Detroit (11-10, 5-4 HL) vs. Milwaukee (10-11, 5-5 HL)
U.S. Cellular Arena – Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 8 p.m.
It’s the question on everybody’s mind. Who shows up? It’s an honest question. By now, everyone knows the Milwaukee Panthers are a Jekyll and Hyde team. The Panthers are scoring in the eighties every time they win and in the forties and fifties every time they lose.
If the shots are falling, if we get off to a hot start, we can bury Detroit and Wright State this weekend. If we fall behind early, clank a few shots and get down on ourselves, we could be in for a long night.
The fact of the matter is this – the only team that can beat the Panthers is the Panthers.
As far as Detroit is concerned, it’s one of a few difficult home games remaining on the schedule. Panther fans will remember the thrilling, overtime victory at Calihan Hall on New Year’s Day that propelled the Panthers forward to a blowout victory over Butler.
Head coach Rob Jeter is hoping that the mirror is true, and an overtime victory at Butler will give way to a blowout of Detroit. Well, really, any kind of win, but a blowout would be very nice on another cold Friday night in Brew City.
The Titans are led by Ray McCallum Jr., the freshman guard who came in with such national fanfare that everyone outside the Horizon League assumed he was a shoo-in for conference player of the year. Fans in the conference knew better, of course, but the fact remains that while he’s not POTY material quite yet, Ray Jr. is more than ready for prime time. The frosh PG is 14.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 4.2 apg over the course of the season, leading the team in points and assists.
He has abilities that most guards in the Horizon League simply can’t match, from his strong ability to drive to his deft shooting touch, McCallum can play above the rim and dribble around nearly any defender. Put it this way: if he stays in Detroit through his senior year, he won’t be contending for conference POTY, he could be contending for National POTY.
Just as dominant down low is Eli Holman, the junior center who leads the Horizon League with 10.9 rebounds per game, nearly THREE boards more per contest than the next best player. He is helped down low by LeMarcus Lowe, a shot blocking transfer who ranks second behind Damian Eargle of YSU in the statistic.
Overall, the Titans are a good team at forcing turnovers; the squad averages about eight steals per game, and likely will pressure Kaylon Williams on the ball. Williams is prone to mistakes already, but coach Jeter is more than happy to take the bad if it comes with the good, and Kaylon Williams’ good is better than most.
All in all, expect a dynamite game tonight. If the Panthers are firing on all cylinders, it may be the most fun we’ve had at a game since the Butler game. If we come out swinging and missing, the Panthers could drop to 5-6 in the conference, all but shutting themselves out of the top spots.