Oakland embracing newfound fame: 'Been crazy'

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PITTSBURGH — Wearing a yellow hat embroidered with a four-leaf clover from Black Clover’s “Live Lucky” line, Oakland coach Greg Kampe admitted he hadn’t slept since his No. 14-seed Grizzlies upset No. 3 seed Kentucky in the first round of the men’s NCAA tournament on Thursday night.

“I have not been asleep yet,” Kampe said Friday at 3:45 p.m. “I have not been to bed and I have not been — I’ve not stopped talking. I like to talk, I talk a lot, but it’s getting ridiculous. Every 15 minutes I’ve got a Zoom or something. But it’s really cool and it’s great for Oakland.

“This is unbelievable for our university, the amount of publicity and because our kids are such great kids, it’s positive publicity.”

Overnight, Kampe said, the university sold $8,000 worth of T-shirts to people living in Louisville as they celebrated the demise of their archrival.

“Honest to God,” Kampe said. “You know, they buy the T-shirts and they put the credit card in and [it says] ‘Louisville, Louisville, Louisville.’ It wasn’t the same person.

“Next year when Louisville and Kentucky play, I don’t know if everybody is going to show up in an Oakland shirt or what. I have no idea. But it’s crazy to think about what something like this does.”

Graduate transfer guard Jack Gohlke, who caught fire with a near-record 10 3-pointers in the win, is at the epicenter of the team’s new-found fame.

“It’s definitely been crazy,” Gohlke, 24, said. “When I finally did open my phone, it was overwhelming, to say the least, which I definitely appreciate all the support of all the people sending me messages and things like that.”

Like his sharp-shooting player, Kampe also had a flood of text messages after the game. Gohlke said he’s waiting at least 48 more hours before responding to the bulk of them, but Kampe plowed through his inbox instead of sleeping — purposefully responding to them between 2 and 4 a.m.

“They can’t return them at that time,” Kampe said. “You have 1,300 text messages, and you do it in the middle of the afternoon, then they answer, then you’ve got to put a thumbs up or a heart on it. And now it becomes 2,600 text messages. … From 1,300, I got it down to about 195. Now it’s back up to 495. Tonight I’ll be up at 2:00 in the morning doing the rest of them.”

While Kampe was responding to texts, NC State coach Kevin Keatts, now faced with slowing Gohlke down, watched film in his hotel room and was amazed by what he saw.

“I thought Kentucky was winning the game by a large margin, because I kept hearing the cheering, and I thought it was Kentucky fans,” Keatts said. “I grabbed my phone and started looking up the score, and obviously Oakland was winning.

“When I got back last night 2, 2:30 in the morning, I popped the game on, started my scouting to prepare to get ready for Oakland, and, man, I don’t know that I’ve seen a shooting performance like that. If I have, it’s been a long time. And people are going to say, man, goodness, Kentucky didn’t do a good job. They were there. I mean, he made shots after shots after shots.”

And Gohlke isn’t cooling off yet. During Friday’s practice, he drilled a near-full-court shot. Before he could go back to the locker room Thursday night, Gohlke went through a car wash of courtside interviews, tugging on headsets and holding microphones as he beamed alongside his head coach.

For Gohlke, who spent the first five years of his career at Division II Hillside and had 117 fans at the team’s regional final a year ago, the crush of national attention is surreal.

“I got back to the hotel. It was pretty late, and I turned on the TV and I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I’ll check ESPN right now,’ and I saw myself on Scott Van Pelt,” he said. “That was pretty cool.”

While Gohlke watched himself on ESPN, his teammates were glued to their phones, amazed as Gohlke’s Instagram follower count climbed to more than 22,000 in less than 24 hours.

“He had Antonio Brown and famous people — just in disbelief,” teammate DQ Cole said. “It was just amazing to see. But we all knew this all along. We’ve been believing in him since [the preseason trip to] Italy. We know he can shoot the ball. We know that he can make any shot out there on the court.

“We believe in him. He believes in us, and we’re going to continue to believe in him and he’s going to continue to believe in us.”

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