Post by phearthephoenix on Aug 22, 2021 8:10:36 GMT -6
Thanks for sharing. It's good to start thinking about the upcoming hoops season.
I'm not sure I'd consider Ansong to be an X-factor considering he is the team's top returning scorer and rebounder from a season ago. He's likely going to be a preseason all-conference player and is probably the only known commodity on a roster full of unknowns at this point.
When I think of an "X-factor" I think that means something that is unknown or unpredictable that's going to potentially change the game. I guess I could see that if Ansong can expand his offensive game this season to more than just drives and offensive putbacks, that's a potential X factor.
I think a guy like Blayton Williams is more of an X-factor for this season. We haven't seen him play against D1 competition and he was a lightly recruited JUCO guy with not a lot of highlight tape available online but yet it seems like they are going to be counting on him to score double digits per night potentially.
All I know if that GB is likely going to be picked to finish in the bottom third of the league just simply based on all the roster turnover and question marks. It will be interesting to watch the team grow this season.
Post by thetulsawarrior on Aug 22, 2021 16:29:22 GMT -6
Here’s my quick take on the coming season. The squad will be radically more bought into the Ryan system. Depth should be a strength, especially at the end of the season. I can’t see guard and wing play being an issue. My concern is rebounding and post play. That said, Tutu Majok, Japannah Kellogg, Cade Meyer, and Cem Kirciman will determine if this team can be special. My wildcard is Majok, if he can rebound and score in the post, as well as match up defensively against anyone in the Horizon League – we’re talking something much better than a .500 season.
Post by thetulsawarrior on Sept 20, 2021 12:47:40 GMT -6
I like underrated. From a distance with all the newcomers, I can see where the expectations would be minimal but I'm expecting some breakout seasons. The depth of this roster should mean a strong finish in March when other teams may be limping to the finish line.
Your Horizon League trivia of the day: What school has had the most All-Conference players (first or second team) since the Horizon (nee MCC) absorbed the top half of the Mid-Continent Conference in the spring of 1994? (No, it’s not Green Bay). You might be tempted by Butler, but remember, they were only in the league for 18 of the ensuing 27 years.
It’s actually Wright State, which has had 19 first team all-conference players (the most of any school), and 17 second team selections (tied for the most of any school). But Green Bay does show up very well on the list, with 15 first team selections and 17 second teamers.
Oakland has done quite well since entering the league, with 9 first team selections in 8 years—the highest “per season” average of any school. Kampe has a knack for promoting his players, which Tony Paul is always happy to oblige (and this is not to say OU hasn’t had some very good individual players). Despite winning just two regular season titles in the HL—isn’t that embarrassing?--the Titans look pretty good here, with 16 first teamers (tied with Butler for the most after Wright State) and 16 second team selections, for 32 total, tied with Green Bay for second most. The Titans also have the second most Player of the Year selections, after Butler. In fact, the Titans have had more players recognized with league honors than any other team in the MCC/Horizon since the league took on its modern shape with the absorption of the top half of the Mid-Continent/Summit.
Key 1st Team - First team all conference selections since 1995 2d Team - Second team all conference selections since 1995 Total - Total 1st/2d team all conference selections since 1995 All-D - All Defensive team selections since 1996 All New/Fr. - All Newcomer team selections (1995-2013), All Freshman (2014-2021) POY - Total Player of the Year selections since 1995 DPOY - Total Defensive Player of the Year selections since 2008 N/FOY - Total Newcomer of the Year (1995-2012)/Freshman of the Year (2013-2021) 6th POY - Total 6th Man of the Year selections since 2008
Unfortunately for Phoenix fans, I don’t see anyone on the roster who is an especially likely candidate for post-season honors this year. After a subpar 8-17 mark last year, Green Bay’s top three players—Amari Davis, PJ Pipes, and Josh Jefferson—hit the transfer portal, and Terrance Thompson, last year’s most hyped recruit, headed off to the juco ranks after a disappointing season. The argument around Appleton, Suamico, and other northern Wisconsin metropolises is that second year coach Will Ryan now has his type of players, guys who buy into and understand Ryan’s system (more on that below). I’m dubious that that will compensate enough for the talent level to compete in the Horizon this year.
The most likely player to garner post-season honors for Green Bay is junior Emmanuel Ansong (or, as I’ve classified people in these previews by eligibility remaining, he’s a redshirt sophomore). As an undersized, 6-4 forward without a three-point shot, Ansong was lightly recruited in high school and ended up signing with Ryan at D-2 Wheeling. After a strong freshman year there, he followed Ryan to Green Bay and is the club’s top returning scorer (10.4 ppg) and rebounder (5.3 rpg). It took a bit of time for him to adjust to D-1 play, but he was really kicking it at year-end, averaging 15.4 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting 66% from the floor in Green Bay’s last 7 games. Ansong plays way above his size and is a very nice piece to build around. But he needs someone bigger to help inside on defense and on the glass.
Ryan hopes he’s found that big man in 6-9, 230 lb. juco transfer Tutu Majok, who averaged over 10 rebounds a game at Bossier Parrish CC. Majok is a rim protector and a good passer—exactly the type of center who should make Ansong an even better player. But Majok is unproven at the D-1 level, and if he doesn’t rise to the occasion, the forecourt is all question marks behind him and Ansong. Cem Kirciman and Japannah Kellogg were both minor contributors last year. Both retain freshman eligibility. 6-8 Freshman Cade Meyer is a solid recruit who will get every chance to play. I see Meyer as a multi-year starter for Green Bay, but whether he ready for big minutes as a freshman is more questionable. Ditto for Brayden Daily, a 6-6 small forward (wing). Finally, walk-on Small forward Ryan Claflin started 11 games last year as a freshman, averaging 2.4 points. Obviously, somebody needs to step up—Majok is the most likely candidate.
In the backcourt, Ryan starts with Lucas Steiber, a walk-on last year who ended up making the HL All-Freshman team. Steiber’s a nice quarterback, although he needs to improve both his outside shooting and his ability to finish at the rim. The other guards, like the forwards after Ansong, are all question marks.
First, there’s a trio of transfers, none of whom looks like a sure winner. Mitch Listau is a shooting guard who comes over from Belmont, where he played regularly but in a limited role as a three point specialist, averaging 8 minutes per game in 2020 and 11 in 2021, with a career 2.9 scoring average. Nate Jenkins, another shooting guard, transfers in from Iowa State, which would be more impressive if he’d been a scholarship player there rather than a walk-on. He played more than many walk-ons, getting into 10 games last year at almost 5 minutes per game, but averaging less than a point per game. The third is Donovan Ivory, a young man with commitment issues. Ivory signed with UMass-Lowell and joined the team in the fall of 2019, but gave up his scholarship after one semester (playing a total of 17 minutes in 3 games) to transfer to Boise State as a walk-on. He became eligible for Boise last December, but after playing a total of 6 minutes in 3 games, left the team to transfer to Green Bay. Maybe he’ll stay put this time—like Listau and Jenkins, he’s a native Cheesehead, and may be ready to settle down.
Other backcourt candidates are Blayton Williams, who joined the team from the juco ranks a year ago but missed the 2020-21 season with injuries, and juco transfer Randy Tucker, who gets on the floor to shoot threes (almost 60 percent of his shots at Vincennes CC came from behind the arc). Steiber’s likely back up at the point will be freshman Kamari McGee, another Wisconsin kid who led his high school team to a 25-0 state title. He’s said to be quick and explosive off the first step, and carries a 4.0 GPA. My sense is that McGee may be the best of the bunch, but I’m going to pencil him down as Steiber’s backup, at least to start the season.
Ryan’s “system,” which has drawn a lot of attention, is the basic “swing” offense used by his father, former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. On defense, it’s the “pack line” made popular by former Green Bay and Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett, and kept in place later by Bo at Wisconsin. The swing offense is made to order for a small but effective inside player like Ansong, and the belief is that with Ryan having a full year to recruit his style of players (i.e., more players like Ansong), the team’s offense, one of the least effective in the league a year ago, will improve. Meanwhile, the “pack line” is a defense—a sort of sagging man-to-man aimed at stopping penetration—that is made to order for our Titans, with their strong three point shooting. The Titans shot 56% from behind the arc in sweeping the Phoenix last year. But it can cause real problems for teams with weak three-point shooting. That latter category likely includes projected contenders Milwaukee, Northern Kentucky, and Cleveland State, making the Phoenix a potentially dangerous opponent for better teams. Still, overall, it just doesn’t look like the talent is there to escape a bottom third finish. As noted, Ansong is a nice piece—but that said, I’m not sure he’s one of the top 15 players in a rejuvenated Horizon. Steiber’s solid at the point, but several conference teams have point guards who are as good or better. And after those two, literally everything is a question mark. Of the conference projections I’ve seen so far, none have the Phoenix picked higher than 10th. I’d have to agree.
GB was #1 in the Horizon in assist to turnover ratio, was #1 in the Horizon in fewest turnovers committed per game and #5 in the Horizon in KenPom offensive efficiency. GB isn't running up and down chucking up shots to score a lot of points but I find the comment about last years offense being one of the least effective kind of strange.
That was last year and we need to focus on this year. If you have a good system and guys who believe in that system it might not matter if the guys are unproven. CSU built a tournament team in 2 years with a roster full of guys nobody thought were any good when they signed. Oakland routinely does less with talented teams because they don't have a good system that the guys believe in. I am not telling you this GB team is winning the league but I am telling you they won't be finishing 10th or worse in this league.
Twenty-four months ago nobody knew what Amari Davis was capable of and twelve months ago very few people expected Jefferson to be a 15ppg scorer. I don't know who will be the star for GB but I am pretty sure a couple of guys are going to find a way to complement what GB already gets from Ansong and Steiber.
Last year GB was one of the worst defensive teams based on the stats and wasn't a strong rebounding team.
Losing Pipes and Davis will be felt on that side just as much.
GB has improved their length and athletic ability overall. Will it be enough to improve the defense and rebounding? GB can make major moves up the ladder by getting better in areas most previews don't account for.