Appreciating Oakland's Dominance

Dominance in mid-major conferences just like anywhere else typically has a degree of ebb and flow to it. One team may carry the torch for a few seasons, before another dominant force rises to power. These runs of elite status may linger or flame out in brilliant fashion, it's dependent on so many factors.

Take Oakland for example. The class of the Summit League for the past two seasons, it's becoming exceedingly clear that we are witnessing something truly special as far as mid-major dominance is concerned. It isn't a stretch to classify the Golden Grizzlies last two seasons as perhaps the most dominant performance by any mid-major program in the last several years at the conference level.

Certainly Utah State fans can make a strong case for the Aggies, but as good as they have been, no one can touch Oakland from a sheer numbers standpoint.

In two seasons the Golden Grizzlies have lost a total of two conference games - ironically enough both regular season contests to IUPUI. The rest has been sheer perfection. Oakland has rolled to a 34-2 Summit League record, won their three conference tournament games last season by an average of more than 13 points and so far have a margin of victory of 18 points in the first two tournament games in 2011. That isn't just winning, it's decisive, in a manner that usually isn't seen in conference tournaments where intensity increases ten fold.

If you're a stat head then it's equally as hard not to be blown away by what the Grizz have done this season. Not only do they have by far the best offensive efficiency in the conference (and 15th nationally), they have the best defensive efficiency. Oakland leads the Summit in three-point, two-point and adjusted field goal percentages, while simultaneously posting the lowest percentages against their defense in all three respective metrics.

The presence of senior Keith Benson and junior Reggie Hamilton has created an otherwordly inside/outside duo by Summit League standards, particularly Benson who has been a terror as a legitimate NBA prospect operating inside.

Of course a loss tonight against a quality Oral Roberts team in the Summit League finals would ultimately offset the impressive two-year run Oakland has assembled. You're nothing in this game without that all important NCAA Tournament berth. But while the possibility of another seemless run through the playoffs remains - even if just for a few more hours - it's worth it to appreciate what the Golden Grizzlies have produced on the court.

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