Whenever Oakland University basketball coach Greg Kampe entered a recruit”s living room this past year and attempted to woo them into a Grizzlies uniform, there was one special memento from his 18 years of coaching that he never forgot to show them:
The game film from last year”s 97-90 victory over Michigan.
The “biggest win in school history” for the Grizzlies shocked the college basketball world and put Oakland, just beginning its second season in Division I, on the map.
Another program”s rebirth is around the corner, as the Tommy Amaker era in Michigan basketball officially begins. So is the new coach”s chance to start the revitalization of the program against a team whose upset victory over the Wolverines was the first leak in the worst season for Michigan in 19 years.
The heavily anticipated rematch is tonight at 7 p.m. in Crisler Arena.
Amaker, who won two national titles as an assistant with Duke, spent the past four years at Seton Hall that included one Sweet Sixteen appearance. He uses his code words of “passion and patience” when speaking of Michigan”s expectations this season focused merely on “improvement.”
Amaker didn”t have to watch last season”s game when Brian Ellerbe sat then-freshmen Avery Queen, Bernard Robinson and Maurice Searight for the first few minutes of the game for disciplinary reasons. Oakland proceeded to catch fire from behind the arc, draining 15 of 29 treys to lead nearly from wire to wire on its home floor.
Hundreds of the 4,000 in attendance rushed the court, and commemorative t-shirts were issued after the game, with the slogan, “A Night to Remember” showcased on the back, along with the final score.
“The game is still being talked about,” Kampe said. “Now it”s being talked about whether we can do it again.”
Unfortunately for Oakland, after accomplishing its major goal last season in a win over Michigan, the rest of the season served as an emotional letdown. A few days later, the Grizzlies got smacked back into reality in a 97-61 drubbing to Michigan State and continued to downslide as they lost eight of their next 10 games.
Now, Oakland senior Dan Champagne says that his senior-laden Grizzlies are poised with the same goal as Michigan be dancing in March in the NCAA Tournament. It is the first year Oakland is eligible to make the “Big Dance.”
“This is the year that we”ve all been pointing to,” Kampe said. “A lot of pressure is on us with a bunch of seniors who is their only chance.”
Pressure is also on Amaker, who has made great strides in turning the program around, but will have his first chance to prove it out on the court. And while he wasn”t around for last year”s loss, nearly all the Wolverines were and haven”t forgotten.
Young said he frequently has encounters with people at restaurants around town, with the subject of the Oakland upset from a year ago always finding a way in the conversation.
“I”ve got an incredible amount of revenge on my mind,” Young said. “I”ve got a lot of built up emotion I”ve got to get rid of (today).”
But Kampe says it doesn”t matter what happens in Crisler Arena tonight, as last year”s landmark win will never be taken away from the Grizzlies.
“It doesn”t matter if they beat us 100-2 this time,” Kampe said. “It still won”t take away from the fact we won last year.”