Panthers Improve All Around with Franklin's Return, Drop Parkside 63-50

It was once again not a "memorable" performance by the Panthers, but a win is a win and the exhibition season is now in the bag. The Panthers and the Rangers were at loggerheads for about the first 11 minutes, and then Milwaukee pulled away and seemed to toy around with a 6-8 point lead for the rest of the night.

The final tally (63-50) is not completely reflective of the closeness of the game. This one was never in doubt after half. That at least is something to chalk up as an improvement. After nearly losing to Cardinal-Stritch last Wednesday.... this team needs to learn how to put it in cruise control on weaker opponents.

Milwaukee's looming Preseason NIT date with Western Kentucky is starting to look slightly less intimidating... esp. when you consider that Jeter's teams always seem to play "up" to their level of competition (unfortunately, as evidenced in these exhibitions,they do the same in playing "down" when the opponent is a bit weaker).

The biggest highlight of this final tuneup was Rick's return. Franklin (21pts, 6ast, 6rbs) appears to have picked up exactly where he left off at the end of last conference season. With the question mark still lingering about the availability and healthiness of Tone Boyle, we won't be able to afford too many bad games from our guards.

As always, the offensive fortunes of this Milwaukee Panther basketball team will come predominately from the perimater (even in Big James and Tony Meier- we have great post guys, yes, but they are shoot first and you know they will get the bulk of their points from outside deception). It was then obviously good to see Jason Averkamp (we still have a JAvo!) cooly knock down 3 triples (3 for 3, actually).

Rick's Return: There is no question that Franklin not only contributes hugely, but he makes the guys around him play better- more effectively. He seems to have really settled into an effective point (who needs Nafis Ricks anyways? lol)- even if some of the things he does appear more shooting guard than point guard (the Swing on offense forces everyone to post up though). How Ricky does this season will probably have the biggest impact on this team's fortune's (other than Roberts- we have little to no depth at the point).

Big Lumber:
The big guy has big time D-I talent. He showed it last year, and that was merely the "opening" act. Prepare to see Big James in his prime this season, assuming he stays healthy (he was hampered by some knee issues late last season). His stroke looks spot on, judging by the exhibition games, and he seems to have gained a step or two (which results in more unreal atypical post moves that leave defenders looking baffled). Big Lumber will need broad shoulders to help carry this team through an unforgiving non-con schedule and on into the Horizon.

Meier's Climb: Tony Meier seems to be the first player to go from freshman D-I novice, to league force in the span of a dozen or so games. This rare transformation occurred last year, and since Meier put on another 30lbs of pure muscle, he has only gotten better. Meier played limited minutes in the exhibition games, mostly due to foul trouble but I think also due to the fact that Meier is a player least in need of a tune-up. Jeter knows it will be wise to rest a player who, like the two above, can either lead this team to failure or the promised land.

Got Size?:
The tremendous increase in the average size of this basketball team is very noticeable. While we often found ourselves over-matched at the post position in games last year, and tried to make up for the inability to penetrate by primarily attacking the perimeter (at least always as last resort shots), things should change this season. With Big James, Tony Meier, Ant, Averkamp, Michael Tyler, Ryan Haggerty- we've got most matchups covered. Christian Wolf (6'10") and Mitchell Carter (6'11") are transfers not eligible until next season, but opposing teams don't know that during warmups! lol. Being a bigger team definately has a psychological effect to say nothing of the obvious play advantages.

If 3 or 4 of the above turn out to our advantage, we could be near the top of the pack in the Horizon. If not, well.... there is always next season. Though next season can wait(!). Let's get this train out of the station this before the real bullets start to fly!

Friday, November 13th, 2009 7pm
US Cellular Arena, Milwaukee, WI
Milwaukee vs. Concordia-St. Paul
Regular Season Game 1