With the final buzzer Sunday night the 2016-17 season officially came to an end for the Oakland men’s basketball team with an 87-83 road loss to Richmond.
The key moment of the game was when Oakland’s junior guard Martez Walker missed a three point shot which would had given the Golden Grizzlies an 86-85 lead with six seconds left and put a lot of pressure on Richmond to either tie or win with a shot to beat the buzzer. At first glance, Walker appeared to be fouled and those fans, students, and alumni watching the game on ESPNU would have probably lit up Facebook and Twitter about the “obvious” blown call. However, upon another look from a different angle, it’s shown that Walker jumped into the shot and caused the contact. So this now turned out to be an unfortunate break. Is really that simple though?
Certainly, the Golden Grizzlies could had found a way to force the ball inside to tie the game and potentially force overtime. That may had appeared to be the better option considering had bad Walker’s three-point shot looked. However, Walker had been hitting off-balanced threes throughout the game including a one that led to a four-point play, which tied the game at 82. It certainly didn’t seem to hurt to let Walker attempt his heroics again. Perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be for the Golden Grizzlies. Their season ends with a second round exit to Richmond with a 25-9 record.
It’s easy to look back at this season and point out the disappointment of this loss or the even greater disappointment of the loss to Youngstown State the second round of the Horizon League Tournament, when the Oakland faithful were expecting their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2011. It would even be easy to ponder the possibility of how much farther the Golden Grizzlies could had gone had Kay Felder decided to play out his senior year.
Instead, however, it may be better to look at all of the successes Oakland had this season. Felder’s departure perhaps was the motivation the team needed to play as well as it did. Head coach Greg Kampe was able to unleash a team that he has said on several occasions was probably the deepest he’s ever had. This bunch had an impressive start in non-conference play, and then in Horizon League play. Then, after suffering four losses in five games, the Golden Grizzlies finished the regular season with nine-straight wins. Finally, Oakland was able to shake off the disappointment of Motor City Madness and upset Clemson in the first round of the NIT.
This squad is losing only one player, senior Sherron Dorsey-Walker, so that means that the 2018-18 Golden Grizzlies squad will have a huge amount of continuity and therefore will remember this season very well. That could make next season’s team extremely dangerous. Walker will be back. Jalen Hayes is returning and so are so many others. Better days may be ahead for the Golden Grizzlies, and that could be a very scary prospect for the rest of the Horizon League. You heard it from me, Seth Walker.