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Horizon League Power Rankings (Week 2)

Following the second full week of the season, the Horizon League is 34-21 against Division I opponents.

Plenty of movement in the rankings this week as will continue to be the case in the early part of the season.

In descending order…

10. UIC (3-3, 190)

Recent Results: Lost to Central Michigan 62-52, Beat Toledo 63-62

I know they have a .500 record so far, but I simply can’t be impressed by the Flames’ two victories over Toledo so far.  Toledo is in the bottom 10 teams in the entire country.  This is a team the Flames are supposed to beat, and with the help of a game-winning Robo Kreps three, fortunately they did.  To be fair, this isn’t the same lowly UIC team from a year ago.

Up Next: Thursday at Valparaiso

9. Milwaukee (Record: 3-4, RPI: 246)

Recent Results: Lost to Western Michigan 67-55, Lost to Marquette 75-72

The Panthers drop to 9th despite performing admirably against cross-town rival Marquette on Saturday.  Losing two home games in a week is never a good thing, especially when one of them comes to the hands of Western Michigan in the form of a blowout.  Even though it still counts in the loss column, their game against Marquette revealed that Ja’Rob McCallum (19 points) is ready to step up.

Up Next: Thursday vs. Youngstown State

8. Wright State (2-3, 201)

Recent Results: Beat Oakland 82-79, Lost to Richmond 71-61, Lost to Southern Illinois 56-50

I’m not yet sure what to make of the Raiders.  Obviously, they’re going to get destroyed in the post all season.  They’re ranked 323rd in the nation in rebounds per game!  The problem with that is they’re only making 40.1% of their shots…  This will become a severe problem this week against Cincinnati and Detroit.  Don’t be surprised to see them fall farther down this list.

Up Next: Wednesday at Cincinnati

7. Green Bay (2-3, 175)

Recent Results: Lost to IUPUI 63-46, Beat North Dakota State 71-69

Yikes!  The Phoenix have had quite the up and down week.  After being destroyed by a pretty pathetic IUPUI team, the Phoenix come back with a nail biter at home against North Dakota State.  This team is going to take its lumps this year if Bryquis Perine can’t find a more consistent shooting stroke (38.2% from the field).

Up Next: Thursday vs. Cleveland State

5. Valparaiso (2-2, 61)

Ryan Broekhoff

Stud sophomore Ryan Broekhoff has been a key cog for Valpo early

 

Recent Results: Lost to Ohio 78-75, Beat Northern Colorado 76-61, Beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 68-62

Sophomore G Ryan Broekhoff has been a breakout star for the Crusaders early in the season.  In their loss against Ohio, the Australian sharpshooter tallied 24 points on 9-13 shooting and 7 rebounds.  One point of concern however, has been Brandon Wood‘s dismal shooting.  He had been making up for it with brilliant point guard work until Saturday when he laid an egg against Texas A&M-CC (4 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist).  Once he snaps out of it, the Crusaders will be a well oiled offensive machine.

Up Next: Thursday at UIC

5. Youngstown State (4-1, 149)

Recent Results: Beat Toledo 73-67, Beat St. Francis (PA) 91-63

Break up the Penguins!  Led by senior G Vytas Sulskis, the Penguins have a whole new attitude this year and have been the surprise of the Horizon League early.  Damian Eargle has been a shot-blocking force and is a strong presence down low, while Devonte Maymon has added the scoring punch necessary to see his team in the top 100 of Division I teams in scoring so far this season.  The schedule gets a tad more difficult in the coming weeks.  We’ll see if the Penguins are for real.

SPOILER ALERT: they’re not

Up Next: Thursday at Milwaukee

4. Detroit (3-3, 150)

Recent Results: Beat Albany 84-82, Beat Bowling Green 71-62, Beat Niagara 96-77

It took them a little while, but it looks like the Titans are starting to get it together.  Despite needing 2 overtimes to dispatch of the mediocre Great Danes of Albany, Detroit has been on fire offensively.  Eli Holman has looked like an all conference player, and as a team, the Titans have the 18th most rebounds per game in the country.

Up Next: Wednesday vs. Akron

3. Butler (2-2, 76)

Recent Results: Beat Siena 70-57, Lost to Evansville 71-68

Without Ronald Nored, who could miss up to another week with a concussion, the Bulldogs look a bit lost on offense. Shelvin Mack struggled to get open and was forcing shots (3-13 from the field) that just couldn’t find the bottom of the net.  At this point, Butler looks like it could lose by 30 to defending champion Duke, who they will face in a rematch this week.  This is not the cinderella story of yesteryear.

Up Next: Wednesday at Loyola

2. Loyola (7-0, 69)

Recent Results: Beat Alabama State 74-46, Beat San Francisco 63-62

The Ramblers have taken a similar path to last season in non-conference play.  The question again is, can they continue their dominant play to the conference portion of the schedule?  Last week I mentioned Jordan Hicks’ true shooting percentage.  This week I need to point out G Terrance Hill‘s.  The man has a 70.2% true shooting percentage, which highlights just how efficient he has been from the field.  Eventually, some of these numbers will come back to earth.  Rambler fans are hoping it doesn’t happen until AFTER their upcoming tussle with Butler.

Up Next: Wednesday vs. Butler

Norris Cole

Norris Cole has done it all early for CSU. Will he get help from his teammates in their quest for the Big Dance?

 

1. Cleveland State (8-0, 25)

Recent Results: Beat Akron 64-51, Beat St. Bonaventure 69-51, Beat Robert Morris 58-53

Here you have it.  The Horizon League’s top team after this week.  Norris Cole has officially put this team on his back.  In the last 7 days, Cole has averaged 21.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2 steals per game.  Two key road league games this week will be a true test for the Vikings, but they could legitimately win both if they can get consistent play from Aaron Pogue, and dominating guard play from their trio of sharpshooters Cole, Jeremy Montgomery and Tre Harmon.

Up Next: Thursday at Green Bay

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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.

Butler draws Utah

Butler will play Utah in the Diamond Head Classic’s first round in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 22nd. They will move on to play either Florida State or host Hawai’i in the second round of the tournament. The bracket can be found here.

Catch-and-Shoot

This is the first PantherU Catch-and-Shoot, which will come out every two days and is a gathering of links, on which we in the information age love to click, about the programs in the Horizon League.

– Potential Milwaukee recruit Shaq Boga continues to shine on the AAU circuit, dishing out enough dimes for 3rd place in assists at the prestigious Peach Jam Tournament.

– Lindsey Willhite from the Chicago Daily-Herald had more information and commentary on Jimmy Collins’ departure.

– Shannon Ryan from the Chicago Tribune says that Collins plans on “relaxing for awhile”.

– Wright State picked up its second commitment for the 2011 class, 6’5” shooting guard Kendall Griffin from Avon, Indiana.  Julius Mays, the N.C. State transfer, was the first.  Griffin cited close proximity to home and WSU’s Setzer Pavilion as reasons he picked the Raiders.  Aside from coach Donlon, of course.

– RaiderFanatic from the WSU Proboard found this video of Griffin canning a three. Don’t get your hopes up to really break down his shooting stroke, the footage is shorter than William Henry Harrison’s presidential term.

– As you can probably tell, Paul Jesperson did not commit to the Panthers last night.  The Merrill star will ply his trade at UVA.

– Paul Oren of the NWI Times was there as Valpo resumed practice. They’ll be headed to Cancun for their international trip. No word on whether or not coach Drew will appear in the new Girls Gone Wild video.

– Butler has added Mississippi Valley State to its non-conference home slate. MVSU, like the other non-conference home games, will be a Saturday afternoon game.  Like days at Wrigley, I think the Saturday afternoon game at Butler is becoming a staple of the Horizon League.  I’ve gone to several of those games myself, and there’s nothing quite like it.

– Speaking of Butler, they offered Georgian Malcolm Brogdon following the Peach Jam.  Dave Woods at the Indy Star thinks he “sounds like a Ronald Nored who is a scorer.” All right, Dave, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I don’t believe that C&S will be a daily thing, because frankly, other media tend to not come out with info daily on Horizon League schools.  For instance, the Green Bay Press-Gazette has nothing on the Phoenix since July 2nd, although that could be because Rob Demovsky is on vacation.

Welcome to the new PantherU!

It is my pleasure to announce the official re-launch of PantherU.com!  Founded in May 2009, PantherU is the unofficial fan website for the Milwaukee Panthers.  However, we plan to include much more in the future of the site to bring in fans from all Horizon League schools.  Take a look around, enjoy yourself.  Here are some of the features we will have:

– Recruiting.  Panther basketball recruits are featured in their own section, and we will follow their recruitment closely over the process to see where they’re at.

– Podcasts. This is a feature that will be coming later, but the fact of the matter is that Panther Athletics are very underrepresented in local sports talk radio.  Expect the first podcast to be up by the end of next week.

– Comprehensive coverage. Using student beat writers, PantherU will aim to bring you the news and commentary that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and UWMPanthers.com cannot or will not provide.  Our goal is to have new and fresh material multiple times a day, so every time you log on is a new experience!

– Information. Students, fans, alumni, and the UWM community at large are not as familiar with Panther Athletics, traditions, and other things around the program as we’d like them to be.  This website will allow students to get knowledgeable on all things Milwaukee Panthers.  Slowly, this section of the site will be expanded even more than its current state.

– Forums. Panther fans are welcome to join the UWMFreak forum that PantherU members frequent.  However, recently, we noticed the need for all team’s fans to have one forum to share their thoughts.  Often, I find myself posting the same things or talking about the same subjects on multiple forums.  Since PantherU will attempt to provide at least some coverage for other schools, we’ve decided to also launch a forum specifically for Horizon League sports fans to congregate and discuss college sports with each other.  While it is not 100% finished, fans are more than welcome to register and begin discussion at the HoriZone, brought to you by PantherU!

Thank you, and we hope you become a loyal follower!

The Interview: Jackson Aldridge

When I decided to re-think PantherU.com, I decided that if I was going to take it to the next level, I needed to get out there and grow the readership beyond the Panther faithful and into the whole Horizon League.  Covering all Horizon League schools, at least loosely, would allow me to widen my knowledge of the conference as a whole and bring fans from all teams to the site.  This is the first of many interviews I will be doing over the coming weeks and months for PantherU that will not be specifically about the Panthers.

Jackson Aldridge is a 6’1” point guard from Sydney, Australia, one of the coolest cities on earth.  Being a point guard from down under, he has naturally drawn comparisons to former Saint Mary’s star Patty Mills.  Recently, Aldridge committed to play collegiate ball at Butler.  I got in touch with him, and Aldridge will have the “privilege” to be the first subject of “The Interview.”

Jimmy Lemke: So, you picked Butler. Were there any other schools you were seriously considering?

Jackson Aldridge: Yes, I was considering Creighton, Wichita State, Marquette, Washington State and Central Florida.

JL: What was it about Butler that made you want to be a Bulldog?

JA: The players, coaches and students at Butler have developed a special culture there, that recently has seen great success, and i wanted to be apart of that.

JL: How closely did you follow BU’s Final Four run?

JA: I was in Germany as the NCAA tournament progressed, and my teammates kept talking about how Butler kept knocking off big time schools. So I was very interested in how they were going, and when I got back home I’ve watched every game from their amazing NCAA tournament run.

JL: What are your impressions of Coach Stevens and the coaching staff?

JA: Coach Stevens seems like a great coach. He is committed to not only winning, but developing players, which was very influential in my decision. He is also a great person and I look forward to working with him. Coach Shrewsberry has also impressed me, being very welcoming and helpful throughout the process.

JL: Did the current roster factor into your decision?

JA: Well obviously I looked at their current roster to see where I would hopefully fit in. It will be great in my freshman year to work with great senior guards like Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored, to develop me and learn the system for the years after.

JL: Most fans will be seeing you for the first time sight unseen. What player do American basketball fans know that you like to compare yourself to?

JA: I don’t really know who I can be compared with to be honest, I like to add different parts of different players’ games into mine. I like the way Manu Ginobilli attacks fearlessly, but I love the way Nash plays with such poise and skill. I like to try and add different parts of my game continually.

JL: What would you say are your strengths on the court?

JA: My advantages on the court would have to be my shooting ability, strength and speed.

JL: Did the coaches give you anything to work on before you come to Indianapolis?

JA: Well I am at the Australian Institute of Sport currently, so we are continually working on aspects of our game to be prepared for the next level (college and Olympic games). At the moment I’m currently working on finishes inside the key, e.g. floaters and runners. Also for a point guard, team management is very important, so that is a continual development for me.

JL: What most excites you about playing college basketball in America?

JA: Coming from Australia, we don’t get massive crowds and such attention, so that will definitely be an interesting part of the experience. But mostly, I’m looking to travelling halfway across the world to get a great experience in both basketball and life, academically and socially. I can’t wait!

Best Backcourt Ever?

I do not mean just the Panthers.

Dylanrocks and I have had this discussion several times since the end of the April signing period, which netted us Kaylon Williams and Detroit brought in Ray McCallum Jr.

The question is this: has the Horizon League, in its 30-year history, EVER had a collective backcourt as good as this one?

If you take a look at the backcourts around the league, I feel that pretty much every school can say they’ve had a better backcourt.  Wright State had Duggins/Wood, Milwaukee had Hill/McCants, Butler had Graves/Green, etc.  But all of those have come at different times.  As a collective 10 schools, has the Horizon League ever been as strong in the backcourt?

Kaylon Williams led the Missouri Valley in assists as a freshman. He moves to Milwaukee as the starting point guard in 2010-11.

Take a look at the teams’ projected starters:

Butler: Ronald Nored, Shelvin Mack

Milwaukee: Kaylon Williams, Tone Boyle

UIC: Zavion Neely, Robo Kreps

Green Bay: Rahmon Fletcher, Bryquis Perine

Detroit: Chase Simon, Ray McCallum Jr.

Valparaiso: Brandon Wood, Jay Harris

Wright State: Vaughan Duggins, N’Gai Evans

Cleveland State: Jeremy Montgomery, Norris Cole

Loyola: Terrance Hill, Geoff McCammon, Courtney Stanley

*Youngstown State: Devonte Maymon, Fred Ford

* – as if anyone, even Jerry Slocum, knows.

The fact of the matter is that we have a ton of talent in the conference.  What do you think?