Monday, February 6, 2012

Milwaukee's Long-Distance Barrage Sinks Green Bay, 81-75

If there was ever a "must-must-must" win game this season for your Milwaukee Panthers, this past Saturday's contest in Green Bay was it.

The Panthers got into action early on the offensive end and didn't let up until time had expired. Paris Gulley (20pts) was simply on fire from outside, canning 6 of his 7 three point attempts.

Overall, the Panthers were 12-23 (52%) from outside, a hugely improved 49% from the field, and last but in no way less important than anything else positive on the offensive front, in the words of Coach Jeter, "How about that? We made free throws".

Milwaukee looked like an entirely different team from the line, sinking 15 of 18 attempts, good for 83%. (Duke just lost in OT last night to Miami- largely because they went 0-6 from the free throw line... there are good reasons why people (fans, coaches, etc.) harp on making those shots when you get the opportunity. It's just gotta be an automatic stroke.

Those are the kind of offensive numbers that we need to see in these final 5 regular season league contests if we are to secure a decent (ie. #2?) seed in the Horizon League Tournament.

And our defense, despite giving up 75 points, wasn't as ineffective as the score would suggest. Ryan Allen, who despite putting up 2 crucial blocks, was inexplicably not credited with said blocks.

There seems to be a common consensus among Milwaukee fans that Green Bay's SID/scorekeeper may have had something to do with this obvious slight (Alec Brown is the main competition against Ryan Allen for the Horizon League's Defensive POY honor).

The Phoenix' Alec Brown and Keifer Sykes were a handful and them some, though. This game was solidly in hand for much of both halves, but every time Milwaukee seemed to extend the lead to 8 or 10 points, Sykes would find his way into the lane for a quick lay-in or 8 foot floater.

He may appear to be a 17 year old AAU sensation, but Keifer Sykes is a very talented D-I freshman guard and will be a handful for all Horizon League teams for years to come.

In the end, the Milwaukee Panthers prevailed and Panther Nation breathed a deep sigh of relief. Perhaps the sky isn't falling as many had accepted just a few short days ago. Or maybe we just got a "lucky" road win against an average Green Bay team on an afternoon when our shots just couldn't miss.

Either way- a win is a win is a win. No two ways around it. If we can carry this momentum into Callahan Hall (and onto the newly christened Dick Vitale court) and hopefully all the way to the end of the regular season, we could position ourselves to finish this season out on a great note.

Our final regular season home game vs. Cleveland State could determine whether we play an on-campus 1st round game- or it could determine the 2-seed. It's largely up to how we fare in these next two road games.

Like it or not- we are where we are and we must win our remaining games. There is literally zero room for error now. The past is in the past- the future is up for grabs and still up to our boys in black and gold (and gray) us to decide.

Sure, it would have been nice to pull out a win at Youngstown (or defend our home floor against both Youngstown and Valpo- two challenges we dropped the ball in overcoming..), but after losing 4 of 5, and sinking in the standings like a lead balloon, the Panthers desperately needed a big road victory to get some confidence back and get their season back on track.

Milwaukee (15-10 (8-5)), though still fighting an uphill battle after the unfortunate losses suffered recently, now sits in sole position of 3rd place and is quietly but persistently nipping at the heels of second-place Valparaiso.

Cleveland State, who has lost just 2 league contests will be a tougher nut to crack, unless they drop some very unexpected games in this final Horizon League race to the finish (but as we saw last season... anything can happen in February). Sure would be nice to have an electric atmosphere for our final regular season home game.

The team gets a full week of rest this week, with Detroit "welcoming" us to Callahan this Friday night. The game was originally a shoe-in to be televised on ESPNU, but somehow through a fluke in ESPN's "Facebook voting" system or other reasons a lot of die-hard and casual Horizon League fans don't understand, it lost out to the "prime-time" showdown of #7 Wright State vs. #8 Green Bay.

And by the way ESPN, I don't even have a "Facebook" anymore (I'll keep my life to myself and my real "friends", thanks)- what do people like me do?

Nevermind that a #3 Milwaukee vs. #5 Detroit match-up just might have been a tad more important and entertaining of a Horizon League game to showcase on the nationally syndicated ESPNU....

Well, I guess we won't get a single nationally televised game this season... that is, unless we make it to the Semis and/or Title game... Play like we did at Green Bay and that's not out of the question..

In any case, the game will be called by an ESPN broadcast team and streamed on Make sure to pull that up on your computer or AV setup and/or listen to the call on WISN 1130 by Bill Johnson and his new play-by-play compliment (either Jerard Ajami or Kevin O'Conner).

Simply put, if our home game against Youngstown was our previous "must-win", this game in Detroit is just as much if not more of a "must-win".

We literally must-win every game left on the schedule (with the exception of the Fairfield Bracketbusters game, but one never wants to lose momentum at the close of the regular season when momentum counts the most..).

Every day of recuperation will help this team who has suffered so much and still managed to stay afloat- we are still atop the "middle of the pack" in the Horizon League... that simply would not have been the case if we had dropped the game in Green Bay.

But we didn't. As I said, maybe it was a fluke strong offensive outing; maybe it was a sign of things to come.

Always the eternal optimist- I am banking on the latter.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Press On

Ok, so things haven't panned out so well for your Milwaukee Panthers since my last post. I've been busy with some things and admittedly it's a little more difficult to write posts when the team seems to be sinking like the Titanic.

Our Coach and his players are being assailed from all sides. Not all have given up hope though.

We have lost 4 of our last 5 games (most recently to Youngstown State, who completed their first season sweep of us since... the 90's?). I'd love to recap our iron-clad defense-led, 53-42 home win over Butler in the very entertaining US Military Salute event that went off without a hitch at the Cell... but that seems like ages ago.

But unfortunately, though our "D" was suffocating (read- awesome), the only difference between that game and the two that followed (lost a heart-breaker to Valpo, 55-52 (after being up by 8-10pts all game), and a numbing loss to Youngstown State, 73-65 (that Kendrick Perry cat dropped 30 on us)- was exactly that- our "D". Our offense (mostly all season, but particularly since our home win over Detroit)- has been consistently shaky at best.

Milwaukee Panther offense has been missing for most of the season; and it has been at it's worst in these past few losses- and it's been pretty bad even in a few of our wins. Against Butler (our last "W"), we shot 38% FG, 25% 3pt, 33% FT. Far more often than not, that won't get it done.

It has been rough, no doubt about that. We need our offense to step up and score points, shoot at a higher percentage from everywhere. We thought free throws were a problem- now 5 footers and 3's are even hard to come by at a consistent rate.

Valpo trapped us and cemented our slide stretch... but we can Recover.

The last home stand was a prime opportunity for us to really make a charge and climb up the Horizon League standings. Create some separation, eh? Get some "road-loss" insurance, if nothing else. Instead, we fell back to the middle of the pack (currently 4th place, but still only 2 games out of 1st), and left many casual observers wondering, "what happened to that Milwaukee team that started out 13-6 (6-2)?".

Milwaukee (14-10 (7-5)) is down but not out by any means yet. There are still 7 games (6 conference) to be played in the regular season, and depending on how well we can finish, anywhere between 1-4 Horizon League Tournament games left. We can still salvage this season.

Haarsma may be one of the undeclared walking wounded. His minutes have gone down.

It will take some soul-searching and some superhuman performances from the players we have left and some players who aren't used to seeing prime-time minutes (now's your chance- make hay with it or watch it vanish). We did it last year and there is only one thing that could prevent us from doing it again this year (see below).

We have been decimated by injuries. It's now inevitable that Ja'Rob McCallum will take a medical redshirt for his wrist injury and will not play again this season.

Lonnie Boga has been out all season, and after shoulder surgery, he is returning next season- his presence was sorely missed in '11-'12. Evan Richard may or may not return due to a back injury, but the prospects don't look too good. He has not suited in the last several (5?) games.

Let's remember the good 'ol days, shall we?

Kaylon Williams has been battling through a nagging sprained/sore ankle and general fatigue that comes along with playing 35 minutes a game- Ryan Allen is the only other player who comes close to those minutes.

And Allen, along with Kaylon has been one of our superstars. But as of late, #4 has been battling leg/calf cramps, knee sprains and fallen (sometimes been pushed to) to the floor in virtual each of the last 5 games. Kyle Kelm was recently informed that his nagging sore foot is just healthy enough to make the cut to finish out the rest of this season.

And this is just listing the guys who obviously have nagging or season-ending injuries. I'm sure others are battling through lesser injuries and their performance has suffered because of it.

Everyone needs to rest and regroup for the final push. Luckily they have had at least some rest since YSU and will have another 6 days after the Green Bay game this Saturday at the Resch Center.

But all is not lost. Again, one can't so easily forget what happened after Valpo handed us our you-know-what on a platter at the Arc in January of 2011.

To make it all come together for an improbable run- we need trust, and smart play.

I'll leave everyone with this quote to ponder..

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” - Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the U.S.A.

Don't think we can make a final push? I wouldn't think so rash. A lot can happen between now and early March. Perseverance is a crazy thing.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ohhhhh... [hi] Ohhhhh.... Tough Luck on the Road as Milwaukee Drops Two and Falls to #2

Well, more objective Milwaukee Panther fans than myself saw this coming. They knew that Youngstown State is no pushover this season (we are now currently tied with YSU- yes that YSU for 2nd place in conference at 6-3).

Many knew with our (until these past two games*) superhuman 3pt defense that something had to give at some point- especially against a team that shoots the 3 better than anyone else in conference. They also knew that Cleveland State, if we failed to show up, had the potential to knock us out of the park on a good night.

Slocum has done a grade A job turning around the Youngstown program this season- so far.

I applaud the hoop fan vets, number crunchers and skeptics alike who all know how hard the road is in any conference and no matter who you are playing. I graciously admit: you were right. But this is a long season. And 3 League losses are nothing to fret about just yet. If they start to pile up and reach say, 7... well, then we're pretty much destined for a hope and a prayer of a 4 game Horizon League Tourney Championship.

I promise to never phone it in like this again, but going back and looking at the box scores and recaps and re-living those two losses (one, totally winnable @ YSU, and the other, a total blowout @ CSU just as CSU did unto us at our place last season)  is not something I am interested in.

It hasn't been like this in the past on this blog- I've man'd up and tried to give an interesting (or at least unique) picture of what happened or what went wrong- when, how, why... etc. when we've had a tough road trip- these things happen all the time in all sports. I just want to look forward to Thursday night and not look back at last weekend in Ohio. That was a Rick Perry "oops, I stepped in it" kinda weekend...

Remember this? How can you not. Expect 90% less drama/excitement, but Thurs. is our test.

It's all a buncha hooey now. Forget about these past two. Go to or ESPN if you want a recap and the final scores and stat analysis. Low and behold, the mighty Journal-Sentinel no longer allows people to read articles unless you pay them money, I do believe.

I think you can read 20 articles a month... but with all the back-handed "respect" they've shown us, I encourage you to find other, free-er media outlets-,,, are all great sites for substantive Horizon Hoops info (this place too! Just not when I'm too bummed out to write an article about the actual game(s)... (hey! it's free- don't criticize my emotions!!))

Gary Waters is also a great coach. But Coach W, calm down with the Pearl-esque bombast..

In any case... we have a huge opportunity Thursday night as we host Butler, who, if you've been paying attention, is starting to catch fire just at the right time (conference). They may not will not be National Runner-Ups for the third year in a row (not with their '11-'12 team, sorry Dawgs).

They are a talented bunch once their offense starts clicking, but I don't see them doing much in the Dance if they were fortunate enough to dash everyone else in the Horizon's hopes (yet again) and be our League's sole representative (gotta do something about that 1-bid thing Horizon teams- let's all challenge ourselves more in non-con).

But that doesn't mean they aren't riding a (conference-induced) confidence high and seeking to do as much damage as possible in the Horizon and (like us) pin their hopes on just winning the HLT and punching a ticket to the Big One.

Stevens turned down Phil Knight (Nike/OU Ducks) for 2+ million per to stay at BU. 'Says lots.
But ahead of myself- he's an Indiana man; let's see what happens if Indiana rings cell..

We've won 8 of the last 12 games against Butler that were played in Milwaukee. Let's make that 9 of the last 13. Very few games have perfect box scores for the victor, but the victor is virtually always the team who "finds a way to win" (yes, this is Cliche Day here at MPT). But seriously folks- Let's Just Win.

Thursday night at 7pm down at the Cell. Alumni get in for $5 and all attendees get a free Panther camouflage hat. More importantly, this game is being played in honor of our brave and selfless U.S. Military (active duty and veterans), who, with a Military ID, get in for a single green back ($1). Hope some people can get out there and watch us make some noise and turn this ship toward smoother seas.

OUR COACH, will get us back on track at home and on the roads that lie ahead...

*we'll get it back. We'll get that perimeter D back, we'll shoot at least 60% (sad to say that is what our expectations are- but we cannot afford shoot any less than that from here on out..) on a  consistent basis from the stripe, and we will get our offense back together (it has NOT been that bad this season despite what these past two Forgettables would lead you to believe... We will- in a pair of words- BE BACK.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Panthers Make it Look Easy in 84-74 Victory Over Titans

We'll keep this one short and sweet. Your Milwaukee Panthers pretty easily destroyed Detroit this past Saturday night at the Cell improving their season record to 13-6 and taking sole position of 1st place in the Horizon League (6-1).

Has Paris finally arrived? Yes. And Meier can make this an unstoppable 3pt tandem.

The final score of this game belies how much of a blowout this was until the closing (maybe 10) minutes. Ray McCallum Jr's 23pts and Eli Holman's 11 rebounds weren't enough. Detroit shot 42% from the field, while we put aces in the hole all night en route to a 59 percentage from the field (let's make that kind of shooting a larger trend, eh?).

With shooting like that, and the #1-in-conference defense we have already established, this team could do some very big things. Lot's of heavy lifting left yet. These next two games at Youngstown State and Cleveland State are going to be a test of how good we've gotten so far.

Milwaukee led by as many as 26 before dialing it down a bit (and admittedly, slipping up with some unfortunate turnovers) and settling in with a nice 84-74 victory. We also got to the line 34 times to Detroit's 19- and we actually had a decent night from the charity stripe.

We canned 22 of them, good for a "respectable-enough" 65%. Can't wait 'till we can hit around 70% consistently- our offense is based on getting to the line and making free shots.

Paris Gulley led the Panther offensive attack with 26 points on a fire-starting 6-9 from beyond the arc. Joining Gulley in double figures were Haarsma (17pts, 4rbs ), Williams (12pts, 9ast, 4rbs), and Allen (12pts, 3rbs, 3ast).

Panthers, this place was no walk in the park last February. Let's win- in regulation.

A three-point bombing and offensive-minded Youngstown State Penguin team will be ready for this Milwaukee team riding a three game winning streak. The Penguins have dropped their last two- both on the road- against Valpo and Butler.

The 'Guins stand at 4th place in the League and are unarguably the biggest surprise of the '11-'12 Horizon League season (unless you believed the vast majority of sportswriters who picked us to wind up anywhere between 4th and 6th...).

So let's go get #14 and #7 in conference. The more separation we can create, the easier it will be down the stretch in our attempt to not just repeat as "co-champions" of the League, but outright, no-tiebreakers-involved Regular Season Champs (though I'll take winning our final 9 down the stretch again!).

But that's so far down the road. And other than the banner, it won't mean much. Thanks to our "obviously great friend and business partner" the Wisconsin Center District, we won't host the 2nd Round or Semi's even if we were to finish 17-1 in the League.

WCD, in their earnest "partnership" with Milwaukee Athletics, decided to schedule "Disney on Ice" during the 2nd Round and Semifinals of the League Tourney. So basically, if we got the #1 seed we will have a disadvantage relative to the #2 seed. Makes sense? Yeah, thought not. But I suppose that double-bye is still is a huge goal to attain.

100 Years of Service. 1 shady-slap-in-the-face of a scheduling decision. Go Disney!!

Let's just win, win, win. Keep winning. Keep taking care of the little things like- the ball, free throws, help defense, taking charges, etc.- and we can be champions once again, and ensure at least the biggest game of the conference season is played right here in Milwaukee.

WCD can force us to play 6th fiddle to the Wave, Arena Cross, Roller Derby, Disney on Ice, etc., but can't deny us the Horizon League Championship game- should we when we make it that far.

My bet it that we will- and the folks at WCD (or at least the folks at Major's) will wish they (the WCD) wouldn't have made such a short-sighted scheduling slight.

But I digress... If we can't win these next two, winning the League may never happen this season. Let's go Penguin huntin'!!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Milwaukee Steamrolls Over Wright State, Preps for Saturday Night Live With Detroit

The 600 or so brave souls who (and the the 300 or so cheerleaders, band, US Cell staff, etc.) decided to brave the dangerous icy roads last night to watch the Panthers take on Wright State got to see a Panther team at it's best. It was an unforgettable performance (esp. by our defense).

Ryan Allen is sparking a fire in the Panthers that may be impossible to extinguish.

The gameplan couldn't have worked out much better. Ryan Allen, unquestionably a candidate for Horizon League Defensive POY, completely shut down the one weapon in the Raider arsenal that could have made this a game.

NC State transfer Juilus Mayes, who, coming into the game was averaging 18 points per, was limited to just 3pts on 1-7 from the field. Allen was on Mayes like glue, and Julius could not shake Ryan off.

So with Mayes out of the equation, and our shooting touch heating up quite a bit from some of our recent contests (47% on 47 shots), this one was in the bag before it got it's bar code scanned.

Milwaukee (12-6 (5-1)) cruised to an impressive defensive-driven 58-38 victory and put themselves solely atop the Horizon League standings with their now 5-1 conference record.

Our offense (other than the 16 TOs) was right there to compliment the incredible defensive effort. James Haarsma battled tough down low en route to 13pts and 7rbs.

Kaylon  Williams scored just 5pts but dished out 9 assists. Kaylon is currently among the top 20 in the nation in the assists category- even if Ray McCallum Jr-lovers booted him out of consideration for the Cousey award- more fuel for the fire K-Dub, just more fuel for the fire....

Kaylon commands the troops. It was very audible in the sparsely attended game.

Tony Meier (16pts on 4-7 from 3pt to go along with 7rbs) had a great bounce-back game. After some inconsistency since returning from his calf injury, I think Tony is starting to really settle in to his "go-to" shooter self.

If he can rake 3-4 triples for us each game- our gameplan can work to a "T" and you'll see more blowouts like this, than fumbles like UW and Butler (and you could argue UIC and Green Bay- though wins... those were not terribly well-played games by the Panthers).

Coach Jeter removed all starters other than Paris Gulley at about the 6 minute mark and the Raiders still could not eat into the 20 point Panther lead. This game showcased some spectacular basketball, even if it wasn't exactly "thrilling"). Hey, it's not our fault Wright State couldn't handle the "MJD" (Milwaukee Jeter Defense)).

All around applause for everyone on the team. Wright State is not as bad as that loss made them seem. If we can continue to play like that against other conference foes, we could still host at least one very, very important game in Milwaukee on the night of Tuesday March 6th.

Up, up, and away. Allen is one of many reasons Panther fans are hopeful.

Our conference-leading status will be challenged this Saturday night in what figures to be a physical and emotionally-charged game (Detroit cannot be too happy with how low on the totem pole they sit, with them being picked by the "experts" to finish #2 and us (picked #4) so far ahead of them in the standings.

Detroit had some off-court issues that kept Eli Holman out of some games, and they lost starter Nick Minnerath for the season in one of their first games of '11-'12. But they still boast Ray McCallum Jr., Chase Simon, Eli Holman (yes, the ol' jawbreaker himself is back) and a few other players that could go off for double-digits on any given night.

Detroit is a hard team to figure out (much like Youngstown State- but on the opposite side of the winning/losing spectrum). I think they will eventually break out and salvage somewhat of a respectable season.

But the damage has been done, and though they've improved, I know deep down they are still reeling and trying to figure out "what just happened?" [from November '11 to now].

Let's not take this one lightly though. After holding our (now) second opponent this season to 38 points or less (apparently the first time that has happened since the 1950's per Milwaukee SID, Kevin O'Conner), we should be confident and standing tall against this deteriorating Titan squad.

Everyone on the entire team needs to believe we will succeed- or we are sure to fail.

I can tell you one thing- the odds of us holding Detroit to less than even 50 are going to be long. There will be a lot of exciting post play and more than a few thunder-clap throw-downs (mainly our Ryan Allen and Kyle Kelm, and DMU's Eli Holman and Ray Jr.).

We'll have to slow the pace, pick our shots, and, if we play Milwaukee D like we have all season- we can pick up our 6th conference win and start to create some seperation between us and the other League teams currently vying for the title (YSU, Valpo, CSU).

Weather permitting, you should see a lot more fans down at the Cell Saturday night. People in Milwaukee are starting to take notice of this team's positive direction. You can't keep a fast-improving and exciting team hidden forever. No matter how many times people try to knock Jeter and this program.

Let's D-up and shut down Detroit and rain an impressive percentage of jumpers just as we did against Wright State.

Do these things and we'll send the Titans home packing even further buried down in the conference standings. We've reversed fortunes after the Butler meltdown and the Western Michigan reality check. Let's make it 3 in a row and just keep adding to it... Add it up.


Monday, January 9, 2012


In the first contest of our annual in-state and conference rivalry games with Green Bay what else should we have expected? In years past we've had nearly every one go either straight down to the wire or pretty darn close to it.

This past Saturday night's game was most definately of the former variety- and it was your Milwaukee Panthers who emerged victorious after playing possum for about 35 minutes.

Kaylon Williams shows Sykes who got the final salute in this one.

Kaylon Williams (13pts, 4rbs, 7ast) wasn't going to allow a loss to the Phonenix to happen. He decided to take matters into his own hands.

With just 1.1 seconds showing on the Cell jumbotron and down 63-61 (the entire game on the line) and asked, (as any PG would be) to inbound the rock for one last desperation shot, Williams apparently felt that he had the hottest hand in the huddle and asserted, "I want the shot". That proved to be the right choice- for Kaylon and Jeter and everyone who believed he was the most confident shooter on the court in that immensly tense moment.

So instead of Kaylon, Paris Gulley in-bounded the ball and that 1.1 second time frame became a blur. Kaylon caught the in-bound, somehow completely wide open near the East side of the top of the key, and (despite having shot 0-3 from 3pt until that point), drained the biggest game-winning shot since Deion James stunned the UIC Flames at the Cell in late January of 2009.

Milwaukee (11-6 (4-1)) ended a brief but tough 2-game losing streak and a road swing that saw the mighty Panthers humbled from being 9-3 going in... to 10-6 coming out.

It's for games like this thriller that our players run the "Hill". Perseverance pays off.

Alec Brown (8pts, 12rbs, 2stl, 5blks), though obviously with quite a bit of footwork to learn yet, proved to be a little bit (but fortunately not too much) to handle for the Panthers down low. Look for Smith to get better in each of his remaining years of eligibility- he is a big and talented dude in the paint.

The real thorn in the Panthers side all night who nearly willed Green Bay to an upset (we were 8.5 point favorites in this one, folks) was Keifer Sykes (20pts, 3ast, 3stl). Sykes was a mad man somehow machining his way through our defense and getting into the lane when and where he wanted.

And yet, in an ironic twist, the turning of the tide late in this game seemed to be when the Basketball Gods frowned on  Sykes', after throwing down a transition jam, giving a mocking military salute toward the Panther student section. "Bone-headed" doesn't really do his "dunk dance" justice. A technical was whistled and we got 2 foul shots (both made and the ball back). Sykes (despite his great offensive performance) may very well have cost Green Bay the game.

Momentum and energy were all with Milwaukee in the closing minutes. The relatively nonchalant crowd who seemed to expect an embarrassing home loss suddenly sounded nearly as loud as it did, late in the Wisconsin game, even though the attendence was less than half. This was a bona-fide thriller.

Sure it would have been nice to win by double-digits and TCOB of a talented but not exactly even Mid-Major Top 25 calibar conference foe. But these kind of game-on-the-line experiences increase our chance of pulling it off when we need to (MU at the Cell last year, UW at the Cell this year, etc.).

Haarsma got back to his usual self in the box score totals (14pts, 7rbs) and Paris Gulley added a nice 18pts, 4ast and 4rbs. Most impressive of his line is that Paris drilled all 8 of his free throw attempts (and yet, we still shot just 11-19 (58%) as a team.. free throws, free throws..).

But no unnecessary complaints from this fan. I think they'll work out the kinks and start making more hay from the line... but man, it is rough to watch sometimes. I think things (the team, overall) are headed in a good direction. These next two conference home games will either lend credence to or cast doubt on that feeling.

Who would you prefer manning your team's point? My money is on Clutch Williams.

Next on the docket is a battle-tested and quickly improving Wright State Raider team again, here in downtown Milwaukee. The Raiders (9-9 (4-2)) are winners of 5 of their last 6 and absolutely crushed Valpo at home and lost to Butler by just a point. They are coming into a Cell that has been unkind to them in the past- but they are heating up as of late and this will be a tough fight.

Every conference game is going to be a battle from here on out. Heck Youngstown State (9-9) already has as many wins as Butler. That says a LOT if you know the Penguins' less-than-stellar Horizon League history.

Let's just stick with the cliches and "focus on one game at a time". What's done is done (can't we at least have the Butler game back?!! Ha), and we are still off to one of the program's best starts in recent memory.

This team has the depth which gives us the fortune of not having to rely too heavily on just a few players. Saturday night was yet another great effort of the next man in stepping up, getting it done and then some.

If only (or maybe "just wait until"?) we got everyone clicking at the same time- night-in and night-out. Thursday would be a good place to start. Let's just keep piling up W's and see how dang good (or not-so-good) we really are when the smoke clears.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

All (Shots) Quiet on the Western Front

Well Panther fans, what we wound up with wasn't the revenge we were looking for. In a 72-61 loss to Western Michigan, your Milwaukee Panthers (10-6 (3-1)) just couldn't find the bulls-eye and though closer than the 11 point losing margin, this was a bad loss. We just couldn't get the ball inside and couldn't shoot (10-36 from 3pt (28%), 24-65 overall (37%)).

W. Michigan was the better shooting team this night. But we've many more games to play....

The Broncos (6-8, 5-0 at home) were led by center Matt Stainbrook (21pts, 8rbs). We didn't seem to have an answer for him- he was everywhere. Paris Gulley and Kyle Kelm led the Panther offensive attack with 16pts and 15pts, respectively. Kaylon dished out an eye-popping 12 assists...

TO's have gone down considerably in recent games- I think Kaylon is heating up at just the right time. And Tony Meier rounded out the double-digit scoring Panthers with 12 points.

We did have some good individual performances, but as a team, we just flat-out could not shoot the ball,  and got beat because of it. We just couldn't seem to attempt to shoot anything other than 3's, dunks, and layups. What ever happened to the mid-range jumper! Michael Jordan would not be proud...

Not even our usually-stingy D could prevent this tough loss (the refs... well, oftentimes on the road, you have to beat the other team and the refs).

Nevermind the fact that WMU shot 37 FTs to our 9 (we made just 3 of those 9 free attempts). There is an argument to be made about the unprecedented three 3pt fouls against us, but overall, we just weren't going to get to the line. Why? We couldn't find an inside/outside balance. The Panther offense was essentially a bunch of not-free-and-clear long-range shots. On a good night, this may have worked out.

But those 3's just would not fall... and we couldn't figure out another way to score (slash, kick it to Kyle and James- something!). From run-of-the-recruiting-mill Freshman Anthony Hill of Milwaukee's Bradley Tech H.S. to all-around Horizon League Beast Senior, "Ant" Hill figured out real nicely how to go from Joe Schmo Down Low- to Pro. If only he could (along with Tone) be mentoring our post players.

But they get it- and they continue to show when they put it together, it's gonna be a show. We were not so strong in the paint on this particular night and we couldn't hit the broad side of a Menard's store. But that's just the way it goes down sometimes. Madison didn't expect to get beat by Iowa in the Kohl Center and Marquette didn't expect to cough up that 17pt lead to Georgetown the other night..

Paris Gulley had a breakout performance.. unfortunately on a night when all else was cold..

But this is what makes college basketball so fascinating- the upsets happen far more here in NCAA Hoops than in the brawn-over-craft/skill game of college football. That's not to knock NCAA Football. It's just that the obvious facts (the number of regular season and postseason results not to mention upsets of ranked teams) certainly suggest that D-I Hoops teams are on a more equal playing field than the FBS, FCS, XYZ, etc. compilation of D-I college football teams.

You'll see a lot more Butler's, Northern Iowa's and St. Mary's beating Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin, Pitt, Michigan State and Kansas State and Syracuse and Gonzaga, etc., etc., etc. in the NCAA Tourney than you will Appalachian State's beating Michigan- and that just in a relatively inconsequential regular season college football game.

It's just the beauty of the game- like it or love it. But don't quit. Some of the best seasons happen because of adversity.

I think the the team knows they should have had that one- and the Butler game, but you don't win them all. Maybe Ol' Father Stats will shine down more kindly on us after we have all but put forth some of the worst shooting games we could possibly have this season.

Translation- seriously- it can't get much worse than this offensively. Let's be clear- our "D" is killer... but it is way too obvious our "O" needs to step up and get those shots (2's, 3's, and Freebies) to fall more consistently.

This team can shoot from anywhere- once they realize that... Big things could happen.

If we can regroup and regain that swagger we had just 3 weeks ago, I think we will have a fun time charging through the Horizon League.

In any case, this Saturday, our real in-state rival Green Bay comes to the Cell to take on a team that seems on the verge of erasing the memory of a heart-breaking loss and a frigid shooting night in Kalamazoo.

Get down there and support your local state university hoops team. This should be a good one. We should win, but we also should have won at Western Michigan, and at Butler...

Warhawk Matt reminds us all: "NO EXCUSES".

Things don't always go according to plan. But at 10-6 (having endured two very winnable losses) with a good chance to reel off a lot of conference wins starting here in this 3-game home stretch, I still like where the plan's (the season's) outcome is headed.



Please note that this Blog and any comments or opinions contained herein are not affiliated in any way with the UWM Athletic Department.