Kay Felder’s career-high 38 points made a statement this past weekend.
And so did the game in which he scored them–Oakland University’s 97-83 win over Washington in Seattle.
That deserves a little attention, too.
“I think we proved something to ourselves and to the whole nation that we can be one of those mid-major teams, that, you know, excels in the NCAA Tournament and gets a few wins in the tournament,” said Felder, the nation’s second-leading scorer with 25.9 points per game.
The Golden Grizzlies star hasn’t scored fewer than 20 points in a game this year. He began the season with five-troubles, too–so it just so happens that he also leads the country with 8.9 assists per game.
Playing the Huskies on the road helped toughen Oakland. So will playing No. 5-ranked Virginia on Dec. 30 in Charlottesville. But before taking on the Cavaliers, the Grizzlies, favorites to win the Horizon League, have to collide with No. 1-ranked Michigan State at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Trying test at the home of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons?
Sure, it’ll be an uphill climb.
Nobody’s denying that.
But Felder, a tactful 5’9,” 165-pound scorer, wouldn’t have it any other way. He likes running against the giants.
“Oh man, you know, it’s perfect to play these games against Michigan State, Virginia, Washington, you know, just seeing how the level of competition is…” Felder said, later adding that he realizes major teams love to run up the score on the mid-majors–which has happened a few times to Oakland.
A year ago, and despite 20 points from Felder, the Grizzlies lost 101-64 to then-No. 3-ranked Arizona. Days later, No. 15-ranked Maryland rolled, 72-56. And yeah, Michigan State, which wasn’t ranked at the time, ran away with an easy one, 87-61, earlier in the same season.
However, Oakland welcomes competition. Lopsided losses won’t ever deter coach Greg Kampe from scheduling challenges. He’s a lot like Spartans coach Tom Izzo in that regard.
And besides, they haven’t all been blowouts. During Felder’s sophomore year, the Grizzlies hung with No. 15-ranked Iowa State before losing their season-opener, 93-82. He scored 23 points that day.
A year earlier, they nearly toppled the No. 5-ranked Spartans at The Palace, falling just short, 67-64.
Needless to say, Felder knows what to expect from the Power 5 crowd. More times than not, he’s played exceptionally well.
He’s more than prepared for Round 3 with the Spartans.
“You know they’re going to set hard screens, good screens,” Felder said. “Their bigs are going to run down the court in transition. Their guards are going to push the ball very fast down the court…”
All of the guards except senior Denzel Valentine, though.
On Monday morning, Michigan State announced that its potential player of the year candidate would be sidelined for 2-3 weeks due to a knee injury. While the absence of a triple-double-in-the-making probably helps Oakland, it’s not something that’s being taken for granted.
Michigan State is No. 1 for a reason, with or without Valentine. With that said, his injury doesn’t change a thing.
“No, not all. We signed up to play Michigan State–not just Denzel Valentine,” said Felder, who caught the news early in the morning via text. “He is their star, but we’re playing Michigan State, so that doesn’t change the game at all.”