By Matt Dery
TV and Radio analyst
Sometimes you have to have that alpha dog. A premier, top-shelf talent that can elevate a team to new heights.
The Oakland Golden Grizzlies had that in Kay Felder in 2015-16. Kay ended up leaving school after that season a year early and got drafted by the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. The proof was in the pudding and league scouts saw that. Felder's story has been well documented, but it leads to a bigger point. Oakland missed him last year in some of its tight losses; none bigger than the Youngstown State debacle in round one of the Horizon League Tournament.
How do you define an alpha dog? Which individuals demand the ball down the stretch with zero hesitation? I saw something Saturday that reminded me of the Kay days.
Kendrick Nunn is that kind of dude. The fifth year senior wanted the ball. The game was never really in doubt at Detroit-Mercy, as Coach Greg Kampe told me and Neal Ruhl on the post-game radio show, but Kendrick made sure to put his stamp on it. A career high 38 points in a rivalry game on the road and more importantly, he went and got the rock three straight times with under 25 seconds left and calmly drilled six consecutive free throws.
Alpha freaking dog.
Nunn is an accomplished scorer, we know that. The now three-time Horizon League player of the week has hit for over 30 points eight times this season. Eight.
This isn't the NBA (yet). It is not easy to score 30 at the college level, let alone eight times. What I love about his game is the quiet confidence and swagger that he brings to the floor. Martez Walker has that confidence too but is more visual with it than Nunn.
The Chicago kid is quiet, but again, his demanding of the spotlight Saturday spoke volumes. Kendrick just delivers and it is just what this Golden Grizzlies team needed.
Nunn is hot and Oakland has won four in a row, heading in to the biggest road trip of the season starting Friday at Northern Kentucky. A perfect opportunity for him to grab the microphone again.