GREEN BAY, Wis. (April 15, 2010) -- University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Athletics Director Ken Bothof has officially announced the hiring of Brian Wardle as Green Bay's head men's basketball coach. Wardle, who becomes the youngest active head coach in NCAA Division I basketball, is the sixth head coach ever to pilot in the Phoenix program, which is entering its 42nd year.
"Working with Brian over the past five years provided me with a chance to observe what I felt were strong leadership qualities," Bothof said. "Going through this process with him and discussing his vision for the future of this program certainly helped solidify my belief in his readiness to be the head coach of our program. Certainly the things that impressed me the most were his embracement of the Green Bay and university communities, his grasp of the responsibilities of being a Division I head coach and his understanding of the expectations we place on our student-athletes both athletically and academically."
Wardle, 30, has spent the past 11 years in Wisconsin's Division I college basketball circle, including the last five as a Phoenix assistant coach. During his assistant coaching tenure, the Phoenix totaled 92 victories, an average of 18.4 wins per season. Among his duties, he served as the team's primary recruiting and player evaluation coach.
"I am extremely excited and humbled to have the opportunity to be the head basketball coach at Green Bay," Wardle said. "Being a head coach has been a life-long dream of mine and I am honored by the trust put in me by Chancellor Tom Harden and Ken Bothof. I have been so committed and invested in this program, this athletic department, this university, and this community for the past five years and I am looking forward to continuing to give all I can to continue to grow Green Bay basketball."
With a 44-24 (.647) record over the past two years, the Phoenix made back-to-back appearances in the College Basketball Invitational, its first postseason trips since 1996. The 24 Horizon League wins over the past two seasons were the most in back-to-back years dating back to 1996 and 1997.
In addition, Green Bay defeated a pair of nationally-ranked teams, knocking off No. 11 Butler on Feb. 2, 2009, and 20th-ranked Wisconsin on Dec. 9, 2009. The two top-25 victories were as many as the Phoenix program had in its previous 27 seasons as a Division I member.
In the 2008-09 campaign, the Phoenix collected 22 victories, its highest total in more than a decade, and finished as runner-up in the Horizon League regular season race with a 13-5 mark. Following the season, Wardle was a finalist in the "Rising Stars" category of the BasketballScoop Assistant Coach of the Year award.
Other recent honors include being ranked 14th in HoopScoop's top 50 mid-major assistant coaches and as a "Super Six Assistant" in attracting Chicago talent by City/Suburban Hoops Report.
Over the past three seasons at Green Bay, Wardle developed five players--Mike Schachtner, Ryan Tillema, Terry Evans, Troy Cotton and Rahmon Fletcher-who reached the 1,000-point plateau. Tillema and Fletcher each claimed first-team All-Horizon League honors, while Schachtner was a two-time second-team performer.
Wardle came to the Phoenix after two years as director of basketball operations at his alma mater of Marquette University (2003-04, 2004-05) under head coach Tom Crean. The Golden Eagles earned National Invitation Tournament berths both years, and reached the quarterfinals of the postseason event in 2004. A pair of current NBA players, Travis Diener (Portland Trailblazers) and Steve Novak (Los Angeles Clippers), played for Marquette during Wardle's time on staff. Prior to accepting the Green Bay job, he spent the final three months of his Marquette tenure as an assistant coach.
Wardle currently ranks as the school's sixth all-time leading scorer with 1,690 career points. He averaged double figures all four years from 1997-98 through 2000-01, and led the Golden Eagles in scoring in each of his final three seasons in Milwaukee. Wardle also ranks among the school's all-time top 10 in 3-point field goals made (197) and free throw percentage (.811).
During his collegiate career, Wardle helped guide the Golden Eagles to a pair of National Invitation Tournament appearances (1998, 2000) and was voted team captain each of his last two seasons. As a senior at Marquette, Wardle was mentored by Crean, who is now the head coach at Indiana University, and former Green Bay head coach and current University of Toledo head coach Tod Kowalczyk.
He tossed in a career-high 18.8 points per game his senior year to rank second in Conference USA. Following the season, he captured first-team all-conference honors, becoming the first Marquette player to be such honored. Wardle was also chosen to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 11 second team. During his freshman season, he was named the C-USA Sixth Man of the Year and also was tabbed to the all-freshman team.
Wardle graduated from Marquette with a bachelor's degree in communication studies in 2001 and was a Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll member each of his final three seasons. In addition, he received Marquette's 2000 Hank Raymonds Sportsmanship Award and the 2001 McCahill Leadership Award.
Following his graduation, Wardle played one season in the National Basketball Association Developmental League for Fayetteville (Ark.) and one with Rockford (Ill.) of the Continental Basketball Association.
A Willowbrook, Ill. native, Wardle was a two-time all-state selection for Hinsdale Central High School, where he ranks as the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. He led the Red Devils to a 55-7 record over his final two years and was an honorable mention selection on the USA Today All-USA Team.
Wardle is married to the former Lecia Schuetz, a soccer student-athlete during her collegiate career at Marquette. The couple has two daughters, Mya and Emy.
THE BRIAN WARDLE FILE
Born: October 9, 1979 in Willlowbrook, Ill.
Family: Wife: Lecia; daughters: Mya and Emy
Education: B.S., Communication Studies, Marquette University, 2001
Director of Operations, Marquette (2003-05)
Assistant Coach, Green Bay (2005-Present)
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT BRIAN WARDLE
Tom Crean, Indiana University Head Coach
"I think Green Bay hit another home run with the hiring of Brian Wardle. Getting to coach Brian for two years, the first thing that I noticed was what kind of leader he was. He was nothing short of spectacular in that department - from the time he was a player to when he was a valuable member of our staff. He has an energy and a passion about him with an attitude that makes those around him better."
Fran Fraschilla, ESPN College Basketball Analyst
"This is a great hire for the Phoenix. I expect Brian to make the same seamless transition from assistant coach to head coach as he did from his playing days to getting into the coaching profession. The attributes that made him a terrific player - toughness, competitveness and being fundamentally sound - were his hallmarks as a player and they'll be the cornerstones of Green Bay's teams under Brian."
Darrin Horn, University of South Carolina Head Coach
"Green Bay has hired a rising star in our business with Brian Wardle. Brian will bring energy, a relentless work ethic and the ability to grind just like he did as a player and as an assistant coach. He'll be a tremendous asset to the school and will be able to rally fan support, especially students, with his outgoing personality."
Brad Stevens, Butler University Head Coach
"Congratulations to both Brian and Green Bay. Brian has done a great job as an assistant coach in the Horizon League, and I'm really happy for him that he has been promoted to head coach."
Tod Kowalczyk, University of Toledo Head Coach
absolutely hired the best coach for that job. Brian wants to be in
Green Bay and wants to do a great job there. He has a tremendous work
ethic, great integrity and a true passion for the game. He is a
tireless recruiter and has great basketball knowledge. His focus and
determination will help elevate that program."