Defense Dictates Green Bay's Play
By: Jill Wunrow
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - As No. 10/10 Green Bay (30-1, 17-1 HL), the No. 7 seed in the Kingston Region, prepares for its fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, its primary focus has been on one team, Green Bay.
In practice this week, the Phoenix has been focusing on its program staple for years, defense. Green Bay currently ranks second in the nation in turnover margin (9.19) with senior Julie Wojta (Francis Creek, Wis.) leading all players in the NCAA Tournament field of 64 with 3.6 steals per contest.
"Iowa State is a little bit more of a skilled team than we've seen in the past few weeks so our mindset will have to change in getting out and denying the ball, making them have to swing," said Wojta. "Our defense is going to be huge and it will feed our offense."
Green Bay's mindset will certainly have to be focused on Iowa State's three-point shooting as the Cyclones rank tied for fifth in the field of 64, averaging 7.3 threes per contest while Green Bay's three-point field goal defense ranks 57th. The Phoenix will look to stop Iowa State from driving the ball and kicking back out for three-pointers.
"Penetration breaks you down and leaves open threes in addition to double teaming passes thrown inside," said fifth year head coach Matt Bollant. "When you play a lot of games in a short span of time, you tend to focus on your opponent rather than doing the little things."
Green Bay has concentrated on fundamentals during its preparation for No. 10 seed Iowa State, its opponent on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum. The Phoenix is working on the little things like jumping to the ball, pressuring on the perimeter, and closing out properly.
"If you don't do those little things, you naturally lose those and we're trying to get back to the basics this week," Bollant said. "It's fun to work on the fundamentals and make sure we're sharp on those things before we focus on their scout."
Bollant talked on camera this week about the Cyclones' strengths and top players. To hear what Bollant had to say, click here.
As the media and community focuses on the number in front of its name when the bracket was revealed, Green Bay will always be focused on Green Bay, no matter what the number. With the Phoenix focused on itself, numbers don't matter, whether it's a seed in the tournament, rankings, three-point field goal percentage or even three-point field goal percentage defense.
Green Bay is focused on dictating with its defense, just the way it has all season long.
The meeting between Green Bay, the Horizon League regular season and tournament champions and Iowa State, an at-large bid from the Big XII Conference, will take place at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday, March 17 at 5:30 p.m. CT. Green Bay has an unblemished road record of 12-0 while Iowa State is 14-2 this season on its home court. The winner will play either second-seeded Kentucky (25-6) or the No. 15 seed, McNeese State (26-7) on Monday, March 19.
For ticketing information, please visit Cyclones.com. Single-session and all-session ticket packages are available. All-session tickets can be purchased for $30 for adults and $25 for youth (high school and younger). Single-session tickets are being sold for $18 for adults and #13 for youth.
To follow all of the action throughout Green Bay's trip to the NCAA Tournament, check out Tournament Central presented by Taco Bell.
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