Felder and AD: When in league tourney, one game at a time

On March 7, the Oakland men’s basketball will play its first game of the 2016 Horizon League Championship. If the Golden Grizzlies win twice, they net a spot in March Madness.

“March 7 is the most important game of the tournament,” junior Kay Felder, who was recently named Horizon League player of the year, said. “Then if we win, March 8 is.”

The team will watch every game from both sides of the bracket and analyze its potential opponents, Felder said. 

Tournament-style competition can be difficult for teams to plan for. There are upsets and blowouts. They must be ready to adapt.

“Well, it will be a new experience,” Director of Athletics Jeff Konya said.  “A new court, a new environment, a neutral site. So there will be a learning curve. I would assume the team will work inside-out and take care and control the items they can, and not worry about external contingencies.”

“The season is a journey and hopefully, the lessons learned will assist in the preparation for post-season play,” he said.

Felder mentioned Oakland’s legacy.

“There have already been seven Horizon League titles,” he said. “We want to be the next ones to get our names up there. To bring home the trophy for Oakland.”

Oakland (21-10, 13-5 in the Horizon League) is sitting at the second seed behind No. 1 Valparaiso (26-5, 16-2).

“[Oakland] has talent and potential for greatness.” Konya said. 

“They have [shown] that in the regular season. But this is a highly-competitive conference with great student-athletes and coaches and programs. The Horizon League basketball product, as a conference, is fantastic, and compelling.”

There are two main barriers that could hinder Oakland’s bid for the Horizon League title, according to Felder.

“If we lose the lead or are down, that’s a huge barrier,” he said. 

“Or, heaven forbid, if we have someone get hurt or there are any injuries. Those are the two biggest ones.”

Konya said the team’s focus should be the task at hand.

“Post-season is about taking one game, one half, one possession at a time and valuing each opportunity,” he said. 

“I would advocate to trust the process, and the coaches.”

Konya said Oakland is unique because of how close-knit the Golden Grizzlies are.

“Words like family, or being brothers, is not simply lip service,” he said.

Felder said the team is unique in their sense of dedication and commitment to success.

“We go hard,” Felder said. “We want to win everything. If it’s from the classroom, to on the court, to training, we are all in.”

Oakland plays at 9:30 p.m. ET on Monday, March 7 at Joe Louis Arena. Watch on ESPNU or ESPN3 or listen on WDFN-AM (1130).

If the Golden Grizzlies win, they play in the finals at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 8 at Joe Louis. 

Watch on ESPN or ESPN3 or listen on WDFN-AM (1130).

For tickets and more information, visit http://motorcitymadness.horizonleague.org/.