GREEN BAY — On Tuesday, UW-Green Bay hired Sundance “Sunny” Wicks to be the new men’s basketball coach of the Phoenix. He’s the ninth head coach in program history and coming off a three year stint as an assistant with Wyoming and he's ready to return the Phoenix to their glory days that they had under Dick Bennett
“I know this – you get an opportunity like this: you do everything in your possible power in your god given ability to show up every single day and give everything you got,” he said. "We’re going to empty the tank and this program is going to be back where it should be.”
The Phoenix have gone 16-71 over the last three years, but they’re not too far removed from their last NCAA tournament appearance 8 seasons ago.
“I always like to tell people, this is dormant, not dead,” said Wicks. “You can wake this sleeping beast with a little enthusiasm, a little excitement, a little relentless energy every single day.”
It’s been nearly 30 years since Dick Bennett roamed the sidelines for UWGB, but Wicks had a little bit of Bennett be instilled on him during his college playing days at Northern State.
“Honestly my college coach Don Meyer had a heavy influence of Dick Bennett,” said the UWGB head coach. “You get goosebumps walking down the hallway when you see Dick Bennets name on the practice facility. You see “play hard, play smart, play together” on the wall – that was the echo of our college program the entire four years I played.”
One thing that he has already noticed with Kevin Borseth’s successful Phoenix women’s program is their influence in the community and he says that’s where the turnaround of his squad starts.
“Lambeau is in the middle of a neighborhood, I’ve never seen anything like it and that’s what Green Bay is – it’s tight knit,” said Wicks. “It’s all encompassing. Everything we do in this community matters.”
For the new Phoenix head coach, he wants the players on his team, whether they’re on the roster right now, or are coming this offseason – to be the same way every day that they wake up.
“Waking up everyday with the same attitude, the same energy, the same enthusiasm, that’s intentional and that’s how you become competitive every single day,” said Wicks. “When you want to try to win, you got to show up the same way every single day and that’s a value everybody can appreciate.”
When it comes to recruiting, Wicks said he will utilize a lot of the alumni who played for the Phoenix that are still in the Green Bay area.
“They’re gonna tell me where they're at and we’re going to go find them because those guys care about this program, they care about the community,” he said. “Finding players, that’s the easy part. You can go spot a good player a mile away, it’s finding the players that fit Green Bay, the Green Bay way, that’s the hard part.”
Wicks says his teams will be connected and competitive. They’re going to love each other so much that they don’t want to let each other or their community down. They will always fight for their team.
“I’m a highly competitive individual. Part of the reason I have so much energy and juice – I think people are trying to fight me every single day. I’m gonna fight for our culture, I’m gonna fight for this program and I’m going to fight for the Phoenix. That’s what our players are going to be. Connected and competitive,” said Wicks.