That’s how you take over a building. Bring down your team and have them play lights out. Make it a de facto home game by bringing 100 of your closest friends to make it sound like the Cell (with people actually cheering, what a concept). Add a little salt in the wound by being paid $75,000 just to show up, and you have a real recipe for a great time.
Milwaukee took the DePaul Blue Demons to the woodshed in a game that was never close enough to lose. After tearing out to a 35-13 start, Milwaukee let the Blue Demons bring it within eight with only 13 minutes remaining. The Panthers then calmly kept DePaul at arms length for the rest of the game, winning 87-76.
By now, you’ve heard all the numbers, so I’m going to talk about the points in the game that I felt the Panthers really did well.
– Paris Gulley’s emergence was right on time. If there was a game we needed all five players on the floor to be shooting well, this was it. Gulley scored 19 points on seven for ten shooting with five three-pointers and not one miss behind the arc. Gulley’s struggles in the early season are common knowledge, but the reason for them is not. With Kaylon Williams suspended in the opening game, the Panthers needed to prepare someone to play point guard. Ja’Rob McCallum didn’t do well in the position last year, Shaq Boga is the future but not the present, so the job of point guard fell to Gulley, who almost never played the position before. Suddenly the job was thrust upon Gulley, and he spent the month of October learning how to play point guard. He has gotten pretty decent at it, but the point is he learned PG at the expense of his shooting practice. After Williams returned, Gulley went back to playing shooting guard, but until the past week he hadn’t really gained his shot back. Monday night was the emergence of the Paris Gulley our coaches recruited.
– The press gave Milwaukee fits, but they responded. Seventeen turnovers is not brilliant stuff, but it is when the other team usually forces 19. The Blue Demons’ press gave Milwaukee fits for much of its use, but the Panthers eventually broke it down and coach Purnell called it off in the last couple minutes.
It’s going to be extremely important for Milwaukee to beat the press, as the two games with Cleveland State will be pivotal in deciding the conference regular season champion.
– Free throws continue to be ho-hum. If the Panthers had made 25 of 30, this game would have been over at the ten-minute mark in the second half. But the Blue Demons were able to stick around by fouling and letting the Panthers miss at the line instead of make shots from the field. The majority of misses at the free throw line came from Kaylon Williams, who still misses that one part of his game that will make him unstoppable. Williams needs to stick those free throws, because once he starts hitting them at a 75% clip, teams will start loosening up on defense to avoid fouling him. If Williams could shoot free throws like Evan Richard, this team would be very, very hard to stop.
– Hot damn it’s good to have Tony Meier back. Like the caped crusader, Tony Meier dropped into the game last night and dominated from the field. In watching game tape of last year and this season, DePaul’s coaches likely missed Tony Meier’s shooting ability, and the Panther was 5-for-5 from three and 7-or-7 overall. It was a dominant performance that kept the Blue Demons at arm’s length. Meier’s shots came when Milwaukee needed them most, and the result was a convincing road victory in a guarantee game over a Big East team that is significantly improved from a year ago.
Milwaukee heads to Northern Iowa on Saturday to partake in some good old Panther-on-Panther action. Game time is 1 p.m. and if I can make it, I will.
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