MarketplaceContestsCollege Hoops


'They have fight in them': Phoenix could be poised to pull off 1st-round upset

From good luck wishes in the grocery store to free bowls of chili at lunch, longtime Phoenix coach Kevin Borseth is feeling love ahead of a return to the NCAA Tournament.
Posted at 6:28 PM, Mar 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-20 19:28:13-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — The drought is over.

The UW-Green Bay women's basketball team is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018, the program's longest stretch without an NCAA bid since its first appearance in 1994.

From good luck wishes in the grocery store to free bowls of chili at lunch, longtime UWGB coach Kevin Borseth said he feels the love from the Green Bay community.
"I'm in the community, buying a head of lettuce, people are saying 'Good luck coach.' People I don't even know," Borseth, who has coached the Phoenix for 20 seasons over two separate stints, said Wednesday.

"I had somebody buy me a bowl of chili today," he laughed. "I don't even know who the person was. So people stand up and they recognize and they're proud."

Safe to say, many Phoenix fans are excited to see their squad back in the Big Dance.

Now, the players are looking to take the next step.

"We didn't come this far just to only get this far," junior forward Jasmine Kondrakiewicz said. "We've had some alumni at practice over the last couple of weeks and they've said some their biggest regrets were not being able to advance further in the tournament when they had the talent to."

"It's not an easy thing to do," Borseth added. "It's not an easy thing to get there, let alone get there and think you're going to advance. Because you're playing against elite-level competition."

Next up? One of the top programs in the history of women's basketball: Tennessee. The Volunteers are led by star forward Rickea Jackson, who averages 19.5 points per game.

"She's a very good player," Kondrakiewicz said. "(Projected as the) third pick in the first round of the WNBA Draft."

"She can post it. She can point guard. She can shoot it. She can pull up," Borseth said of Jackson. "Pretty much all levels. She's an all-level player."

But Borseth's squad is no slouch. The Phoenix is 27-6 this season; it's a veteran group with a balanced scoring attack.

"We've been battle-tested in our non-conference schedule," Kondrakiewicz said. "We've beaten top 25 teams and (this is) a very winnable game for us."

"We've accomplished a lot as a team this year and those are some big core memories that we've made," junior forward Maddy Schreiber, a Kimberly High School alumna, said. "Just having that under our belt I think will really help us going into this game."

Borseth, who notched his 800th career win earlier this season, boasts an 821-315 career record. However, he is 2-11 all-time in the NCAA Division I Tournament, with his last victory coming in 2007.

This could be the group that gets him back to the second round.

"We've got a really good squad," Borseth said. "I've coached basketball for many years and I've never seen a squad that's more determined than this squad."

"They have fight in them," he added. "They will represent themselves. They'll represent their community and their school very well."

Green Bay's first-round game against Tennessee is scheduled for Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on ESPN. It will be played at North Carolina State's campus in Raleigh, N.C.