GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - In his first two seasons as head coach at Green Bay, Brian Wardle has put his imprint on the program primarily by putting the youngest team on the floor. Wardle's roster will have a more experienced feel in 2012-13 as four-plus starters return from a squad that won eight of its last 10 regular season games a season ago.
The Phoenix will be anchored again by 7-foot-1 junior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.), a versatile post player with the ability to play both the four and the five. Brown was an All-Horizon League first-team selection as a sophomore after averaging 13.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Also one of the nation's top shot blockers, Brown averaged three swats per game a year ago and holds the program's records for blocks in a game (11), season (89) and career (156).
Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) returns for his sophomore campaign after emerging on the scene with one of the best freshman seasons in Phoenix history. The point guard averaged 13.8 points and 4.5 assists per game in conference play and was named to the All-Newcomer Team in the Horizon League.
The team's lone senior Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) and junior Kam Cerroni (Sussex, Wis.) are back after starting more than half of the team's games a year ago. Cougill, a 6-foot-9 big man, averaged 9.2 points and seven rebounds as a junior transfer while Cerroni led the Horizon League in three-point percentage (46.5) and averaged 7.9 points per contest.
Wardle has stated his intent to get bigger and stronger, and that goal is evident by the team's average height of over 6-foot-5. At 5-foot-10, Sykes is the team's lone player under six feet tall.
Green Bay will again play a challenging non-conference schedule, with a home contest against Wardle's alma mater Marquette and road trips to Wisconsin, Virginia and Nevada highlighting the slate. The Phoenix will also host Chicago State, Southern Illinois, North Dakota State and South Dakota in non-league play.
THIS IS GREEN BAY BASKETBALL: The 2012-13 season will be the 44th in the history of the Green Bay men's basketball program. Since the first year of Green Bay men's basketball in 1969-70, the program has an all-time record of 758-513.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: A season after facing a non-conference schedule among the nation's toughest, Green Bay will again take on a challenging slate in 2012-13. The non-conference opponents include teams from the BIG EAST (Marquette), Big Ten (Wisconsin), Atlantic Coast Conference (Virginia), WAC (Nevada and Idaho) and Missouri Valley (Southern Illinois).
HOME COOKIN': The 2011-12 season marked one of the most successful home seasons the Phoenix has had since moving into the Resch Center in 2002-03. Green Bay posted a 12-2 home mark (13-2 in 2008-09) to improve its record at the Resch to 22-6 under head coach Brian Wardle and 57-15 at the Resch Center since 2007-08, a .792 winning percentage.
HOMEGROWN: A year after bringing in a talented freshman class of Chicago natives, Wardle looked closer to home for seniors from the Class of 2012. The Phoenix roster consists of four freshmen from Wisconsin, including Nick Arenz (Onalaska, Wis.), Ryan Bross (Menominee Falls, Wis.), Jordan Fouse (Racine, Wis.) and Carrington Love (Milwaukee, Wis.).
COME JOIN: Not to ignore his home area of Chicago, Wardle also welcomed a pair of transfers who come to Green Bay from the Chicago area. Eastern Illinois transfer Alfonzo McKinnie is a Chicago native and former high school teammate of Sykes while junior college transfer Sultan Muhammad, a Michigan native, played at Chicago's South Suburban College.
BLOCK PARTY: It has become a little tougher for Green Bay opponents to shoot in the lane since Brown's arrival on campus. In his first two seasons, the 7-foot-1 Brown has swatted 156 shots to shatter the Phoenix career record. With 89 blocks as a sophomore, Brown averaged 3.0 per game, a number that ranked in the top-10 nationally. Another 36 combined blocks from Cougill and Greg Mays (Chicago, Ill.) helped the team register a school-record 142 for the year.
TALL ORDER: Wardle pledged early on in his tenure to add height and length to the Phoenix roster. Consider it mission accomplished as the roster's 15 players have an average height of over 6-foot-5. The addition of the 7-foot-2 Bross gives Green Bay a pair of seven-footers, and six others stand at least 6-foot-6. Newcomers McKinnie (6-8), Arenz (6-8) and Fouse (6-7) will help to make Green Bay one of the tallest teams in the Horizon League.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?
- Through two seasons, Brown is on pace to become one of the best players in program history.
- He became the first sophomore in 18 seasons to be named first-team all-conference (Jeff Nordgaard in 1993-94 and Tony Bennett in 1989-90 were the last two).
- His 739 points are the fourth-most through a sophomore season in the program's Division I era.
- Brown's 425 career rebounds are the most by a Green Bay player through a sophomore campaign in DI history.
- The 7-foot-1 Brown has reached double figures in 41 of 62 games and made 60 starts.
- With at least one block in 54 of 62 games, Brown holds the program records for blocks in a career (156), season (89) and game (11).
TOP OF HIS CLASS
- handled the starting point duties as a freshman and passed the test with flying colors, averaging 11.2 points and 3.4 assists per game.
- Sykes was named to the All-Newcomer Team in the Horizon League after leading all conference freshmen in points, assists and assist-to-TO ratio. He was the runner-up to junior transfer Julius Mays of Wright State in Newcomer of the Year voting.
- He improved down the stretch, averaging 14.7 points over the last 17 games while dishing out 4.8 assists and scoring in double figures 10 times.
- Sykes' 335 points were the most scored by a Phoenix freshman since the legendary Tony Bennett in 1988-89.
- Brown and Cougill formed one of the top post duos in the Horizon League last season, combining to average 23 points and 15.2 rebounds per game.
- Brown (8.2) and Cougill (7.0) ranked second and fifth, respectively, among Horizon League rebound leaders last season.
- Cougill was second in the league in defensive rebounding while Brown led the Horizon League in offensive rebounding.
- The pair also takes advantage of trips to the free-throw line, combining to shoot 77.1 percent (155-201) from the charity stripe.
- Cerroni recovered from a tough freshman season (9-45) to have one of the best shooting seasons in Phoenix history.
- He hit 46.5 percent from long range (60-129), a percentage that ranks eighth all-time in the team's single-season chart.
- Cerroni led the Horizon League in three-point percentage and made half of his triples in league play (47-94).
- He was the lone conference player to make a three in every game, and will enter 2012-13 having made a three in 19 games in a row dating back to Dec. 13, 2011.
- The last time Cerroni did not make a three in a game in which he attemped one was Nov. 25, 2011 against Virginia.
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