Benson Makes Lindy’s Cover

Browsing through the magazine at Border’s yesterday, I found that a pair of college basketball annuals have already hit the shelves.  Both Athlon’s and Lindy’s preseason publications are now available for purchase.  Much to my surprise, Oakland’s very own Keith Benson made the cover of Lindy’s.

Yes, Benson’s picture is smaller than his in-state hoop competitors from Michigan State and Michigan.  And, yes, this is a regional cover, so it’s not like the entire nation gets to see Mr. Benson on their cover of the magazine.  Yet, how many envisioned a day when an OU player would be on the cover of a preseason annual?

Congrats to both Keith Benson and OU for getting some more recognition.

Wisconsin 58 Oakland 42

Isn’t this loss summed up in one stat — 27.3%.  That was Oakland’s field goal percentage.  The Golden Grizzlies made only fifteen of fifty-five shots from the floor.  That doomed any hopes of pulling off the upset in Madison.

Yes, OU got into early foul trouble.  That hurt.  Yes, interior defense remains an issue.  Yet, you can’t expect to win making less than thirty percent of your shots.  To compound matters, the Grizzlies shot a horrific 15.8% from beyond the arc.  OU hit only three of nineteen tries from three-point land.

If Oakland makes even a reasonable amount of shots, they might have been in this game.  However, they did not and Wisconsin got the win.

Johnathon Jones led OU with fifteen points and five assists.  Keith Benson, who was one in early foul trouble, got twelve points and nine boards.

The Grizzlies return home for a Saturday game against Rochester College.

EMU 81 Oakland 77

Disappointing doesn’t quite cover it, does it?

Losing the home opener is bad.  Losing to Eastern Michigan, although a MAC team, isn’t very encouraging, either.  While I tend to take a rather measured approach to single game results, especially in November, I’m rather cranky about this one.

Nonetheless, let’s see if I can stay optimistic for at least another paragraph.  After all, as poor a loss as this is, and it’s stinkin’ bad, this isn’t the last game to be played.  The season is not lost.  There are plenty of opportunities to make all of us forget this dreadful opener.

Perhaps, the dismal perimeter shooting performance was just that — one bad shooting night.  It happens to everyone.  No use in getting all tied up in knots because it happened in the first game, right?

Then there’s the obvious.  The team read all the hype, believed they were headed for the NCAA tournament and played an exhibition tune-up where they could have mailed-in their “C” game and posted a win.  They decided this year was going to be easy.  They thought something less than their best would be good enough.  It wasn’t.  However, lesson learned.  They will not take a “W” for granted again.

What do you know?  I managed to say reasonably positive things for three paragraphs.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’ll make it four.  Forgive me, but I’m going to be an irrational fan for a moment.  Or two.

This loss makes me question the commitment to defense.  It’s not the first time I’ve suggested this over the years, either.  Nor am I alone in this thought.  Is part of the problem that OU is simply just too comfortable to play against?

Should we wonder if Oakland wasn’t emotionally ready for Saturday’s game?  If not, why not?  And who is to blame if they weren’t?  They might believe they are the team to beat, but, alas, Oakland’s developing a reputation as a team that can’t close the deal.  Losses to inferior teams won’t end those whispers anytime soon.

Now, comes the bad news.  It’s about to get worse.  With only a few exceptions every other game will be more difficult than the EMU affair.  OU will take on an assortment of big-time programs, with far more talent and depth than the Eagles, and fellow Summit League teams that will be sky-high to take on the prohibitive favorites for the conference title.  And most of these games won’t be anywhere near Rochester.

I apologize for the rant.  It’s late and I’m disappointed.  In spite of my mood,  I still believe that the Golden Grizzlies can be good.  Very good, in fact.  But, OU can never take their foot off the gas.  Not for one game.  Not for one half.  Not for one play.  Oakland has great potential, but they are not North Carolina.  Or Kansas.  Or Michigan State.  Hopefully, this loss will serve as a reminder of that.

Anyone else ready for the next game?  Go Grizzlies!

Gameday: Hope College

Exhibition.  Scrimmage.  Practice.  Call it what you will, it’s Oakland’s first game of the season.

7:25pm The Grizzlies lead early, 22-16.  Larry Wright is the early scoring leader with five points and, yes, has hit a three.

7:37pm There’s just over six minutes left in the first quarter.   OU leads, 32-21.  Wright continues to pace the Grizzlies with seven points.

7:43pm Grizzlies still lead, 39-25.  Wright now has ten points.

9:00pm Let’s jump to the end.  Oakland wins, 97-62.  Wright and Will Hudson led the way with 16.  Hudson also had seven boards.  Johnathon Jones had six assists.

Derick Nelson had fifteen, Drew Valentine had an impressive opener with fourteen points.

It’s a good warm-up for Saturday.  Eastern Michigan visits the O’rena for the season opener.

Grizzlies At #14 In Poll

Oakland University sits at number fourteen in College Insider.com’s Mid-Major Top 25 Basketball Poll.  The poll, which was released today, has anointed Butler as college hoops’ best mid-major team heading into the season.  Butler is followed by Gonzaga, Siena, Northern Iowa and Western Kentucky.

Old Dominion, Creighton, Akron, Wright State and Niagara fill out the top ten.  Also coming in ahead of the Grizzlies are VCU, George Mason and Northeastern.

This is about where I expected OU to land — between ten and twenty.  Now it’s up to them to move up the rankings.