In our first post, we sought to spread the word. The Oakland Golden Grizzlies, our deep, deep Sweet 16 sleeper pick had turned up the suck level to 11. They needed our help, or at least a feeble blog post from a few avid supporters detailing their underachieving play as some sort of unconventional motivational mechanism.
Entering the season with a veteran nucleus and one of the toughest non-conference schedules this side of Presbyterian, the Golden Grizz looked poised to snatch up a few ego-boosting moral victories or even pull off a full-fledged upset over a Wisconsin, Oregon or, heck, #1 Kansas. None of that happened, however, as Oakland, now sitting at 9-7, lost to Memphis, Michigan State, Syracuse, and the aforementioned Badgers, Ducks, and Jayhawks by a combined average margin of 25 points. As a result, they didn't even remotely hint at the idea they could hang with an upper-echelon program and go dancing for a few rounds come March. Their games even became so lopsided and/or irrelevant, you couldn't even walk into a Las Vegas sportsbook and drop a few bucks on Greg Kampe's club to - fingers-crossed - cover a double-digit spread. They are nowhere to be found on an odds board.
With all that, there are still no legit excuses to lay down here. In 16 games this season, the Golden Grizzlies have only had two starting line-up combinations, suffered no major injuries, and get 30+ minutes each game from "stars" Jonathan Jones and Keith Benson. Frankly, this team has just never been able to match the athleticism and efficiency of stronger opponents. Oakland shoots a pedestrian 42 percent from the field (29 percent from deep) in only 70 possessions-per-40-minutes. Not a recipe for success when the margin of error against a top-ranked team is nose-hair thin.
So can a dismal start to the season be rectified? Well I hear the Summit league is pretty terrible. Currently, Oakland's RPI is tops in their conference (55), and they already boast a 3-0 record. To their credit, they hit the offensive boards, know how to get to the foul line, and participate in school-sanctioned food fights.
I can smell a NCAA Tournament #15 seed from here.