Rivalry renewed at Hinkle #BeatButler #HLMBB

There is a real opportunity sitting in front of the Milwaukee Panthers.  Hinkle Fieldhouse, the site where Milwaukee kicked off its 12-game conference regular season winning streak, will be rocking on Saturday as the Butler Bulldogs try to get a leg up in the early Horizon League race.  They see what we see; at 3-1 and 2-1, the Panthers and Bulldogs are not separated by much and Butler will do no worse than tie the first tiebreaker (head to head) with the Panthers.  At 4-0 and 1-2, Milwaukee puts the Bulldogs in a big hole to climb out of and keeps the pressure on Cleveland State to keep pace.  The Vikings play Youngstown State at 1 p.m. today.

'AAAAAAAAAAAAh'm frustrating to watch!'

The chance to go 4-0 with two of the hardest games of the Horizon League schedule behind them is a big deal for the Panthers.  But the Bulldogs, as always, will try and thwart Milwaukee’s plans.

Sometimes it just takes a simple event for a team to really get it.  Maybe it’s a discussion among team members about what they want their season to be.  Perhaps a coach makes an impassioned speech and the players respond.  It could be playing time; when someone isn’t clicking with the rest of the team, they might need to take a step back to really help themselves grow as well as the team.

For Butler, the game has really changed since Chrishawn Hopkins has seen his playing time dwindling.  It isn’t a knock on Hopkins; it’s just a fact that the Bulldogs are better on both sides of the floor when he is out of the game.  Following the Valparaiso loss, Hopkins’ playing time has dwindled considerably, and the Bulldogs have gotten better.  In his first eight games, Hopkins played over ten minutes in all but one game.  Since, he has played less than ten in four of six games.  In games where Hopkins plays less than five minutes, the Bulldogs are 3-0 against Stanford, Purdue and Green Bay.  If he plays more than five, the Dawgs are 4-7.

The Bulldogs are significantly better with this guy on the bench.

Beyond Hopkins, the Bulldogs are still up and down when shooting the ball.  Their shooting percentage hit a recent high of 46.4% against Stanford (they eclipsed that plateau in the opener against Evansville and against Oakland City), but they haven’t been shooting like the normal Butler team shoots.  Missing players like Zach Hahn, Shelvin Mack, and Matt Howard has done two things. First, taking away those good shooters automatically lowers your percentages.  Second, the void of those players, specifically Mack and Howard, means that defenses haven’t had to commit more than the normal attention to any one player, so while Chase Stigall had much more free reign to take open shots last season, he’s not getting those open shots because defenses aren’t sagging off him in an attempt to stop pros that have now cycled out of the program.

The Bulldogs rely heavily on Andrew Smith to be a playmaker, and they’ve gotten a mixed bag. Some games he’s flourished, like he’s done against Evansville, Chattanooga, and Oakland City.  Other times, he is a complete non-factor, as you can see in games like Valpo, Ball State and Gonzaga.  But usually, you’re going to get the same kind of stats he put up last year, because in a lot of ways he’s just a guy.  Thrust into the spotlight, he’s getting the same production he got when he was the fourth option offensively.

Someday he'll be a star, but Marshall hasn't the skill or defensive ability to lead quite yet.

A big disappointment, at least from my end because I loved watching him in the tournament last year, has been Khyle Marshall.  His production has been steady (9.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and he’s more efficient (55.2% FG, 33% 3PT, 55.7% eFG), but he hasn’t really taken the reigns like I expected out of him.  Marshall is a wonderful athlete with a great upside, but like any player with upside that means he still has a ways to go.  The sophomore still lacks the skills that will put him over the top in the future and make him an All-League candidate.  The other thing about Marshall is that he’s struggled to defend this season, which has put the Bulldogs in a tight spot.

Look for Milwaukee to take advantage of Butler’s weaker interior by taking it right at Smith.  If they can take the seven-footer out of the game, then they can really attack the inside and win the game that way.  Playing an inside-out game threatens their stiff defense and stretches them out; this is why it pays to have even your big forwards shooting the three-ball, but I suspect James Haarsma will get most of his points in the paint.

I don’t know who is going to be the X-Factor to help the Black and Gold win.  It could be anybody – Meier, Williams, Allen, Haarsma, Kelm, Richard, or Gulley – all have done it for the Panthers when others struggle.  That’s what makes this team so good. By having a bunch of players who can play very well on any given night, the Panthers are a very difficult team for which to prepare; it’s like seven different kinds of smoke.

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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

Schedule breakdown

Kaylon Williams

Kaylon Williams will man the point for the Panthers in 2010-11, leading to a much quicker team and a better inside-out game.

Finally getting a chance to look at the basketball team’s schedule this past weekend, I came across a few things that I would like to point out to my fellow alumni, fans and others in the UWM community.  The schedule has both difficult games as well as simple ones, while maintaining a balance that I find satisfactory.

Just looking at the schedule, one can tell that the coaching staff heard the bellyaching from a lot of fans over the scheduling of two D-II teams in the regular season.  I don’t think it’s entirely unfair for the fans to feel that way, but like most Panther fans who long for the days of Bruce Pearl, they have selective memories.  People forget that Pearl’s Panthers played Parkside, Concordia-St. Paul, and Concordia-Wisconsin in the regular season.  No matter now, because you won’t find a single non-D-I game on our schedule.  Here is every game, with a sentence or two about each one.

Nov. 1st vs. MSOE and Nov. 6th vs. Carroll – It’s a good PR move to play local D-II and D-III teams in the exhibition games, and both are local if you consider Carroll as such.  I wouldn’t be against playing an exhibition game at MSOE’s Kern Center in the future; you do their athletic department well by giving them the gate at a home game, and you show our fans that a D-III school has a better facility than we do.  Open your checkbooks.

Nov. 12-14 Portland Tournament vs. Portland, Florida Atlantic and UC Davis – You’ll remember UC Davis as the team we went down to by 24 and then defeated at Iowa State a couple years ago.  The horror stories of Coach Jeter in the locker room at halftime are scary, but postgame it was all smiles.  UC Davis and FAU should be wins, but FAU may put up a fight.  Portland is an excellent game off the bat; should Milwaukee win in their house on opening night, that should tip us off to something special.  I am expecting us to go 2-1 with the loss coming against Portland.

MKE: 2-1

Nov. 17 at Niagara – Our former fearless leader, as I like to call him, signed off on this game.  The return BracketBuster could have been played next year, and I daresay our coaches hoped to gain this space for a possible high-major opponent, but here we are.  Without Tyrone Lewis, who they lost to graduation, Niagara loses a step on that infamous quickness.  Win.

MKE: 3-1

Nov. 20 vs. UNI – The home schedule gets kicked off with an excellent Saturday home game against the Sweet 16 Panthers.  Jordan Egleseder and Adam Koch, who killed us in Milwaukee in 2006-07, are graduated, as is Ali Faroukmanesh.  Don’t sleep on UNI, as they’re coached well by Ben Jacobson and have a decent road record.  However, they’re losing a lot and I don’t think we’ll lose at home.

MKE: 4-1

Nov. 23 vs. Western Michigan – This is the game where we play at the Klotsche Center.  The athletic department’s long term goal is to build a new arena on-campus, so expect a hell of a marketing campaign and a packed house.  Expect the students to show up in droves, and expect a big win.  WMU loses their three best players, and Flenard Whitfield is probably their best guy coming back, but they were a good team last year and we’ll see how far they drop off.

MKE: 5-1

Nov. 27 vs. Marquette – When we first signed the deal to play Marquette in a 4-for-1 series, the Milwaukee fan base circled this game as the best chance to win.  The fact of the matter is that Marquette has beaten us nine times when both teams are in D-I, and 38 or so dating back to some arbitrary date when MU just decided their team existed.  But none of those victories has ever come at our place, and there’s something to really see there.  Whether it’s Marquette-Milwaukee, Marquette College-Wisconsin State College, or Marquette Dentists-Milwaukee Normal, the game has never been played on the Panthers/Cardinals/Green Gulls home court.  As for the game itself, you’d think that it would feature high-major bigs against smaller, quicker mid-major guards, but that’s the exact opposite: Marquette is not going to win this game by outrebounding Milwaukee.  It is going to win the game by pressure defense with fast guards, specifically Darius Johnson-Odom and Vander Blue.

MKE: 5-2

Dec. 2 and 4 vs. Youngstown State and Cleveland State – YSU had a lot of individual talent last year, with DeAndre Mays, Kelvin Bright, and others.  They were still awful, going 2-16 in the Horizon League.  I highly doubt the Penguins will have a better mark this year with Vytas Sulskis and a bunch of nobodies.  Were it not for a shooting drought and poor ball handling at the end of last year’s game at the Wolstein Center, Milwaukee would have beaten Cleveland State three times.  CSU doesn’t lose anybody, but I’m not as sold as everyone else to anoint them.  With Kaylon Williams and his nearly 2-to-1 assists to turnover ratio manning the point, I expect to win this one.

MKE: 7-2, 2-0 Horizon

Dec. 8 at Wisconsin – This is gonna be a battle of aircraft carriers.  Anthony Hill, Jon Leuer, Kyle Kelm, Evan Anderson, J.P Gavinski, Mitch Carter, Ryan Haggerty…I’m done listing off big men.  Jordan Taylor may be the best guard on the court, but his matchup against Williams will be exciting.  I believe experience, even though the Panthers have it, will give the Badgers the nod.

MKE: 7-3, 2-0 Horizon

Dec. 11 at South Dakota State – This game will likely be a blowout, even though it’s on the SDSU home floor.  This is the final game of a series last played a few years ago.  Expect domination.

MKE: 8-3, 2-0 Horizon

Dec. 14 at DePaul – DePaul has a new coach in Oliver Purnell, but they were pretty bad last year.  Early season wins against UNI and Detroit were good, but not a lot of smiles to go around, leading to Jerry Wainwright’s dismissal.  Besides Detroit, both teams blew out UIC and Texas State last year, and while we lost to MU, DePaul beat the Golden Eagles, for the most entertaining loss Marquette has had in awhile.  Loved it.  I think we’re better this year, and will be better when we hit the Allstate Arena on this night.

MKE: 9-3, 2-0 Horizon

Dec 18 vs. Bowling Green – The Falcons were angry when we escaped Ohio with an overtime victory last year, and they should have been; a basket was tallied to Lonnie Boga that not everyone had.  It was clear as a basket after the game, but it was a tense moment for the BGSU fans.  I don’t expect overtime here.  Note: let’s sign another home-and-home so we can see their new arena.

MKE: 10-3, 2-0 Horizon

Dec 30 at Wright State – Luckily for Milwaukee, the Raiders will be missing their student section on this night.  Unfortunately, great shooting by the Raiders offsets their porous post game, and they tend to beat us in Dayton.  Good news for the Panthers, a true point guard in Williams will help a much better inside game and give the other four on the floor space to get open and take better shots.  I’m chalking this up as a victory, but let it be known that it was one of three or four that I waffled on.  Ant Hill could go off for 25 and 15.

MKE: 11-3, 3-0 Horizon

Jan 1 at Detroit – This most likely will be a night game, though it’s TBA for now.  Our victory at Calihan last season was one of the best of the year, but the additions of Ray McCallum Jr. and Jason Calliste make them a more formidable team.  Also, with another year under his belt, Eli Holman might be more consistent in the post.  We’ll call this a loss for now, pending the news on what their roster looks like in the new year.

MKE: 11-4, 3-1

Jan 3 vs. Butler – The reigning national runners-up never seem to really beat on us in Milwaukee.  When they were 14th in the nation and we were headed to a 9-22 season, the Bulldogs escaped the Cell with a five-point victory.  I’m expecting a hard fought battle, and like at Wright State, I waffled.  I’m going to call this a win based on our superior inside game (sorry Dawgs, but Ant Hill owns Matt Howard) and likely large crowd.  I hope this game is moved to not go against the football championship game, but I think we’ll have a good crowd regardless.

MKE: 12-4, 4-1

Jan 8 at Green Bay – I’m not going to mince words, I think Green Bay is headed to their worst season in awhile.  It’s no secret that their post game is awful, and without Randy Berry it’ll be worse (although 5 fouls, 0 points didn’t help at the Cell last season).  People blew the Fletcher-Jeter situation way out of proportion, all parties agreed after the game.  Still, this is a heated rivalry and I expect Green Bay to play up to the competition.  Jarvis Williams was a monster in the Pro-Am, but I’m concerned he will face much stiffer defense in the season and not be as effective.  Also, their lack of decent post players might force Brian Wardle to play him at the 4, which would be a mistake as he’s a 3, and a 3-guard at that.

MKE: 13-4, 5-1

Jan something vs. UIC – We don’t even know who UIC’s coach is going to be, but hopefully we will by next week.  The Flames gain Paul Carter, who was a big time player in Minnesota.  I wonder how his sister’s poor health will affect his game, however.  I hope that she recovers 100% by the time the season rolls around and this is a moot point, but I know as well as anyone how the poor health of a family member can have a negative effect on play.  Panthers win, and Paul Carter’s sister has a full recovery.

MKE: 14-4, 6-1

Jan 15 vs. Loyola – Jim Whitesell’s crew will not be battle-tested by the time this game rolls around, having played a soft non-conference schedule.  The Ramblers also have to worry about Andy Polka, who appears healthy but has had major health problems the last few seasons.  In any case, I expect Loyola’s upset (yes it was an upset) last season to be an aberration (although it seemed abhorrent to me).

MKE: 15-4, 7-1

Jan 20 at Valparaiso – Last season, Milwaukee shot poorly but behind Ja’Rob McCallum had the game in the bag.  Then, James Eayrs coughed up the inbounds pass and the ensuing Crusader layup gave away the game.  This season, don’t expect the close finish, but expect the same result.  The ARC is a very difficult place to win in this conference, and adding Jay Harris gives Valpo even more scoring punch than they had last year.

MKE: 15-5, 7-2

Jan 22 at Butler – Like Butler in Milwaukee, we just have a tough time down there.  Butler was a better team last year, and won by 13 in January before beating us by 9 in the semifinals.  However, with an actual home crowd unlike last season’s regular season victory at Hinkle, Butler will have a perfect storm that I don’t think we’ll be able to top.

MKE: 15-6, 7-3

Jan 28 vs. Detroit – This may be one of the most difficult home games of the year.  Eli Holman vs. Anthony Hill is a battle I will pay to see over and over, and if they bring in the full roster they could very well win.  However, the end of January is where Milwaukee typically gets hot, and that’s what I’m expecting here: victory.

MKE: 16-6, 8-3

Jan 30 vs. Wright State – Good opponent, but Wright State has some kind of weight on their mind grapes whenever they come to Milwaukee.  Expect the 13th straight victory at home over Wright State, but it won’t be easy.

MKE: 17-6, 9-3

Feb 5 vs. Green Bay – Rivalry games, especially MKE-GB, tend to be heated.  Teams play up to the competition.  But Green Bay, save for a couple years, just doesn’t win in Milwaukee against us.  And as with the case last year, I think we’re going to crush ’em.

MKE: 18-6, 10-3

Feb 10 at Loyola – Every season, there seems to be a team that comes up and snatches victory from the claws of defeat.  Last year, it was CSU and Valpo against us.  This year, I’m calling it Loyola at the Gentile Center, because of one thing: randomness.  And they do well against us.

MKE: 18-7, 10-4

Feb 12 at UIC – The Flames have a lot of decent talent at the top, from Robo Kreps and Zavion Neely to Paul Carter.  After those three, it gets sketchy.  I feel bad for K.C. Robbins, having to play Ant Hill.

MKE: 19-7, 11-4

Feb 16 vs. Valpo – Spurred by revenge for the loss at Valpo, the Panthers go on a run and stomp Homer Drew right out the door.  Just kidding.  Cory Johnson will be a match-up problem for the Panthers, and Valpo will score, but they have no defense, and our offense got a whole lot quicker this offseason.

MKE: 20-7, 12-4

Feb 24 and 26, at CSU and YSU – We’re looking at a difficult game in Cleveland.  They don’t have much of a home court advantage, but they don’t need it.  Waters’ team is very good and I expect them to play well by the end of the year.  It’s a deeper team too, so they won’t be as tired.  We’ll call this one a loss.  The YSU game is an easy win; they are, as my cousins in Boston would say, “bad.”

MKE: 21-8, 13-5

You’ll notice that I left out the Bracket Buster game.  No reason to predict anything that isn’t there.  But 22-8 or 21-9 is easily seen.  I wavered on a few games, most notably these:

at Wright State

vs. Butler

vs. Marquette

We very well could lose those first two, and we might beat Marquette.  My 2-1 record for those game, if 0-3, would make Milwaukee 20-10 or 19-11, and if we went 3-0 we’d be 23-7 or 22-8.  Do any of those numbers seem so far out of reach?

I get that we lost Ricky Franklin and James Eayrs.  However, both players had their drawbacks.  With Franklin running the point, he often was reluctant to give up the ball because he might not get it back.  It’s a drawback to having a scoring point guard; they’re willing to facilitate the offense, but they’ll take theirs when they need to.  This season, Kaylon Williams won’t care if he goes scoreless, as long as the team wins and he racks up 8 assists.  Believe it or not, I fully expect Kaylon Williams to lead the Horizon League in assists as a junior much like he led the Missouri Valley in assists as a freshman.  He just doesn’t care about scoring as much as he cares about pushing the floor and creating scoring opportunities.

Eayrs, on the other hand, wasn’t very mobile.  He’s a great shot and a decent inside player, but the team couldn’t run with a lot of people because he’d get left behind.  His durability was an issue, and in both seasons his knees kept him out of practice and on the bench during stretches of games near the end of the year.  This season, every player on the team can run the floor, and that’s a good thing.

At the end of the season, I really think it’s NCAA or bust.  The only way I can be convinced of otherwise is if we win a couple games or more in the NIT, but really we need to get back into the NCAA tournament.  McCallum as the backup point guard may be a question mark; he really needs to defend better because I worry getting him against Norris Cole or Rahmon Fletcher would expose a weak point in our defense.  Otherwise, I’m fine with it.  I believe that Ja’Rob McCallum will, however, assert himself as an excellent shooting guard.  Having him come in for Tone Boyle creates a great Williams-McCallum 1-2 punch at guard that I think I’ll enjoy.

And from watching practices as well as hearing about this first game in Italy, I think another fan wish is coming true: a much, much faster program.  Expect the fast break this season, people.  With a deep bench, we might even get to see…gasp…the UWM Press.

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!

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?