Reflecting on UWGB's NCAA Tourney Upset 20 Years Ago
By John Maino. CREATED Mar 13, 2014
Green Bay, WI -- It's considered the biggest win ever for the UW Green Bay men's basketball program. The huge upset happened in Ogden, Utah on St. Patrick's Day in 1994 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
"20 years ago. It seems like a long time ago, but it's pretty fresh in my mind," said former Phoenix player Gary Grzesk.
The fighting Phoenix were taking on the University of California which had two NBA lottery picks. They were huge favorites.
"They were kind of the trendy pick to go to the Final Four this year."
Grzesk's match-up was future NBA Hall of Famer Jason Kidd. He remembers playing against him like it was yesterday.
"Just how fast and physical he was. You can't really appreciate it on film until you see him in person."
As the game played out, there were signs that maybe an amazing upset was in the making.
"Well probably when I made two shots on the end of the shot clock which never happened throughout the whole year," said Grzesk.
It was a game of tremendous emotion for both the players and coaches. With time winding down, the Phoenix took the lead for good.
"The out of bounds play that I was able to get that 14 footer from the baseline to essentially give us the game winning points there," said former Phoenix player Jeff Nordgaard.
From there, it was a matter of holding on.
"I remember Dukie throwing the ball in the air about 300 feet and probably hitting the roof in the gym in Ogden and then just the celebration on the court," recalls Grzesk .
Their reward was a chance to move out of team headquarters to the Flying J Truck Stop, but Coach Bennett declined.
"You know they said, 'Oh you can go take Cal's spot or somebody else's spot,' and Coach Bennett saying, 'No we're fine.' He liked the apple pie at the truck stop," said Nordgaard.
Grzesk adds, "You can't really put into words a memory that's going to last a lifetime."