Grizz Gang welcomes men’s basketball home to the Blacktop

The constant roar of the crowd kept the team feeling in the game, as Oakland came out on top for the first game of the official season.

The lights dimmed, but the atmosphere in the O’rena didn’t. The Golden Grizzlies made a powerful entrance to get the crowd on its feet. The student section was packed, from painted chests to smiling faces, the Grizz Gang showed up to passionately root on their Golden Grizzlies.

The Grizz Gang did not stop cheering from the moment the basketball team entered the O’rena until the final buzzer.

“I think [the Grizz Gang is] a huge factor, and Coach Greg Kampe even said it gives the players that extra little motivation,” Grizz Gang President Jake Wolok said. “For a smaller school we definitely rank up there as one of the loudest student sections and definitely the loudest in the Horizon League.”

The game got off to a quick start as Fort Wayne put up four points on Oakland. Isaiah Brock quickly put Oakland on the scoreboard and the rest of the Golden Grizzlies shortly followed suit.

The Grizz Gang was in rare form as Martez Walker swished the first 3-pointer of the evening.

“Everything we do is for the students and we planned this out two months ago in advance and we have everything that we want and all that matters is that the students get excited, and that’s what college basketball is all about, the atmosphere,” Wolok said.

The ball was fumbled around a bit by both sides, but control was on its way when the baskets started pouring in. Leading scorers in the first half were Kendrick Nunn, who put up 17 points, followed by Martez Walker with 15 points, and both Brock and Nick Daniels shared 6 points each.

When Kendrick Nunn was asked on how he got out of his early game slump, he said:

“When the shots aren’t falling you gotta find other ways to make plays. I just went with Martez… and he just kept telling me to keep going.”

Both teams went up and down the Blacktop in the first half. Approaching the end of the half, Oakland was up 45-26 when Daniels got the ball and made a buzzer-beater 3-point basket to end the half.

During the halftime show, Oakland University and Oakland Athletics were honored with the university’s third  McCafferty trophy. Director of Oakland Athletics Jeff Konya presented the trophy to university President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz.

At the start of the second half, the Golden Grizzlies were a new team. The passion was written on their faces and in their every move.

From the first minute of the game to the close, the Golden Grizzlies kept the lead. In the second half, Nunn put up 19 more points, totaling 36 in the entire game. Walker ended the game with 17 points in total, Daniels with 12, and James Beck with 9. All in all, the boys showed up to play their hearts out and that was known by the numbers portrayed on the scoreboard.

As the game drew to a close, things slowed down during the last few minutes on Oakland’s side, but the team managed to keep the lead and finish off strong, beating Fort Wayne by 14 points with the final score being 85-71.

Nunn said the fans are what kept him going throughout the game. 

“It felt great, I thank the Grizz Gang and everybody else for coming out,” he said. “I see how rowdy it can get in here and I want to thank everybody for coming.”

Fast Facts from Oakland Athletics

  • Men’s basketball ended exhibition play averaging 100.3 points a game while holding opponents to 74.0
  • 2017 is Oakland men’s basketball’s first year being polled No. 1 in the preseason poll
  • The Golden Grizzlies had the most players on the preseason all-league teams: Jalen Hayes, Martez Walker and Kendrick Nunn
  • The Golden Grizzlies are 12-5 in Division I home openers
  • The Nov. 10 game was the largest home opening crowd since joining the Horizon League
  • Fort Wayne won its previous three games against Oakland
  • Freshman James Beck started the Nov. 10 game, which was his first career start
  • Isaiah Brock is in fact returning for his sophomore season
  • Last season, the Golden Grizzlies were 20-3 when leading after halftime
  • Oakland won 83.3 percent of their away games last season
  • 2017 is Greg Kampe’s 34th season
  • Men’s basketball has two new assistant coaches: Tony Jones and Mychal Covington

Stat Leaders

Points: Nunn with 36

Field Goals: Nunn with 11 of 21 attempts

Three Pointers: Nunn with 5 of 11 attempts

Free Throws: Nunn with 9 of 10 attempts and Walker with 8 of 9 attempts

Rebounds: Brock with 12

Assists: Nunn and Neely with 6

Turnovers: Nunn and Walker with 5

Minutes Played: Nunn with 37

Team Totals

Points: 85

Field Goals: 27

Three Pointers: 9

Free Throws: 22

Rebounds: 37

Assists: 16

Turnovers: 18

Personal Fouls: 14