Grizz Madnezz sets the stage for another hoops season

With Kevin Beers’ booming voice over the loudspeakers and 1,500 fans in attendance, the Oakland University basketball teams officially started their 2010-2011 campaigns on Friday, Oct. 15.

After both teams posted impressive home court records in 2009-2010 — 13-1 for the men, 10-6 for the women, it’s clear that the Golden Grizzlies success at home is at least partly due to the fans.

“We’ve won 21 consecutive conference games at home, and 27 of our last 28 games at home,” men’s coach Greg Kampe said. “I thought the crowd last year brought home a couple of games for us, especially the Oral Roberts game. They made our team refuse to lose. There’s no question we have the best student section in the conference — I don’t think it’s even close.”

Women’s head basketball coach Beckie Francis emphatically echoed that sentiment.

“I was excited to see all the fans, particularly the student section, so fired up for the start of the college basketball season. Crowds always pump up our team,” Francis said. “We love our feisty Grizz Gang student section, our vibrant and talented pep band and our loud cheer and dance teams.”

As was the norm for basketball games last season, the Grizz Gang’s presence was evident, with a full student section.

“I think events like Grizz Madnezz are very important; they excite new students and attract students that normally don’t come to sporting events,” said Steve Cox, Grizz Gang co-president. “Hopefully everyone that comes enjoys themselves and it encourages them to come out for more events and games.”

After an intense Buffalo Wild Wings eating contest won by Kampe, each Oakland sports team was introduced, with the men’s golf squad even hoisting their newly-won Bearcat Invitational trophy.

But it was a new face which drew the loudest cheers of the night.

Five-foot-ten freshman basketball player Ryan Bass showed off his athleticism with three dunks that got the crowd off their feet each time.

With one dunk, Bass threw the ball ahead for a self alley-oop, caught it in mid-air and put it between his legs for a windmill dunk.

Bass’ high-flying ability was well-known by Kampe, who added he expects Bass will be a very exciting player for the OU fans to watch this season.

“It was such a blast last year, and it’s a lot of fun to get together with everybody and cheer for Oakland and the start of the basketball season,” sophomore sprinter Meaghan Ogonowski said. “It allows not only the basketball team to get more support, but all the other teams too.”

The OU women begin their season Oct. 29 with an exhibition game against Western Ontario and the men start things off Nov. 9 with an exhibition against Marygrove.