Ouch!!!!! Panthers Embarrassed, 69-45 by Miami (OH)

It wasn't a hurricane that swept Milwaukee out of Oxford, Ohio, but it may as well have been. Before they could ask, (in the words of Stuart Scott), "Whuh, Whuh, whut had happened?"), your UWM roundball warriors were reduced to mini-ball pretenders by the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks for 40 minutes, and then ushered back to Milwaukee's East Side to regroup, and to try and find an answer to just that question- what did happen against Miami (OH)? I'm not so sure if the answers are found in a DVR recording or a bunch of grumpy fan board posts. But, in this belated (but necessary) post (I've been a bit busy at my day job), I'll attempt to briefly recap the Panthers' shellacking at the hands of the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks.

One name sticks out above everything else in this game- Michael Bramos. The 6'5" senior guard from Harper Woods, Michigan was flat-out dominate. The Panthers had no answer to his barrage of 3's (he was 6-8 from beyond the arc). By contrast, the entire (normally perimeter savvy) UWM team shot a head-scratching 4 of 19!! As if that wasn't disheartening enough, the team was 7-14 on free shots, and 17-53 (.321) overall from the field. We lost the turnover battle 9-14. Other stats were somewhat closer, but the Panthers showed little life from the outset.

It would be great if I could praise the team effort and individual statistics of the team in this post, but, taking a cue from Milwaukee's hometown newspaper, I will omit any congratulatory stat lines or depictions of great plays. To be completely honest- there were none... Well ok, Avery, because it's your final year... you get a quick nod for best Panther performance on this ugly night (Avo had 8pts, 5rbs, 4ast, 1stl). But truthfully- we clicked on zero cylinders against Miami, and played a pitiful game. There is no other way to put it. We may as well have been the Washington Generals playing against the Globetrotters.

The sad things is- we could have lost by a lot more. Miami was missing one of their leading scorers due to a wrist injury, and on the entire night, they shot just .394 from the field (but got in 13 more shots than us and (the deal sealer) were a very impressive 10-18 from 3 overall)).

So it wasn't Milwaukee's night, and besides, this Miami team lost by only 5 points to UCLA earlier this season- yes, that UCLA. Big deal, right? Well if the standards will be set low, and we can ignore the quietly clamoring sleeping giant of a fan base, the team, the students, and all of the supporters who have been itching to get back to (not just "respectability" but) the winning ways that Bruce Pearl made the norm for UWM, then yes, I guess, it's is no big deal.

But this team is better than that. Some, like myself have seen it live- and not just against exhibition competition. They've yet to put it all together for 40 minutes; what they've shown when they put together their best 5 minute stretches is downright dangerous- to a Wisconsin, to a Marquette, and given the matchup, even to a UCLA (certainly to a revamped but still rebuilding Ball State (we won't even go there again this season- it's over)). But the problem is- that threat lasts for a few minutes, a couple fouls, turnovers, or missed shots disrupts the game flow... and then we tank.

Myself and others aren't disappointed that this game was a loss- the dejection comes from how bad the loss was. Like Iowa State (18pts), Marquette (20pts- could have been 30 if Buzz Williams was Tom Crean) and Wisconsin (21pts), Miami (OH) steamrolled over the Panthers and made this team look like a D-II cupcake. At least in the Wisconsin and MU games there were times in the first half when you got a sense that the Panthers could make it a close one. No such luck in this contest. The Redhawks were in cruise control from tip to final buzzer, and they deserved victory.

Much like I think this years' Panthers could deserve victory, each and every game they play.... if they only gave a little more effort. You can't do anything about another team's hot 3-point shooting or some questionable officiating (which wasn't a factor in this game- but just to take as an example). But you can play better defense. You can play with heart. And you can resolve to play your best basketball (even better than your best ever game), every time you get on that floor.

UWM's 5-5 record is nothing to be ashamed of (nor proud of), and there is a long ways to go. But please, somebody tell me this team can be as good as their flashes of greatness have suggested. Consistency comes with time. There is a core of guys who have been together for a while here; the additions have had more than sufficient time to blend into the mix. Don't kid yourself with "well, they're a young team; they're rebuilding; they'll be fine sometime in 2012 or 2015....". We'll have none of that. It's time.