Green Bay made the CIT final last year, which is notable because that’s the deepest they’ve made it in a postseason tournament since 1981, when they made the third place game of the D2 tournament. No disrespect to the brave men and women of the second division, but times have changed a bit since then for the Phoenix.
I don’t have Green Bay’s schedule from the ‘72-’73 season, largely because I have devoted exactly no effort to tracking it down, but I bet it paled in comparison to what they’ll face down this year. They open the season at Purdue, followed (after playing something called UW-Stout at home) by road trips to New Mexico and Wisconsin. By the time they hit X in the first week of December, they’ll already have three Tier A or Quad 1 or whatever they’re being called now games under their collective belt.
Leading the charge is head coach Linc Darner, who sounds like he should be the protagonist of a series of decent novels about a PI. Darner is the uncle of Butler’s Sean McDermott, in case you were looking for a reason to not pity the underdog in this one. His teams favor speed over efficiency, consistently ranking in the top 25 in tempo. Their defense forces a lot of turnovers when it’s going well, which hasn’t been that often. They tend to be garbage on the glass at both ends.
Sandy Cohen III, G (17.5/6.4/4.7, .475/.337/.773)
There’s really only one meaningful player not returning for Green Bay, Marquette transfer Sandy Cohen III. The dark cloud to the silver lining of just losing the one dude is that he led the team in scoring. And assists. And rebounding. And steals. And blocks. And FG%. And FTM. And he was second in made threes. He did lead the team in turnovers, though. Good riddance to the scrub; next man up.
JayQuan McCloud, 6’2” G (13.7/2.7/2.3, .445/.393/.832)
Shanquan “Tank” Hemphill, 6’6” F (11.7/5.6/1.5, .528/.000/.426)
Kameron Hankerson, 6’5” G (8.1/2.5/1.6, .413/.328/.846)
PJ Pipes, 6’2” G (6.1/2.2/1.3, .377/.350/.789)
Cody Schwartz, 6’8” F (6.0/2.9/0.7, .368/.346/.762)
McCloud drilled 77 threes last year and is, with Hankerson, Pipes, and Schwartz, one of four Phoenix returning who hit 40 or more last year. McCloud’s assist rate of 14.7% is both unimpressive and the highest returning number in that category as well. Hankerson and Pipes were both fairly low-usage guys last year, and at least one of them is going to need to step up for this team to be competitive in the Horizon League this season. Schwartz, despite his height, is mostly a catch-and-shoot sniper.
Somehow completely missing from ESPN’s 2018-19 Green Bay stats page is Tank Hemphill. Like, he’s not there under his given name or under a pseudonym or as another player. His stat line is just completely absent. Worldwide Leader my butt. Anyway, Hemphill is an undersized forward who is a decent rebounder and poor from the free throw line, but he gets buckets in and around the paint.
Nobody of note. No recruits expected to do anything, no transfers ready to come eligible and make a mark. It’s the above-listed, plus whatever rises from the deep bench from last year.
Green Bay has depth and experience, with everyone in their expected rotation a junior or senior. The question will be if they have the top end talent to compete at their level, to say nothing of Xavier’s. They’ll have been tested repeatedly by the time they show up at Cintas, but I don’t expect them to pass those trials or indeed this one.