As the recent chilly morning temperatures would indicate, the beautiful (if not sweltering and unbearably hot at times) Summer of 2010 is now coming to a close in the city that beer made famous. So what have your Milwaukee Panthers been up to?
A lot of practicing and conditioning, but the highlight was their across-the-Atlantic journey to Italy. Though MPT's reporting on it is more than "belated", there was much more respectable online coverage. Many thanks to Kevin O'Conner for documenting as much of the trip as possible- it was a cool thing to read about and see what these guys had a chance to experience.
The Panthers won two of their three overseas tune-up games easily but an Italian Semi-Pro team named "Forli" presented the kind of realistic challenge this still-meshing team needed. It is difficult to break down the games third party style both because not all of the teams presented a "Horizon League" type challenge, and because there weren't any full radio broadcasts or box scores recorded for these exhibitions.
What is encouraging is that from what we can tell, this trip went extremely well (from a basketball and team chemistry (and life) perspective). These Panthers haven't yet gotten the chance to prove to us that they are going to equal or exceed our lofty expectations (the roster certainly raises eyebrows), but they seem to be prepared to do just that. Hopefully the Portland Tournament will show that this is that season.
Based on the performance of the returning players last season and the newcomers during the Italy trip, all signs point toward a highly competitive Milwaukee Panther Men's Basketball team in '10-'11. And by highly competitive I mean that our main obstacles to champion-status should be Butler and only Butler- and only because they are defending the HL crown (to say nothing of their Final Four win).
You could chalk up my gassing up of this Milwaukee team as just another short-sighted, naive, wishful-thinking mental boondoggle... But I think something else is afoot on the East Side of Milwaukee- for real. This team is deeper than the Marianas Trench and possesses a mix of talent of cohesion akin to an experienced team of Ice Sculptors.
Of course nothing is ever certain and some (hopefully minor) turnover and/or conflict is sure to beset the team at some point in the next few years (hopefully not any time soon- but sure to happen).
You have to admit however- the kind of change which has occurred between where this Milwaukee program stood in late 2007 to now- is strikingly positive. The cohesion and team-first mentality transformation is palpable and a much-welcomed development.
- Beat Marquette?
- Beat Wisconsin?
- Beat Butler?
Hopefully all three. Let's just beat every team we possibly can. The Wrecking Ball awaits it's release. Is that wrecking ball us or our opponents? Time and truth cut through. Like most any Panther fan, I can't wait to find out.