The Nutter Center in Wright State ain't an easy place to win games in the Horizon (leastaways not this year). As you probably already know by now (I was a bit distraught over these past two stinging losses and so haven't been up to posting anything), Milwaukee lost to Wright State last Saturday night in a game that, until the end was well in hand for the Raiders- but they almost slipped up and narrowly avoided the Panthers' bid to take the game into overtime.

With only a possession remaining, Ricky Franklin attempted an acrobatic move toward the basket, only to have the ball bounce around awaiting retrieval. Fortunately, Marcus Skinner was in perfect position to catch it mid-bounce, and tap in a rim-around put back to tie the score 51-51 with just over 10 seconds to go. Unfortunately for UWM, Wright State's Vaughn Duggins marched on to the other hoop quickly and hit a low percentage (actually minuscule percentage!) leaner to seal the victory.

There are no stats worth remembering other than Marcus Skinner's 16pts and 8rbs. All of our other go-to heroes (Paige Paulsen) and "rising stars" (Ricky Franklin and Deonte Roberts) had pretty uninspired performances that night. It's nice when we can get people off the bench like Deion James, Charlie Swigget, Kaylan Anderson (hey Kaylan- play like you did vs. Detroit every night out!), Anthony Hill (why in the heck has he played so little in the past 5-6 games??), to step up, but obviously (read previous posts or talk to someone familiar with this roller coaster ride of a season UWM has been on).

It must be mentioned that while the Panthers did not play as tough as they needed to win the contest, just after Duggins' game-winner, there was still .04 seconds on the clock before the inbound! This may have actually mattered, could a last-ditch play been drawn up ad-hoc (remember the clock doesn't start until the in-bounded ball is touched), but any chance at one last decent look (even a 30 footer wouldn't have been out of the question- remember people, we've got PAIGE!!), was squashed by the pitiful inexperience and/or utter ineptitude of Horizon League officiating.

Clearly, there were several WSU players and an assistant coach (or coaches) already on the court celebrating a-la "The Standford Band Game", impeding our players, and essentially calling the game over before the rule book says it should be. I'm not bitter, I just hope some higher-ups in the Horizon take notice of this horrible lapse in judgment and start making corrections- our league won't get much better if other conferences continue to hear about the laughable officiating coming out of Horizon land. This is D-1 college basketball folks; we deserve better.

So on to Butler. Bring out your vocal chords, because the 6th man will be crucial to snatching a victory away from the mighty Bulldogs. Tuesday, February 12th (nationally televised on ESPNU) at the US Cellular Arena, may be the night we finally figure out if this determined yet undermanned team is for real. I'd like to start another winning streak; and see it end only when there are no more games to be played (or somewhere in a round of the NCAA Tournament!). Let's show our support- the Horizon League tournament ain't that far away, and we need the best seed possible!

UPDATE: UWM and Bradley University have been selected to participate in this year's ESPN Bracketbusters event. The game will be televised (and is already on the current '07-'08 schedule). Details will follow. Oh and, if anyone remembers- there's a kid on Bradley by the name of "Ryan Thornton"- recent transfer, and former Milwaukee Panther- although he'll be on the bench (all season) due to NCAA transfer rules, let's make him wish he would have stayed here in Brew City.