Keeping up with Team 50

Twitter came to life early on Thanksgiving Day as Oakland men’s basketball fans watched the team take on Nevada in the Great Alaska Shootout.

The game was scheduled to start at 1:30 a.m. ET, but was delayed and began at approximately 2 a.m. The Golden Grizzlies must have been tired, but they did not show it in the first half, and neither did their fans. While the rest of the nation went to sleep, they were wide awake with dedication.

2005 Oakland University School of Business Administration alum and longtime Golden Grizzlies fan John Hendley went to bed around 11 p.m. and set an alarm to catch the tipoff on time

“I woke up at 1:15 a.m., got a hot cup of tea and [started] anticipating a 1:30 a.m. tipoff, but obviously the game was delayed due to the previous game running longer,” Hendley said. “Unfortunately, because the game ended so late and because of the outcome, getting back to sleep was more difficult than it should have been. Luckily, it was Thanksgiving Day and I could sleep in.”

The fans tweeted through every play and rejoiced with every point scored, but the outcome was not in their favor. The Golden Grizzlies lost to Nevada 82-78, despite having a 16-point lead at the half.

“I think it was great that so many Oakland fans were up and watching the game even though it tipped off at nearly 2 a.m.,” Hendley said. “Twitter definitely keeps the fans connected, and it is interesting to see what others have to say. It makes watching the telecast interesting. I think the level of support that Oakland basketball receives is outstanding. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of #Team50.”  

Hendley has watched the Great Alaska Shootout tournament in the past, but he watched it this year because Oakland was playing and it was nationally televised.

“I watch every single [Oakland men’s basketball] game, either in person or through television and streaming media sources,” Hendley said. “I’ve been very happy with the move to the Horizon League, which resulted, at the time, in [the] majority of the league games being available through the Horizon League app.

“I still have needed to purchase a stream occasionally during the nonconference road schedule. In recent years, it’s become even easier due to the games being available on ESPN3 and quite a few being played on other ESPN outlets. This is quite the change from our Summit League time, in which I remember paying to watch us play on a stream or listening to the game on the opponent’s broadcast when on the road.”

Neal Ruhl, the Golden Grizzlies’ director of broadcasting and social media, had the opportunity to travel to Alaska with the team.

“I’m surprised the fans were up listening at 2 in the morning, but at the same time, I’m not surprised,” Ruhl said. “The Oakland fans are always there, no matter what. I feel their energy when I broadcast the games.”

Ruhl broadcast the game through WDFN-AM 1130 The Fan radio station.

“I told Coach Kampe after the game that there were a lot of fans that stayed up to watch or listen to the game,” Ruhl said. “He smiled and said that was great.”

After the loss, which was its first of the season, Oakland went on to play and win against Alaska Anchorage on Friday and UC Davis Saturday evening to earn fourth place in the tournament.

Ruhl read off listeners’ names on the show as people texted and Tweeted to let him know they were tuned in.

“I get a lot of messages from Golden Grizzlies fans that even when the games are on TV, they will mute the TV and sync up on my radio call,” Ruhl said. “That really means a lot to me to hear that. I think a ton of credit has to be given to our AD [Athletics Director] Jeff Konya and also [Senior Assistant AD for Public Relations] Scott MacDonald.

“Jeff really understands the importance of broadcasting, and Scott has had this broadcasting vision for a long time and has taken the steps to create a level of visibility for Oakland basketball for the fans that is second-to-none. I love my job as the director of broadcasting here at Oakland, and I truly do love our fans and am very thankful for them.”