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Phoenix use preseason Horizon League poll as motivation

By Rich Palzewic
Sports Editor

GREEN BAY – The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay men’s basketball team was picked to finish 11th this season in the Horizon League Preseason Coaches Poll.

Don’t tell that to Head Coach Will Ryan and his players, though.

“In this day and age, with social media, everyone sees what’s out there,” Ryan, in his second year with Green Bay, said. “We talked about it once a few weeks ago, but that’s it. Picking us 11th, it’s probably because we are so new and have so many new faces – it’s only natural. I told my guys not to put it on social media or SnapFace it, as (New England Patriots Head Coach) Bill Belichick said. We don’t need to hang it up in the locker room or put it on the bulletin board, but my players will have a chip on their shoulders. It’ll be in the back of their minds.”

With a normal offseason under his belt, Ryan said he’s excited for his team to show its stuff.

“It was a much better offseason this year, compared to last,” he said. “Taking the job last June and not being able to recruit the young men on the roster was tough. Even though we couldn’t see the players live, we could see them on film and get to know them better via Zoom. We’ve put together a good roster of some veterans and some young. I think we’ll surprise some people.”

Ryan said his team’s competitiveness stands out.

“They get after each other in drills and live competition – it’s refreshing,” he said. “They play off one another and share the ball. We’ve got guys who are hungry, who are humble and who are trying to make each other better.”

The Phoenix, playing in front of no fans and with an adjusted Horizon League schedule last season, started 0-9 before playing .500 ball the rest of the way.

“The guys returning this year, I’ve challenged them to pave the way for the young guys,” Ryan said. “We had seven games last season decided by six points or less, so I’m hoping we can get over the hump this year.”

Ryan said he didn’t want to single any players out to look at this season because “they all bring something to the table.”

“It’s going to be hard to dish out the minutes,” he said. “That means we are a deep team – it’s going to be hard. Everyone is going to have to sacrifice. It’ll be interesting, and we’ll play quite a few guys this season.”

Ryan Claflin (Southern Door), Donovan Ivory (Kaukauna) and Lucas Stieber (Green Bay Southwest) bring a local flair to the roster.

In addition, Donovan Moore, Mitch Listau, Kamari McGee, Japannah Kellogg III, Blayton Williams, Cade Meyer, Cem Kirciman, Randy Tucker, Tutu Majok, Brayden Dailey, Emmanuel Ansong and Nate Jenkins round out the roster.

Green Bay men’s basketball 2021-22 regular-season schedule

11/9 – Indiana State – 7 p.m.

11/12 – @ UW-Madison – 7 p.m.

11/18 – UNC Greensboro – 2 p.m.

11/19 – FIU – 7 p.m.

11/21 – Weber State – 11 a.m.

11/27 – UW-Superior – 6 p.m.

12/2 – Robert Morris – 7 p.m.

12/4 – Youngstown State – 6 p.m.

12/10 – @ Kansas City – 7 p.m.

12/12 – @ Kansas State – 4 p.m.

12/22 – @ Minnesota – 7 p.m.

12/30 – @ Northern Kentucky – 6 p.m.

1/1 – @ Wright State – 1 p.m.

1/5 – Milwaukee – 7 p.m.

1/7 – @ Oakland – 6 p.m.

1/9 – @ Detroit Mercy – noon

1/13 – IUPUI – 7 p.m.

1/15 – UIC – 6 p.m.

1/20 – Detroit Mercy – 7 p.m.

1/22 – Oakland – 6 p.m.

1/27 – @ Youngstown State – 6 p.m.

1/29 – @ Robert Morris – 6 p.m.

2/4 – @ Cleveland State – 6 p.m.

2/6 – @ Purdue Fort Wayne – 1 p.m.

2/9 – Wright State – 7 p.m.

2/13 – @ Milwaukee – 1 p.m.

2/18 – Purdue Fort Wayne – 7 p.m.

2/20 – Cleveland State – 2 p.m.

2/24 – UIC – 7 p.m.

2/26 – @ IUPUI – TBA

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