The Green Bay Phoenix men’s basketball team is back to full health. Well, at least as healthy as they will be with Tank Hemphill already declared out for the season with a lingering tendinitis issue.
But a few weeks ago the team’s health was a major issue. In addition to Hemphill’s injury, Trevian Bell (illness), PJ Pipes (quad), and Josh McNair (knee) all were unable to play with various ailments forcing the team to remove the redshirt from freshman Jiovanni Miles for the team’s game against Concordia-Chicago back on December 18th.
Bell missed just the one game and Pipes missed a pair of games after picking up an injury against Evansville on December 14th before making his return against Wright State in the conference opener.
McNair missed 6 games in total after suffering his injury in the first half of Green Bay’s game against Eastern Illinois back on December 7th. He made his return to the Phoenix rotation Friday in Green Bay’s 85-71 victory over UIC at the Resch Center sporting a large brace on his right leg. He was eased back into the action but made an instant impact, particularly on the glass, scoring 2 points and grabbing 4 rebounds in 8 minutes of action.
He did not play in the second half as Green Bay held a comfortable lead for most of the half.
“We got going there in the second half and got the lead, and kind of went with the guys who got us the lead,” head coach Linc Darner said after the game, via the Green Bay Press Gazette. “It was nothing he did. I probably was a little worried when I looked at halftime and he played 8 minutes. He’s only been back one day.”
“But I told him about the 10-minute mark to get loose and to get ready just in case they made a run at us. But when we kept the lead, I didn’t want to put him in there and take a chance.”
McNair played a larger role two days later in Green Bay’s blowout loss to IUPUI on Sunday scoring 12 points and grabbing 4 more rebounds in 13 minutes off the bench.
It will be interesting to see if McNair will eventually return to the starting lineup once he is fully back up to speed or if he will continue to come off the bench. The Phoenix have used the same starting five for each of the past five games, though Darner often likes to point out that starting lineups don’t matter and bench players often play as many minutes (and sometimes more) than some starters in his system.
McNair and his rebounding will be a welcome addition to a Phoenix team that currently ranks dead last in the conference in rebounding margin.
With Green Bay having only one game over a ten day span – a home match-up against rival Milwaukee on Saturday – McNair will have a little bit of extra time to get back to full speed before the Phoenix return to playing two games per weekend on January 16th against Oakland and January 18th against Detroit Mercy.
Categories: News and Notes