The Green Bay Phoenix have hit the halfway point of the Horizon League season at 4-5 in a three-way tie for sixth place. But the Phoenix have lost 5 of their last 6 games after starting conference play 3-0 and would have to play a road game if the conference tournament started today.
However, there are still 9 games left to play starting with a home game against Milwaukee at the Kress Center on Friday night.
Green Bay will need to fix its defensive issues if there is any hope of hosting a first round tournament game this March.
The Phoenix currently rank dead last in points allowed during the conference season at 87.8 points per game with the next closest being 1-win Cleveland State at 82.2 points allowed per game. That number is concerning, though Green Bay does play at the fastest pace in the league and the 6th fastest pace in the entire country according to KenPom, so that alone will mean more possessions per game and more points allowed. A better barometer is that the Phoenix scoring margin in conference games at the halfway point is -5.4, which ranks 9th out of 10 conference teams.
Even more concerning is the Phoenix defensive efficiency (or lack of) and the opponents shooting percentage. Green Bay ranks 9th out of 10 in conference defensive efficiency ahead of only Cleveland State. The Phoenix rank dead last in the league in opponent’s effective field goal percentage (56.4%) as well as dead last in opponent field goal percentage (48.5%) and opponent three point percentage (41.9%).
To make matters worse, Green Bay is dead last in rebounding margin (-5.4) and second to last in defensive rebound percentage (66.8%).
Add it all up and you have a team that is somewhat lucky to be 4-5 in conference play thanks to two late comebacks against bottom dwellers Youngstown State and Cleveland State as well as a double digit comeback on the road at Milwaukee and a home win over struggling UIC.
The lack of a true interior presence, whether by coaching decision or ineffective play, is at last partially to blame. According to Hoop-Math, over 40% of Green Bay’s opponents shots are coming at the rim, which ranks 307th out of 353 Division I teams. The Phoenix also gave up a staggering 102 points in the paint over two blowout losses to Northern Kentucky and Wright State last week.
The Phoenix only true rim protecting center, 6’8” sophomore Manny Patterson, has only played more than 10 minutes twice in the past six games averaging 1.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in 10.7 minutes per game over that span. Patterson did not play in Green Bay’s victory over UIC.
Another post presence, 6’7” TJ Parham, has only played in 15 of Green Bay’s 22 games this season but hasn’t played more than 7 minutes in a game since the win at Milwaukee on December 29th.
The Phoenix are still in the home court hunt despite big time struggles on defense. They still have plenty of time to get it turned around and face a somewhat favorable remaining home/away schedule with home games against the top teams (Northern Kentucky, Wright State, Oakland, Detroit Mercy) and road games against teams lower in the standings including Youngstown State and Cleveland State.
Green Bay’s remaining schedule (records as of 1/30):
2/1: vs Milwaukee (4-5) (Kress Center)
2/7: at Cleveland State (1-8)
2/9: at Youngstown State (2-7)
2/14: vs Oakland (6-3)
2/16: vs Detroit Mercy (5-4)
2/22: at UIC (4-5)
2/24: at IUPUI (5-4)
2/28: vs Wright State (6-3)
3/2: vs Northern Kentucky (8-1)
Categories: By The Numbers
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