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The Phoenix claimed the program's first regular season title since 1995-96
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Green Bay's Memorable 2013-14 Season in the Books

Courtesy: Green Bay Athletics
         
Release: March 20, 2014
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By: Andrew Gavin (@GBGavin)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Throughout the 2013-14 Green Bay men’s basketball season, the phrases “first time since,” “most since,” and “record breaking,” became commonplace.

Under fourth-year head coach Brian Wardle, Green Bay posted a 24-7 overall record and rolled through Horizon League play to claim the program’s first regular season title in 18 years. The Phoenix hosted the conference tournament for the first time since 1998 and hosted a game in the National Invitation Tournament for the first time in program history.

“We made a big step forward as a program this year,” said Wardle. “We won a lot of games, set some records and did some things that haven’t been done in this program for a long time. We did some things this year that we can build on, and I’m very proud of the group of players and coaches in our locker room.”

The season ended with a sour taste for the Phoenix, with home losses to Milwaukee and Belmont ending Green Bay’s appearances in the Horizon League Championship and National Invitation Tournament, respectively. Injuries played a factor in the losses, with star point guard and conference player of the year Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) either hobbled or in street clothes in the two games.

“The last two weeks were disappointing for our program and our fans, but we will not let those games diminish the hard work and good play we had throughout the entire season,” said Wardle. “Our program has improved and is in a better place today than it was a year ago. We are never satisfied and have a lot to work for this offseason as we look towards 2014-15.”

Those months of hard work and good play that Wardle speaks of created a laundry list of accomplishments for the program. A Horizon League title, votes in national polls, media attention, wins over conference champions, 10 Horizon League Player of the Week awards, a sweep of the league’s major postseason honors and the opportunity to host the Horizon League Championship and the NIT are just the cusp of the Phoenix highlights in a memorable season.

Non-Conference Play
The cancellation of the scheduled HBCU Tip-Off Classic in Atlanta changed plans at the beginning of the season, but Green Bay welcomed Wisconsin on Nov. 16. Sykes poured in 32 points in front of a record-breaking crowd of 9,906 people at the Resch Center, but the Badgers pulled out a 69-66 win.

Senior Alec Brown (Winona, Ill.) registered a triple-double on Nov. 23 before the Phoenix traveled to the Great Alaska Shootout. After a loss to Ivy League champion Harvard in the semifinals, Green Bay secured third place with a 67-59 win over Conference USA champion Tulsa

Phoenix Hall of Famer Tony Bennett brought his Virginia team to the Resch Center on Dec. 7, but junior Greg Mays (Chicago, Ill.) scored a career-high 24 points to help ruin Bennett’s homecoming as Green Bay won 75-72. Bennett’s Cavaliers went on to win the regular season and tournament titles in the ACC and earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

With 21 points and 10 assists, Sykes did something in the win that not even Bennett accomplished in a Phoenix jersey. He became the first player in the program’s Division I history to score 20 or more points in six consecutive games.

Wins in the final five non-conference games were part of a 12-game winning streak which began on Dec. 14 and included Brown’s 40-point game against Fairfield on Dec. 21.

Horizon League Play
Green Bay won its first seven Horizon League contests to take early command in the standings and stretch a winning streak to 12 games with a win over Detroit on Jan. 25, the longest since 1995-96. The Phoenix began receiving votes in the Associated Press Top-25 poll on Jan. 26, but saw its streak end at Valparaiso with an injured Brown watching from the sidelines.  

After two more wins, a home loss to Milwaukee dropped the Phoenix to 9-2, but the resiliency of the group showed during a five-game winning streak to end the regular season.

The streak started with dominating road wins at Youngstown State and Cleveland State, with Brown averaging 21 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game on the Ohio sweep. The following Monday, he was named Horizon League Player of the Week for the fourth time in 2013-14. That number was bested only by a teammate, as Sykes earned the weekly honor a Horizon League and program record six times during his junior campaign.

On Feb. 20, Green Bay had the chance to clinch its first Horizon League title in 18 years, and the Phoenix delivered with a 67-53 win over visiting Valparaiso. Sykes scored 19 points and Brown added 14 points and eight blocks on one of the most memorable Senior Nights in Green Bay history.

Green Bay polished off the program’s best road record since – you guessed it – 1995-96, with a sweep of Oakland and Detroit on the final weekend of the regular season. Sykes had his 15th 20-point game in the finale at Detroit, scoring 29 points while making five three-pointers and all six of his free throws. Sykes broke his own single-season record (188) and the Division I career record (415) for free throws made.

Postseason
Green Bay’s regular season title secured the right to host the Horizon League Championship in Titletown for the first time since 1998. In the semifinals, Brown and Sykes were left hobbled in the opening 10 minutes, and a hot-shooting Milwaukee squad forced overtime and won 73-66.

Sitting securely on the middle of the bubble, Green Bay’s hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament were dashed on Selection Sunday when the Phoenix was part of the group making up the first four out.

With an invitation to the NIT for the first time in 22 years, Green Bay hosted Belmont at the Resch Center on March 18. Still hobbled from the injury, Sykes was forced to watch in street clothes as the Phoenix lost 80-65 to the Ohio Valley Conference champions.

League Awards Sweep
When the Horizon League awards were announced on March 3, it came as no surprise to see Green Bay collect some hardware. With Wardle voted Coach of the Year, Sykes tabbed Player of the Year and Brown named Defensive Player of the Year, the Phoenix became only the second team (Butler, 2009-10) in league history to sweep those three major honors.

Wardle is the third Phoenix coach in its Division I history to earn Coach of the Year accolades (Dick Bennett, 1990-91 and 1991-92; Mike Heideman, 1995-96). Likewise, Sykes becomes just the third player (Tony Bennett, Jeff Nordgaard) in Green Bay’s Division I program history to earn conference player of the year honors and the first since Nordgaard in 1995-96. Brown joins Terry Evans (2007-08) as the only two Phoenix players to win Defensive Player of the Year.

Team Notes

  • 2013-14 Horizon League regular season champions (14-2)
  • Won 24 games, tied for seventh-most in Green Bay history (fourth-most in Division I era)
  • With a 9-2 mark, posted third-best road record in program’s Division I era
  • Defeated the ACC (Virginia) and Conference USA (Tulsa) champions
  • Ranked second nationally in blocks per game (7.3) and 16th nationally in field goal percentage defense (.394)
  • Broke the program’s single-season Division I records for scoring average (73.4), free throws attempted (751) and blocked shots (223)
  • Shattered the Horizon League single-season record for blocked shots (223)
  • Had two players selected to Horizon League All-Defensive Team for second-straight season
  • Won a Horizon League and program record 10 Player of the Week honors
  • Posted highest total attendance since 2005-06
  • Tallied 97 dunks in 2013-14, 47 more than during the 2012-13 season

Individual Notes
ALEC BROWN

  • 2013-14 Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year
  • Three-time All-Horizon League selection (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14)
  • Two-time Horizon League All-Defensive Team
  • Three-time NABC All-District selection (2012, 2013, 2014)
  • Only player in Horizon League history to total 1500+ points (1678), 750+ rebounds (800) and 250+ blocks (309)
  • Tied Horizon League career blocks record (309)
  • Holds Green Bay records for blocks in a game (11), season (94) and career (309)

KEIFER SYKES

  • 2013-14 Horizon League Player of the Year
  • 2-Time All-Horizon League First-Team (2012-13, 2013-14)
  • 2013-14 USBWA All-District with 8 Big Ten players (release)
  • 2-Time NABC All-District (2012-13, 2013-14)
  • Horizon League record 10-time Player of the Week (single-season record 6 in 2013-14)
  • Averaged 20.3 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game
  • 1,482 career points (10th all-time in Green Bay history)
  • 608 points in 2013-14 (fourth-most in program history)

JORDAN FOUSE

  • Horizon League All-Defensive Team for second-straight season
  • Broke Green Bay’s single-season steals record (68)
  • Ranks fifth in program history in blocks (97) and ninth in steals (123)

GREG MAYS

  • Posted career-high numbers in points (10.3), rebounds (5.2), field goal percentage (58.6%), dunks (36), blocks (31), assists (23) and steals (17)
  • Scored a career-high 24 points in victory over Virginia

CARRINGTON LOVE

  • Reached double figures 13 times
  • Posted career highs in points (7.9), rebounds (2.7), assists (2.5), steals (38) and three-pointers made (34).

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Monday , December 22
Men's Basketball 
at UC-Irvine
3:30 PM
Las Vegas, Nev.
 | Live Video  | WNFL 1440 AM/92.1 FM  | Live Stats  
Saturday , December 27
Men's Basketball 
vs. Georgia State (Cellcom Winter Hat Giveaway)
12:00 PM
Green Bay, Wis.
 | Tickets  
Wednesday, December 31
Men's Basketball 
vs. Chicago State (Wells Fargo New Year's Eve Party)
12:00 PM
Green Bay, Wis.
 | Tickets  
Monday , January 05
Men's Basketball 
vs. Wright State (Fox Communities Credit Union Sunglasses Giveaway)
7:00 PM
Green Bay, Wis.
 | Tickets  
Friday , January 09
Men's Basketball 
at Milwaukee
8:00 PM
Milwaukee, Wis.
ESPNU  
Sunday , January 11
Men's Basketball 
vs. Youngstown State (Festival Foods Family Game)
TBA
Green Bay, Wis.
 | Tickets  
Thursday , January 15
Men's Basketball 
at Oakland
TBA
Rochester, Mich.
 
Saturday , January 17
Men's Basketball 
at Detroit
12:00 PM
Detroit, Mich.
 
Tuesday , January 20
Men's Basketball 
vs. UIC (Prevea Blackout Youth Jersey Giveaway)
7:00 PM
Green Bay, Wis.
 | Tickets  
Friday , January 23
Men's Basketball 
vs. Valparaiso (Bud Light Night)
8:00 PM
Green Bay, Wis.
ESPNU or ESPN3  | Tickets  
Saturday , January 31
Men's Basketball 
at Cleveland State
1:00 PM
Cleveland, Ohio
 
Monday , February 02
Men's Basketball 
at Wright State
6:00 PM
Dayton, Ohio
 
Thursday , February 05
Men's Basketball 
vs. Milwaukee (Prevea Student-Athlete Achievement Night)
7:00 PM
Green Bay, Wis.
 | Tickets  
Wednesday, February 11
Men's Basketball 
at Youngstown State
6:45 PM
Youngstown, Ohio
 
Friday , February 13
Men's Basketball 
at Valparaiso
TBA
Valparaiso, Ind.
ESPN2 or ESPNU  
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