GREEN BAY - It's a change up, a not-so-secret weapon, and it works. Green Bay's ‘buzz' defense is serving the Phoenix well, frustrating opponents, leading to wins, and perhaps setting Green Bay up for postseason success.
"Fun, exciting," said Phoenix guard Adrian Ritchie. "It gives us freedom on defense."
Man defense is the bread and butter for the Phoenix, but Green Bay uses their zone effectively. The buzz is, essentially, a 2-1-2 zone with a lot of trapping and some variations. They can pick up the defense full court, three-quarters court and can switch things up on the fly.
The coaches have the trust in us, that we're going to fly around," said Phoenix forward Julie Wojta. "As soon as we start looking slow, it's not as fast as it should be, we can't run it anymore."
The architect of the defense is assistant coach Mike Divilbiss. He brought the defense with him from his time coaching in the NAIA ranks.
"The buzz is a zone defense that's designed to guard passing lanes first and force lobs by the offense," said Divilbiss.
Those dangerous lob passes combined with athletic, aggressive defenders cause a lot of steals. Wojta, for instance, snagged 12 steals in a road game at Milwaukee. That game, Green Bay only ran the buzz in the first half, easing off the gas with a big lead after the break.
"In the second half against Milwaukee, there's a fan in the front row, he's giving us the signal for the buzz," said head coach Matt Bollant with a laugh. "I'm like, we're up 34, so we don't use it when we're up."
Strangely, for such an effective, frustrating defense, the Phoenix hardly ever practice the buzz. Coaches want players no not think out on the court.
"It sound eerie, but that's the type of defense it is," said Ritchie. "It's not like a bump zone, where you practice, if the ball goes here, we go here. We get to determine mixing it up."
The buzz was effective in action in NCAA Tournament play, frustrating Baylor at times, and according to Divilbiss, was key in the win over Arkansas-Little Rock.
The Phoenix return to action Thursday at Cleveland State.
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