'20-'21 Panthers ready for battle and an unpredictable season

So here we are. Just hours away from the start of the '20-'21 season opener. This is Coach Baldwin's 4th year at the helm of your Milwaukee Panthers and though all things have seemed quiet for a while, I think this group that he and his staff designed and developed will make quite a bit of noise during this '20-'21 not-your-average NCAA college basketball season.

Te'Jon Lucas is our floor general; one of the best in D1, not just the Horizon

With the projected starting lineup of:
  • PG | Te'Jon Lucas #3
  • SG |  DeAndre Gholston #4
  • PF |  C.J. Wilbourn #5
  • SF |  Courtney Brown Jr. #13
  • SG |  Josh Thomas #24

The rock will be in good, experienced hands. Of that, you can rest assured. 🏀🔒

The bench will sort itself out according to who is most efficient and comfortable out there. Many of our guys have yet to play a single minute in Division 1 NCAA Basketball. It's a higher level. Faster game. Better players everywhere.

So it'll be interesting to see how everyone new to the D1 game reacts out there against K-State tomorrow and the games ahead. I'm sure the team has dissected the video but to any of us fans, remember that Kansas State can absolutely be beat (they suffered a beatdown two days ago at the hands of DII Ft. Hays St., 81-68). And they are nothing to fear. Not this season's K-State squad.

Anyone can look at the game replay video on ESPN+. Find and exploit those gaps; Kansas State cannot play D other than man-to-man apparently. Run it, run 'em down and create those wide open high %' shots off picks and screens to defend the goal with what the coaches have drawn up. Ft. Hays St. beat K-State's awful man-to-something(??) defense. I expect our Milwaukee Panthers to beat it as well.

Ft. Hays St didn't do anything special other than shoot slightly better than K-State and sink a few more 3's. If the same K-State team shows up today we better hand them another L.

There are many reasons to be optimistic about this unpredictable pandemic-stricken season: Te'Jon is going to put a stamp on the program and league in his senior season and be in the conversation for POY. DeAndre Gholston is going to be considered for Newcomer of the Year. All of the upperclassmen will start playing like monsters as they get more and more used to the game with increased floor time. The Panthers do not face Youngstown St. in the regular season (but do play all teams who will likely end up in the bottom 3-4). Simms turns out to be a lot better than expected. A few of the freshman will turn out to be budding future stars. We'll clear 17 wins at least. We'll play in the HLT Semifinals- at least.

I could be horribly wrong and all of the new pieces to the puzzle don't fit and the upperclassmen don't jump a level like I believe they will.

I could also be right- I've been watching long enough to know and be honest about BS or a weak team/player when I see it. And we are no Cleveland State, IUPUI or IPFW (and I expect we sweep all 3). This team is built for success; if not the ultimate (NCAA Tourney) this season, quite probably next season- not entirely but strongly pending who the 2 remaining open scholarship offers wind up going to.

And I know it seems less and less likely that PBJ will end up at UWM. 🤷 We are fortunate to be considered and have gotten a lot of free publicity from it. But whether or not he commits to Milwaukee shouldn't be the deciding factor in being a Panther fan; there's a lot more to this program than any one individual. 

The entire '20-'21 Horizon League schedule in one .jpeg

That being said, I also find it more than mildly hilarious how nonplussed Panther fans are who, in another time period (when Milwaukee was killing it on the Arena floor and across the country) would have been hyperventilating at the mere thought of the possibility of a Pat Baldwin Jr. playing for Pat Baldwin Sr. and conjuring up some historic Milwaukee Panther Basketball magic in the '21-'22 season.

But we're numb aren't we? None of the goodness we envisioned or expected (layup game-winner miss against Notre Dame in the 2003 Dance, 2004 65-62 HLT Final loss to underdog UIC at the Arena, 2005's winnable Sweet 16 loss to national runner-up Illinois, our shocking home loss to eventual 2011 national runner-up Butler in HLT Final in front of 10,143 inside Panther Arena*, 2014 loss to a beatable Villanova team, the '15-'16 (and potential for '16, '17) team that was carelessly dismantled... 🙁) came to pass and it will just... always be so. I get it. We have been through crucible after crucible expecting the butterfly to emerge but each time.... expectations shattered. Hopes and visions of bigger things fade into memory.

We are down. But not out.

Milwaukee Basketball has been down and out for a while. Are the Panthers primed for a turnaround?

A commitment or two during the season is very likely. Let's hope we sign a couple more players who are also great people.

go panthers
the future is now.

* Long story short (read the archives of this blog from the '10-'11 season if ya want)- we had a tough squad (Anthony Hill, Tony Meier, Kaylon Williams, Tone Boyle, Ja'Rob McCallum.... so many good players on that team) in '10-'11 that finished the season with 10 conference wins in a row and hosted Butler at our Arena in front of a packed house of 10,143 virtually all gold... Only to be outmatched all game by Brad Stevens, Gordon Hayward, Matt Howard and the 2011 national runner-up Bulldogs. Our next appearance in March madness had to wait until 2014 instead.

Tone Boyle, in the game we thought would send Milwaukee back to the Dance and back into national c-hoops conversation..