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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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In Sports

Greg Kampe has the Grizzlies in the Big Dance for the second time.

NCAA Transcript: Oakland coach Greg Kampe


Oakland head coach Greg Kampe met with the media Thursday in advance of his team's game against Pittsburgh. Here is a transcript:

Question: I asked the players this question. I'll pose it to you as well. How do you feel about the fact that as opposed to match-ups with Syracuse and Kansas, you guys are on more equal footing? You don't have a West Coast Swing in front of it and you haven't been 36 hours going around the West Coast before coming into this game. It's all equal footing, neutral court. How excited are you guys about that chance?

Greg Kampe: I appreciate you making excuses for us. That's really nice, because those games didn't turn out very well. Those games were a long time ago. And you know as a coach your job is to make your team get better. And we put a challenging schedule in front of us always. And then we try and get better.

And I think our team has done that. We've won 20 of our last 21 games. Of course, we haven't played a Kansas or a Syracuse or whoever in that 21. But I think we're way better today than we were back then. I'm not answering your question because I would view that as an excuse for the way we played in November or December. Those teams beat us. They beat us good. Okay. We learned from it and we got better.

Question: Can you talk about the challenges of denying Ashton Gibbs the ball and trying to keep him down a little bit?
GK: I'll say this and then he'll get 30. But we've got a guy that I think can guard him, Johnathon Jones. And the reason I say I think he can guard him is because he guarded Sherron Collins, when Michigan State had Drew Neitzel and the year he was their whole team, we lost 74-71, I think, to them, and Neitzel only got nine shots in the game. So we've got a guy that we think can guard that. Now, us thinking it and him doing it are two different things. We'll see what happens tomorrow.
But we feel good going into the match-up that we have someone who can hang with him.

Question: In the day and age when you see a lot of coaches jump into the next job year after year what's kept you at Oakland and what is kind of your goals here at that university?

GK: It's amazing how often I get asked that. It really is. I've tried to change the answer just for the fun of it. But it really comes back down to the grass is always greener on the other side. And I'm just a guy who -- I come from Defiance, Ohio, little town. My dad put fertilizer on his yard and he tried to make it as green as he could make it. So pretty much my background -- this is my job, not to chase other jobs, but to do my job as best I can. And I really view that my job is to make Oakland a special place. I've said that many times and I'll say it again. And when I'm done with this thing I hope that people think it's a special place that kids want to go there. And we won a lot of games and we won them in the right way with good people and with good kids. And I'm also lucky that I have pretty good job security.

I have a great president, who I think he believes in me. At least that's what he's told me. And I have a pretty good contract. It's pretty nice to stay. There's also something to be able to walk across the campus, to know everyone on the campus from the janitors to cooks. That's kind of a good lifestyle.

Question: Do you feel like you have the weight of the league on your shoulders, representing the league in the tournament?

GK: I think our league gets crapped on, yeah. I think it's not warranted. I think basketball in our league is really good. Our third place team this year beat New Mexico, who is in the tournament, ranked in the top ten. They beat Missouri, who is in the tournament. They beat Stanford at Stanford.
Our second place team beat a really good Atlantic ten team. They won last night in the post season tournament. Our league's really good. The problem is that you have to win in the NCAA tournament, and the last time a team -- we won a game in 2005. But you people won't count that. It counts in the record book but winning that opening round game counts, but it doesn't view as a win. So not counting that, we haven't won since Valpo went to the Sweet 16 in the late '90s. I think we get that. We're a 51 RPI and we got a 14 seed. So obviously there isn't a lot of respect for our league. Because they say your RPI is so important, and we're 51. And we're a 14th seed. So I think it would behoove us to win a game in the tournament, and I think it would really help our league, the prestige of our league.

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