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Freshman Fouse flies with the Phoenix

Alec Dopp, Sports Writer
February 27, 2013
Filed under Sports

The transition from high school to collegiate basketball can be abrupt and unmerciful. Players are asked to perform at higher capacities both in practice and game situations. Those who underachieve will find themselves on the bench rather than in the game, but for Green Bay Phoenix freshman forward Jordan Fouse, the growing pains that often accompany that transition were hardly visible.

After putting up career WC numbers during at St. Catherine’s High School in Racine, Wis., including his senior season where he averaged 16.9 points, 10 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.6 blocked shots per game, Fouse has become one of the most lethal weapons in the Horizon League.

In his first season as a member of the Green Bay Phoenix men’s basketball team, the 6-foot-7-inch, 220-pound forward secured a starting spot in the team’s lineup and commanded the respect of his coaching staff and the competition.

Leading the Horizon League with 2.4 offensive rebounds per game while ranking second in total rebounds per game with 7.6 and defensive rebounds per game at  5.2, Fouse made his presence known down low for the Phoenix this season.

Fouse is also one of the better defenders in the conference, adding further to his arsenal of talents on the court. The already tried-and-true freshman ranks fourth in the Horizon League in steals per game with 1.7 and fifth in blocks per game with 1.4.

His teammates have raved about his versatile, play-making ability since he first arrived on campus.

“Jordan is a do-it-all type of guy,” said junior guard Sultan Muhammad. “He’ll guard the other team’s best offensive player when asked, and he’s a great offensive rebounder. He’s a player that you can put out on the court, and he’ll do what you need him to do.”

Fouse received conference recognition for his play, too. He was named the Horizon League’s newcomer of the week Feb. 18, which is his second time winning the award this season.

Fouse’s demeanor on the court has a lot to do with his dynamic performance.

“Coach Wardle expects us to be near perfect at practice,” Fouse said. “That’s why I feel ‘focused’ best describes my style of play.”

Fouse’s teammates agree.

“I would describe him as really focused,” said Ryan Bross, a redshirt freshman center. “He’s always ready to play every play.”

Having won three contests in a row and nine of its last 12, the Phoenix is pushing toward the top of the Horizon League standings heading toward the conference tournament in March. In response, Fouse stepped up his level of play.

Since the Phoenix’s 58-45 victory over the Loyola Ramblers Jan. 9, Fouse scored more than 10 points for the Phoenix in five games. When he’s not scoring, he’s dominating the boards, having amassed 10 or more rebounds in five separate games.

While turnovers are still of concern, Fouse made up for it by becoming one of the better pass-stealers in the Horizon League, amassing 18 total steals since Jan. 9. He’s distributed the ball effectively, too, compiling 24 assists since then.

Without his contributions to the team, the Phoenix might not be 15-12, standing in third place in the conference.

Head coach Brian Wardle would be the first to acknowledge just how valuable Fouse has been for Green Bay this season.

“Jordan Fouse has been the silent assassin in a way,” Wardle said. “As a coach, I know that when he’s not out there, we feel it. You look at the box score at the end of every game and there he is.”

However, Fouse realizes individual numbers shouldn’t trump the team goals.

For the Phoenix, its goal remains unchanged from the first practice of the season—win the Horizon League Tournament and make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament.

“We’re excited about what Jordan brings to the table,” Wardle said. “He’ll be a big reason for our success as a team heading down the stretch.”