Have you ever been to a horse race?
Even though it only takes one lap to finish – this ain’t NASCAR – the winner is not the sprinter, but the one who goes the distance.
We’re in turn three, only five games away from the finish line (four for Valpo). And for the second time in as many years, Milwaukee does not control its fate.
Last night, Valparaiso emerged from the battle in Cleveland as the front runner. Despite tying the Vikings in the loss column (3), Valpo swept the season series with Cleveland State and thus owns the tie-breaker.
It was a decisive victory for the Crusaders, a road laugher against the team many of us thought of as the top dogs. Cleveland State’s aura of impenetrability was dashed quickly by Valpo, who dropped their high-scoring hammer on the Vikings.
If Panther fans were hoping for some clarity Thursday night, they were left disappointed. Now three teams are within two losses of the championship, and five teams are within three. Butler knocked out Youngstown State at the Beeghly Center, giving the victory for the night to the state of Indiana (no Hoosiers) and pushing a gridlock at both first and third place.
And then we have Milwaukee. Banished to ESPN3 by the Horizon League, ESPN and their own failure in social media marketing, the Panthers will play surging Detroit with third place up for grabs, yet again.
It’s intriguing, really – should the Panthers lose tonight, the Panthers would find themselves in a four-way tie with Butler, Detroit, and Youngstown State. Tiebreakers are a non-starter, as there’s very little chance that a four-way tie persists at the end of the season.
Milwaukee can put the slimmest of margins between themselves and the pack with a victory in Calihan Hall, their third in a row at the storied gym and in the process put any thoughts of them finishing out of the top six to rest.
The thing is, a victory at Calihan Hall shouldn’t direct your eyes at the rest of the pack. Instead, set your sights dead on Cleveland State.
Should Milwaukee go 5-0 the rest of the way, all the Panthers would need is for Cleveland State to lose one more conference game and they’d be guaranteed the #2 seed in the Horizon League Tournament. I’m a big proponent of the “go 1-0 every game” philosophy, but it’s intriguing to know that all you need is one stumble from the Vikings to get the double-bye.
The possibility that Cleveland State could lose one more time (besides at Milwaukee) is intriguing. They play a home game against Butler, a road game at Green Bay, and home games against Detroit and Wright State. There are no Chicago schools remaining on the schedule, no bunnies to feast. Their “worst” opponent remaining is Wright State, who is only four losses behind them in the right column.
So the championship is not out of the question, especially a co-championship or a second-place finish. Milwaukee just has to drop all the B.S. and take care of business – a victory every game from here on out.
Hello Panther Nation! I started PantherU.com in 2009 to build a site where Milwaukee Panther fans could come together to follow our team. We have been through our share of highs and lows, but we have been here together. In the time that we have been up and running, our entire staff has worked hard to bring you coverage of Panther athletics that you can find nowhere else. We have always strived to do our best for you, and provide you with a website that you can be proud to be a part of. It is something I’ve always strived for, to make sure that Milwaukee Panthers fans are among the best educated fans in all things college basketball. With that in mind, I am excited to tell you that we are making some major changes here at PantherU.
In the coming days we will be converting to a new format, a format we believe will not only help raise us to another level, but a format we believe will bring more attention to our basketball program, the attention it deserves. With such little attention paid to our program from other news media in and around the city of Milwaukee, the Panthers have a great need to get their message out. It’s a message of hard work, determination, success, and school pride that I know will catch on just as it has among those of us who are already hooked on the Black and Gold. To achieve this the right way – to make sure that PantherU is operating at its full capability, to bring you the absolute limit of Panther news and information on the beat, we needed to make this change.
This change will be for the better, and provide us with more tools to keep you informed on the latest happenings of Panther Athletics. You will still be getting everything you have come to expect from PantherU, and much more.
For those who have gotten to know me and PantherU over the years, you know that I will do everything I can to make sure we give you the most in Panther coverage. I look forward to the future of PantherU and the Milwaukee Panthers, as we continue to build one of the best basketball programs in the nation.
Thanks for your support, and GO PANTHERS!!
Trounce ‘em Pounce,
Loyola Athletics is putting up tickets to the Milwaukee Panthers game on February 25th on Groupon.
For $15, the fan gets two tickets and two hot dogs. They claim that it’s a $38.50 value.
As usual, I’m planning on making the trip, but PantherU will be down there earlier than usual to check out the new digs and pay homage to Loyola alumni and fellow fan Greybee62 of the RamblerMania board, who died last month.
You can find the deal here, but only until midnight tomorrow. The Groupon closes once February 9th begins.
This season, the Milwaukee Panthers have gone a long way. They led the Horizon League standings until just before the halfway mark of the season, and they still have a fighter’s chance at scoring a top two seed and the bye to the conference tournament semifinals that goes with it.
There’s no doubt that the team has had a rough go of it the past couple weeks, but a Milwaukee championship isn’t the only beautiful thing that is still within reach.
If you’re visiting the website for the first time today, you’ll notice that we have two new pictures flanking the sides. On the left, you’ll notice that Ryan Allen has six blocks remaining before he breaks the Milwaukee Panthers all-time single season blocks record, represented by the number in front of a “POW” block from Super Mario. On the right, Kaylon Williams’ chase for the all-time assists record is represented by the number in front of a dime, which as you know is a colloquial term for an assist.
On Saturday at Green Bay, Kaylon Williams’ eight assists moved him into third place all-time post-1990, past Cyrus Caldwell of the Ric Cobb era. He now has 334 all-time, and is just seven behind all-time great Clay Tucker and eleven behind record holder Marc Mitchell.
Gerald Hardnett, who played for Milwaukee from 1975-1979, had 448 assists over his career. However, it’s difficult to accept his accomplishments as true Division I because the schedule played by Milwaukee as a D-I independent in those years was very much the same kind of schedule they played as a D-III or NAIA team in the 1980′s. We’ll always accept Hardnett as the all-time record holder, but there’s a reason Milwaukee Athletics keeps post-1990 records and not all D-I records, as that would include much of the 1970′s. So, for all intents and purposes, we’ll recognize Marc Mitchell as the D-I assists record holder.
That means that Kaylon Williams will likely pass up Mitchell this weekend in two games against Detroit and Wright State. While they aren’t at home, the following game with Cleveland State on Valentine’s Day should bring Milwaukee Athletics to recognize this feat just before the game or at halftime.
We are a school with precious few traditions, and real records are something that we need to cling to. Alumni from the early 1990′s would be delighted to see Kaylon Williams and his parents greeted at half-court by Marc Mitchell and his family (don’t think I’d leave Austin out of something so powerful). Alumni from the late 1970′s would be blown away to see Gerald Hardnett and his family come out to celebrate this passing of the torch.
It’s a very, very powerful moment that needs to be recognized – Kaylon Williams has put every bit of himself into our program the past two seasons and he deserves to have this accomplishment, the ultimate team-over-individual record, recognized in front of our crowd. It also does a great thing by bringing back two Panther greats in Gerald Hardnett and Marc Mitchell to recognize everything they’ve done in front of a home crowd they never got a chance to play.
The same goes for Ryan Allen. Single-season records are of course not at the same level as career records – this much is true – but the blocks record deserves to have the same recognition. Currently, the record is 37, held by Dylan Page and Eugene Sims. I know that Dylan is overseas in France still playing professionally, but Eugene Sims may be available. Perhaps there is a way to get Dylan Page to send a video message – just a short 30-second video or so – congratulating Ryan Allen on breaking the record.
It is likely that the record will stand heading into Milwaukee’s game with Cleveland State – Allen has two games to rack up six blocks just to tie – but by the time Fairfield rolls into town for the Bracketbuster, Ryan Allen should have swatted his way to the record. Honestly, he should have 34 after the Green Bay stat-taker screwed him on Saturday, but it is what it is.
The point is, these are opportunities for the Milwaukee Athletics program to recognize a few of their greats while also putting together the celebration for wonderful things being done by these players in this season.
So join me, demand that Milwaukee Athletics recognize the accomplishments of Kaylon Williams and Ryan Allen in front of the crowd, and bring back the all-time greats in Gerald Hardnett, Marc Mitchell, Eugene Sims and Dylan Page.