Green Bay Opens NIT Against Belmont on Tuesday Night
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The Green Bay men’s basketball team will play host to Ohio Valley Conference champion Belmont on Tuesday night at 7:15 p.m. in the opening round of the 2014 National Invitation Tournament at the Resch Center. The contest marks the first NIT home contest in the history of the Phoenix program.
Green Bay is the No. 4 seed in the St. John’s quadrant of the NIT bracket while Belmont is the No. 5 seed. Top-seeded St. John’s hosts No. 8 Robert Morris on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CST, with the winner facing the victor of Tuesday night’s game at the Resch Center.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE PHOENIX: Green Bay (24-6) is making its first trip to the NIT in 22 years and its third in program history. The Phoenix earned an automatic bid to the tournament thanks to claiming the program’s first Horizon League regular season title since 1995-96 with a 14-2 mark in league play.
Junior Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.), the Horizon League Player of the Year, headlines the Phoenix under fourth-year head coach Brian Wardle. Sykes is averaging 20.3 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per contest and has also been named First-Team All-Horizon League and to the All-District teams selected by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Sykes is 18 points shy of becoming just the second Phoenix player in program history to reach 1,500 points during his junior season.
Senior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.), the Horizon League’s Defensive Player of the Year, ranks in a tie for seventh nationally in blocks per game (3.2). With 308 career blocked shots, Brown needs just two to break the conference’s all-time record of 309 set by Youngstown State’s Damian Eargle. The Phoenix has blocked a school and conference record 220 shots this season.
Speaking of records, sophomore Jordan Fouse (Racine, Wis.) needs two steals (66) to break Green Bay’s single-single-record of 67 set by Terry Evans in 2008-09.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE BRUINS: After posting a 24-9 overall record and winning its regular season title for the fifth-straight season, Belmont (24-9) is making its ninth postseason appearance in the past 11 seasons. Head coach Rick Byrd led the Bruins to a 14-2 mark in the Ohio Valley Conference. Like Green Bay, Belmont posted signature wins in its non-conference season, including an 83-80 victory at North Carolina on Nov. 17.
Senior J.J. Mann, a 6-foot-6 senior, was named the OVC Player of the Year after averaging 18.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Mann knocked down a team-high 82 three-pointers on 40.2 percent shooting.
The Bruins rank second nationally in field goal percentage (.509) and are tied for ninth in the country in three-point field goal percentage (.397). Green Bay will counter with a defense ranked second in the country in blocks per game and 12th in field goal percentage defense (.391).
Aside from Mann, three other Bruins average in double figures, including Craig Bradshaw (15.2), Reece Chamberlain (11.4) and Drew Windler (10.1).
Green Bay and Belmont have impressive records in the 2014 calendar year, with the Phoenix at 19-3 and the Bruins at 16-3.
LIVE COVERAGE: Tuesday night’s games will be live on ESPN3 with Jim Barbar (play-by-play) and Sean Harrington (color analyst) on the call. On WNFL 1440 AM, Matt Menzl and Cordero Barkley will bring fans a radio broadcast of the action.
TICKETS: Tickets can be purchased at the Resch Center Ticket Office, by calling TicketStar at 800.895.0071, or online at TicketStar.com. Ticket prices for the contest are $15 for adults, $4 for youth (17 and under) and $4 for UW-Green Bay students.
###For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.