By: Jill Wunrow (@JillWunrow)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - With the Horizon
League Preseason Polls recently being released, it's no secret the 14-time defending
regular season Horizon League Champion Green Bay women's basketball team has
high expectations to repeat as projected in the preseason poll.
With the nation's longest streak for
regular season conference championships, it's a wonder why Green Bay had only
two players recognized on the Preseason All-League teams, especially since the
Phoenix returns four starters from the 2011-12 season, tied for the most among
"Polls are ranked on numbers, if you
score a lot of points you'll get placed high in the polls," said Phoenix head
coach Kevin Borseth.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises
in being left off the preseason teams is Green Bay senior Sarah Eichler (Grafton,
Wis.), who has been in the Phoenix starting line-up since her freshman season
and considered the team's top defender. According to the polls, she might also
be the team's most underrated player.
"I don't feel slighted. The people
that were selected to the preseason teams are well-deserving of the recognition
but I also think we could have had more players on the teams," Eichler said.
"People that voted are looking for the player that's going to step up and fill
the void of Julie (Wojta), and I think Adrian (Ritchie) and Lydia (Bauer) are
the next in line to potentially do that. However, what some people may fail to
realize is how versatile our team is."
Polls are considered 'a sampling or
collection of opinions on a subject, taken from either a selected or a random
group of persons for the purpose of analysis.' With 27 voters participating in
the preseason poll, Eichler did receive several votes and if a Third Team
All-League existed, she would have been on it. Nonetheless, as history proves,
Green Bay players thrive on flying under the radar and in some cases are used
During Eichler's junior year at
Grafton High School, senior teammate Rachael Hencke was being recruited by
Borseth, who was in his final year at his first stint with the Phoenix at that
time. It was the first time Borseth had seen Eichler play, and while watching
Green Bay from Michigan he made an instant observation of what he refers to as
"a freight train."
"When Sarah was recruited at Green
Bay, I was wondering how I did not recognize her play while I was recruiting
Rachael," Borseth said. "Lo and behold, as time progressed and I watched the
team, she was the kid I felt was Green Bay's toughness."
Eichler earned much-deserved
accolades her senior year in high school, having been named the Associated Press Player of the Year
while helping guide Grafton to a Division 2 state title. In sticking with
numbers and the importance they play in polls and rankings, during her junior
year with the Phoenix, Eichler posted career-high numbers, averaging 9.9 points
and 27.4 minutes per game. The 5-foot-11 forward finished fifth in the league
in free-throw percentage (84.4) and eighth in field-goal percentage (45.8). She
also scored a game-high 16 points in the NCAA Tournament first round game against
Iowa State, including four three-pointers.
"She's valuable. The only regular
season game Green Bay lost last year (vs. Detroit, Feb. 9) was the one she
wasn't playing in," Borseth said. "I don't know how or if you can put a number
Like a typical Green Bay player,
numbers, polls, and rankings, do not mean anything for the success of the team
or an individual's performance.
"I'm just the kind of person that has
no problem dishing out assists for the hot player. If we need a layup at a
certain point, I can step up and do that but I want the people around me to do
well; that's just as important as putting points on the board," Eichler said. "I
respect Adrian and Lydia for getting the recognition but they also respect me.
Someone's opinion from the outside looking in doesn't mean as much to me as
someone who is with me every day."
"She's the toughest. She busts it and
sells the farm on every play while producing results. Quite frankly from the
short time span I've spent with her in terms of her athleticism and production
output, I'd be hard-pressed to find a player in Green Bay history better than
her," said Borseth. "She's our toughness, the kid that gets the rest of them
Eichler may use her recent poll
slight as fuel for her play this season but knows she also needs to produce
numbers if she has a desire to continue playing after college. In the meantime,
Eichler is focused on the team and how far it can go.
Besides, no matter what numbers
Eichler posts in her final season with the Phoenix, what she'll remember most
are the games she thrived on her favorite aspect of the game, defense. During
the 2010 NCAA Tournament, as a freshman, Eichler was matched up against
All-American Monica Wright on man-to-man sequences in the team's first round upset
"There's more satisfaction to me in
standing someone up on a dribble drive than making a layup on someone else,"
"She's a player we're going to rally
around a lot more than people would think," Borseth added.
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