Tungate ready to start the season

By Jake Alsko

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Being asked to take over a 9-20 team that saw former head coach Beckie Francis ousted for malfeasance (according to OU) doesn’t sound like the ideal situation in which to become the face of a program, but Oakland University’s new women’s basketball head coach Jeff Tungate has his team focused on the task at hand: the upcoming season.

“I told the team all we’re worried about is moving forward. And that’s what we’ve done … that’s what our entire focus has been on,” Tungate said. “And the team, they can’t wait for the season to start, I know I can’t wait either.” 

However, Tungate made it clear the expectations for the upcoming season will focus on the bigger picture, sans wins and losses.

“The most important thing this season is creating the culture that we want in the program. And so that’s kind of our main focus, is getting the culture and getting the system in place,” Tungate said. “We’re focusing on getting better every day and focusing on creating that culture and then the wins will take care of themselves as we create that over the course of a season.”

His roots

Tungate was last a head coach at Lincoln Memorial University (Division II) located in Harrogate, Tenn., from 1999-2004, where he led the Railsplitters to a tie for the program’s Division II era-best 19 wins. However, his first Division I head coaching job hasn’t induced any additional burden.

“I’ve done this for twenty years and so, I probably put more pressure on myself than any pressure from the outside and things like that,” Tungate said. “But this is my alma mater, this is home, and I want to put a great product on the floor that everybody enjoys coming to watch see play.”

The task at hand

Oakland’s a special place. I graduated from here, my wife graduated from here, this is home, and I want to make sure we put a championship team on the floor. So … I wouldn’t say that’s pressure. I think it’s more of a challenge and one that I’m looking forward to.”

Having served as associate head coach of the men’s team for the last six seasons, Tungate said the transition to coaching the women’s team has been easy.

“You’re coaching basketball players. And whether you’re coaching men or women, coaching basketball players I think it’s all about coaching them on the floor and building relationships and teaching them how to deal with situations on and off the floor as well,” Tungate said. “The players have made it easy, staff’s made it easy and the parents have made it easy. So, so far, it’s been a smooth transition.”

The women’s basketball team opens its season at home October 27th against University of Windsor at 2 p.m.