Pounce needs a ‘Locker Room’

Just a note before I begin: I’ve been told that our athletic department can sell merchandise to the general public.

Last night, following the latest beat down taken by the basketball team, our group took a little time to walk over to Bucky’s Locker Room, the pro shop inside the Kohl Center.  What we saw was, simply put, a great thing that our athletics program is sorely missing.

Bucky's Locker Room is the one-stop shop for all Badger apparel.

Hockey apparel.  Basketball apparel.  Football apparel.  Alumni apparel.  Can coozies in the shape of a hockey jersey. Mini goalie helmets.  A corner for only winter clothing.  A section for jerseys (replicas that look like the real thing).  A kid’s section, complete with children’s books, bibs, and everything a kid would want.  All within a 30 by 70 foot space.

Now, what’s our current situation?  The bookstore is the only main supplier of athletics apparel, with stores such as Foot Locker, Champs and Lids carrying minimal to no Panther apparel.  Want a trinket like a felt banner with the Milwaukee conference championships on it?  You can’t find it anywhere, but Bucky’s Locker Room had one for hockey, basketball and football.  Little things like that aren’t carried by the bookstore, but many Panther fans would find a $10 thing like that popular.

Currently, the bookstore has its on campus location and a web site, which is very poorly put together and does not come close to putting their full inventor online.

But here’s my problem.  If, as I’m told, the athletic department is allowed to sell merchandise without having to get the license, why aren’t we doing it?  What are we supposed to do to eliminate our debt if we’re not taking care of obvious solutions like this one?

I’ve put this idea on the board before, but I think it deserves to be included here.  At Miller Park’s home plate entrance, the team installed a new shop right at the wall.  There’s no ceiling on top, just a glass wall surrounding the shop itself for game days.  At Milwaukee, we’ve got the Klotsche Center – admittedly, we don’t have a lot of events there, like the 81 games at Miller Park each season.  But we do have swimming and diving, volleyball, and women’s basketball games in the Klotsche Center, which total around 50 events per year.  Add in the three men’s games there this year, and all of a sudden we’ve got a lot of parents, fans and students coming through the arena.  Don’t forget the thousands of people that work out in the Pavilion every day, and the only entrance is right by the front of the athletic department doors.

So why don’t we take that home plate idea and bring it to Milwaukee?  The glass facade of the Klotsche Center has doors on the right hand side of it, and nothing on the left.  What if the doors inside, instead of empty, unused space to the left, a glass wall followed all the way to the stairs, then enclosed off there?  Even with a bit smaller area, there’s not much else that’s going on in that space, and the athletic department could fill it up with inventory rather quickly.

What’s stopping us from doing this?  Absolutely nothing.  I’m sure this is up to fire code, and if it’s not you can minimize the size of it.  It’s not staffing, because such a store could be run by the ticket office, which operates 15 feet away.  It’s not security, as the entrance to the place could be set in front of the Klotsche Center front desk.  So what is it?

Who knows.  I just know that merchandise needs to be sold soon because there’s money to be made, and the athletic department can use the space there for a more permanent home.  Hell, even a satellite home in the union would be a good place if we end up making good money out of it.

Nike learned long ago that if you want your brand out there, you have to put it on the people. That’s why from the mid-’80s on, you see that swoosh on everything.  So let’s get our brand out there and start making money.  It’s a damn good thing to do.

What they’re saying

After driving up to last night’s game, I saw many different things that show me the university in Madison is doing things the right way, while the university in Milwaukee has a long way to go.  As for all the side things that we’ve got to work on, that’s for another post at another time.  The stuff on the court?  Well, I’ve said enough.  The fans should be heard.  And here are some quotes:

“I’m pretty sure I care more than our team does.”

“We made it to 40 points. It was a heroic game.”

“Good thing we had the cheerleaders and mascot there to cheer for the 10 Milwaukee fans in attendance.”

“I have no idea when this team will win again. It really doesn’t appear that it will be anytime soon. How can there be such a lack of leadership, general determination and will to win. Who in the world wants to go see this team when this is displayed so frequently? The best we can get is one good half every few games? Their effort over much of this year has made it extremely difficult to want to follow them.”

“Personally, Boyle and Hill were major dissapointments. Don’t know what’s going on, but if this keeps up I see no point in playing them.”

“What a god awful game. What was up with the rotation? Jeter shows once again he is a terrible in-game coach incapable of make adjustments.”

“Damn happy I chose to go to the Bucks game.”

“The look on their faces during the game say it all.”

“With Jeter’s comments in the Journal, it seems hes well aware of this (his contract) too. His excuses don’t even make sense anymore. A trip to Italy and 10 games later, and you don’t have a solid rotation because, “You’ve played in too many difficult venues to figure it out”.”

“Why didn’t Hags and Big Mitch play? One would figure you could at least use Mitch to screen and run McCallum off him but I guess Jeter felt the weave at the top of the key and letting his players who can’t create their own shot try to create their own shot was the game plan.”

“Everything is falling into place. Let’s see how this year compares to the previous seasons:

1. Disappointing non-conference season. Check.
2. Unsettled rotation going into conference. Check.
3. Blow out by Wisconsin. Check.
4. Overzealous fans oversell team in the preseason. Check.
5. Talk already of “just wait until next year.” Check.
6. Few remaining UWM fans are arguing. Check.
7. Placing too much pressure on high school “saviors” who have never worn a Panther uniform yet. Check.
8. Debby Downer (me) already doubting. Check.
9. Fran tells everyone we have “lost our senses” (waiting…)
10. Mid year conference run fuels overblown expectations. Check.
11. “Only the conference season matters.” Check.

Looks like a typical season thus far.”

“firerobjeter.com is still open as a URL.”

“They are playing like the just don’t care.”

“I wish I would have bet on the Panthers to cover the 20 point spread tonight, the game would be exciting then!”

“I don’t know what Rob Jeter is doing with #UWMbut I’m not sure it’s anything good. It’s disappointing actually.”

There’s a boatload of comments like that on the message boards, facebook, twitter and the like.  I don’t necessarily agree with everything that I’ve put on this post, but the general feelings toward the team are the same.  I saw effort last night, but I still don’t see the drive to win.  Blowout losses are a part of the game, but when you are 4-6 and you have more double-digit losses than not, something is seriously wrong.

Last night’s loss doesn’t bother me as much as others; Bruce Pearl’s Sweet 16 team took one on the chin at the Kohl Center.  Western Michigan, Cleveland State, and FAU on the other hand, those are games I just can’t forgive when they happen with such frequency.

Something needs to change, and it needs to change fast, because this program is in a tailspin.

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