|Posted by Brian Dickmann on November 19, 2015 at 10:00 PM|
The numbers to start the season for the Green Bay Phoenix are troubling:
93, 103, and 107.....51.7%, 51.4%, and 56.0%.
Those numbers, the points allowed and opponent field goal percentage in the first three games, add up to a winless road trip and an 0-3 start to the Linc Darner era.
There were brief glimpses of potential on the offensive side: a career high in 32 point outburst from Carrington Love at Stanford, a career high 23 points from Kenneth Lowe at East Tennessee State, an impressive 10-21 (47.6%) from beyond the arc against the Cardinal. Green Bay even forced Stanford into 21 turnovers.
But ever since leading Stanford 38-28 at halftime in the opening game, the wheels seem to have fallen off defensively for the Phoenix.
Stanford shot 59.3% from the floor in the 2nd half and made 4 of their 6 shots in the overtime period to hold off Green Bay, 93-89.
Four days later, East Tennessee State became the first team to score 100 points against the Phoenix since November 23, 2004 when Michigan State pummeled Green Bay 104-46. ETSU shot 56.3% from the floor in the 2nd half to pull away for the 103-90 victory in the early morning hours as part of ESPN's 24-hour Tip-off Marathon.
Two days after that, Green Bay suffered their biggest beat down in a long time after Georgia Tech led wire to wire in a 107-77 victory in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets shot an unbelievable 72% from the floor in the first half en route to an easy victory. Tech, who came into the game ranked 319th in the country in three point shooting at 23.8%, shot 45.8% from beyond the arc.
To be fair, a three game road trip which included cross country flights, over 2,600 miles of travel, and a 6:00 AM tip-off sandwiched between games against two high-major opponents certainly caused Green Bay to have some tired legs. Three games in seven days doesn't help much, either.
The schedule won't lighten up much either in the near future with four more games on the schedule in the next eleven days.
“We’re going to play a lot of games without much practice time once we hit Stanford until right about Thanksgiving time where we don’t have a lot of time to sit down and practice,” head coach Linc Darner said before the season started. “It’s going to be after that time when we have a couple, play a game once a week, where we have time to practice and show the guys ‘here’s what we’re doing wrong, here’s what we need to improve on’ is where we’ll make the biggest improvements.”
Without visions of an at-large bid like the Phoenix have had the past two seasons, Darner understands that the only way Green Bay can make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996 is to win the Horizon League Tournament. They key is to keep improving and getting better, building towards March.
“The pre-season for me is used to get us ready for the conference season to where in January we’re starting to play well,” he said. “Let’s hit reality, in the Horizon League right now it’s been one team. These guys were 24-8 last year and had an RPI in the top 60 and didn’t get into the Dance as an at-large.”
“So, you’ve got to be playing your best basketball come February and then go into the conference tournament on a high note. That’s the thing that we’re going to strive for, not get caught up in wins and losses, but get caught up in are we getting better, are we understanding the system better.”
As the beginning of the season has shown, there is still a long ways to go, particularly defensively.
Green Bay will host Division II opponent Minnesota-Duluth in the home opener at the Resch Center at noon on Sunday before closing out the NIT Season Tip-off on Tuesday night at the Resch against Akron.
“It’s going to be a process," Darner said. "It’s about laying the groundwork, the foundation, and sticking with what I know is going to work at the end.”
Categories: Game Recaps