With Major League Baseball pennant races heating up and football season right around the corner, not too many people are focused on college basketball in mid-August.
But the players, coaching staff, and diehard fans of the Green Bay Phoenix mens basketball team will get an early college basketball fix this week as the team embarks on a six day trip to Puerto Rico for exhibition games.
Per NCAA rules, a program can participate in a foreign tour during the summer once every four seasons. Green Bay last participated in a foreign trip prior to the 2013/2014 season when they completed a perfect 3-0 trip in the Bahamas at the end of August of 2013. The Phoenix went on to win their first Horizon League regular season title in twenty years later that season.
Prior to that trip, Green Bay’s last foreign trip occurred in August of 2006 when the Phoenix played four games in Spain under head coach Tod Kowalczyk, going 3-1.
More importantly for this year’s team, NCAA rules allowed for 10 days of practice prior to a foreign trip. With only three players that played minutes on last year’s team returning this season, those practices are crucial to help Linc Darner and his staff implement his system while also allowing the players to get the feel of playing with each other.
Green Bay loses 81.7% of its scoring from a season ago including 8 of its top 9 leading scorers.
“Practice has been huge for us,” Darner said, via the team’s official website. “We are just trying to get some basic concepts in right now.”
“This trip is going to be good for us because we have a bunch of guys who can play different positions. We are not going to worry about what the score is or any of that, but more about what lineups are working best and what certain guys can give us.”
Green Bay will play four games over the six days in Puerto Rico, all of which will be played at Mario Morales Coliseum in Guaynabo. The team’s website notes that FIBA international rules will be used meaning the games will feature a 24-second shot clock, an 8-second backcourt violation, and an extended 3-point line.
The Phoenix leave Green Bay on Monday with games Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before heading back home on Saturday.