Tough brake: Wright State halts Milwaukee's rise

Justin Thomas and BJ Freeman helped the Panthers almost engineer a thrilling comeback victory

Well Panthers fans, we can't win them all. Milwaukee (14-7, 8-3 Horizon) suffered defeat at the hands of Wright State (12-10, 5-6) Thursday night. Coach Lundy summarized some key reasons why we lost this game:

"We turned it over 15 times in the first half, missed 10 free throws in the second half and got out-rebounded," Lundy said.

The first of these reasons is the biggest. Milwaukee dug into far too deep of a 1st half hole (47-26 Raider lead) to crawl out of in the 2nd half. The Panthers did mount a furious comeback that, like the first meeting between these teams, came up just short.

Several times in the second frame, the Panthers battled to within 5 points, only to see the Raiders push their lead back out to blowout territory at 20+. Overall, WSU just beat us by a small but significant margin in all the top line shooting stats:

43.1%,  31.3%,  64.5%

44.6%,  38.5%,  73.5%

And so it had to be, Milwaukee went down to defeat, 93-86. Lundy has mentioned more than once since the Panthers got off to this blazing start that (in light of expectations and defying those expectations):

"How do we handle success?" 

This is a very underrated question that every team should collectively ask itself and every team member within the team must ask of themselves individually.

Success changes people and can change team dynamics/chemistry and it can change individuals who lose sight of what brought them the success. It is of paramount importance to keep your composure and stay hungry (set new, bigger goals as existing goals are reached).

One game at a time... I digress.

After being somewhat quiet since his buzzer beating trey against UC Davis, Justin Thomas saw a good (20) amount of minutes which saw him score 17 points and collect 3 rebounds and 4 assists. BJ Freeman (15.9ppg) scored 26 to go along with 3 steals, but he and (the "'22-'23"*) JT couldn't do it all by themselves. Elijah Jamison had an off night but once he gets settled in, he will compete for the PG1 spot.

Unfortunately right now it looks as though we are using a sort of PG by committee. If there is a weakness other than our struggles against effective zone defense- it is our lack of a true, experienced PG. Justin Thomas is a great Panther player, but I don't think he is the PG of the future.

Though not a candidate for PG, we saw live, in action the reason Robert Yander's Law product Zach Howell is on this team as #3 scored 11 while shooting 3-7 from distance (He's a sniper.) Slowly but surely, each component of our team is improving (if Jalen Johnson gets more aggressive in the post- look out; reminds me of potentially the kind of progression we saw in Anthony Hill).

Everyone has to know that nothing is possible without the team- all individual accolades mean nothing if the team is not elite. This is the reason why nobody talks about Barry Sanders during the NFL playoffs. The Panthers will regroup today and be ready for the epic battle tomorrow afternoon in Kentucky for a share of 1st place.

go panthers  
stack good days. 

*wherever Panther Josh Thomas is these days I hope he is following the program's turnaround