The Interview: J.J. Panoske

J.J. Panoske’s senior season with the Brodhead Cardinals ended abruptly the same night Milwaukee beat Valparaiso in the Horizon League semi-finals.  After the Panthers’ NIT loss to Northwestern, PantherU got an opportunity to talk to J.J. again in the beginning of the off-season.

Panoske will join Milwaukee in 2011-12.

Jimmy Lemke: So, you made it to the conference tournament and the NIT game at Northwestern. How did you enjoy the atmosphere?

J.J. Panoske: Getting to come and watch at the championship game was alot of fun, I brought up a lot of my family and they were really suprised on the turn out. And having so many fans come up to me and welcome me to Milwaukee already made me feel at home. Also, the NIT game was a great atmosphere, a good experience to watch Milwaukee on the road.

JL: The Panthers on the court weren’t the only ones whose seasons were ended with a cruel loss. Your senior season at Brodhead ended with a crushing loss to Clinton. Are you sad to see your high school career end without ever getting to state?

JJP: I was devastated to say the least in the locker room after that game, and it hurt for quite awhile, but I’m ready now to start working hard in the off season to get into college shape.

JL: Clinton held you to just 14 points, which is 10 below your season average. What was it that they did to get you out of rhythm, and what did you learn from that?

JJP: Clinton has a very disciplined defense and it gave me a lot of trouble. But it game me more motivation, I think, to play them a lot tougher in the regional final game.

JL: Obviously you’ve had contact with the coaches in Milwaukee recently. With just a few months left of high school, did they have any advice on how to spend your time preparing for D-I college basketball?

JJP: The coaches told me to work mostly on ball handling and lifting. I get in the gym three mornings a week to work specifically on ballhandling and shooting. Also, my strength class in school is taking care of my weight-gaining situation. I can see improvements from the work I have been putting in.

JL: A lot of the guys come and spend most of their summer in Milwaukee. Part of the reason is because the atmosphere in the city is awesome in summer, but the real reason is that it gives them the edge on meshing as a team before the season. Do you plan on spending some or all of your summer in the city?

JJP: I will most likely be moving in towards the end of June to continue my off season training with the team. Most of my summer will be spent in Milwaukee just getting to know the team and becoming closer.

The Interview: Todd Brown

Sunday night, the Wright State Raiders seemed to be missing something as they lost to Indiana.  It wasn’t just N’Gai Evans, who was out with an injury (we hope he comes back soon to rail non-conference opponents); the WSU backcourt also was missing Todd Brown, the four-year do-everything star who was underappreciated by much of the conference and graduated last spring.

So what is Todd Brown up to these days?  Well, the former Raider is playing in Holland for DeFriesland Aris Leeuwarden, a pro team.  Brown has been very busy, leading the team in scoring as a rookie. caught up to Brown for a quick chat to see how life in Europe is going.

Brown's glory days at Wright State are in the rear view as he begins his professional career.

Jimmy Lemke: First off, how are you settling in Holland?

Todd Brown: Holland has been good to me.  I miss home a lot sometimes, but it’s my first year and everyone tells me its the hardest year.

JL: Is the language barrier difficult to handle?

TB: Actually, everyone can speak English. Not always that good, but they can.

JL: What would you say was the biggest difference in culture between Europe and America?

TB: The biggest difference to me is that everything is just laid back.  When you go to a store, everyone is not in a rush to get something and get out; everyone is just real chill and stores close at like 7 everyday.

JL: A lot of players take some time to get assimilated into the European pro game, but you’ve started the season very well, leading DeFriesland Aris Leeuwarden in scoring through ten games. Are you surprised that you’ve adapted so well?

TB: I just try to go out and play my game, but I think I kinda caught the league by surprise the first couple games but now teams deny me the ball a lot and put the best defender on me. But I’m still learning the game out here, I feel like a freshman all over again.

JL: Is the experience of playing in a European gym a lot different than the Nutter Center?

TB: Well it depends on who and where your playing at because we get some games that feel like college games, and then you get other games and nobody is in the gym and you have to get yourself going.

JL: The culture there is so different, you’ve got to be missing something from home. If there was one thing back here you could take with you to Holland, what would it be?

TB: If I could bring anything from home it would be my family but I doubt that could happen so I would bring my dog at least, he could keep my company.

JL: What’s the thing you miss most about Wright State?

TB: My teammates in college; you go through so much with your team we are always together so you grow into a family over time.

The Interview: Derek Peake

Peake is a fleet footed outfielder who fits well into Milwaukee's high-powered offense.

Once in awhile, there comes along a story that just makes the Panther fan smile.  You get the warm, fuzzy feeling that this school is finally becoming the place that we always knew it could be.  I got this smile when the state approved the Schools of Public Health and Freshwater Sciences.  It’s a step in the right direction.

This semester, another move in the right direction is coming on campus.  He would be Derek Peake, a June graduate of Catholic Memorial who had a scholarship all set to go at D-II St. Cloud State to be a defensive back for their football team.  Over the summer, however, Peake cooled off to football at St. Cloud State and warmed up to baseball.  So, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, whose Milwaukee Panthers are the pinnacle of collegiate baseball in the state of Wisconsin.  I got in touch with Derek and we talked about his decision.

Jimmy Lemke: You had a scholarship to St. Cloud State for football. Why did you decide to drop the scholarship to walk-on at Milwaukee?

Derek Peake: I decided to walk-on at Milwaukee because baseball has always been my passion, and playing here was my goal. It was hard to tell St. Cloud State football coaches that I was leaving their school, they have a very successful program.

JL: What was it about the university that said you want to play baseball for them?

DP: I wanted to play at Milwaukee because it gives the opportunity to play at the highest level possible. As a player, I want to play against the best competition there is and Milwaukee gives me the chance to do that.

JL: You moved from the infield to the outfield during high school. Is that where you think you’ll play in college? Why?

DP: I believe I will play outfield in college because it allows me to use the tools that I have best. I can use my speed and athletic ability to track down fly balls.

JL: What are your impressions of Scott Doffek and Cory Bigler?

Peake gave up a football scholarship to St. Cloud State to walk on to the Panthers baseball team.

DP: I have gone to Milwaukee baseball camps throughout high school and I have really bought into what they are teaching to players about fundamentals and how to play the game. They are very good coaches who give our team a chance to win the Horizon League year after year.

JL: You will be walking on as a freshman. Did they say you could earn a scholarship in the future?

DP: Yes, Coach Doffek said I can earn a scholarship with hard work and visible improvement to my game.

JL: What is it about baseball that you enjoy so much to give up on a football scholarship?

DP: I love the challenge of hitting, and the pride that comes with being successful. I also like diving for fly balls and getting dirty sliding into a base.

Derek Peake will begin classes as a freshman on Monday at UWM.  He joins a baseball team that is coming off a Horizon League championship and appearance in the NCAA tournament, where they fought hard before falling to No. 1 overall seed Arizona State in the opening round.

The Interview: J.J. Panoske


J.J. Panoske during his sophomore season.

Yesterday, the Milwaukee Panthers picked up their first commitment in the 2011 recruiting class, and it was a big one. 6’10”, 210 pound small forward J.J. Panoske chose Milwaukee over scholarship offers from Bradley, Evansville, Toledo, Green Bay and Colorado State.

Panoske joins a loaded front court in 2011 with Kyle Kelm, James Haarsma, Mitchell Carter (hopefully), Ryan Haggerty and Tony Meier.  The thought of trying to come up with a rotation is awesome; how about trotting out a starting lineup of 6’10” Panoske at small forward, 6’8” Ryan Haggerty at power forward, and 6’7” James Haarsma at center?  Or Panoske at power forward, 6’9” Kyle Kelm at small forward, and Haarsma at center?  Or…you know what, I could go on all day.

Plainly put, with Panoske in the fold, the Panthers quite possibly have two positions set through the 2013-14 season.  We might be playing in a new arena by then.

Panoske is the highest-ranked player ever by to commit to the Milwaukee Panthers, coming in at #3 of Mark Miller’s latest player rankings.

To play at this level, Panoske will need to pack on some muscle.  At 210, he’d be a great weight if he were 6’6” or 6’7”, but at 6’10” he’s a bit bigger than Jason McCoy was when he played for the Panthers.  Of course, Panoske will be playing the 3 and 4 positions for Rob Jeter, so strength and conditioning coach Steve Felde won’t need to make him 250 pounds.

Panoske may become the most prolific shot blocker at Milwaukee since Jason McCoy.

His strengths are numerous; he has a great three-point shot on offense that compliments decent low-post moves.  Panoske’s a dynamite defender, an excellent shot-blocker who can guard away from the basket as well as down low.  He cleans the glass, and his intangibles are there.

Shortly after his commitment to the Milwaukee Panthers, I got a hold of J.J. Panoske and we talked for a couple minutes about his recruitment:

Jimmy Lemke: So what made you finally pick Milwaukee?

J.J. Panoske: I picked Milwaukee because of the coaching staff, the city, and my father.  He raised me alone his whole life, and he can see me play at the Cell.

JL: Bradley and Evansville made offers recently. Did you take a look at them, or were they too late in the game?

JJP: I was really interested in Bradley.  They showed a lot of interest too, but I would much rather stay in Wisconsin.

JL: What was the pitch that the Milwaukee coaching staff gave you to pick us?

JJP: It wasn’t so much of a pitch, more that they made me feel comfortable with everybody, made me feel at home in Milwaukee.

JL: How do you like the campus and neighborhood?

JJP: The campus is in a nice spot, with the lake close by its a plus, also I really like the feel of the neighborhood.

JL: It was inevitable , but what happened to Green Bay? They had what was reported as a verbal commitment last summer, but you re-opened your recruitment in the fall (thanks, haha).

JJP: What happened to Green Bay was, I noticed that I made a premature decision very fast, and after I re-opened my recruitment they didn’t show as much interest.  So it kind of just went downhill from there.

JL: What do you hope to accomplish at Milwaukee?

JJP: At Milwaukee, I hope to accomplish getting my degree.  Also, I hope that winning is a big part of our future. Lastly, I plan to improve my individual skills so I can add to the team.

JL: Hundreds of fans read PantherU every day. If you’ve got a message for them, what is it?

JJP: (Laughs) My message to the fans would be to watch closely the next few years because the Panthers have a chance to be making some noise!

J.J. Panoske will be completing his final season at Brodhead this year, after which he’ll enroll at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  PantherU plans to do a road trip to one of Brodhead’s basketball games this year, details later.  Plans for a second Milwaukee Showcase at the Klotsche Center featuring Panoske and Brodhead are probable, as last year’s event was a success, with Milwaukee fans getting to see Kyle Kelm during his senior year.

The Interview: Shelby Moats

It’s often the case when Horizon League schools run up against each other on the recruiting trail; many of the teams play similar styles, the geography ties us together, and we tend to like the same players. For Milwaukee, it’s often Green Bay and Loyola that we find ourselves in deep battles with on the recruiting trail. Against Butler? Not often, but that changed in the case of Shelby Moats, who recently picked up a scholarship offer from Butler in addition to his two from Milwaukee and Green Bay.  I had a chance to talk to Shelby about the recruiting process.

Jimmy Lemke: I understand that your family travels extensively during the summers. How have those experiences been for you?

Moats has a myriad of scholarship offers to choose from.

Shelby Moats: They have been great experiences for me. I am able to see different schools with lots of different things to offer. When I actually see a school I am able to observe first hand the things I like and don’t like about the school. The trips will be very beneficial for me when it comes time to make a decision on where I’m going to college.

JL: You spent this summer playing with the Minnesota Pump N Run; are you learning anything from your AAU experience?

SM: Absolutely. I learn how to compete against the best players in the nation. Not only do I get to play against them but a lot of them are on my team, meaning I have to practice against the best too.

JL: After a recent event, you picked up a myriad of scholarship offers from schools across the country, including Butler. Does the point in time when schools offer you a scholarship factor into your decision? What I mean is, if a school knew they wanted you to play for them early on and offered a scholarship awhile ago, is that an advantage for schools that are just making their offers now?

SM: To be completely honest as long as a school offers it’s good enough for me. I haven’t made many decisions about narrowing down my options so an offer made today is a good as an offer made last month or an offer made tomorrow.

JL: A lot of fans across the country like to speculate as to why players pick certain schools to play for. I know you can’t speak for others, but what are you looking for in the school you end up choosing? What’s the most important thing for you when you’re picking your school?

SM: I would like a combination of good basketball and good accademics. I’m not going to go to a school that compromises either aspect. But honestly the most important thing in choosing a school is the relationship I have with the people at that school. If I’m going to have to be with a coach for four years maybe five I had better like him and his staff or we’re in trouble.

JL: The other day, power forward Cody Zeller narrowed his list of teams to three: Butler, Indiana, and North Carolina. Since you play somewhat similar positions and are both offered scholarships by Butler, will his choice factor into your decision?

SM: Butler has told several people including myself that they would love to have both of us there. But no, if Cody Zeller goes there good for him if he doesn’t best of luck. I don’t care what he does unless he ends up on the same team as me then I’ll start caring. His decision will not affect mine.

JL: You have a pretty big list of schools offering you scholarships. Do you think you’ll be narrowing your choices down like Zeller anytime soon?

SM: Yes. When and who? I’m not sure yet. But I know it will be soon and the list will not be that long.