Unlike some programs after a tumultuous coaching change, Green Bay’s new head coach Will Ryan will inherit a program with more than a few all-conference level players.
In fact, the Phoenix may boast the best trio of guards in the Horizon League with seniors PJ Pipes and Josh Jefferson plus the reigning conference Freshman of the Year Amari Davis. And while Ryan may only have Pipes and Jefferson for a single season, he will have Davis for three more seasons.
The Trotwood, Ohio native will be looking to build off of what was arguably the best freshman season in program history. His new head coach remembers him from his time as a star at Trotwood-Madison High School and already realizes the kind of player he has.
“He’s an important piece,” Ryan said of Davis during his introductory press conference. “When I was at Ohio University as an assistant I got to see Amari play a handful of times.”
“We had a lot of kids at that position and then things didn’t go the way we wanted them to at Ohio. So he’s out there available and I was shocked that he was still available. I thought he was special then.”
Davis is the team’s leading returning scorer after averaging 15.9 points per game last season and broke Tony Bennett’s program record for most points scored as a freshman at 524. Most impressively, he did so without making a single three pointer. Instead, he shot 65% at the rim and an efficient 42.7% on mid-range jumpers according to BartTorvik.com. Only five players in the country made more mid-range shots than Davis last season.
In addition to expanding his offensive arsenal to include a three point shot, a defensive-minded coach like Ryan could work wonders for a player who spent his high school career and freshman collegiate season playing in an up-tempo offensive style where defense was occasionally an afterthought. It’s hard to measure defensive stats, but Davis ranked last on the team a season ago in Defensive Rating – an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions – according to SportsReference.com.
Davis is already quickly becoming a fan favorite, especially after a stellar freshman season plus his announcement after Linc Darner was fired that he was returning to the program even before knowing who the new head coach would be. If he can continue to build upon a fantastic first season it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Davis’ name will be mentioned with Green Bay’s all-time greats like Bennett, Jeff Nordgaard, and Keifer Sykes.
“Obviously my goal, my job, our staff’s job is to make him a complete player,” Ryan said. “He definitely has the tools to do that.”
“We’ll work on is range and all that stuff but the sky’s the limit for him.”
The search for assistant coaches continues
Green Bay has a new head basketball coach but uncertainty remains around who will be joining Will Ryan’s staff as assistants. That’s not ideal with a couple of open roster spots for this upcoming season and the recruiting window opening up shortly.
That could be changing soon, however.
Ryan said it was “to be determined” if any of Darner’s assistants would be staying on but the names of previous assistants Richard Davis, Ben Swank, and director of player development Bubby Johnson have been removed from the team’s official website. Randall Herbst is still listed but he is not expected to return next season as the school posted three available assistant coaching positions.
There have been a few publicly rumored names as potential candidates including Jared Swanson and Brandon Pritzl.
Swanson is currently the associate head coach for Ryan’s mentor Saul Phillips at Northern State, a Division II school in South Dakota. He has ten years of experience as a Division I assistant including spending multiple seasons under Phillips as an assistant with Ryan at North Dakota State and Ohio. He’s a native of Morris, Minnesota and played college basketball at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota which could potentially help Green Bay recruit an area that they have not had much success in recently.
Pritzl is the associate head coach at his alma mater Hillsdale College, a Division II school in Michigan. He was promoted to associate head coach this past April and has been an assistant with the Chargers for four seasons after a successful playing career from 2010-2014. In between his playing days and re-joining Hillsdale as an assistant he spent two years as a graduate assistant with Ryan at Ohio.
Pritzl is a Green Bay area native (De Pere) and his brother, Brevin, played at Wisconsin.
While Ryan didn’t have any full time assistant coaches at Wheeling, he did have two graduate assistants, one of which was Seymour native Evan Morrissey. He attended UW-Parkside and was a student assistant there prior to his one season at Wheeling and could potentially join Ryan’s staff at Green Bay as a graduate assistant or director of basketball operations.
Former coach Linc Darner was given a salary pool of $176,000 to hire three assistants and a director of basketball operations. Ryan’s contract does not contain assistant salary pool information but it is likely less due in part to the school owing Darner $720,000 over the next three years.
The assistant coaching positions were posted June 18th and must be posted for a minimum of ten days according to university hiring policy. The school is accepting applications through Sunday (June 28).
All home games at the Resch?
Green Bay appears to be planning on playing all of its home games at the off-campus Resch Center next to Lambeau Field this season.
The Phoenix have been playing at least one game at the 4,000 seat Kress Events Center on the UW-Green Bay campus for the past few seasons, including the annual homecoming “Krash the Kress” game in February.
But in a June 14th post on the team’s official website announcing a new season ticket deal, the article says “as of this posting, the plan is for all 15 home games in 2020-21 to be played at the Resch Center.”
The contract between UWGB and PMI signed before the 2018-2019 season allows the Phoenix to play any non-Division I games on campus but for the first time in recent memory, Green Bay is not currently scheduled to play against any non-Division I opponents.
That lease agreement, which runs through the 2023-2024 season, gives Phoenix men’s basketball priority status for scheduling purposes but Green Bay pays $5,000 per game in rent. However, the school gets a $2,000 rebate for attendance over 4,000 fans or $4,000 for a crowd of 6,000+.
Per game attendance dropped below 2,000 fans per game for the first time since 1986 this past season which was likely one of the main reasons for the coaching change. Green Bay averaged nearly 4,000 fans per game as recently as 2014 when the average attendance was 3,979 fans per game.
Categories: News and Notes
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