By: Andrew Gavin (@GBGavin)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The energy level was high on Friday afternoon in Dick Bennett Gym. Even though the Green Bay men’s basketball team is less than one month removed from playing three games during a trip to the Bahamas and the players have been going through individual workouts the past few weeks, Friday was different.
The practice jerseys were brand new. The five newcomers had the same numbers on their backs that their game jerseys will show in 2013-14. The 14 members of the 2013-14 Phoenix were on the court together for the first time. The games and workouts were valuable, but Friday was official.
“It’s exciting,” said head coach Brian Wardle. “The guys are and I think we all are excited. It is a new year, a new roster. As a coach, this is what you love doing, being on the floor teaching and trying to build and prepare for a tough schedule. We have enjoyed coaching this group, and these guys are really looking forward to the season.”
Like any senior, Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) is experiencing a lot of aspects of a college basketball career for the last time. Friday was his last first practice, something he said was surreal to think about beforehand.
“It is crazy because it feels like just a couple of days ago I was coming in here as a freshman,” said Brown. “It has gone fast, but I have enjoyed it for sure. We’re ready to go. We’re fired up.
Brown averaged 14.1 points per game as a junior in 2012-13 and also knocked down 30-of-71 three-pointers. The 7-foot-1 post enters his senior season as the lone player nationally to have totaled 1,200-plus points, 600-plus rebounds and 200-plus blocked shots.
First-Team All-Horizon League point guard Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) returns for his junior campaign after averaging 15.9 points and 4.3 assists per contest. Sykes, who is getting to play with high school teammates Vince Garrett (Chicago, Ill.) and Alfonzo McKinnie (Chicago, Ill.), says the team chemistry is high heading into the season.
“From top to bottom we are a pretty close team,” said Sykes. “Sometimes off the court we say we might joke too much, but that is the friend and family environment we have and it is fun.”
Garrett, fellow transfer Lamin Fulton (Philadelphia, Pa.) and freshmen Turner Botz (Little Chute, Wis.), Tevin Findlay (Malton, Ontario) and Kenneth Lowe (Little Chute, Wis.) hit the floor for their first official practice with the Phoenix.
“It is not so much telling them as it is showing them,” said Brown. “You can tell them all you want, but you just have to show them the work ethic that it takes to play at the next level and hope that they follow. I think we have some guys that will follow and hopefully lead this team to good things in the future.”
For more information on season ticket packages, single-game ticket purchases and promotions for the upcoming 2013-14 men’s basketball season, please call visit the official Green Bay Phoenix ticket page, call Athletics Ticketing and Fan Experience Manager Logan Hendricks at 920.465.5087 or visit PMI’s ticketing website.
For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.
Follow us on Twitter: @GBPhoenix, @GBPhoenixMBB and @GBGavin.
Like Green Bay Phoenix men’s basketball and Green Bay Phoenix Athletics on Facebook.