|Posted by Brian Dickmann on December 18, 2015 at 1:35 PM|
Photo via Green Bay Athletics
For the third time this season, Green Bay head coach Linc Darner shuffled his starting lineup for Tuesday night’s 93-88 victory over Pacific at the Resch Center.
Sophomore guard Khalil Small made his first career start for the Phoenix (5-4) and was one of five Green Bay players in double figures, scoring 10 points and grabbing two rebounds in 24 minutes of action.
Small replaced true-freshman guard Anthony Brown who had started the previous five games coming into Tuesday night. Brown still played 20 minutes and contributed 3 points as well as 2 rebounds and 2 steals.
“For me, starting lineups don’t mean anything,” Darner said prior to Tuesday night’s game. “If we do make a lineup change it's going to be mainly for matchups starting the game, how we match up better to start the game for us.”
A total of ten Phoenix players got into the game against Pacific. Coming into the game, eight players had played in all eight games with two more playing in seven of the eight.
It appears Darner is still tinkering with his player rotation, but he has shown that Green Bay has the ability to go at least ten players deep if necessary.
“I think that’s still a work in progress, we talk about it every day,” Darner said Monday on WNFL’s Inside Phoenix Basketball. “Different guys have played well at different times. Guys are in different situations…we’re asking guys to make plays that haven’t been used to making the plays. The only way you learn how to do it is to be out there and not worried about whether I make a mistake or not.”
No matter if it’s Anthony Brown, Khalil Small, or Turner Botz starting the game, they can expect big minutes whether they’re starting or not. Green Bay has ten players averaging over 10 minutes per game so far this season.
“I think we’re finding a little bit to our rotation but there’s still some guys that could move up the ladder and there’s some guys that could move down the ladder.”
One of the guys that could move up the ladder is 6’7” junior forward Jamar Hurdle. After not playing at all in Green Bay’s buzzer beater loss to Toledo on December 6, Hurdle scored a Phoenix-career high 10 points and chipped in 4 rebounds in 12 minutes on Tuesday night.
Hurdle is averaging 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds in 10.6 minutes of action this season.
“We’ve got a couple guys right now that may not be playing as much as they would like, we need them to contribute here too,” Darner said. “We need everybody.”
Another player who may well be moving up the ladder is Turner Botz. The junior from Little Chute had his best game as a member of the Phoenix on Tuesday, scoring a career high 12 points, tying a career high with 7 rebounds, and also chipping in 2 assists in 24 minutes of work off the bench.
Having been in the starting lineup for the Phoenix first three games of the season, Botz moved to a bench role after an 0-6 shooting night in Green Bay’s blow out 107-77 loss at Georgia Tech back on November 19th. In fact, after the Phoenix narrow overtime loss at Stanford to open to season, he made just 3 of 26 (11.5%) of his shots, including 0-10 from beyond the arc, in the five games following the opener.
But he has come on strong of late, scoring in double figures in each of Green Bay’s last three games. He’s averaging 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in 19.3 minutes in the last three games. Overall, he’s averaging 6.8 points and 4.3 rebounds this season in 19.9 minutes, which is up substantially from his 1.3 points and 0.8 rebounds per game a season ago.
Botz new-found consistency will be key for a team looking for consistent production beyond senior leaders Carrington Love and Jordan Fouse.
“We need everybody to be consistent if they can on every given night,” said Darner. “I think that’s going to come with guys getting an opportunity to play. A lot of our guys that we’re playing didn’t play much last year.”
Fouse in the record books
Nine games into the season, senior forward Jordan Fouse remains on pace to become Green Bay’s all-time leader in career rebounds and steals.
The Racine native recently surpassed Alec Brown into third place on the Phoenix career rebounding list with 820 in his illustrious career. He now trails only Ron Ripley (852) and Dennis Woelffler, who set the record back in 1973 with 947 career rebounds. Fouse needs to average around 6 rebounds per game the rest of the season in order to break the record.
He is also just 25 away from tying Terry Evans program record for career steals. Evans played from 2005-2009 and compiled 237 steals during his career. Fouse has recorded 212 steals and needs to average slightly more than 1 steal per game the rest of the way in order to surpass Evans.
He is already comfortably second in program history with career 143 blocks but is unlikely to reach Alec Brown’s program and Horizon League record of 309 career blocks.
Fouse has started all nine games for Green Bay this season and is averaging 12.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.8 steals, and 1.0 block per game.
He was named to the Preseason All-Horizon League First Team prior to the season and has a chance to become just the 9th player in Green Bay’s Division I history to be named First Team All-Conference at the end of the season.
He would join Tony Bennett (1990, 1991, 1992), Jeff Nordgaard (1994, 1995, 1996), Ben Berlowski (1996), Javier Mendiburu (2005), Ryan Tillema (2009), Rahmon Fletcher (2010), Alec Brown (2012, 2014), and Keifer Sykes (2013, 2014, 2015) in receiving the honor.