8.2.12

THE SIZE OF THE FIGHT IN THE DOG.

Or perhaps, in the Phoenix.
Tennessee and Stanford aren't mining the burgs of the Upper Midwest for talent. Connecticut and Baylor aren't beating a path to the North Woods. Even if they were, none of these young women was the second coming of Ann Meyers.

They fit neatly into the stereotypical "step too slow" or "inch too short" categories. Nice players, but not gifted with blue-chip athleticism.

All, however, share qualities that made them perfect for one program.

In the local lexicon, they are "Green Bay kids" - gym rats who wear floor burns and sweat stains as badges of honor, sponges who crave good coaching and tough practices, Type A personalities who play with manic energy. They are hard-nosed, tough-minded kids who love every little thing about the game. They are accountable and resilient and solid as the ball is round.

Put them together, and watch the sparks fly.

The sum of the parts is the UW-Green Bay Phoenix, a team that shares a culture of excellence - if not the national spotlight - with a certain National Football League franchise 10 miles down the road.
Used to be that a Green Bay player from Wausau or Mukwonago was a rarity, as the teams were traditionally home-grown.  Now, though, the recruits arrive from Wabasha, Minnesota; Barrie, Ontario (that's hockey country); Wahoo, Nebraska (Darryl Zanuck and Howard Hanson).  And expectations, once realized, turn into greater expectations.
Can UW-Green Bay, a mid-major school with a bunch of overachieving, lunch-pail-carrying kids, win a national championship?

"Anything is possible," [associate athletic director Jeanne] Stangel said. "Who knows? Never say never. Some people would say, 'That's a pipe dream.' But 15 years ago, people said, 'Sweet 16? That's a pipe dream. Good luck trying to make that happen.'

"And here we are."
The pressure is on, though, as any stumble in the Horizon League or in its tournament may mean no bid.

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