GREEN BAY — The UW-Green Bay Phoenix basketball team has seen a lot of changes this offseason as nine players transferred from the program.
NBC 26 had an exclusive interview with UW-GB head coach Will Ryan to talk about the future of the Phoenix.
“Outside looking in it’s like, 'oh, everybody’s leaving,'” Ryan said. “(It) weighs on you and the staff and then the guys that are working their tail ends off. The guys that are returning, they don’t want to see their teammates, their brothers leave.”
Safe to say, Ryan is hot and cold on the transfer portal, despite being a transfer during his college playing days himself.
“Some days I don't like it. Some days I'm like, ‘Oh I understand’ and guys should be able to transfer freely for various reasons,” he said. “The biggest reason I have is if it’s a coaching change.”
Ryan and his staff have added nine new players to replace the nine that departed the program. He didn't want to single any of the new guys out, saying they could all make an impact in their own way. They still have room to add a couple players and a big thing they were looking for in the transfer portal was experience.
“With us being such an inexperienced team we needed to get older and that was our recruiting pitch to a lot of these young men,” Ryan said. “Even though we’re bringing in some true freshmen, with a few of these junior college transfers, we told them we need some more experienced guys.”
Another thing the Phoenix head coach wants from his new players is a passion for the game.
“The recruiting process, we tried to hone in on kids that truly love basketball, they love to be in the gym,” said Ryan. “That kind of sounds like if you’re playing college basketball you should love the game, but that’s not the case. I think, knock on wood, we’ve hit a home run with most of the kids that are coming in because they truly, genuinely love the game of basketball. They’re hungry. Being humble and hungry I think can take us pretty far.”
The game is much different than from when his dad, Bo, retired from Wisconsin and that was just seven years ago.
“He's a good shoulder to lean on in talking about just the ins and outs of things and he has said – I've talked to him and (former Phoenix) coach Dick Bennet,” Ryan said. “They shake their head and said, `I don't think I could survive this day in age with how things are going.”
As for if he’s feeling any pressure heading into year three with a 13-42 record after two years coaching the Phoenix:
“Not any more pressure than we’ve put on ourselves. I guess I don't look at it like that. It's almost an entirely new team, new season and we’re rearing to go and I think we can surprise some people,” Ryan said.