Green Bay Set to Host 2014 Horizon League Championship
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The 2014 Horizon League Championship arrives in Titletown this week, and after sitting back and playing the role of spectator and host on Friday night, the Phoenix will take the floor on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. in the semifinals.
Friday night’s second round matchups will get underway at 6 p.m. with third-seeded Wright State playing sixth-seeded Oakland. The second contest will pit fourth-seeded Valparaiso and fifth-seeded Milwaukee at 8:30 p.m., with the winner earning a semifinals date with the Phoenix.
RV/-- Green Bay (24-5, 14-2 HL) claimed the outright regular season title for the first time since 1995-96, earning the No. 1 seed and the right to host the tournament at the Resch Center. Second-seeded Cleveland State will face the winner of the Wright State-Oakland meeting on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Green Bay is hosting the Horizon League Championship for the first time at the Resch Center and the first time since welcoming the league for the 1998 tournament at Brown County Arena. To visit the tournament central page, click here.
The Phoenix ended the regular season with five-straight victories to tie the program’s Division I record for regular season wins. In the 2014 calendar year, Green Bay has posted a 15-2 mark, including wins in 14 of 16 conference games.
ALL-TIME TOURNEY: This will mark the 20th appearance for Green Bay in the Horizon League Championship, dating back to its first appearance in 1995. The 1995 tournament was also the only time that the Phoenix was crowned as the Horizon League champion. The program has an all-time record of 16-18 at the Horizon League Championship.
LEAGUE HONORS: The Horizon League honors were awarded on Monday, and Green Bay was well represented. Head coach Brian Wardle was named the Coach of the Year, junior Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) was voted the Player of the Year, and the league coaches voted senior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) the Defensive Player of the Year. Green Bay is the second team in Horizon League history to win each of those three honors in the same season (2009-10). Sykes and Brown were tabbed to the all-league first-team, and sophomore Jordan Fouse (Racine, Wis.) joined Brown on the all-defensive squad.
SYKES SET APART: Sykes is not only the Horizon League Player of the Year but has put himself among the best players in the nation. Ranking 17th nationally in points per game, Sykes is one of only two players nationally in the country (Canisius’ Billy Baron) averaging 20-plus points (20.4), five-plus assists (5.0) and four-plus rebounds per game (4.4). Sykes has been consistent, reaching double figures in 28 of 29 games and in every game in conference play.
HOME SWEET HOME: Green Bay enters the Horizon League Championship with a 13-2 home record in 2013-14, including a 12-2 mark at the Resch Center. With a win on Saturday, the Phoenix will set a program Division I record for home wins in a season. Under Wardle, the Phoenix has posted a 47-11 home record in four seasons.
CHARITY WORK: This season, Sykes has made 182 free throws to break his own single-season program record for free throws made (159), set in 2012-13. Sykes leads the Horizon League and ranks 11th nationally in free throws made. With 409 free throws made in his career, Sykes needs only three more to break Tony Bennett’s Division I record of 411.
BROWN’S BLOCKS: With 306 career blocks, Brown is zeroing in on the Horizon League career blocks record of 309 set last season by Youngstown State’s Damian Eargle. Brown entered the season as a longshot to catch Eargle, but the 7-foot-1 senior has had the top shot-blocking season of his career. His 91 blocks in 2013-14 broke his own single-season rejections record of 89 in 2011-12, and the senior holds the top-four single-season block totals (59, 67, 89, 91).
SWAT TEAM: Brown may have rewritten the program block records, but he is not alone as a Phoenix eraser. This season, Green Bay ranks second nationally in blocks per game (7.4) and has blocked a Horizon League and Phoenix record 215 shots. Fouse has swatted 47 shots and junior Greg Mays (29) and freshman Kenneth Lowe (27) also rank among the Horizon League’s top-10 shot blockers.
ANOTHER RECORD IN REACH: With 65 steals this season, Fouse is three shy of breaking the Green Bay single-season record of 67 set by Terry Evans in 2008-09. Already ranking ninth in Phoenix history in career steals (119), Fouse holds the program’s freshman and sophomore records.
STANDING TALL ALONE: In four years with the Phoenix, Brown has put himself among the all-time greats in program league history. The Winona, Minn., native enters Thursday ranking in Green Bay’s top-10 with 1,660 points (7th), 790 rebounds (3rd) and 306 career blocks (1st). Brown is the program’s leading rebounder at the Division I level and the lone player in Horizon League history to post 1,500-plus points, 750-plus rebounds and 250-plus blocks.
MOVING ON UP: Brown is seventh in Green Bay history in scoring (1,660 points) and needs only eight points to pass Mike Schachtner into the sixth spot. Sykes has scored 1,467 career points and dished out 391 assists, and against Detroit moved into the top-10 all-time in both categories.
TOUGH LOSSES, GREAT WIN: Green Bay dropped three games this season in non-conference action, losing to Wisconsin (25-5), Harvard (24-4) and Eastern Michigan (16-12) teams that have combined for a 65-21 record to date. The Phoenix held a second-half lead against Harvard, and Green Bay was the only team in non-conference action to have been ahead of Wisconsin in the second half. Green Bay’s resume also has a signature win over Tony Bennett’s Virginia. The Cavaliers are ranked in the top-15 and sport a record of 25-5 overall and 16-1 in ACC play.
THE DEFENDERS: Led by all-defensive team selections Brown and Fouse, Green Bay ranks first in the conference and 11th in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.389). The Phoenix also leads the conference in blocks per game and three-point field goal percentage and is second in scoring defense, rebounding margin and steals. Fouse and Brown have landed on the Horizon League All-Defensive squad in back-to-back seasons.
ON GUARD: Green Bay’s defense has been stifling against the Horizon League’s top scorers. The Phoenix has faced the top-six opposing scorers in the Horizon League in 11 games this season. In those games, Green Bay has held the six players to 9.8 points on 28.9 percent shooting from the field.
For more schedule and ticketing information on the 2014 Horizon League Championship, please visit tournament central.For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.