Battering Rams

I am an eternal optimist and try to cut the coaches as much slack as I can, but at some point, results speak louder and louder.

Rhode Island was the second-best team we've played so far this season- and last night it showed. Milwaukee (2-8, 1-1) battled tough for a good portion of the game never getting down by more than 10 points before the floodgates opened in the final minutes. But for every single big Panther offensive play, there was a silencing response from the Rams. We simply couldn’t break into the URI lead.

A confusing trend of using Moses Bol to occupy space and drain precious minutes and other late early season "experiments?" combined with frigid shooting from everyone except Mellow and Dree led directly to ruin. And this was a winnable game. We had more size than URI and didn't even try to press that advantage beyond putting Bol in for what proved unproductive minutes.

Rhode Island played great defense; I can see why they are a Top 100 team. But on the offensive side, there were several times we made Jeremy Sheppard look like Russ Westbrook on our own home court with free wide-open lanes to the hoop. On our own court.

And I don't really want to recap what we saw too much, but essentially:

  • Newby (12pts, 0 TOs) and Gholston (16pts, 7rbs) worked for every point they got.
  • Newby only played 21 minutes in a game where we desperately needed scoring.
  • PBJ (6pts, 4reb) sat for long, inexplicable stretches and didn't have a great game.
  • We were assessed 2 costly technical fouls- 1 for bench behavior and another for something said on the court.
  • We appeared to forfeit the game around the 5-minute mark in the second half.
  • We surrendered an additional ~10 points in the closing minutes as sullen fans filed out of the Arena wondering what in the hell happened to a season that was brimming with so much promise..

Rhode Island (8-3, 2-2) won, 82-58. 😑

Earlier in the season, we got embarrassed, looked lost and didn't play hard. In the last 5 games, we have looked less confused, less lost, we have played hard (outside of the last 3 minutes last night) and as a result, despite only 1 win to show for the growth- we were not embarrassed (not by Alcorn or YSU or Colorado or Rhode Island).


50.9% 33.3% 82.6%

36.7% 22.7% 73.9%

This wasn't as big of a blowout as it seems (we were within 10 with just 6 minutes remaining), but the slow drumbeat of gong games and games like last night that weren't an abjectly terrible showing but were definitely not our best performance possible, are making everyone associated with Milwaukee Panther Hoops sick. I'm sick; I get it 100%. I can only imagine what the team and coaches feel like.

First off, the Atlantic 10 is not the Horizon League. Rhode Island and Colorado are both Top 100 RPI teams.

No shame losing to these teams; definitely shame losing to St. Xavier heaven forbid that scenario playing out..

There are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about this team though. Hear me out if only to prove me wrong when all the dust has settled in April.

In many a season past, Panther teams have gotten out wretched starts (in more difficult non-con slates, of course) only to rebound later in the conference season and make the season more-than-respectable.

We are going to need the best out of all our guys (not just Dree, JT and PBJ) to salvage this season.

That is exactly where I think we are at. With the majority of the conference closer to 300 RPI than 100 RPI, I like our odds in every single game going forward. A 20-game win streak isn't going to happen but who knows? Winning 15 of 20 or something could be a huge boost going into the HLT. It will take the team coming together though, and unfortunately, if discussion board musings mean anything, the Panther locker room is about as divided as it has ever been with this season's roster. Losing will do that.

I hope and trust a leader or leaders will rise up to the moment and speak. And open up a conversation. That could lead to some positive change. Bottling up concerns makes it all worse. Work on communication (on the court, in the film room and practice- always be strategizing) and a common set of goals and basic agreements about how this team will recover from this early dead cat bounce of a season.

I thought we would take out the Rams, but last night was another lost opportunity to beat a solid team 

If this Panther Basketball team loses to NAIA St. Xaiver, the chorus of negativity that seems pretty loud right now, will drown out all else, and then go mute for the remainder of the season if things continue to slide sideways. On the flipside if we win- and win big as we should expect to- we might get some invaluable confidence back which we will need in spades as the long, 5-game conference road trip comes up soon after St. Xavier.

I'm not as concerned as most. Maybe it is because of the slow but steady improvement pattern that has taken us from getting absolutely thrashed by Florida to having a good to great chance to win in each of the last 4 losses.

We need to release the dragons and unleash the magic that is the stupid potential on this Milwaukee roster. Anyone paying attention knows that what we are seeing on the court is not the very best this team can do. We've improved to the point of keeping games close with good teams. Now we need to take the experience and start mowing down some not-so-good opponents like so much memory of the first 10 games of this season.

On to St. Xavier next week where we can either reset in a big way or completely self-destruct.

go panthers
press on.