The “Sunny” era begins for Phoenix men’s basketball with new head coach Sundance Wicks

WATCH: Meet new Phoenix MBB coach Sundance "Sunny" Wicks
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 4:50 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2023 at 4:54 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The “Sunny” era has begun for UW-Green Bay men’s basketball. The Phoenix hiring new head coach Sundance “Sunny” Wicks last week.

UWGB looking to turn the program around after their 3-29 season, where Will Ryan was fired in January. They have a combined 16 wins in the last three seasons.

“You’re taking over a program that’s pretty much gutted, kind of at its lowest point it’s ever been. That’s okay. I’ve learned I’m a run into the fire type of guy. These are the jobs I love,” Wicks says. “I want to be here, I want to be in the community. I want to bring it back to what they know it is.”

“Honestly I thrive in chaos. This is kind of what I like right now,” he says. “When you get in a job, the first 30 days in going to be nuts.”

Wicks spent the last three years as an assistant at Wyoming, then before that, two years as head coach at Missouri Western State. He also worked with Phoenix Athletic Director Josh Moon many years ago at Northern State University. So, Wicks was always someone that was in the back of Moon’s mind.

“What do you need right now? Green Bay needs energy and it needs a new vision and he’s going to bring that,” Moon says.

“It’s 30, 90, 365. In the first 30 days you’re really putting out a lot of fires. You’re putting your fireman hat on and you’re figuring out what’s going on around here, the ins and outs of the program,” Wicks says. “Then in the 90 days, you’re going to start talking about - got to complete our schedule, fill our our roster. Then 365, you look back and got to access what the first year was.”

Wicks has already met with the players on this Phoenix team, and he knows this transition is going to be tough, having a new guy in charge. But his approach: honesty.

“It’s a lot of truth telling right now. We’re out there telling the truth to guys, talking about where they are, where we need to go. It’s one thing to evaluate the individual but it’s another to collectively evaluate the state of the program.”

“The first thing I always tell the guys is you have a choice. It’s your choice to decide if you want to be here and stay here. But if you be here, you better believe in here, understand the mountain we’re trying to climb here,” Wicks says. “We’re trying to go from three wins - and you’re trying to not just go to six. That’s not the standard here. We’re raising the bar in this program, and we’re going to involve everyone.”

One thing you notice about Wicks right away is his energy. He says it’s necessary for a task like this, taking over a struggling program.

“I always say if I don’t use it, God’s going to take it away,” Wicks says. “Energy is relentless. When you get into these situations, you can’t get tired easily. This is team no sleep around here and you better believe I live that every single day.”

“How can you not love his energy, his passion, in terms of his plan,” Moon says. “His high energy, his positivity, that’s exactly what this university needs.”