Catch and Shoot – Tuesday

– Kevin O’Connor’s coverage of the Italy trip begins today.  The SA will undoubtedly complain, claiming he should be spending more time on the media guide.

– Shelvin Mack will be working with Team USA, further fueling the fire that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are bball smitten with the Butler guard.  Maybe after the season he’ll take his talents to South Beach.

Could this be the future home of a doubleheader?

– The Indy Star is reporting about a possible “Big Four” doubleheader at Conseco Fieldhouse including Butler, Indiana, Notre Dame, and Purdue.  Luckily Matt Painter, Mike Brey and Brad Stevens are down-to-earth guys, because there won’t be much room after Tom Crean’s ego and forehead enter the building.  Joking aside, we know the nation is taking Butler seriously, but to know that now Indiana, Purdue, and Notre Dame are also only makes Butler stronger.  The chances of BU being a “flavor of the week” in Indy get noticeably smaller if this Big Four happens.

– Valpo has their opponents set in Cancun: Pioneros de Quintana Roo, Rebotera de Cancun, and bar time. PantherU is offering a big reward for a picture of Homer Drew with a fruity drink complete with umbrella.

– Todd Brown is going Dutch in his professional career.  He will play half the time, with his girlfriend playing the other half of his minutes.  Congrats to the most underrated Horizon League player of the last decade on getting himself a job playing ball. And his girlfriend.

– Meanwhile, Valpo is also going Dutch, with Kevin Van Wijk qualifying to play for three years at VU.  He joins a long list of foreign players to put on the Valpo jersey. I’d love to hear the recruiting pitch. “You can play at North Carolina, you can play at UConn, or you can play at Valpo, it’s all the same thing really.”

– ESPN.com decided it needed to talk about Horizon League basketball outside of Butler, so naturally it continued to hammer the Ray Jr.-Ray Sr. storyline.

– UWMPanthers.com ran a story with coach Jeter saying thanks to all the donors who came out for the golf outing on July 19th.  Hell of a party, I recommend it.

– Kyle Nagel doesn’t work for Wright State, he covers them, but he’s certainly hammering home the company line here when he belittles the impact of big men in the Horizon League.  Where I think Nagel fails is showing the difference between big men and post players.  Hayward wasn’t a post player mostly, but Nagel includes him.  He also doesn’t include the 6’8” Anthony Hill or several other players between 6’4” and 6’9” that are strong, big bodies down in the post in the conference.  Matt Howard is a skilled big man.  Is he 6’9″? No, but he sure as hell is effective. While it’s certainly not necessary to have great post players (Wright State for the last 4 years) to win, it certainly helps.

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Top Five Dominating Post Players in the Horizon League

Post players, especially the good ones, are a lot fewer in number than the guards in the Horizon League.  Because of that, fans tend to remember post players a lot more; they’re larger than life, and fans get behind their big behemoths.

I decided to take a bit of time and try and rank my best post players in the Horizon League.  I did leave out a couple guys that deserve to be on the list (Aaron Pogue, for one) but I think I at least have a decent top five:

Anthony Hill can take over games.

5. Anthony Hill – You know I wasn’t going to get this list going without giving a heads up to the Panthers, and Anthony Hill is by far the best in the post we’ve got.  He’s got the biggest problem with sharing the ball among the post players here; not because he doesn’t share it, but because unless Kaylon Williams is on the floor, all five players are scorers; Hill won’t be the guy to score twenty a night, although he can.  Matt Howard cannot take Hill, flat out.  Hill scored 18 and 21 points in the two regular season match-ups, and 15 points in only 20 minutes of the conference semifinals.  Hill seems to save his biggest games for the biggest opponents.  He does have a tendency to shoot the three if given the wide-open opportunity, even though his ability is marginal outside the arc.  He belongs down in the block, where he has more post moves than anybody and can use them.  On a worse team, he’d be putting up 18 a night, but with the balance he hovers around ten.

He's injury-prone, but when healthy there are few that can stand up to Andy Polka.

4. Andy Polka – The Loyola post from Oshkosh is definitely the best rebounder in the conference.  He has a nose for the ball and the strength to push even the biggest opponents around under the glass.  The problem with Polka, of course, is that he should have graduated by now, but redshirted last year because of injuries.  He might have been higher had he been healthy, but Polka has been injury-prone for much of his career.  The lack of talent around him will be a problem for him this season; none of the other players on the list will be asked by their coaches to carry the load as much as Polka will be asked by Whitesell.

3. Cory Johnson – If this were a discussion of the best forwards inside and out, Cory Johnson may be #1 on the list.  However, this is all about who can dominate the low block, and Johnson’s jack of all trades status means he’s the jack in the post, not the ace.  That’s probably unfair, because Johnson is a pure scorer more than any of the players on this list, and he can go off for 25 on any given night.

2. Matt Howard – Believe me, I labored long and hard trying to decide who was number one, and while Matt Howard doesn’t have a lot of downside, I’m still dropping him in the two spot.  You’re more than welcome to disagree in the comments section.  Howard is the smartest basketball player in the conference; disagree if you want, but he knows where the ball is at all times, has great reaction on defense, and knows how to work the officials better than anybody else.  He can draw a foul from anyone, and it’s a good game; he shoots almost 80% from the line.  On the downside, he can be dominated, as we’ve seen with Anthony Hill.  But he’s consistently good, and that’s why he’s been all-conference three years in a row.

He's just a monster, the best post player for 2010-11.

1. Eli Holman – He’s terribly inconsistent, with games of four points against Wright State and 21 against Valpo. When I explain Holman’s game to people who haven’t seen him, I use one word: anarchy.  It’s powerful, it’s incredibly talented, and there’s no rhyme or reason to it.  If you gave him Matt Howard’s basketball IQ and Anthony Hill’s offensive post moves, he’d be the best player in the nation, I’m convinced of it.  He, above all the others, has NBA size (6’10”, 255) and the game to match.  He’s pure athleticism, the best post player that Detroit has had since who…Dave Debusschere? We’re going to be modest and say Ryvon Covile.  Holman’s 2.5 blocks per game last season are enough to prove that he’s one of the best defensive post players the conference has seen in awhile, and his nine rebounds are proof that he owns the area around the basket.  If coach Ray McCallum Sr. can get him going consistently, the Titans will be the best team to challenge Butler since Wright State got it done with VD and Wood in 2007.

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!