Release the dragons

The '21-'22 season that you dreamed of is almost here; are we ready?

It is said that a picture is worth 1,000 words. If that is that case, I ought to just leave this photo and let us ponder the fortunes of the Milwaukee Panther Men's Basketball team in light of this appropriate visual.

But I'm a loquacious writer and feel compelled to list out some of the highlights, lowlights and expectations brewing in wake of the long, strange but altogether hype-laden offseason.

Your Milwaukee Panthers are just days away from official preseason team practice. The team roster is now set which you can review on the official Milwaukee Basketball site: here

The following are some thoughts to entertain entering this pivotal season for Milwaukee. 


After a long wait (3 Wisconsin governorships)- the new Milwaukee Panthers practice facility is finally becoming a reality


Additions and departures

To catch everyone up to speed- since the end of last season we lost C.J. Wilbourn (to Wright State!), Amir Allen, Te'Jon Lucas (BYU) and Grant Coleman (Bryant).

But the program added Jason Sinani, Markeith Browning, Kyle Ross, Vincent Miskavitz, Moses Bol, Samba Kane and Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Paris Parham left to join the DePaul staff and PBS hired his replacement, Austen Hanson, previously on the staff at Utah State. Also, in a long-overdue development that deserves its own post once it is ready for basketball- the officially named: "Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin Center" has officially begun construction.

Positive things are building on Milwaukee's East Side...



The roster to begin the season, assuming all stay healthy, will look something like the above


Projected 9-man?

Patrick Baldwin Jr. had a very successful summer with Team USA U19 helping the team win gold and is undoubtedly looking to hone his skills against college competition. A lot of eyes are on Jordan Lathon and if he can run the point well after a long hiatus from the game. DeAndre Gholston and Josh Thomas decided to return and will form the core of our backcourt- what could be the toughest in the country by season's end. Though there does exist a big question mark in the front court: who will emerge as the consistent PF? Vin Baker Jr? Samba Kane? Moses Bol? Kyle Ross? Someone else?

Gholston, Thomas, Baldwin, and Lathon are probably slotted for starting positions. But the question of who will be our big man rebounders to replace Amir Allen (he dominated the boards relative to all other Panther bigs)- remains to be answered. I think this will spark some healthy competition that ultimately produces a few good-to-great post threats for the '21-'22 Milwaukee Panthers.

Despite that question which will answer itself early in the season, this appears to be a championship-caliber team if everyone can stay healthy.


Here are the building blocks for success:

  • PG  JR  Jordan Lathon  6-4
  • SG  SR  Josh Thomas  6-4
  • SG  SR  DeAndre Gholston  6-5
  • SF  FR  Patrick Baldwin Jr.  6-9
  • PF  SR  Vin Baker Jr.  6-9
  • SF  SR  Tafari Simms  6-7
  • PG  SO  Donovan Newby  6-1
  • C   JR  Samba Kane  7-0
  • SG  SO  Devon Hancock  6-3
  • PF  FR  Kyle Ross  6-7
  • SG  FR  Jasin Sinani  6-2
  • SG FR Markeith Browning 6-4
  • PF GR Moses Bol 7-1
  • SG SO Nick Pappas 6-3
  • SG SO Tyler Ellingson 6-5
  • PF JR Joey St. Pierre 6-10
  • PF JR Vincent Miskavitz (RS)

Non-Con

Milwaukee was able to schedule a solid-enough non-con slate. The season begins with us on the road against North Dakota and we play at Florida as well as Colorado.

The home non-con schedule is highlighted by Bowling Green, Eastern Kentucky, Alcorn State and Rhode Island. We host St. Xavier as well on December 23rd.

With COVID-19 numbers trending downward and vaccination rates rising, I would expect some livelier crowds at Panther Arena (as of this writing, a mask policy is in place, so be sure to bring one), especially as it gets closer to March.


Who you got for #1 in the Horizon?


The Horizon League

The league got turned upside down when we almost played huge spoiler knocking off Wright State at the Nutter and reaching the HLT quarterfinals. And with us landing an elite talent in addition to the elite talent we had forming toward the end of last season- you can be sure that we won't surprise anyone if we get out to a strong start.

Last year saw upsets galore in the HLT after a regular season dominated by Wright State, Cleveland State, Detroit and Northern Kentucky.

Antoine Davis returns for the Titans, but (and I like the DMU program- they used to be a big rival of ours) it seems like Detroit always finds a way to mess up great seasons, so I don't see them in the HLT Semifinal.

Wright State lost Louden Love, but returning are Tanner Holden and Grant Basile, and former Panther C.J. Wilbourn has been added to their roster after departing from Milwaukee. Cleveland State returns Patton, Gomillion and Hodge. Oakland only returns 1 of their top 3 scorers in Jalen Moore and the Norse over in Northern Kentucky return Langdon and everyone else, including Adrien Nelson who averaged 10(!) rebounds per game in '20-'21.

Of all the players selected to the '20-'21 Horizon All-League 1st team, only Louden Love is gone.

It's a crying shame that the Horizon League Tourney format won't allow us to host the semifinals and championship game, because this roster could get there, and further.



Let's put up some more banners 


The Goal

The key will be staying healthy, and putting ourselves in position to win the Horizon League Tourney. I used to get angry when Coach Jeter would all but dismiss the non-conference games as relatively unimportant in the scheme of things for Horizon League schools.

But (for our league, in its current form) he is right- the non-con games would only affect our seeding in the NCAA Tourney; and while that is important and would be more important if we could produce #7/6/5 seeds.. it really amounts to the difference between a #12 or #14/15 seed. We play Houston or we play Illinois- not much of a difference for the weakest seeds. The goal in March is to be great enough to put ourselves in the position to upset a Houston or an Illinois in the Midwest regionals.

Oh to reminisce about when we made the Big Dance 3 out of 4 years (2003, 2005, 2006). I happened to be in school during that time period- hence my inability to stop following- and supporting, however I can- the Milwaukee Panthers.

Once you have seen magic, you cannot help but feel reassured that Panther Basketball greatness is returning when you see the elements required for it- start to congeal.


An addition to the Panther HOF

Marc Mitchell was inducted into the Milwaukee Athletics Hall of Fame last month. Mitchell averaged 17.3 pts, 7.0 ast, 5.0 reb and 2.9 stl his senior year and shot 49.1 percent from the floor in his 2 year Milwaukee career. 👀

Pretty awesome to see him finally get in. There are a few more shoe-ins from the 80's, 90's and 00's that just need to have a bit more time pass and/or a few more people nominate them. It's great to see a Panther legend honored, especially one who has always been a big part of and given back to the Milwaukee community. 


 
Panther PG Marc Mitchell helped pave the way to today; 30 years on Milwaukee has another opportunity to shine..


go panthers
back to the future.

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