FILE - In this March 7, 2016, file photo, Green Bay coach Linc Darner shouts instructions to his team during an NCAA college basketball game against Valparaiso in the Horizon League men's tournament in Detroit. The Phoenix score 84.2 points per game in Da
Duane Burleson, File
March 16, 2016

A sure sign of success in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is when the hometown Packers start recognizing another team's accomplishments. One of the NFL's marquee clubs knows a thing or two about winning championships.

The focus, for once, in Titletown isn't entirely on what's happening at Lambeau Field.

The Wisconsin-Green Bay men's basketball team is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years. The 14th-seeded Phoenix will face Texas A&M on Friday in Oklahoma City.

''Congrats ... on making it to the big dance,'' Packers receiver Jordy Nelson tweeted after the men's team beat Wright State 78-69 in the Horizon League title game last week for an automatic NCAA bid.

The women's team also made the NCAAs, meaning both programs are in the tournament together for the first time since 1994.

''Way to go ... NCAA Tournament-bound once again,'' the Packers posted on Twitter after the Phoenix women clinched an automatic bid by beating Milwaukee 64-32 in their conference tourney final on Sunday.

The women's team is used to the hype. In the NCAAs for the seventh time in eight seasons, the 10th-seeded Phoenix women will play Tennessee in the first round on Friday in Tempe, Arizona.

But it's been a long wait for the Phoenix men.

The last time out, Green Bay was an eighth seed in 1996, losing 61-48 to Virginia Tech in the first round. Jeff Nordgaard scored 22.6 points per game for a team that relied on defense and held foes to 55.9 points a contest.

The pace has picked up.

Green Bay has the nation's sixth-highest scoring offense at 84.2 points per game in coach Linc Darner's first year on the bench. The team has embraced a style of play that Darner has dubbed ''RP40.''

''Relentless pressure for 40 minutes,'' Darner said in explaining the moniker. ''On offense, we're going to push the ball and score easy baskets.''

Defensively, that means getting after teams and using pressure. With 90 steals entering the NCAAs, guard Carrington Love already holds the school's single-season record.

''You have more freedom, (play) more loose, play more comfortable,'' Love said. ''Enjoy every possession more.''

This postseason run has been especially sweet for seniors Love and Jordan Fouse. They were part of a supporting cast the previous two years on Green Bay teams that had Alec Brown, a center drafted in the second round by the Phoenix Suns in 2014; and guard Keifer Sykes, who has played in the NBA Development League this year.

Those teams drew NIT bids. Coach Brian Wardle left after the 2014-15 season to take the job at Bradley.

Darner arrived with an impressive track record at Florida Southern, which won the Division II national championship last season. Green Bay was picked to finish sixth in a preseason poll in the 10-team Horizon League.

Now, Love said, Darner is ''looking like a genius. ... A lot of people have slept on the fact that we won 23 games in his first year.''

Fouse averages 12.8 points and 8.4 rebounds. Love, who averages a team-high 17.7 points, is fiercely proud of what he and his senior teammate have accomplished after coming so close to the NCAAs two other times.

''We've been there the entire time, appeared in every game in our careers. For people to really doubt us, to say that we couldn't win big - just us alone - goes to show we're probably the best duo that Green Bay has ever seen,'' Love said. ''People are finally giving us credit.''

Darner instilled added confidence.

''Just let players play,'' Darner said in describing his coaching philosophy. ''Believing in what we do and how we do things here. ... I don't like players always looking over their shoulders wondering if they make a mistake, are they coming out?''

Darner played from 1990-94 at Purdue, where the Boilermakers went 82-42 during his career with three NCAA Tournament appearances under coach Gene Keady. Darner was a captain and played on teams that included future NBA player Glenn Robinson and current Boilermakers coach Matt Painter.

Darner is hoping to start a similar track record of success in Green Bay.

The women's team is ''kind of used to it. It's kind of new for our men's team,'' Darner said. ''It's great for both programs.''

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Online:

AP College Basketball site: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/

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Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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