ASHWAUBENON - Saturday, the Green Bay Phoenix men's basketball team will open their third season under head coach Brian Wardle with a home game at the Resch Center versus Chicago State.
The Phoenix capped off last regular season by winning 8 out of 10 games. With the core of that team intact their looking to build off of what they learned in that run.
Head coach Brian Wardle saw the progress his young team made at the end of last season and expects them to pick up where they left off.
"When we decided that our offense wasn't going to dictate how we guarded, which a lot of teams do and its hard thing to do in basketball," Wardle said. "But that took too long last year, this year it's got to start Saturday."
So far the season has been practices and scrimmages for the Phoenix, they hope as they start their game schedule Saturday, their team identity will emerge.
"We're definitely, we get the ball inside offensively, I think that's definitely our identity offensively but defensively we've got to be sustaining," Wardle said. "You'll see it in spurts but now we've got to do it for 40 minutes."
But how exactly does one develop consistency?
According to shot blocking center Alec Brown, "It's a little effort. It's a little mental preparation, making sure we're mentally focused in the games and ready to go at all times."
Guard Kam Cerroni added, "Everyday it's a battle whether it's a scrimmage, exhibition, everyday. It's a battle and you've got to come out here and you've got to bring it."
Brennan Cougill, the team's lone senior, has been impressed by the team's newcomers. The Phoenix have four freshman and two transfers on the roster.
"They come out and they fight everyday," Cougill said. "They might not do it all right all the time but one thing they never do is lack effort."
Coach Wardle has seen flashes from his freshmen but again, consistency is the key. He expects more from them and from his team as whole, saying, "My job is to look at us and say that's not as good as we can be and push these guys to their potential, show them the work ethic especially the newcomers. Our veterans have it but our newcomers need it. And show them what they need to do to reach a level we want to get to."
That level presumably would be their first trip to the NCAA tournament since the 1995-1996 season.
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