Open Practice Provided Game Atmosphere, Excitement
By: Andrew Gavin (@GBGavin)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The Green Bay men's basketball team conducted an open practice on Saturday, Oct. 20, providing the Phoenix players a chance to go through game-like situations and providing the Phoenix fans in attendance an opportunity to see the 2012-13 team in action. The practice included the Green & White Scrimmage, which shifted to a black and white scrimmage to allow the team to show off its new practice uniforms, as well as player intros, drills, a three-point contest and a slam dunk contest.
VIDEO: Watch highlights from the slam dunk contest
PHOTOS: Check out a photo gallery from the day
Head coach Brian Wardle started the practice with some non-contact drills, meaning fans got to see junior Daniel Turner (McCordsville, Ind.) back on the floor. Turner is working his way back from an ACL injury which forced him to miss the final 16 games of the 2011-12 season.
"It was great to be back out there with the guys, and I am just trying to work every day to continue to get closer to full strength," Turner said. "It was fun seeing a lot of our fans in the crowd and supporting us."
The team then started its scrimmage, which Wardle broke into three segments with a new score starting each one. The first segment was an 8-minute period, and Green Bay's two Preseason All-Horizon League selections impressed by leading the black team to an 18-10 win. Junior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) had seven points and five rebounds in the segment while sophomore Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) had six points and four rebounds.
In the second segment, some players switched sides and the clock was set at 6:00. Sykes teamed up with three Phoenix freshmen and senior Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) and sophomore Greg Mays (Chicago, Ill.) to lead White to a 15-9 victory. Jordan Fouse (Racine, Wis.) had six points, going 4-for-4 from the free-throw line, and added four rebounds, an assist and a steal in the win.
The third and final segment was a late-game situations drill the team does regularly. The game started with the score knotted at 56-56 and the clock at 2:00. When the first team got to 60 points, the clock started the teams played it out from there.
Brown scored the first four points for the Black team and the clock started, but junior newcomer Sultan Muhammad (Chicago, Ill.) quickly answered with a triple for white to close the gap. Cougill made a three for the Black team to extend the lead to four, but a jumper from junior transfer Alfonzo McKinnie (Chicago, Ill.) and a pair of free throws from freshman point guard Carrington Love (Milwaukee, Wis.) forced a 1-minute overtime.
On the opening possession of overtime, junior Kam Cerroni (Sussex, Wis.) drained a three-pointer and Black did not trail the rest of the way in winning 70-66.
"Saturday was a great day for our program," Wardle said. "We had a lot of support in the stands from our families, fans and students, and I hope they enjoyed getting a chance to watch our team and interact with our players. Getting out on the floor and recreating game-like situations with referees, timeouts, and fans in the stands was important. I was pleased with our effort and I know we got a lot out of the day that will help us as we continue to prepare for the season."
Brown led all players with 13 points and seven rebounds while Sykes went 3-0 and finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Newcomers Fouse and Love had nine points each while sophomore Cole Stefan (Minnetonka, Minn.) totaled seven. One highlight of the scrimmage was the team's free-throw shooting, as the Phoenix combined to go 31-of-36 from the charity stripe.
The Phoenix got the crowd into the action after the scrimmage with three-point and slam dunk contests. Four players entered the three-point contest and picked fans to team up with. In the end, it was Cerroni, the top returning three-point shooter in the Horizon League, and his teammate who took home the crown by defeating Stefan in the finals.
The dunk contest pitted Sykes against Mays and McKinnie, and fans chose which player they thought would win by moving to that player's section of the arena. Despite being the team's lone player shorter than 6-feet, Sykes won the title against his taller, high-flying teammates.
Green Bay will play its lone tune-up for the 2012-13 season on Wednesday, Oct. 31, hosting St. Norbert College at 7 p.m. at the Kress Center.
Read a full season preview of the men's basketball team and watch a 1-on-1 interview with Wardle.
Full season ticket and Pick 5 packages are on sale now with the Green Bay Athletics Ticket Office. For more information and to order tickets, please call 920.465.2625 or visit the athletics department offices in the Kress Events Center.
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