Are we just moving past a rut, or feeling the ice cracking (again)?

Words wouldn't add anything but more frustration to what we saw at the KC against a team we expected to at least split with. The Panthers weren't blown out or anything. But while PFW played a statistically rare game Saturday (70.6% from 3pt), they gave us dozens of chances to take the reins. And Friday we managed to lead virtually all game despite a basket of rotten mistakes, and then drop the W in the closing minutes.

It is Do or Die time for Milwaukee; we can still make a national statement on ESPN2 this Friday

Before we all panic that the team (although visibly tired, not inebriated) looked about as cohesive as some of the teams in seasons past after a big Friday or Saturday night basement party, some perspective of our actual possible fortunes is warranted.

A few scenarios here; we have 10 games left:

(1) I don't think it is overly optimistic to think we could go 6-4 (splitting all the remaining series and sweeping Oakland), and wind up 11-8 (10-7) on this pandemic-shortened season.

(2) Or we could tank along the lines of last season which started with even more promise than this one. If we only manage to eek out victories at IUPUI and against Oakland and get swept by Northern Kentucky, Wright State and Cleveland State- we'll wind up 7-12 (6-11).

Those are the two extremes. Neither is world-beating stature but the former at least would mark a positive movement into '21-'22 which, might be a make-or-break season not just for Baldwin and Co. but for the Milwaukee Panther Basketball program as we have known and loved it since Bud Haidet decided to make it prime entertainment for students, faculty, alum and the Milwaukee-area citizenry at large 😐.

(3) There is the lesser of all possibilities that we split with everyone and maybe get swept and wind up 9-10 (8-9) which ain't bad, but it isn't the progress we hoped for this season. A winning record- even if that means a 50.0001% winning percentage- means a lot psychologically and symbolically.

Going +/- .500 has become the measuring stick for success in many fields, not just sports. If your success rate is far above 50%, you are considered more and more of an expert at what you do. Conversely, the lower your success rate is at achieving your goals (winning basketball games in this context), it is implied...

This series did not go the way we expected; a split would have lessened the loss of faith among many..

Rumor has it that the team is getting a little dysfunctional due to lack of feeling like everyone is marching to the same beat, in the same direction, for the same goal, for the same reasons (ie. team not self (they will notice your self when they tune in to watch your team that got talked about nationally)).

I hope the rumors are wrong but what we saw this past weekend was a team that needs to talk it out and man up to play as a team. Individual stats and accolades are often the curse of a team with promise. They should be the afterthought- not at all any part of the equation or thought process going into battle. You do not have to be my friend off the court- but on the court, like it or love it: you are my family.

The coaches also need to take responsibility for this new roadblock/slide/hurdle. We can bounce back in a huge way or we can dig this hole deeper. Everything possible should be done to make sure the mood picks up, grievances are aired, everyone understands the game plan (which if it isn't working, needs to be open to ad-hoc/in-game adaptation or even complete change if it isn't right for the personnel trying to execute it).

We've seen some rolling picks open up beautiful jumpers that looked like a picturesque California wave. And then we've seen stretches of over 8 minutes without any semblance of a real offense other than players being in the location of their position. That stuff looks more like a Hitchcock film.

I don't mean to be harsh.

But if I was silent- it would mean I don't care. And I do. More than a few hundred of us still do. And many more thousands of former Panther fans and Milwaukee alum nationwide- are simply looking for an excuse to care.

That is how popularity works. Think of high school popularity or even popular musicians. Nobody wants to admit the dork or new kid or outsider did something cool until they look around and see that a clear majority agree- "yeah, it's legit: let's follow this team again and pack the f&^&'ing Panther Arena next season".

This coming Friday in Cleveland might cause this team to spin out of control- or begin skating to the highest of heights. Ladder (latter) up.

go panthers
the future is now.