Saturday, November 6, 2010

Expectations: Odds And Ends

Whenever a new season is birthed, a certain range of expectations come with it. Coaches, players, administrators, media, and fans all have expectations, hopes, wishes. Throughout the week the Gameplan has laid out some of these for 2010-11, ranging from team leadership to fan participation. This feature concludes today by looking into other expectations for the new season. As always, keep in mind these are just from the perspective of one Golden Grizzly fan and others are certainly encouraged to share their own!

Look Good On TV
As has been the case lately, Oakland will have three home games televised on Fox Sports Detroit. One of the games is against Michigan State at the Palace, which should be well attended. The games we're most concerned with are the home games against IUPUI and IPFW. Both games will air live on FSD, presumably with the venerable Mario Impemba on the call. Even though the game is on television, it is absolutely essential that the game be well attended. The worst thing is to get a game on TV and have no one in the stands. My view of these games is that they should be a showcase for all the folks who are on the edge of actually coming out to a game at the O'Rena. If the stands are packed and that person sees the energy of the crowd on their TV screen, there is a better chance that they'll be inclined to check it out in person next time.

Paint The Palace Black And Gold
One of the aforementioned TV games is against the overlord of Michigan college basketball, the Michigan State Spartans. MSU will be darn tough to beat this season, but I do know that the Golden Grizzlies could be boosted by a supportive crowd at The Palace, if indeed that crowd sways toward Oakland. The harsh part about home games at The Palace is that a majority of the fans will no doubt be sporting green and white. This is just a fact of life in a state that hasn't fully embraced mid-major basketball and has tons and tons and tons of MSU alumni who came of age in East Lansing. It's wishful thinking on my part, but I hope to see a lot of black and gold in the stands on December 11.

Ticket Deals For The Lou Henson Tournament
I had made a habit of bringing out family members to the annual Summit League games that Oakland hosted around the holidays. The tickets, at least the last two seasons, were "buy one, get one free," which provided more incentive to get others involved over a period of time when students are not on campus and others might be more concerned with the holidays. This will likely be the case again this year for the Lou Henson Tournament at the O'Rena, so a great deal on tickets would surely be welcomed.

Fan Presence On The Road
Back in September, I put together "The Oakland Fan's 2010-11 Non-Conference Travel Guide" in an attempt to show casual observers how travel-friendly OU's schedule is this season. This was done in order to bring light to the fact that several of these games can be seen live with a four or five hour road trip. The post might be the most practical one ever published on the Gameplan. Based solely on the annual IPFW road trip, it's clear that Oakland fans will travel to take in a road game. I can only hope that some fans take advantage of this schedule, because they don't come around very often.

Packed Senior Night
Here's the thing: this year Senior Night is on the Saturday after Oakland shuts down for a week due to spring break. For new or casual fans, I can not stress enough the importance of this night. Not only will the Golden Grizzlies be playing what looks to be a solid (albeit young) South Dakota State team, it will also be the last chance to see Keith Benson, Will Hudson, and Larry Wright play a game in the O'Rena (barring any postseason home games). Larry Wright has been a solid two-year contributor, but Benson and Hudson have been at Oakland for five and four years, respectively. It's a chance to honor their very productive playing careers while rooting on the team in a tough late season conference match-up. The hope is that the O'Rena is packed despite the break.

At Least One Breakthrough Win
The games Oakland played against power-six teams last season all ended rather badly. The Golden Grizzlies will have seven opportunities against these schools in 2010-11, and one can only hope that at least one will result in a win for the program.

The NCAA Tournament
Last year was amazing, no doubt. The NCAA Tournament game was in Milwaukee, making travel relatively easy for Oakland fans via car. This year, however, it could be better. There are two first-weekend sites within driving distance of Rochester in Chicago and Cleveland. The hard part is actually getting to into the tournament, but it's clear that the locales set up nicely for Oakland. Obviously, every program wants to get to the NCAAs. It's not an easy feat, especially in the Summit League. However, OU returns a solid line-up and injects some new talent that should contribute. It's a long season, but boy would it be amazing to hear the Golden Grizzlies getting their name called on Selection Sunday again. We're in for a ride.

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