Panthers Dispatch Peacocks, 87-59

Milwaukee's first regular season home game against D-II Upper Iowa went according to plan- get a lot of players playing time, rest the guys that will be needed to to upset Marquette, and overall, grab a big-margin W to give this team a little confidence and last minute practice shooting before Marquette- a bit more on them later.

You can hang your hat on the fact that the Panthers shot their 4th-best overall field goal percentage (60%), and that of the 87 points scored, only 6 came from 3 pointers (UWM shot a miserable 2-10 from beyond the arc- but it hardly mattered).

Avery Smith started out a little slow, but picked up steam in the second half en route to a very "Avo-like" 22pts on 8-11 shooting (and 4-5 from the free throw line). This was just the UIU Peacocks, but one has to wonder how much better this team can get if Smith is able to shred defenses and score at will even half as much as he did last night.

Tony Meier had a quiet night (2pts, 1blk)) in his brief 18 minutes of play, but I believe Jeter is resting him for Marquette, as the Panthers will need all the height they can throw at the guard-heavy Golden Eagles Saturday night. Anthony Hill managed 9 points and 9 rebound in just 15 minutes of play (Hill at 6'7" 230lbs is another big man who likely was rested in advance of what will probably be a 25+ minutes game for him this weekend).

James Eayres (11pts, 3stl) continued his unbelievably guard-like play, and Ricky (10pts, 6rbs), Tone (9ptd), and Deonte Roberts (12pts, 1blk) all contributed big time in this rout. Deonte especially looked impressive; he seems to have re-discovered his relentless driving ability as he too (like Avo) seemed poised to score whenever he saw fit (or saw any small crevice of an opening in the Peacock defense).

This was a great game to take in, if only to see UWM score so much, and so easily (this team can shoot!). Unfortunately, because of inexperience or lack of execution, the Panthers fell into big trouble every time UIU set up their full-court press defense (almost the entire second half- obviously to no avail). I believ ethey only forced one turnover this way, but the Panthers looked visibly confused as to how they should brea the press. If they work on only one thing between last night and Saturday- I sure hope it is inbounding and breaking pressure defense.

UWM is grateful for the opportunity to play a national ranked next door neighbor, but the game this Saturday night will be one of the biggest challenges the Panthers will face all year. Compared to Iowa State (to whom we lost last Sunday), MU is North Carolina- but the Golden Eagles likely won't sink 15 three point shots.

Unlike last year (the first year of this renewed intracity matchup (one could call it a rivalry due to the schools both having recent success- but MU leads the all time series in D-I somethin glike 29-0). I'm sure the goal the coaches have set forth (privately) is for UWM to make this a competitive game, and have the team learn a lot from playing the best of the best competition.

If everything falls into place though, and the players completely believe that they can play at MU's level, this game could be a lot, lot closer than anyone expects.

Saturday night, 7:30 at the Bradley Center, we will find out.