Last night my beautiful wife and I hit the road and made the two and a half hour trek to Green Bay to watch Will Ryan and the Phoenix play against PFW at the Kress Center.
As an adoptive fan of Green Bay basketball, this was my first time getting to watch the team in person – something I was irrationally excited about.
Anyone who has followed the Phoenix (4-22, 3-14 Horizon League) knows that it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing this season.
The team has been shorthanded, and riddled with injuries and illness – making it difficult to establish any kind of consistency for a program in transition.
That said, we’ve learned plenty about that state of the program this season and there is more than enough reason to be optimistic about their direction moving forward.
So, without further ado, these are my takeaways from my first mid-major basketball game…
PFW was the far better program
Green Bay dropped their second to last home game of the season 74-55 in a contest that was never really all that close. With this loss GB has now extended their losing streak to nine games.
PFW (17-10, 12-6 Horizon League) played terrific on-ball defense all night long, shared the ball – never letting it stick, and shot the three exceptionally well (13-for-24 from 3).
They were the better team from the jump and maintained control until the final horn sounded.
UWGB wasn’t nearly as successful, shooting just 37% from the field and 5-for-19 from beyond the arc.
The Phoenix lack of outside shooting and play-makers capable of creating their own shot was abundantly clear. Offensively they were stagnant and often unable to penetrate or even generate post touches. Green Bay had no answer offensively and it led to 16 turnovers, which is simply unacceptable.
One of the lone bright spots was freshman point guard Kamari McGee who scored 17 of his game high 19 points in the second half. I came away very impressed with his ability to communicate with teammates and act as a leader on the court – his future is very, very bright.
Manny Ansong made some plays in transition and added 12 points and six rebounds of his own, while Nate Jenkins and Cade Meyer chipped in eight points apiece.
Green Bay’s Band is electric
Forgive me if this is old news, but for a fan that’s never been to a Green Bay home game – I came away wildly impressed with the energy brought by the Green Bay band.
They acted as a de-facto student section and brought the energy until the final horn.
For me, their highlight of the night came when PFW guard Deonte Billups went to the line after being fouled on a three point attempt in the first half.
The band pulled out all the stops and ultimately played a role in him missing all three attempts from the charity stripe (unfortunately I didn’t get a video of this).
In a season where Green Bay has won just 4 games, the band showed up and brought the energy from wire to wire. Tip of the cap to the band, can’t wait to see what they bring to the table when Green Bay gets this thing turned around.
Highlight of the night
My personal highlight of the night came from meeting coaching legend Dick Bennett who is a folk hero of sorts in the state of Wisconsin for myriad reasons.
Dick Bennett led UW-Green Bay to three NCAA tournament appearances in the early 90’s, as well as three more tourney appearances as the head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers – most notably making a final four appearance in 2000.
Special thanks to HoriZone Roundtable for sending me to cover the game, it was an evening i will never forget.
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