Women’s basketball adjusting well to new coach, conference

The Oakland University women’s basketball team has an entirely different feel to it than in years past. They’ve graduated to a more competitive conference – the Horizon League – and hired a new head coach, Jeff Tungate, to see them through the progression.

Tungate spent his previous six seasons with the Golden Grizzlies as an associate head coach on Greg Kampe’s men’s basketball staff. He gives Kampe a large amount of credit in his transition to the women’s head coaching position.

“Coach Kampe gave me a lot of responsibilities,” Tungate

said. “He allowed me to do a lot of things that head coaches do.”

Redshirt senior guard Victoria Lipscomb has started every game for the past two seasons for the Grizzlies, and says working with a new head coach wasn’t difficult at all.

“Coach Tungate is an amazing coach,” Lipscomb said. “He came in and told us exactly what he was looking for. The communication was good, which made the transition really easy.”

In its first season as a member of the Horizon League, Oakland has started 2-2 in conference play. With every team but one having lost a home game against a Horizon League opponent, Tungate

realizes the competition is fierce.

“The Horizon League is great top-to-bottom, but it’s still basketball,” he said. “Whether you’re in the Summit League or the Horizon League, you have to worry about what you do more so than your opponents.”

Having been on the team for four seasons prior to changing leagues, Lipscomb is able to identify the elevated level of opposition.

“It’s more intense because all the teams are a little closer,” she said. “Instead of having one or two dominant teams, it can go either way on any given day.”

With two convincing wins against tough opponents so far, sophomore guard Elena Popkey thinks OU belongs in the Horizon League.

“I think we’ve proven that,” Popkey said. “Over the last couple games our offense and defense have fit in.”

Tungate not only believes Oakland belongs in the Horizon League, he thinks his team has the potential to win a championship.

“I think we have what it takes if we can be more consistent,” he said. “We’ve shown we can play at a championship level in spurts, but whether or not we can compete for a championship is going to depend on how consistent we can become.”

The general consensus in the locker room is that the Grizzlies employ a scrappy, tight-knit style of play.

“We’re a blue-collar team,” Tungate said. “We’re not going to out-athlete anybody. We don’t have a ton of depth, but we’re a team that plays extremely hard.”

Lipscomb and Popkey both agreed that teamwork is at the heart of the team’s success.

“It’s about family,” Popkey said. “We do everything together. We win together, we lose together, we practice and play for each other.”

Women’s basketball currently sits at 7-10 (2-2 Horizon). Oakland goes on a two-game road trip versus Cleveland State and Youngstown State before returning home to face Green Bay.