|Posted by Brian Dickmann on February 12, 2016 at 5:50 PM|
Photo via Green Bay Athletics
When Milwaukee knocked off Oakland on Thursday night at the O’rena, it came as a bit of a surprise. The Panthers, fresh off a loss at Northern Kentucky, were able to end a 6 game Oakland winning streak and sent the Golden Grizzlies to their 4th home Horizon League loss of the season.
That, coupled with Wright State’s shocking loss to last-placed UIC, has left a flicker of hope for both Green Bay and Milwaukee to attain the #2 seed and the double-bye to Horizon League Tournament semi-finals that comes with it.
The challenge the Phoenix face, however, won’t be easy. The Grizzlies won easily at the Resch Center back on January 23rd, 111-95, to start their six game winning streak.
“When they decide to play the way they did against us, they’re awfully good,” Green Bay head coach Linc Darner said following the first matchup. “Not many people have that many guys that you have to worry about on the defensive end that they have. You’ve gotta worry about a lot of their guys, you just can’t worry about one.”
Oakland star point guard Khalil Felder had his normal outstanding game scoring 29 points and dishing out 14 assists in the victory. But he didn’t do it alone. The Grizzlies shot over 50% from the floor in the game as a team.
“We said before the game started the key for us is to contain Felder, keep him in check,” Darner said. “To try and contain him and worry about all their other guys, I think maybe some of the time we were playing too much on our heels defensively guarding them. And then they just got on a roll and we couldn’t stop them.”
The Green Bay coach seemed a bit miffed at the fact the junior point guard was able to draw as many fouls as he did. Felder was 19 for 22 from the free throw line in the game.
“I thought it was Kobe, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James playing out there because every time he drove to the hoop it was a foul,” said Darner. “He shot as many free throws as we did.”
Felder wasn’t the only one who did major damage in the game, however. Senior wing Max Hooper had a breakout game as well scoring 27 points, all on three pointers. He was 9 for 14 from beyond the arc.
“I had somebody ask me if we were going to guard Hooper...yeah we were trying to guard him,” Darner said. “We were supposed to guard him. I can’t get out there and guard him for them. We were supposed to be right on his butt.”
Darner jokingly said that the Phoenix would have a gimmick set up for Hooper the next time the two teams met to end his streak of only making three-point field goals. The 6'6" guard averages 11.2 points per game and has yet to make a two point basket this season.
“He lines up under the hoop on the out of bounds play and I honestly believe that they don’t want him to shoot a two so we’re not going to guard him,” Darner joked. “We’re going to see if they throw it in if he’ll shoot a layup. I don’t think he will, I don’t think they’ll give him the ball.
“Everybody worries that he comes off a single-single [screen] and he shoots a three in the corner on every team they play, so we’re just going to guard him on the other side and if they throw it to him, they throw it to him.
“We’ll break the streak because I think they’ve got it in place that they want him to go down as the only player in the history of college basketball not to shoot a two.”
Oakland big man Jalen Hayes also had a big game for the Grizzlies, scoring 24 points and grabbing 6 rebounds.
The 111 points was a season high for Oakland and the most points the Phoenix have ever allowed in a Division I game. The Phoenix shot 50.8% from the floor in the losing effort.
Green Bay had 5 players in double figures led by senior Carrington Love who scored 21.
Saturday's game tips off at 2:00 PM Central time and can be seen on ESPN3. It can also be heard on FM 101.9 or AM 1440 WNFL in Green Bay. It will end a 12 game stretch that saw the Phoenix play 10 road games and will actually be GB's final road home of the regular season.
Unfortunately for the Phoenix, Oakland is coming off another perplexing home loss. That likely means they will be ready to go Saturday afternoon at the O’rena, although with their record at home this season, anything is possible.
“It seems like some teams seem to get well against us,” said Darner. “We need that to change. We need them to come in playing well before they play us instead of having bad games to where they get focused in for our game.”
Categories: Phoenix Preview