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Former Badger named interim UW-Green Bay men's basketball coach

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Former University of Wisconsin men's basketball captain Freddie Owens is going to get an opportunity to lead an in-state program forward.

Owens will serve as interim coach for the remainder of UW-Green Bay's 2022-23 season while the university conducts a national search to replace Will Ryan, who Phoenix athletic director Josh Moon fired after two and a half seasons he announced in a release.

"I want to sincerely thank Will Ryan and his family for their contributions to the men's basketball program these past three seasons," Moon said in a statement. "We wish him all the best in his future endeavors."

The university retained Parker Executive Search to help with the national search, according to the statement. Ryan and Owens did not immediately respond to BadgerExtra's messages Tuesday.

The Phoenix hired Ryan, the eldest son of UW coaching icon Bo Ryan, ahead of the 2020-21 season to replace Linc Darner, who had back-to-back winning seasons before his dismissal.

But just two and a half seasons later, the Phoenix are going in a different direction after the eldest son of UW coaching icon Bo Ryan failed to produce a winning record. 

Ryan posted a 15-61 record with the Phoenix, going 13-37 in Horizon League play. The high-water mark for Ryan came in his first season in Green Bay when the team went 8-17 (.320) and 8-12 (.400) in conference play. 

The Phoenix are 2-19 this season, and 1-9 in Horizon League play. Their nonconference losses include a 56-45 loss to the Badgers on Nov. 15, 2022, at the Kohl Center. 

Owens is a Milwaukee native in his third season on the Phoenix coaching staff after spending the 2019-20 season as an assistant at Loyola University Maryland. He played for the Badgers from 2000-04 and served as co-captain on UW's Big Ten regular-season and tournament championship teams in 2002 and 2003.

The Phoenix have lost 12 straight meetings with the Badgers, with UW-Green Bay's last win in the series coming during the 2009-10 season. Bo Ryan coached at UW from 2001 until he announced his retirement 12 games into the season in December 2015, making way for Greg Gard to take over the Badgers. 

The elder Ryan had previously coached at UW-Milwaukee (1999-2001) and UW-Platteville, where he led the Pioneers to four Division III national championships, including two with his son Will as a player. 

Before joining in the Phoenix in 2020, Will Ryan spent one season leading Wheeling University in West Virginia after serving as an assistant coach at Ohio University and at North Dakota State University.


Green Bay Phoenix coach Will Ryan contests against UW on Nov. 12, 2021 at the Kohl Center. Ryan, the son of former UW coach Bo Ryan, was fired by UW-Green Bay on Tuesday and former Badgers captain Freddie Owens was named interim coach.

Freddie Owens

Wisconsin's Freddie Owens holds the Big Ten Tournament Championship Trophy after defeating Illinois 70-53 on March 14, 2004, in Indianapolis.

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