Thursday, September 16, 2010

Top 5 Home Games Of 2010-11 For The Uninitiated Oakland Fan

With the release of the Oakland University men's basketball schedule comes much excitement surrounding the home games. Thus far, we've already given you a game-by-game breakdown of the schedule as well as a handy road game travel guide, but today's focus is all about the easiest matches to attend: the home games. I was a student once, and some of the most lasting memories I have of my time in Rochester are of attending basketball games with friends. In fact, it is something I wish I would have discovered earlier in my undergraduate career because it provided something fun and exciting to do, especially during the colder months of the winter semester. For the casual basketball fan or someone just discovering their OU spirit, it may prove difficult to attend every single home game. With classes and work and breaks in the way, this is an understandable position to be in. For that reason, I've put together a list of the top five home games which the uninitiated Oakland fan should pencil permanently marker in on their calenders.

#1. OU vs. Oral Roberts / Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 7:00pm
Despite its location in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Oral Roberts is Oakland's biggest rival. The two schools have battled for conference supremacy over the last half-decade or so, including many great conference tournament championship games that have gone both ways. The OU-ORU game at the O'Rena is usually the biggest draw of the year; in fact, last season saw the Grizz Gang student section expand into the bleachers; it was truly a remarkable experience. Adding to the fire is the fact that Oakland and Oral Roberts both have extremely talented teams heading into this season and should battle for top honors in The Summit League. For students, this is the most important game to attend and will likely provoke your Grizzly spirit enough to have you returning for every other game of the season (or your four-years at OU!)

#2. OU vs. Michigan State (@ The Palace) / Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 12:30pm
At first glance, new fans may wonder how this qualifies as a home game. In recent years, Oakland has utilized the appeal and size of The Palace as a means of getting high-major schools to come to Oakland County for games. The Palace would qualify as a neutral site, yet the attendance figures are attributed to Oakland U for its "home game" totals. Technically, MSU has such a large fanbase that The Palace will be more green and white than black and gold. However, it is an extremely fun time for Oakland students and a chance to see the Grizzlies take on a perennial contender for the national title. Historically, the game has been free with a student ID or very little cost, and the school has provided transportation while the Grizz Gang has distributed pizza and pop beforehand. Two years ago, the Alumni Association opened up the swanky Ameriprise Club for students to eat free food before the MSU-OU game. Even without all of the extras, it is still a rather big deal to cheer on the Grizzlies inside an NBA arena. Make sure to be there even though the semester will have just freshly ended.

#3. OU vs. IUPUI / Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 7:30pm
Though IUPUI may sound like a goofy name for a university, the Jaguars are no joke in The Summit League. While you may not have heard of them before, they have been a very consistent program at this level and always play hard against the Golden Grizzlies. IUPUI usually has one player worth watching, and that guy will be Alex Young this season. In the past, current NBA baller George Hill and former star Robert Glenn have come to the O'Rena hoping to lead IUPUI to victory, yet every time it seems the Grizzlies pull away with a win. Young will try again this season, but the Grizzlies will match-up well. This game occurs two days after classes begin for the winter semester, so students will not be bogged down with assignments quite yet. This game will be meaningful and fun, and IUPUI always provides much fodder for taunting.

#4. OU vs. South Dakota State / Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 6:00pm
Aside from standing out as the last home game of the season, it will also mark OU's Senior Night. This is a tradition which occurs across college campuses, a night where coaches, players, and fans come together to congratulate and honor graduating seniors. If you are a casual basketball fan, you might hear more about all the people leaving college early than those sticking around to earn a degree. At Oakland, leaving early is extremely uncommon; as a result, fans get to know these players very well over a four-year span. The ceremonies usually take place before and after the game, so be sure to get there early and stay a little late. While you will have only known these players for a season, it's still important to attend. This year will see the departure of two four-year players in Will Hudson and Keith Benson, as well as two-year starter Larry Wright. Wright will have spent a total of three years at Oakland, one sitting out because he transferred from St. Johns. He looks to have a promising senior season and should be honored as a high-major talent who helped the Grizzlies in many ways. Will Hudson has been as solid a player and teammate as one could ask for. He has been incredibly consistent for the Grizzlies over his time here and an all-around approachable, friendly guy. He looks to leave Oakland with a memorable senior season. Finally, Keith Benson may go down as one of the most important players in school history. He has a legitimate shot to make the NBA, and opted to stay at Oakland one more year despite earning his degree already. It will be a pleasure to hear Coach Kampe send these guys off at the O'Rena.

#5. OU vs. Valpo/Eastern Michigan / Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at TBA
This game will be happening as a part of the Lou Henson Tournament at the O'Rena. It is a very unique thing for Oakland to be hosting an event like this, as it involves four teams playing in a tournament format over the course of two days. The game takes place smack in the middle of the winter break, but fans should take advantage of the opportunity to see some quality basketball with their time off. Eastern Michigan beat Oakland at home last season in the team's season-opener; it would be great to see the Grizzlies avenge that. Likewise, Valparaiso used to be one of Oakland U's conference rivals before moving for the greener pastures of the Horizon League. There is a bit of history between the two schools, and this provides new fans with the chance to relive some of those glory days.

Most of all, remember that all of these games are free for students by showing their student ID. We'd absolutely encourage you all to attend every game, though if you have to choose, this post provides you with a solid starting point. Good luck finding your way to games this season. They won't let you down!

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