GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – The Phoenix men’s basketball team held their first official practice of the season on Wednesday, with some new wall hangings in the Dick Bennett Gym. Banners commemorating last season’s Horizon League Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament Appearance looked down on the players, reminding them of what the program achieved in Linc Darner’s first season as head coach.
The Phoenix loses its’ two top players from the squad that ended the program’s 20 year NCAA Tournament drought. Carrington Love and Jordan Fouse are gone, but Darner has 6 seniors on this year’s squad, including Little Chute’s Kenneth Lowe. “What’s nice about this second year is we have a lot of seniors, so we have a lot of leadership and guys coming back to help teach the guys below us the same system we had to learn last year. So we should pick up a lot quicker” said Lowe.
Darner’s RP40 (relentless pressure for 40 minutes) style was completely foreign to the team when he took over last season. But this season, he only has to incorporate 3 new players. One of those is Trevor Anderson, who was named 2016 Mr. Basketball in Wisconsin while leading Stevens Point to its’ 2nd straight WIAA Division 1 state championship. “He is going to give us what we need,” said Darner. “He’s going to give us a guy that can make some shots, and more importantly we struggled at the end of games on the free-throw line. And now all of a sudden you had a guy who shot close to 90% his whole career, you will feel pretty good when he goes to the free-throw line at the end of the game.”
Expectations are high for the Phoenix after what it accomplished in Darner’s first season, and now with some talented additions to go along with a senior-heavy roster. And that’s fine with the head coach. “Our goal is the same as last year, let’s get better each day” Darner said. “The Horizon League has been a one bid league for what, the last six years? So our goal is going to be the same, let’s get playing well at the end of the year. I know this, we are a lot farther along this year than we were last year at this time.”
Green Bay opens their season November 12th at home against Northland College.