden Grizzlies were incredibly young. They were starting two freshmen — Trey Townsend and Micah Parrish — in the frontcourt, and the backcourt consisted of junior college transfer point guard Jalen Moore, and another transfer in Rashad Williams. 

For the 2021-22 season, the Grizzlies are not only more experienced, but still relatively young, so there’s a chance for the team to have some sustained success. 

“We started 0-9 last year and ended up in the championship game,” Kampe said. “So, we watched the team grow. You watched a very young group of kids. You’ve got [Parrish], Chris Conway, [Townsend], very young players that got meaningful time last year, and now they’ve got a chance to finish the deal. [I feel] confident we’re going to have a great year.”

Kampe also touched on the promising incoming freshman.

“We’ve got some incoming freshmen that I think are going to make immediate impacts,” he said. “I think Osei Price and Will Shepherd are going to make immediate impacts this year. I think Brody Parker has a chance to make an impact. So — you’ve got a core group of young guys that have a lot of experience.”

Kampe believes the experience will also be enough to help take down reigning Horizon League Champion Cleveland State.

“[Cleveland State has] everybody back,” he said. “In their minds, they’re talking about getting back to the NCAA tournament and winning a game [this time]. Everybody else is talking about getting to the NCAA tournament, so I think they’ve got a leg up mentally on everybody. [Torrey Patton] is a very, very good player and then defensively, they really hurt us with their physicality on Jalen [in the Horizon League Championship game last season]. But I think another year of experience — in that we’re bigger and stronger. Don’t forget how young we were last year. I think we’ll be ready for that physicality [this time around].”

Early in the offseason, the team lost Williams and forward Daniel Oladapo to the transfer portal, among others. However, they did acquire former Marquette forward Jamal Cain through the portal, and Kampe is very high on him.

“We brought in a guy that I think could be first team all league,” Kampe said. “Jamal is a very, very talented, 6’7″-6’8″ guy that can play out on the perimeter, he can play inside— I think he’ll be one of the top rebounders in the league, [and] I think he’ll be one of the top scorers in the league. Team him with [Moore] and that’s quite a combination that should make us a pretty strong and competitive team.”

Last year, Moore was a breakout sensation for the Golden Grizzlies, averaging 17.9 points and 8.4 assists per game. This year, Kampe is relying on the development of a couple of young, but familiar faces.

“[Townsend and Parrish] are the keys to the season,” he said. “Their growth as players will probably be the determining factor on how far we go.”

More than anything, Kampe and his team are ready to play games in front of fans again.

“I just think about the pageantry of college basketball— I really really missed that last year and can’t wait for those special moments when the crowd goes crazy and the momentum of a game changes because of the crowd,” Kampe said. “I’m really looking forward to that.”

The first and only home game for the men’s basketball team during non-conference play will be against the Toledo Rockets on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. at the O’Rena.