Awww... Snap!! Loyola Takes over the Cell, Downs Milwaukee 69-64 (Foggy Horizon as Cross-Town UWM-MU Battle Looms)

Well it was bound to happen and happen it did this past Thursday night at the US Cellular Arena. The home of the Milwaukee Panthers looked and sounded more like a practice facility for the Loyola Ramblers that night, as the Panthers were unable to continue winning games while playing like they are on life support.

This will be a quick rundown- my mood is no different than most of the 2,000 or so Panther fanatics that remain.

If I can recap the game in a paragraph or two- we missed a lot of shots- 38 to be exact (UWM shot 22-60 from the field... that is a whopping .367). We did not effectively defend the perimeter which allowed LU to sink 7 of 16 three-pointers.

We shot nearly half as many free throws as Loyola (UWM: 11-15, Loyola: 16-27). The crowd was as quiet as I can ever remember- mausoleums contain more energy. It was almost as if everyone was watching a car accident on the side of the road from which they can't help but stare- motionless and silent. Simply put- this was no 7-2 D-I basketball team Thursday night.

On the brighter side(!), attendance was up compared to earlier "Recession-tainted" figures this season, but with the kind of effort our team put on display it will be hard to get many of the newcomers (or come-backers- I guess that is what I term people who were gung-ho during the Pearl era but disappeared in the night after the 9-22 train wreck of '06-'07) to return.

Pathetic play leads to apathetic fans. A lot of people who have cared dearly for and literally breathe with this program have been resigned to silence and... and well, "apathy". Slowly but surely there are fewer and fewer people in this city and this state who give a hoot about the Milwaukee Panthers.

And that is the sad truth- but it is the truth. Which leads us into the blazing 4th Street fire of today- the annual intercity face-off (both teams must have a win in order for something to be termed a rivalry) with Marquette.

I don't think any of us know what to expect tonight. I have faith (always have) but this continued inability to put it all together is trying even the most patient and believing of Panther fans.

MU has wins over a couple top-25 teams despite them being in a "rebuilding" mode. We may be 6-3 yes, but we have beat no one of consequence and the wins we do have (other than Texas State) were hardly convincing.

Who knows? Maybe Jeter lit a fire under these Panthers and we will finally see the kind of Milwaukee Panther team many expected in '09-'10. Maybe I'm being unfair to a team that is on the cusp of success. Maybe those last two sentences are just wishful thinking.... but(!)-
maybe, just maybe...... Tonight is the Night.