Wounded Panthers Happily Return to "Sweet Home" Milwaukee

I have been tied to the ball and chain of "real work" lately, hence the absence of any new posts for either the Cleveland State or Bradley losses. I watched the CSU game (we lost, 72-62) on TWS Channel 32, and it was, once again, more of the same streaky, but altogether lackadaisical effort by a Panther team that had begun to turn some heads in the Horizon league.

I missed all but the last few minutes of the Bradley game (lost this one, 84-72) due to unexpected family obligations. I read the re-cap articles on both games, and I think the recent woes can be attributed to a lot of things (Paige Paulsen and Ricky Franklin playing a little under their potential, Marcus Skinner being the only big man we can rely on for a legitimate post presence, perpetual shooting woes, defense slipping up a bit), but to both of the victors' credit, CSU and Bradley are some pretty good teams this year.

I'll keep this post short and sweet- the next three games (vs. Valparaiso, vs. Loyola, and vs. UIC) will be a huge part in determining (not only Horizon tournament seedings but) the overall success of this year's campaign.

Should we lose all 3, then, while 13-16 isn't 9-22, we've made only a small improvement over last year's rebuilding effort. Even winning 2 of 3, puts us just over .500 at 15-14; a winning record yes, but it probably won't be good enough to get a home game in the tournament, significantly hurting our chances at making one last final run.

However, if this team can forget about the recent losses, get piping hot, and focus on these final big three at home (where UWM has fared pretty well this season), I believe 16-13 not only is something to hang your hat on considering the storm this team has had to weather, I really believe it might be enough to scare some HL "leaders of the pack", and give the Panthers the confidence needed to make them a serious challenger in the Horizon League Tourney. Let's keep the hope alive- it worked when we were down and out after the Wisconsin loss, right?

It's just what we need again- to trudge on, and get some big "W"s down the stretch. It all starts tomorrow night at 8:00pm. Catch it live, or you might miss the game that sparks the Panthers' final "rebound" of the season.