West Virginia and Oakland have met on the basketball court just one time, during the 2010-2011 season opener in Morgantown. It’s a game Grizzlies coach Greg Kampe remembers all too clearly.
“It was one of the best teams I have ever had, and Huggins’ team really put it to us and made everything they shot,” Kampe said.
West Virginia shot 50 percent overall and made 12-of-29 3-pointers, cruising to a 95-71 win.
“The crowd was great that night for them after they came off of that Final Four run,” Kampe said. “It was the first game of the year and they made everything they looked at. We couldn’t get the crowd out of the game. It was a great night for them. I had a really good team that went to the NCAA tournament and lost to Texas by four in the first round, and Texas had three first-round draft picks on that team.”
This year, though, Kampe’s team returns to Morgantown facing a West Virginia squad that hasn’t been so lights-out from the floor. West Virginia’s shooting woes have been well documented on the season as the Mountaineers are 311th in Division I at just 38.9 percent.
Not that Kampe sees WVU as vulnerable.
“Those kids are scholarship players recruited to a top 40 program by one of the best coaches in the country,” he said. “He doesn’t make mistakes like that – the ball isn’t going in for them. All they need is one night where it all goes in. Shooting is so much confidence, and the last thing we want to do is say go ahead and shoot it. Because if they make one or two, then they could make 10.”
Oakland comes into Wednesday’s matchup with just a 4-7 record, but has faced a difficult schedule. The Grizzlies have losses to Michigan State, Tennessee and an overtime setback to Pitt – a game they let slip through their fingers.
“We really had Pittsburgh beat and they don’t lose much in that building, especially to non-conference teams,” Kampe said. “We had an 18-point lead with 10 to go, then a six-point lead with 50 seconds to go with a 90-percent free-throw shooter at the line. He missed the front end and a lot of things went bad.
“Not getting that win caused us to not perform as well as we should have in the next few games. We couldn’t let it go and I know I had a hard time letting it go.”
WEDNESDAY: West Virginia (4-5) vs. Oakland (4-7)
TIME: 9 p.m. Eastern TELEVISION: ESPNU
RADIO: MetroNews coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern
Regardless, it’s been a very busy nonconference schedule for Kampe’s club as they have another quick turnaround for Wednesday’s game after picking up a win Monday.
“This year’s schedule has been a little bit more ridiculous because we had to travel across the country two or three times,” he said. “We went from Lafayette to Boise, back to Pittsburgh, down to Houston and then back to Statesville. That travel kind of wore us out.”
West Virginia, meanwhile, has faced a similar type of schedule after starting the year on the road at Gonzaga. Wednesday’s game will be just the third home game of the year for the Mountaineers.
“I think that Bob (Huggins) probably won’t do that again,” Kampe said. “At our level, we have to play games like this (on the road). We have to get guaranteed money, and this is our chance to play on national TV.”