By: Brian Dickmann
Photo via Horizon League
When the Green Bay Phoenix fell in overtime to the Cleveland State Vikings on Friday night at the Resch Center, any hope to host the Horizon League Tournament in Green Bay for the second consecutive season went out the window.
However, after the Vikings were tripped up Sunday afternoon by the UWM Panthers in Milwaukee, hope remains alive for Green Bay to receive the #2 seed in the conference tournament and the important double bye to the semi-finals that comes with it.
Green Bay has already clinched at least a bye into the quarterfinals as either the #3 or #4 seed. To move up to the #2 seed and a double bye the Phoenix will require some additional help.
In order for that to happen, the Phoenix must win both of their remaining games, at UIC on Thursday night as well as home against Oakland on Saturday afternoon, as well as have league-leading Valparaiso beat Cleveland State in Cleveland on Friday night (9:00, ESPNU).
That would result in Valpo being either 14-2 or 13-3 (depending on the result of their Wednesday night clash at Detroit), Green Bay at 12-4, and Cleveland State and Oakland at 11-5.
"We're still playing for a high seed," Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle said Monday night on "Inside Phoenix Basketball" on WNFL. "You just never know what can happen in our league with the parity we have, especially with the top 4 teams"
"I think our league is very strong at the top. It's going to be very interesting to see who goes on the road this week and wins and who can hold home court."
Green Bay lost its first home game of the season on Friday and will have to quickly put the pain of knowing they won't be repeating as regular season conference champions behind them.
"You learn from it and you move on," Wardle said. "As much as it hurts and you want that win to try and still win a championship, you just have to do your best to move on and understand it wasn't our night. We let some things slip away."
"Lets tighten up this last week of conference play and see if we can win a couple more before we get to the conference tournament."
First will be a short trip to Chicago to face UIC on Thursday night at the UIC Pavilion. The Phoenix whooped up on the Flames in the first meeting at the Resch Center, 78-55, behind a combined 46 points from the Chicago starting trio of Keifer Sykes, Greg Mays, and Alfonzo McKinnie.
UIC (7-22, 3-11 in conference play) had won two games in a row before their recent three game losing streak.
"We need to go on the road against a UIC team that has been playing well down the stretch," said Wardle. "They know we have a lot of Chicago guys. They always play us tough at the UIC Pavilion so we're going to go in there and have our hands full Thursday night, there's no doubt about it."
After a quick turnaround, the Oakland Grizzlies come to Green Bay on Saturday afternoon for the Phoenix final regular season home game of the year. Green Bay will look to avenge an earlier 69-66 loss in Rochester back on January 15th.
It will be Senior Day at the Resch Center with the first 2,000 fans in attendance receiving a Keifer Sykes bobble-head. Tip-off is at 1:00 PM.
Saturday's game could have big Horizon League Tournament seeding implications. For more Horizon League seeding scenarios, be sure to check out Jim Squire's post at his "On the Horizon" website.
"We have improved offensively over the last couple weeks," said Wardle. "Down the stretch this week we're going to need to play better."
By: Brian Dickmann
Photo: Tricia Whitaker
Former Green Bay Phoenix star Alec Brown's professional basketball career is underway.
Brown made his debut for the Bakersfield Jam in the NBA D-League on Tuesday night scoring 6 points to go along with 5 blocks, 2 rebounds, and a steal in 12 minutes of play. All 6 points came in the form of a perfect 2-2 from beyond the three point line en route to a 2-5 shooting night overall.
The 7' 1" center had been rehabbing a dislocated shoulder that required surgery and has missed over 6 months after suffering the injury in a NBA Summer League game on July 18 in a loss against the Dallas Mavericks.
The shoulder injury is the same one he battled for a good portion of his senior season at Green Bay, an injury that occurred towards the end of January 2014 and lingered through the course of the rest of the year.
Brown was selected in the 2nd round in this past summer's NBA Draft, taken #50 overall by the Phoenix Suns. The Bakersfield Jam are the Suns' D-League affiliate.
He finished his Green Bay career with 1,678 points, 800 rebounds, and obliterated the school's blocked shots record, finishing with an impressive 309 blocks in his career.
Brown joins former Green Bay forward Mike Schachtner in the NBA D-League. Schachtner currently plays for the Erie BayHawks. Former Phoenix guard Rahmon Fletcher is playing professionally overseas for the Newcastle Eagles in Great Britain.
By: Brian Dickmann
Photo via The Rock River Times
There's no doubt that the Green Bay Phoenix men's basketball team will lose a lot of athleticism with the departure of Keifer Sykes, Greg Mays, and Alfonzo McKinnie after this season.
But the highlight reel type dunks we've become accustomed to appear likely to continue once class of 2015 commitment Antoine Pittman puts on the Green Bay jersey.
The 6' 3" guard from Rockford, Illinois had two impressive dunks in a big win Friday night and followed it up with an 18 point performance the next night to help his Auburn High School team improve to 18-1. This comes on the heels of him hitting a game winning jumper back on January 20th with under 2 seconds left.
The Knights are currently ranked #4 in Illinois and are a serious contender to win both the NIC-10 conference championship as well as a state championship. Auburn has never won an IHSA state title in boys basketball. Last season, they finished 28-6 overall winning the conference title.
Pittman signed his National Letter of Intent on November 12 after verbally committing to Green Bay back in September. He chose the Phoenix over scholarship offers from Nevada, Northern Illinois, Chicago State, SIU-Edwardsville, and Tennessee State.
By: Brian Dickmann | 01-12-15
Photo via HorizonLeague.org
According to Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters, the Horizon League will be adding a new member this year.
"They are going to do it this year. Definitely one," Waters recently told Cleveland State Hoops' Tom Mieskoski regarding Horizon League expansion.
This comes on the heels of Cleveland State's athletic director John Parry publicly naming four schools as possible for expansion. According to Bob McDonald from More Than A Fan Cleveland, the four schools are Belmont, Northern Kentucky, Murray State, and Lipscomb. It was the first time an administrator from a conference school has publicly named potential expansion candidates.
Prior to the start of the Cleveland State-Virginia Commonwealth game, CSU athletic director John Parry discussed potential expansion of the Horizon League with radio play-by-play announcer Al Pawlowski. When talking about this, fans of any Horizon League school cross their and hope that they don’t hear a glut of initials (read: IUPUI or IPFW).
Instead, Parry mentioned four schools as possible entries. The first was one already familiar to some in the Horizon League – Belmont. The Bruins already are a conference member in soccer and have agreed to play conference schools in a number of other sports. The idea of becoming a full-time league member would be considered the next natural step.
The second school, Northern Kentucky, has also been discussed in certain circles as well. At the moment, the Norse are sitting in the way station of Division I, the Atlantic Sun Conference, and is in the third year of their transition from Division II. However, since NKU won’t be a full D1 school until July 2016, the Horizon League may hold off until then. Once they clear that hurdle, the Norse have the facilities and access to the Cincinnati media market the conference has been looking for.
Murray State was also mentioned as a potential addition. The Racers could be looking for a competition upgrade from the Ohio Valley Conference the same as Belmont may be, [especially with] their omission from the post-season during the 2012-13 season despite 21 wins and making it to the OVC tournament finals.
Of the four teams mentioned by Parry, perhaps the inclusion of Lipscomb was the biggest head-scratcher. The Bisons have not had the type of success that either Belmont or Murray State has, nor have they set the world on fire in the Atlantic Sun. The only explanation would be to find a travel partner from the cross-town Bruins, should they be invited to the Horizon League.
It will be interesting to see who the league will add. The Horizon League wants to get back to an even number for scheduling purposes, and it is yet to be determined if that number will be 10 or 12.