Jack Golke: Oakland sharpshooter who sparked Golden Grizzlies to somewhat upset over Kentucky

Jack Golke: Oakland sharpshooter who sparked Golden Grizzlies to somewhat upset over Kentucky

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Jack Goelke hits 10 3-pointers in Oakland’s win over Kentucky in the first round of the 2024 Men’s March Madness.



CNN

March Madness is a time when stars become superstars and when the unheralded are transformed into cult heroes.

And even though we’re just days away from this year’s men’s edition of March Madness, the tournament appears to already have the unheralded sensation for 2024: Jack Golke.

Golke, 24, put on a remarkable shooting display to catalyze No. 14 Oakland University to a commanding 80-76 victory over No. 3 Kentucky on Thursday.

Gohlke’s 32 points, which came primarily from deep, connecting on 10 three-pointers, tied for the second-most in an NCAA Tournament game, helped fuel Oakland’s memorable first-round victory. The win ensured the Southeastern Michigan school advanced to the second round for the first time in its history.

The magnitude of the win can’t be understated: Oakland has little pedigree compared to Kentucky, a college basketball powerhouse with a long history of producing NBA talent and the second-most national championships in history (eight).

But like Golke’s confident shooting Thursday night, the guard is optimistic about his team’s ability to hold its own against the biggest programs in college basketball.

“I know [the Kentucky Wildcats] I have my draft picks and I know I’m not going to the NBA, but I know that on any given night I can compete with those guys and our team can compete with those types of guys,” Golke told reporters after Oakland’s win over Wild cats.

“That’s why I was so confident about it. And that’s why I said we’re not Cinderella, because when we play our A-game, we can be the best team on the field.”

A native of Pewaukee, Wis., Gohlke spent the first few seasons of his collegiate career at Division II Hillsdale College in Michigan before transferring to Oakland University before the start of this season.

And the guard has chosen his area of ​​the basketball to focus on and has mastered the art of shooting from deep.

Over the course of the season, he appeared in 31 regular season games and three Horizon League games for the Golden Grizzlies. Before facing Kentucky, he had attempted 335 field goals, 327 of which were from behind the three-point line.

Gohlke shot 37% from beyond the arc and continued that form into Oakland’s March Madness opener.

His 20 three-point attempts Thursday night were more than double the number of two-pointers he made all season. And by connecting on 50% of them, Oakland rode its hot performance to a famous victory.

It all culminated in his lights-out performance against Kentucky, in which he constantly dissected the Wildcats’ defense with his three-point shooting, constantly moving the court and shooting from different spots in an electric display.

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Gohlke takes a shot at Kentucky Wildcats guard Reed Sheppard.

The skill set he displayed Thursday came from a place of confidence, according to Gohlke.

“I think everybody believed,” Golke said of his teammates, “but I think I was the one who was the most confident. I was trying to tell them, ‘Hey guys, this is where we belong. This is the moment we have all worked so hard for this season and our entire basketball career.

“I’ve just worked so hard to get to this point, I’m not going into any game thinking I’m going to lose. As a shooter, you can’t let that doubt creep in. Then it will become a problem.

The win was made even more significant by the fact that it was Oakland’s first NCAA Tournament victory, and Kentucky already had 132 to its name.

But while Golke’s name may not have been known to the wider basketball community until now, some of his teammates aren’t surprised by his showing.

“He knows what he’s done, what he’s put in over the last five years.” Oakland junior guard Blake Lampman said. “You score 32 and beat Kentucky on the first day of the NCAA Tournament on CBS at 7:10. Yes, you will be the hottest name.

Gohlke will need to continue his hot shooting if Oakland wants to continue its March Madness; The Golden Grizzlies will face the winner of No. 6 Texas Tech and No. 11 North Carolina State on Saturday.

But for Golke himself, he doesn’t mind being the outsider.

“I don’t like this David and Goliath thing,” Golke said. “Obviously Kentucky is a great team and we came in as an underdog, but we believe in ourselves and obviously now the country believes in us.”

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