Lucas Stieber made quite the return to the Green Bay lineup this past weekend.
The redshirt freshman guard missed the Kansas State and Minnesota games after testing positive for COVID-19, losing his starting point guard role to freshman phenom Kamari McGee – who earned the job thanks to his solid play with Stieber out – in the process.
But he came back in a big way over the weekend first by scoring 9 points on a perfect 3 for 3 shooting from behind the arc while chipping in 8 rebounds and 4 assists in 23 solid minutes off the bench on Thursday night at Northern Kentucky. He followed it up with a career high 22 points making 8 of his 10 field goal attempts in 32 minutes against Wright State where he re-joined the starting lineup with McGee.
“Lucas had a heck of a weekend,” assistant coach Jared Swanson told Brian Kuklinski on the Phoenix Sports Network postgame show. “He made some big-time shots for us down the stretch, hopefully that continues.”
Stieber’s previous career high was 14 points which came against Purdue Fort Wayne last season. It was just the third time in his career that he reached double figures in scoring against a Division I opponent.
“We don’t need him to score 22 every game, now that would be nice,” Swanson said after the Wright State game on Saturday. “Tonight it was one of those games that he came out, he goes, ‘welp, I’m going to take this shot, I’m going to put the team on my back’.”
And while Stieber didn’t register any assists in the box score, he did have a huge unofficial assist in the game against the Raiders.
After junior forward Manny Ansong’s shoe came apart in the first half, Ansong briefly wore shoes from assistant coach Brandon Pritzl before switching to an extra pair that Stieber apparently had on the bus at halftime, according to Swanson. Ansong proceeded to score 10 points on 4-6 shooting with 5 rebounds and 2 steals in the second half in the borrowed shoes.
“I hope Lucas just gives them to him,” Swanson said with a laugh.
Injuries taking a toll:
While the Phoenix were able to get Stieber back this past weekend, a couple of other players were sidelined with injuries.
Donovan Ivory missed both games this past weekend due to COVID-19 protocols as well as a fractured rib, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette. It’s a significant absence as he has started nine games for Green Bay this season and is the team’s second leading scorer at 10.6 points per game.
Nate Jenkins also missed both games this weekend due to a concussion according to the newspaper. The walk-on guard has appeared in 9 games this season for the Phoenix averaging 11.1 minutes per game, though he could be line for some more minutes when he returns due to Green Bay being a little thin currently in guard depth.
“With a few guys missing, that was tough too,” Swanson said after a couple of close losses this weekend. “Some of the rotations, some of the match-ups. But we’ve just got to learn how to win.”
Blayton Williams and Donavan Moore recently left the team and entered the transfer portal and Mitch Listau continues to wear a walking boot for a foot injury that will likely keep him out for some time still.
Photo: John Fischer / Getty Images
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