Game 1: Panthers Drop LMU 75-51

So I'm here in Ames, Iowa... I will say, so far so, good. Everyone I've encountered has been cool and while there aren't a million things to do (he it's Iowa!), I'm having a blast (it helps that my friend knows all the best bars and places to eat around Ames). Back to buckets though! It would be easy to call this a blowout, but until late in the second half, it was actually within 8-12 points and UWM seemed to have a bit of trouble putting Loyola Marymount away for good. Simple and plain- UWM was clearly the better team in this contest from start to finish.

Sadly, I didn't get to the Hilton Coliseum until 5:30pm because I underestimated the drive to Ames from Iowa City (where I stayed last night with my cousin Ted who is a Hawkeye) by about an hour (well I guess "Des Moines Rush Hour" was what I didn't anticipate- I am SICK of driving!!! lol). So I can't report about anything that happened in the first half. There ewere about a 15-20 other Panther fans in attendance and, up until the end of the game (when ISU fans becgan to pour in). you could here a pin drop- there were no Loyola fans that I could see. But the atmosphere didn't matter much to Milwaukee.

Throughout the second half, UWM kept building up a lead , only to have a series of turnovers or fouls muck it all up and cut the lead back down to single digits (some of the foul calls were very questionable though- the team definately can't play defense like they did- but I thin the refs were trying to keep LMU in the game when it became evident the Panthers were going to win by double digits.

Deonte Roberts displayed his best offensive weapon in the form of a sweet slash through three defenders with a finishing drop into the basket complete with a trip to the line for a three point play (not as often as we'd like, but he'll find his stride just as he did last season). Ricky Franklin played solid on both sides of the ball, but he (along with Deonte being one of the veteran leaders of this team) was noticeably subdued in his production tonight. Not to worry- I'm sure we will see a lot from Tey and Slick Rick in the next two days..

It was a treat to see Tone Boyle, Deion James, and James Eayres score almost at will (there was a stretch when I swear (I'll have to see the box score) Deion hit 4 threes in a row- he was unstoppable and provided the nail in the coffin with about 8-9 minutes to go in the game. Once the lead got to 20- UWM put things in cruise control. Zach Holt and Kaylan and Averkamp got several minutes, and finally we got to see Burleigh Porte!

And boy, did Burleigh look impressive (granted by the time he got in (5 minutes left?) LMU had emptied its bench as well, essentially conceding the game to the Panthers). With time winding down, Burleigh "The Door" Porte lept up to grab an offensive rebound, came down, and then went right back skyward to slam down two more points for the Panthers- my how I can't wait to see that same kind of play (and the other countless cheer-worthy moments) back at the Cell in Milwaukee this season.

It is only one game (and Loyola Marymount is probably about as good as Detroit Mercy- at best), but we've got to be proud of these players and this team- they have come a long way, and things seem to finally clicking for UWM. If we play like we did tonight every game, Marquette and Wisconsin could be a lot closer than last year, and I'll go out on a limb and we could even compete for the Horizon League crown.

We'll see- injuries could still happen and our weakness in the post and elsewhere may be exposed a bit, but I really like our chances- especially after this victory tonight. Rob Jeter is currently 46-47 in his 3+ years as coach of the Panthers. Can this UWM squad help him get to .500? Let's hope (one game at a time)... and then we'll take it from there.