Keifer Sykes is part basketball player – and part prize fighter.
“It’s go time now and he knows that. He told me that,” head coach Brian Wardle asserted.
The Phoenix leading scorer has stitches over his eye as well as a wrist injury to go along with a myriad of other aches and pains. It’s certainly possible that he could miss Wednesday night’s game – and he saw limited time on the practice court leading up their matchup against Detroit – but those that are in his corner know that’s very doubtful.
“I’m totally expecting him to play because I know him and I know he’s a hard-nosed player,” close friend and teammate Alfonzo McKinnie said. “We actually have been talking about it and it’s been tough on him, but I just told him that he’s got to keep going day by day.”
“He’s a warrior and has been his whole career,” Wardle continued. “He’s been very durable and he knows how to play while being hurt and while dealing with some pain.”
The senior has stepped on the court 120 times in his career at Green Bay and has only missed one game due to injury – a loss to Belmont in the opening round of the NIT last year. As conference games become more vital for the Phoenix, they hope to have their mentally and physically tough leader on the floor.
“I don’t think anyone understands being in those shoes of the reigning [Horizon League] Player of the Year, having all the attention all offseason and being one of the key figures – if not the face of the league as a player. There’s a lot of attention – all of the game plans are gear towards him. They are very physical with him,” Wardle said.
“He’s going to find a way – I’m sure – to get on the floor and make an impact on the game,” he said.
With just four games remaining in the regular season, UW-Green Bay and Sykes knows they are nursing more than just injuries. They will need to win and then get help if they want to host the Horizon League Conference Tournament for a second straight year.