By: Brian Dickmann
The Green Bay Phoenix will need to have a short memory. After being blown out on the road in Madison by the #3 ranked Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay will now travel to Germain Arena in Estero, Florida to take part in the Gulf Coast Showcase.
The tournament features quality mid-majors from across the country, headlined by Green Bay and NCAA Tournament darlings from a few seasons ago Florida Gulf Coast.
"We created the Gulf Coast Showcase to be a premium tournament strictly for college basketball’s top mid-major schools,” said bd Global President Brooks Downing, the tournament's organizer. “With some of the nation’s top programs and the hometown FGCU Eagles, this year’s event will certainly have a “March Madness” feel at Germain Arena.”
The 8-team tournament field includes Green Bay and Florida Gulf Coast as well as East Carolina, Evansville, Fresno State, Marist, San Fransisco, and Hawaii. Play tips-off Monday morning when the Phoenix take on East Carolina at 11:00 AM central time.
By: Brian Dickmann
(Photo via Green Bay Press-Gazette)
The 2014-2015 non-conference schedule will feature multiple opportunities for NCAA Tournament résumé building victories. The Phoenix will play 14 games, facing high major opponents Wisconsin and Miami, solid mid-major programs East Carolina, Georgia State (twice), Drake, and Morehead State, as well as other possible opponents such as Florida Gulf Coast, Bradley, and Hawaii, among others.
Last season, Green Bay finished the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 9-3 record, including wins over NCAA Tournament teams Virginia and Tulsa. The three losses were to NCAA Tournament teams Wisconsin and Harvard as well as a road loss to Eastern Michigan, who finished just 2 wins shy of an NCAA appearance a season ago.
Here is a look at the 2014 Green Bay Phoenix non-conference schedule: (Continue reading)
By: Brian Dickmann
Photo via Green Bay Phoenix
Alfonzo McKinnie is poised for a big season this year for the Green Bay Phoenix. The 5th year senior will be a key figure in Green Bay's quest to repeat as Horizon League regular season champions as well as accomplish their goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996.
The 6' 8" forward from Chicago transferred to Green Bay two years ago after a very successful sophomore season at Eastern Illinois, averaging 10.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in 23.8 minutes per game for the Panthers. An effective scorer, his 56.7% field goal percentage was good for 2nd in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2011-2012, and his 7.0 rebounds per game were 5th highest in the league. He was forced to sit out the 2012-2013 season with the Phoenix due to NCAA transfer rules.
McKinnie endured a frustrating season a year ago. He suffered a right knee injury in camp prior to the season. When it started bothering him last October, he got it checked out and it was discovered that he had a torn meniscus. He underwent surgery the next day and was expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
Head Coach Brian Wardle said in a statement at the time that “Alfonzo’s surgery went well and he has already gotten the rehab process underway. We expect this will only be a minor setback for Alfonzo, but we will be very conservative and diligent with the process. He is going to be a major part of our team this season, and we look forward to getting him back on the court with his teammates.”
McKinnie eventually would make his Green Bay debut on December 21st, two months after his surgery, in a non-conference game against Fairfield at the Resch Center. He was understandably rusty, having sat out the entire previous season as well as coming off a significant knee injury. Playing only 6 minutes, he would end up going 0-2 from the field, but did grab two rebounds before picking up 3 quick fouls. "There was a little confidence issue with my knee going into the game, but once I got going I didn't think of it" McKinnie said this week at the annual Green Bay basketball media day.
He wouldn't play again until mid-February due to continuing issues with the knee. But he was able to contribute down the stretch last season and help the team to its first regular season championship since 1996. McKinnie averaged 4.6 points and 2.8 rebounds while playing around 12 minutes per game in his 9 appearances.
"I'm still getting to 100%" said McKinnie. "I'm still rehabbing every day. I kind of took the summer off as far as working out, basketball wise. I pretty much got stronger, did rehab, and did physical therapy a lot just to get my knee strong for this season."
One aspect that Phoenix fans were able to get a glimpse of last year was his outside shooting. After never attempting a three point field goal in two seasons at Eastern Illinois, McKinnie made 6 of 13 (46.2%) of his three point attempts in his limited appearances last year. "That's something else I was working on this off-season. Just getting a lot of shots up, trying to get that muscle memory in tact" he said.
When healthy, he is capable of highlight reel plays, including high flying dunks like the SportsCenter Top Ten dunk he posterized former NBA All-Star Shawn Marion with. "It's going to be crazy" McKinnie said, speaking about the team's athleticism. "It goes from the big guys on down to the point guard."
Green Bay will need him to help fill the void left behind by NBA Draft pick Alec Brown. McKinnie's versatility and ability to play multiple positions should mean big minutes for him, as long as he is able to remain healthy.
By: Brian Dickmann
(Photo via Newcastle Eagle)
Former Green Bay Phoenix star guard Rahmon Fletcher has returned to professional basketball in a big way. The 2011 UWGB graduate has helped lead his Newcastle Eagles team to a British Basketball League leading 4-1 start.
Fletcher, 25, took last season off and signed with Newcastle this past summer. He told the Eagles website that last season "the right situation never came and teams looked over me."
Prior to joining Newcastle, Fletcher played two seasons in the Netherlands where he averaged 14 points and 4 assists per game.
"I’m honored to sign with this organization and I will do everything I can to be the best for the team and do whatever it takes to bring a championship to Newcastle" Fletcher told the website.
“We feel with Rahmon we have signed a floor general who can lead our team but also has the capability to choose when it is time for himself to step up to get his own shot. We also feel that his personality will be the right fit for our team and our club" said Eagles assistant coach Dave Forrester.
After dropping their first game of the season at home against defending playoff champion Worcester, Newcastle has won their last 4 games and sit in a first place tie in the league.
The Newcastle Eagles are one of the most prestigious basketball clubs in the United Kingdom, winning 6 regular season championships, including last season.
Fletcher is averaging 12.2 points, 5.8 assists, and 1.2 steals in a little over 28 minutes per game this season. He said, "for me personally I’m finding my way. This team has really accepted me and allowed me to take it over as their point guard and that gives me the confidence to flow through.” His confidence has been starting to show in earnest in the last two games, scoring 17 points in both games while dishing out 8 and 5 assists, respectively.
"We stick together and win together. If one part falls apart then we all fall apart as we’re like family and we watch each others backs. This is a great team to play in and a great club to be part of" said Fletcher.
Rahmon Fletcher will always be considered one of the top Green Bay players in program history. He ranks in the top ten in school history in career points (1,678), field goals made (633), field goals attempted (1,338), three point field goals made (150) and attempted (399), assists (438). His 197 career steals rank 2nd in program history behind only Terry Evans' 237.
Next up for the Newcastle Eagles is a home game vs Surrey United on Friday followed by a road contest at the London Lions on Sunday.