Cleveland State (10-0, 2-0) most definitely got the revenge they were looking for. CSU came storming out of the visitors locker-room and onto our home floor like they had a score to settle. Your Milwaukee Panthers (4-5, 1-1) brought a pen knife to a gunfight and paid the price.
Jeremy Montgomery poured in 20 points on 5-7 from 3pt. Norris Cole (14pts, 5rbs, 9ast), early nighties flat-top and all, played everything like you would expect form a pre-season 1st Team All Conference player. He ran circles around our defense all night.
UWM phone home. UWM phone home.
Cleveland State's defense was literally too close for comfort. They must have been 2 feet closer to us than we were to them on D (their 30 personal fouls to our 10 is clear evidence of this huge difference in defensive styles). Milwaukee has to figure out how to not shut down when a team defends like that.
The tape is out there on this game. I'm sure we'll see a lot more teams guard us super close and press us out of our comfort zone. We must learn how to break the pressure (full court and 1/2 court) that flustered our entire game plan last night.
Tony Meier's collegiate best 20 points was overshadowed by such a half-baked effort by the team as a whole. Despite having already seen our epic collapses against Portland and Western Michigan I think most fans were trying to ignore those as "early season slip-ups" and thought the contrast between us and CSU was not that stark. Last night is only a game, but it was certainly not an encouraging loss (like Marquette).
The story of last night's version of our season's recurring nightmare is as follows:
CSU:::::::::: 30-47 (64%) FG ... 13-22 (64%) 3ptUWM::::::: 16-64 (30%) FG... 5-20 (25%) 3pt
CSU Starting Backcourt:::::: 47 points (16-22 FG, 10-14 3pt, 5-5 ft), 10 boards, 11 assists, 8 turnovers
UWM Starting Backcourt:::::::: 4 points (1-14 FG, 0-6 3pt, 2-3 ft), 5 boards, 4 assists, 6 turnovers
We play the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison at the Kohl Center this Wednesday night. Bo Ryan might show mercy on us, but I wouldn't count on Bo letting us get any closer than 15-20 if we play like we did last night.
But with this baffling Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk persona our team has taken on, we may just break out the (Incredible Hulk) alter-ego and go hard for the win. Like that '10-'11 team we had faith would make a run at another Horizon League title, you know?
Consistency is in high demand from this rabid and loyal fan base. I know I speak for a lot of people when I say I have always and will always love watching this team- win or lose. But when we come unprepared or quit just minutes into the game and in turn get completely blown out, it sends the message that maybe the more casual Panther fans (and trust me... we are talking several thousands in this metro area) don't have a reason to care about UWM. Whenever we have to go down, we should go down fighting.
Bruce Banner contemplates his next move... where is the Hulk when you need him?!
To be fair, we did win the second half of Saturday night's beat down 38-36. But it mattered little after the unfathomable mine shaft of a hole we dug ourselves into in the first first 10-15 minutes.
We aren't this bad of a team, I still believe we can be as good as we want to be. 5 losses have made the challenge of reaching our potential harder, but there is still time left. At least 22 more games are left for us to correct course.
We cannot pick and choose our nights to go all out though. Every single game becomes historical record... and strongly influences our future chances (post-season bids, scheduling opportunities, Horizon League Torney seeding, etc.). I don't want to see us lose a single game in the Horizon League Tourney in March, do you?
I also know we may be headed for a bad loss against UW, but I am holding out hope for The Incredible Hulk version of your Milwaukee Panthers to show up and make it a game, if not something much more incredible...