Rocket Mortgage Tipoff sees Panthers lose 2 more as frustration boils over

After the 36 point beatdown we suffered at the hands of Florida, your Milwaukee Panthers took some much-needed time to enjoy the Ft. Meyers, Florida sun and prepare for what should have been good, winnable games against Bowling Green and (ultimately) Yale.

A middling MAC team, the Bowling Green Falcons presented an opportunity to reset the downward trajectory of the young '21-'22 Milwaukee Panthers season. As it were, the Panthers got out to another rough start, trading more turnovers than shots which led to a few brief leads and then a bona fide close game but once again (this can't keep happening)- our mind-numbing shooting "cold spells" got in the way.

J2 has yet to show the true Señior Seguro floor general abilities that I know he possesses; he and Mellow are key to us winning

5 minutes here. 3 minutes there. 7+(!) minutes there. We could not convert a single field goal. Gholston was great but only in short spurts. He carried the Panthers throughout the first half with 11pts. To make matters worse, toward the end of the first half Baldwin Jr. went down with an apparent ankle injury. PBJ (8pts, 9rbs) was only on the bench for a few minutes, and returned to eventually sink a big (almost-momentum inducing) triple to start things off in the second half only to return to the bench and never see the floor again for this critical (for team solidarity and momentum at least) game. The second half.

The second half. 😑 ...we'll get to that in a minute- actually no, we'll talk about that with "1,000 words" right here:

There is an obvious separation pattern here (with 2 scary flatlines)- 'gotta change this, Milwaukee

The game that was supposed to get things on track for Milwaukee was knotted up at 34-34 after the PBJ rise and shine triple to start the second half. Optimism started shining through.

And then vanished. This is a concerning trend that we need to fix up or else concede the rest of the season will be a failure and we will be bounced from the only thing that can get us on the map at this point (Horizon League Tourney => March Madness). We lost, 82-68 and we were never really closer than 8 points the entire game.

Yale lost 88-85 to Southern Utah in overtime and so on Wednesday morning, the Panthers faced the Bulldogs, and for a solid 10 minutes- looked like the team we expected this season. Dre and Mellow and VBJ were playing like they had a grudge to settle with a barrage of long-distance bombs. Panther fans everywhere started to think- finally: this is the game where we turn the tide.

SPOILER: It wasn't.

Three home games in a row might be the medicine we need to start winning again

But with a lost ball here and a skipped offensive set there, Milwaukee quickly slid into a 14 point deficit 60-46 with only 7 minutes left and never recovered. We lost as expected by betters, 69-56. I'd rehash more but the words that need writing have nothing to do with our stats. We seem to be in a funk that only a huge winning streak can cure. Remember winning? After the North Dakota game we did not feel like this.

And so. With this fall from grace, or "inability to start the engine in the second half" rather, as crazy as it is, we now have Milwaukee Panther fans openly betting against the Milwaukee Panthers. They are former fans who have given up and now take a certain kind of strange joy (Schadenfreude) in watching Milwaukee struggle mightily.

We have not lost many fans who weren't already rooting for us to fail, but the voices of dissent are getting louder.

There are many twists and turns through which this season will course. Too not be disappointed is to not be invested. But to throw away your alma-mater and actively root against our team? 😬 That's another level of anger and frustration I will never know, I guess. 😑

It may be more complex than this, but from an average fan's standpoint, at bare minimum- the Panthers need to snap out of these cold streaks. If there is growing discontent in the lockeroom- address that ish STAT/pronto. Loyal fans have to work with people they don't like also- and we manage OK.

It's cliche but bears repeating- you do not have to be friends off the court; but if you aren't brothers on the court, this priceless opportunity will all evaporate, and this '21-'22 Milwaukee Panther season will be a dismal footnote in our history instead of the "season that put Milwaukee back on the map" that I honestly expected.

We need more of this, and less of the palm-in-face feelings we've had with the last 4 games.

I've no clue what to expect now. I do have faith though (in the Law of Averages, in the team finally gelling around 1 purpose, 1 goal), that the team and staff will come together and figure this out. You cannot waste a season with a team that has a 5-star recruit and 2 of the best guards in all of the Mid-Majors.

PBJ, Dre and JT have a lot of time to get things clicking- but each L is costing us support that we so badly need to make this season an enjoyable success and a positive memory for all who have emotionally invested in this Panther team.

The 3s will come- work on getting higher percentage 2s first though. These lost possessions are slowly killing this team. Offensive sets and defensive sets are not "optional"- they are smart basketball. These are the only way to win the game at our level (we have 1 higher-than-3-star recruit; not 5 like Duke or Kentucky). We seem to reluctantly try some sets in the first half of games and then, resort to a game of find the best 3pt shot (we need to pass and screen and create those 3pt shots).

This (still young!) season has been like the movie Groundhogs Day more than like the movie Hoosiers 

There is a reason that Butler and George Mason and VCU and some others who weren't always/still aren't high majors were able to win so many games despite not having all the best players in the country. They did not play like this in the second half of games.

Only 1 way to go from here. I'm not giving up and neither are most Panther fans. But I am sounding the proverbial alarm because, it is not too late to have a great, winning season for the history books. But things are starting to look away from that goal. Coach Baldwin and staff need to address our obvious second half shortcomings, or we'll continue our downward spiral- and that'd be a damn shame with all of the talent this Milwaukee roster has.

Milwaukee hosts Alcorn State at the Panther Arena this coming Sunday at 1pm. Have a great Thanksgiving and keep things in perspective. All things considered this is a game.

We've got 27+ more to play. Wake up time, Milwaukee. ⏰

go panthers
back to the winning column.