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Reunion of 1994 NCAA team adds to big weekend

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The annual alumni reunion game of former Phoenix men’s basketball players is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 1) at the Resch Center. The scrimmage, as always, is free and open to the public, taking place hours before the nationally televised Green Bay-Wright State showdown on the same court later in the day.

This year’s event promises something special. It’s a 20th anniversary reunion of Hall of Fame Coach Dick Bennett’s most famous squad — the 1994 team that made national headlines with its shocking upset of the heavily favored California Golden Bears in what was acclaimed at the time as one of the greatest upsets in NCAA Tournament history.

Virtually every player from that team has committed to return for the weekend’s activities, which include a private team dinner and the afternoon alumni game. Additionally, members of the 1994 team will be introduced and invited to center court for recognition by the Resch Center crowd during halftime of the Phoenix-Raiders Horizon League matchup.

Members of the 1994 team who have indicated they will participate in Saturday’s events are Ben Berlowski, Gary Grzesk, Eric Jackson, Eric LeDuc, Jeremy Ludvigson, Sam Maddox, Luke Madsen, John Martinez, Jeff Nordgaard, Rico Rondorf, Logan Vander Velden, Pete Wade, Chris Westlake and Jeff Zavada.

It was on St. Patrick’s Day in 1994 that the Phoenix, wearing green, beat Cal 61-57 in an NCAA first-round game in Ogden, Utah. Cal was led by a pair of All-Americas in future NBA all-star Jason Kidd and lottery pick Lamond Murray, but a fierce UW-Green Bay defense anchored the upset. The Phoenix rallied to take Syracuse to the wire two days later but was eliminated from the tournament, 64-59, and finished the season 27-7. Along the way, the “little team that could” (a phrase actually used by some major media outlets) put UWGB on newspaper headlines and ESPN broadcasts nationwide, and rallied Green Bay community support for the University.

Saturday’s alumni game is a prelude to the 6 p.m. matchup between conference-leading Green Bay (17-4, 7-1 HL) and Wright State (13-11, 5-4 HL). The first 3,000 fans on Saturday will receive a free Whiteout 6th Fan t-shirt. All fans are encouraged to wear white to the game, which will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

The UW-Green Bay Alumni Association is sponsoring an all-University alumni reception at 5 p.m. at the Resch for fans who hold tickets to the game.

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