Picture: Andy Manis/AP
GREEN BAY, Wis. –
The most respected basketball association in the state of Wisconsin does not occur to be the NBA, in fact, the Milwaukee Bucks won 15 of their 82 games this season, the league’s worst. College basketball, on the other hand, has two teams that seem to be great every season in Wisconsin and Marquette (with an exception of this year), and both always having solid recruiting classes. Another two teams, are always fighting hard in the Horizon League, Green Bay and Milwaukee. The team with the best regular season record in the Horizon League this season was Green Bay, with an overall record of 24-7, including 14-2 inside the Horizon League. Milwaukee, however, won the bid to make it into the NCAA Tournament by winning the Horizon League Tournament.
Milwaukee will be suspended for next post-season, due to failing to meet academic standards.
So, the Horizon League will only have nine teams competing in the Horizon League Tournament, attempting to win their bid into the NCAA Tournament. If you’re a fan of Horizon League basketball, you are most likely curious which team could win the league.
Green Bay is only losing two players, defensive anchor and senior Alec Brown, along with senior Vincent Garrett. Brown was the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year, and is pursuing a NBA career and is currently projected to be selected in the late second round of the NBA Draft in June.
Other returning players for the Phoenix of Green Bay include both starting forwards, Jordan Fouse and Greg Mays, guard Carrington Love, role players such as Alfonzo McKinnie, Kenneth Lowe, Tevin Findlay, and Lamin Fulton, and Horizon League Player of the Year Keifer Sykes.
The starting five for the Phoenix will be very similar to last season, which will include Sykes, Love, Fouse and Mays. The fifth starter will most likely be Alfonzo McKinnie, who is more than deserving of the role. McKinnie tore his meniscus early in the season, but came back hotter than anybody could have expected. Whether it was just a defensive play or a three-pointer to take the lead, McKinnie was a man that could consistently be trusted.
A team that has the most returning players, a coach with an extended contract, and an explosive play-style, I will put money that we see Green Bay in the NCAA Tournament next season, but could they pose a legitimate threat?
The answer is absolutely, with a guard like Keifer Sykes manning the helm, you’re already in good shape. With powerful defenders in Jordan Fouse and Alfonzo McKinnie, you’re going to be locked down, and you saw that on display against Virginia and Wisconsin early last season.
I have faith that Green Bay will quickly enter the top-25 teams in the nation, just like they almost did this past season. After an upset in the first round of the NIT Tournament and their first game in the Horizon League Tournament on their home floor, there is no doubt that the Green Bay Phoenix are going to come into next season with a chip on their shoulder.
~Alex Strouf (@LetsGoAlex)