In Praise of UWGB Women
An underappreciated gem in the Wisconsin sports landscape is the UW-Green Bay women’s basketball program. A couple of weeks ago, I watched the Phoenix defeat a previously ranked DePaul team. Last night, I went to the Kress Events Center expecting a close game against Big East conference member Marquette. What I witnessed was a complete dismantling of the Golden Eagles.
UWGB combined magnificent spacing and court awareness with their usual stifling in-your-face defense to fluster Marquette and take a 38-14 halftime lead. From there, they basically coasted to a 65-48 win while gaining a lot of playing experience for their young bench in the second half. The win left the Phoenix with a 10-0 record that also includes a road win over the UW Badgers in Madison. That start is the best in program history, which is saying something considering that UWGB has won 11 straight Horizon League titles.
Ironically, this figured to be somewhat of a rebuilding year for the Phoenix as they lost four senior starters from last year’s NCAA tournament team. If anything, this team looks to be even better than that squad despite having no seniors on the roster. They are truly a balanced team that features four starters averaging double figures in scoring, which each having led the team in scoring in at least one of their 10 games. Head coach Matt Bollant has also made liberal use of his bench that includes three talented freshmen.
The traditional bugaboo for this program is the lowly regarded conference in which they play. If they continue on the pace they’ve shown so far, a 12th Horizon League title is a foregone conclusion. Hopefully, the signature wins they’ve secured will get them the respect they deserve resulting in a higher seed in the NCAA tournament. Given what they’ve already accomplished and the youth on their roster, it’s clear that even better things are ahead for the Lady Phoenix.