Saturday afternoon, the Milwaukee Panthers will trot out a lineup very similar to those of the recent past. Kaylon Williams, Paris Gulley, Ryan Allen, James Haarsma and Tony Meier will likely be the starting five.
We can only hope those won’t be the final five.
The Milwaukee Panthers take a break from their busy Horizon League schedule to take a shot at the Fairfield Stags of the MAAC. It is the MAAC, right (double check…yup)? They’ll try to improve to 17-12 overall and head to Chicago on a nice note.
The Stags are on a roll, and you’ll find out more about them later tonight, but they aren’t the issue right now.
The issue is Milwaukee’s injury report. Unlike the NFL, head coaches aren’t required to disclose injuries to the press. Coach Jeter doesn’t have to say Kaylon Williams is probable or Evan Richard is questionable.
If he did have to disclose the list, you’d find about eight players on there. Ryan Allen (ankle), Kaylon Williams (knee), Kyle Kelm (shoulder, foot), Evan Richard (back), Ryan Haggerty (elbow), Ja’Rob McCallum (wrist), Lonnie Boga (shoulder), James Haarsma (head). I included that last one because it’s painfully obvious that Haarsma is in a funk and he probably needs a few days off mentally to refocus and get himself ready to roll.
This is what we know. Of the top five teams, Milwaukee has beaten all but one of them – that would be Youngstown State, who escaped at the Beeghly Center when Kaylon Williams’ three to win it rimmed out. So you know the talent is there to make the run needed to win the Horizon League Tournament.
We know Williams and others need rest – badly – and that sitting through the weekend would cure a lot of ills. We know that the Fairfield game means nothing – it would have no effect on seeding, and only serves as another game for Jeter to try and get to 20 wins, a dubious milestone now that teams routinely play 31 games per season. We also know that UIC and Loyola are not going to be easy outs, and the Panthers have an outside shot at the three seed (technically we have a shot at the two seed, but I’m not holding my breath).
Certain players will need more rest than others, while some of them (Tony Meier) should play the same amount of minutes as they have been to keep them consistent.
As it is Senior Day, I think Kaylon and Ryan Allen should start the game. But that doesn’t mean they need to play a lot. Ten minutes should be enough to keep them loose for the following Thursday at UIC – there’s no need to push that knee tendinitis further than it has to be pushed.
There’s also the truth in that you can allow guys like Shaq Boga, Demetrius Harris, Evan Richard and Christian Wolf minutes for them to get better on the court against a legitimate opponent. I’ll go so far as to say that these four should play more minutes than most of the team, especially Boga, Harris and Richard.
So please, by all means come out with the usual starting five. Just make sure that they aren’t too ragged to go on a six-game winning streak starting next Thursday.