Saturday morning was the first chance for fans to get a glimpse at this year’s Green Bay Phoenix as the team squared off in an intra-squad scrimmage at the Kress Center.
The second annual Green vs White Scrimmage featured three 12-minute periods with the teams evenly divided, though a few players did switch teams between periods.
The scrimmage was a bit sloppy as is to be expected at the beginning of the season. It’s difficult to put too much stock into a scrimmage featuring guys taking on their own teammates, but here are a few takeaways from Saturday morning on the UW-Green Bay campus:
JayQuan McCloud is a go-to scorer
There has been some chatter on social media as to why JayQuan McCloud is more deserving of a spot on the pre-season All-Horizon teams over someone like Darius Roy at Milwaukee.
Yes, McCloud had a fantastic first season in a Green Bay uniform last season but with Sandy Cohen now playing professionally overseas there will be plenty more opportunities for players to step up and increase their production.
And while his minutes may not increase much – he ranked third on the team last year at 27.2 per game – his usage is likely to increase with Cohen’s departure opening up more opportunities to score. It’s true that defenses will likely key on him more defensively with Cohen out of the picture, but McCloud showed on Saturday he can still get to the rim, find open shots, and even create his own shot. He hit several nifty step back jumpers while well defended, including multiple three pointers.
He showed Saturday that he continues to be a serious threat from long range after hitting 39.3% of his three pointers last season, good for 8th best in the conference. He hit a staggering 46.2% (12/26) of his three-point attempts and averaged nearly 15 points per game over four games during Green Bay’s run to the CIT championship game last spring and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Manny Patterson dominates inside
There wasn’t an MVP award given out after the scrimmage on Saturday, but if there was it likely would’ve gone to Manny Patterson.
Green Bay’s lone true post presence was unstoppable in the paint showing off impressive footwork to finish around the rim and even displayed some nice touch while facing the basket and knocking down a couple of interior jumpers. Patterson grabbed almost every defensive rebound that was available and was active crashing the glass on the offensive end as well.
Patterson became a victim of game flow and style of play more than a few times last season and saw his minutes decrease from 17.0 minutes per game as a freshman to 13.8 last season. He played in 37 games total last season, starting 12, but played less than 10 minutes in ten of those games.
When he’s on the floor, he’s been an extremely productive rebounder ranking #22 among all Horizon League players in rebound percentage since 2010 at 14.87%. Rebound percentage is an estimate of the percentage of available rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor, so even though he averaged just 3.8 rebounds per game, Patterson ranked as a top five rebounder in the league last season in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage meaning a big increase to his overall rebounding numbers could be coming if there is an increase in minutes.
Green Bay ranked 290th out of 351 Division I teams last season in rebounding margin at -2.7 and 267th at -2.0 the season prior, so there is a definite need for help in the rebounding department.
A more athletic and nimbler Patterson could be a huge boost for the Phoenix this season. And with talented big men like Loudon Love and Xavier Hill-Mais still in the conference, there is a surefire need for a talented big man or two on Green Bay’s roster.
Amari Davis looks legit
All eyes were on 6’3” freshman Amari Davis on Saturday morning. It was the public’s first chance to get a look at Davis in a Green Bay jersey and the three-star recruit did not disappoint.
He showed how he was able to average over 30 points per game as a senior at Trotwood-Madison High School on his way to being named the state of Ohio’s Division II Player of the Year. His ball handling skills were impressive and he was able to drive to the basket and almost score at will, including an impressive dunk in traffic.
He also used his smooth lefty stroke to pull up and hit several mid-range jumpers. His three-point shot looks to still be a work in process – he only hit 21 total last season as a senior, though he was a selective shooter and made them at a 44% clip.
Davis also showed impressive lateral quickness and good instincts defensively to get into passing lanes and deflect passes, so it’s no wonder why he averaged over 6 steals per game last season.
Green Bay fans should be excited, he looks to be the real deal and likely will be able to contribute immediately this season.
Three-point accuracy from Will Chevalier
An under the radar addition to this year’s team is redshirt sophomore Will Chevalier. The 6’9” big man from Kimberly sat out last season to bulk up and is now listed at 240 lbs on the official roster after being listed at 225 lbs as a freshman.
Chevalier was open several times on drive and kicks or ball reversals and consistently was able to catch and shoot on three-point attempts on Saturday and knocked down most of them. That will be a valuable asset to help Green Bay’s floor spacing during the regular season, especially with a slightly extended three-point line this year.
Prior to sitting out last season he averaged 2.7 points per game as a true freshman and shot 36.0% on three-point attempts with over 76% of his overall shot attempts coming from behind the arc. He was a 38% three-point shooter in high school and looks to have improved on that in year three in the Green Bay program.
The Phoenix will also likely rely on Chevalier to battle for rebounding and rim protection on the defensive end as well, so the extra bulk should help in that regard.
Other freshman made an impact
A lot of fans were focused on how the other freshmen besides Davis – Japannah Kellogg, Jiovanni Miles, and Lucas Stieber – would look while adjusting to the college game and all three showed flashes that they could be ready to contribute this season.
Kellogg, a long and lanky 6’8”, 190 lbs wing, was extremely active on the offensive glass grabbing several offensive rebounds leading to extra possessions for his team. He showed a nice shooting touch on offense and also was able to rebound on the defensive end but understandably had some issues guarding Manny Patterson in the paint. A little time in the gym to add to his frame will do wonders, but he could easily find rotation minutes this season, especially if he continues his high energy rebounding.
Miles showed nice versatility being able to drive to the basket as well as step back and knock down the outside shot. He had several highlight reel plays during the scrimmage including back-to-back impressive pull up three pointers in the first period and an athletic and-one finish while getting fouled and falling to the floor in the second period. He is also a good rebounder for his size (6’2”, 190 lbs) which could help him earn minutes this season despite his walk-on status.
Green Bay’s other walk-on, 6’3” Lucas Stieber from Green Bay Southwest High School, showed toughness and the defensive prowess that led him to be named the Top Senior Defender in the state of Wisconsin last season at the WSN Senior Basketball Awards.
ShanQuan Hemphill and Josh Jefferson did not participate in the scrimmage due to injury, however neither injury appears to be serious as both players were getting up some shots during timeouts and breaks in the action. Hemphill is expected to return to the starting lineup again this season while Jefferson is sitting out the season due to NCAA transfer rules after joining the Phoenix from Illinois State.
Green Bay’s next action will be hosting Michigan Tech on Friday in a “secret” scrimmage before taking on St. Norbert College on Monday night at the Kress Center in the team’s lone exhibition game.
The Phoenix season officially gets underway on Wednesday, November 6th when Green Bay travels to take on Purdue in West Lafayette.