By: Chris Terlop
This winter has been good to Wisconsin sports teams, both professionally and collegiately. The Marquette Golden Eagles, Wisconsin Badgers, and Green Bay Phoenix Women’s basketball teams are all ranked in the top 25 in the country. The Green Bay Phoenix Men finished fourth in the conference and won their first Horizon League tournament game under head coach Brian Wardle, and have a chance to further their run this week. Even the Milwaukee Bucks, as up and down as they have been, have seemed to find their stride and are just three games out of fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Today I will tell you why it has been good for the Phoenix. Later this week I will get to the Badgers and the Golden Eagles, before wrapping it up with the Milwaukee Bucks, to remind you how good you have it in Wisconsin.
The Lady Phoenix have been a fixture atop the Horizon League for years, winning at least a share of the Horizon League Regular Season Championship for 14 consecutive years. They have lost only two games this year, by a combined total of seven points, one game in the preseason tournament and another at Central Michigan. They had two players enter the 1,000 point club this season in Sarah Eichler and Adrian Ritche and lead the country in defense. For your money, you may not find a more entertaining team night in and night out than Coach Kevin Borseth’s Phoenix.
The Green Bay Phoenix Men have not won their conference tournament since 1995, and for the first time since then, have a chance to take it this season. They are the fourth seed in the conference and beat Milwaukee in the first round convincingly. Next up is UIC, whom they split the regular season series with, the home team winning each game. Notable wins this year for GB: Marquette and Detroit. Those two games showed everyone what the Phoenix are capable of on both ends of the floor. All they have to do is peak at the right time, and with Butler gone, this is anyone’s tournament to win. They have a HL first-teamer running the point in sophomore Keifer Sykes, a second-teamer in junior big-man Alec Brown and All-Newcomer Jordan Fouse being the all-around defensive stopper. That combination of offensive skill and defensive explosiveness is as much effective as it is fun to watch. With Brendan Cougill being the only senior, if the Phoenix do not get it done this year, strap in for next season, it will be a heck of a ride.
Both of these teams could be headed to the NCAA tournament in a couple of weeks. Not many cities can boast two NCAA tournament teams, and Green Bay could be one of the lucky few this year.
You can hear Chris on Sportsline M-F 4-6pm and on Saturdays 8-9am. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisTerlop.