Jan. 10, 2012
The Hot List
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team continues its three-game homestand by welcoming Wright State to the U.S. Cellular Arena Thursday night.
The Panthers pulled one of out the fire Saturday night, beating Green Bay on a Kaylon Williams three-pointer at the buzzer. Milwaukee trailed by 12 points in the first half and by six points with 1:45 to play before ending the game on a 7-0 run.
UWM enters play Thursday in a three-way tie with Cleveland State and Youngstown State for first place in the Horizon League. Wright State, Butler and Valparaiso are all also within a game of the top spot.
Paris Gulley has emerged of late for Milwaukee, leading the Panthers in scoring in each of their last two games. He had 18 points in Saturday's win.
UWM is still battling injury troubles this season. Ja'Rob McCallum and Lonnie Boga continue to be out with injuries, with Boga likely to redshirt while McCallum is still hopeful of returning this season. Tony Meier missed the first six games of the season with a calf injury while Kyle Kelm missed two contests with a shoulder injury. The Panthers have yet to play a game with what was expected to be their regular starting lineup in tact.
Milwaukee's defense has been the Panthers' biggest key to success. The Panthers are allowing only 59.1 points per game and opponents are shooting just 39.8 percent from the floor. UWM is also leading the nation in defending the three-point shot, with opponents making 24.2 percent of their long-distance tries.
One year after sharing the regular season title with Butler and Cleveland State, Milwaukee was picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League this year in a poll of the league's head coaches, SIDs and media. Butler was picked to win the league.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team continues its three-game homestand with a Thursday night contest against Wright State.
About Wright State
The Raiders are off to a 4-2 start in league play ... WSU was once 4-8 but has evened up its overall record at 9-9 ... transfer Julius Mays leads the team with 13.9 points per game ... Wright State scores under 60 points per game but allows under 62 ... the Raiders rolled over Valparaiso, 73-55, Sunday.
UWM holds a 23-20 all-time lead over Wright State thanks to having won 15 of the last 22 meetings between the two schools ... UWM has beaten WSU 13-straight times in Milwaukee, though the 2009-10 game went to overtime and last year's game was decided by a single point ... meanwhile, the Panthers have not won in Dayton since 2005.
So Happy To Be Home
Milwaukee recently wrapped up a stretch of six road games in eight outings, so UWM is quite happy to now be in the middle of a three-game homestand. The Panthers are off to a 7-1 start at home this season and are now 90-32 in regular season and postseason contests at The Cell since their return in 2002-03. Even better, if you combine games at both the Klotsche Center and The Cell, UWM is 81-19 in league home contests over the last 12-plus seasons. Rob Jeter's teams are 68-30 at home.
UWM has found itself working through some injuries during the early part of the season. Kyle Kelm returned to the lineup against Marquette after missing two games with a sprained shoulder. Ja'Rob McCallum and Lonnie Boga also continue to be sidelined by injuries, with McCallum still hopeful of returning from his wrist injury while Boga is a likely redshirt candidate. Senior Tony Meier (calf), a preseason All-Horizon League selection, returned to active duty for the first time Dec. 1 against Loyola. In all, returning letterwinners have recorded 36 missed games because of injuries. And, Milwaukee is yet to play a game with what was its expected starting lineup.
Good In The Close Ones
UWM has had a history of being good in close games under Rob Jeter, with the Panthers 35-19 in games decided by five points or less with Jeter as the head coach. And, it appears to be an especially good thing the Panthers know what they are doing in close games this year, as that has been the norm around the league. Milwaukee is 5-1 this season in games decided by five points or less, including 3-1 in league games. Through the first 27 games of conference play overall, 15 have been within a single possession during the final minute of regulation.
Fond Memories Of 2011
UWM was certainly sorry to see 2011 come to a close, as it was one of the most successful years in school history. The Panthers finished the year by winning 12 of their last 13 regular season league games, with a 12-game winning streak ending at Butler on the final day of the year. Overall, Milwaukee collected 23 wins in 2011, the most since UWM had 27 in 2005 and the second-most in a single calendar year in school history. And, this is the first time UWM tallied at least 10 wins in a season before the New Year since 1992-93, when Milwaukee was 10-1 in the 1992 part of the schedule. The best calendar years in school history:
Breaking Down Some Numbers
There are some striking differences in the numbers in UWM's 11 wins and its six losses, and nearly all of those are on the offensive end. In fact, while certainly Milwaukee has been even better on defense in its 11 victories, the Panthers have been pretty solid on defense in all 17 games. The bigger ups and downs have come on offense. A numbers breakdown:
FG% 43.2 35.9
PPG 68.2 53.5
3FG% 38.2 22.6
FG% against 39.4 40.7
PPG against 56.3 64.2
3FG% against 18.6 34.9
Pts Per Poss. 1.05 0.85
A Decade-Plus Of Horizon Success
Over the last 11 years, Milwaukee and Butler have established themselves as the top two programs in the Horizon League. In fact, since 2000-01, Milwaukee has the second-most league wins behind Butler and those are the only two schools to average more than 10 league wins per season. UWM has been below .500 in league play just once in 11 years - only Butler and Wright State can also make that claim. And, Milwaukee has now won 10 or more league games in eight of 11 years while winning four regular season crowns. The standings over the last 11 years, including Youngstown State (joined 2001) and Valparaiso (2007).
Butler 141 46
Milwaukee 123 64
Wright State 110 78
Green Bay 91 96
Detroit 89 100
Cleveland State 83 104
UIC 82 106
Loyola 74 114
Youngstown State 43 130
Valparaiso 39 38
The Panthers have been picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League, according to the results of the league's official preseason poll. Butler claimed the top spot in the poll, Detroit was picked second and CSU is third. Meanwhile, Kaylon Williams and Tony Meier each claimed spots on the official Preseason All-Horizon League Team. Williams was a preseason first-team all-league selection while Meier was voted onto the preseason second team.
The Last Time Out
Kaylon Williams hit a three-pointer from the left wing as time expired to send UWM to a 64-63 win over Green Bay Saturday at the U.S. Cellular Arena. The Panthers inbounded the ball from under the basket with 1.1 seconds remaining, which was just enough time for Paris Gulley to find Williams for the game-winner. UWM ended the game on a 7-0 run to claim the win after Green Bay had forged a six-point lead with a 10-0 run of its own. The final possession was set up by a defensive stop, as Milwaukee forced a turnover with 19 seconds remaining. The Panthers first try on offense was actually to tie the game, but Williams saw his inside shot miss and go out of bounds off the Phoenix. Williams then converted just the third 3-pointer of the night for Milwaukee.
The Big Shot, And Plenty Of Assistance
Kaylon Williams came through when it mattered Saturday. His three-pointer - his only made three of the night and just the third made three-pointer of the game for Milwaukee - was the winner. It was the first game-winning buzzer beater since Deion James buried a three to beat UIC in 2009. Tone Boyle did beat UNI with a jumper a season ago, though that came with 2.4 seconds left. And, Williams actually tied last year's game at Detroit with a three at the buzzer in a contest the Panthers eventually won. But needless to say the big shot isn't Williams' only contribution. One game after collecting 12 assists, he had seven more Saturday night and now has 278 assists in his brief Panther career. He is trying to become just the ninth Milwaukee player in over 100 years of basketball at the school to tally more than 300 assists in a career, and he and Marc Mitchell (345) would be the only two players to do it in just two seasons.
Playing The Metrics Game
One interesting stat confirms what many close to the Panther program have noticed all season - Ryan Allen has become a major-impact player. In fact, Basketball Reference has some numbers that point to Allen as the most impactful player in the Horizon League. The website keeps a "Win Shares" stat that estimates the number of wins contributed by a player due to his offense and defense. The stat considers every offensive and defensive statistical category and was born from the baseball stat developed by noted stat guru Bill James. Allen has contributed 3.5 win shares this season, including 2.5 with his defense alone, both the most in the league. Last year's leaders in the category, by the way, were Matt Howard and Norris Cole.
Getting It Done On D
UWM has done a nice job on defense this season. In fact, the 72 points the Panthers gave up last Tuesday at Western Michigan were the most allowed all season and marked just the second time an opponent has gotten past 70 points. Then, after giving up 40 points and 56.7 percent shooting against Green Bay in the first half, the Panthers held the Phoenix to 23 points and 32.3 percent shooting in the second half. For the season, opponents are shooting 39.8 percent and scoring 59.1 points per game.
- Over the first 17 games, eight of UWM's opponents have failed to get to 60 points. That happened just five times all of last season. UWM has also now held three opponents under 50 points. The last time that happened was in 2004-05, when four opponents failed to reach the 50-point mark.
- The Panthers have held 15 of their 17 opponents to under 44 percent shooting, with nine of the 17 failing to reach 40 percent.
- Milwaukee is holding opponents to just 24.2 percent from three-point range. That mark leads the country.
- Milwaukee is chasing down the best defensive season in Division I history, with the current lows at 64.3 ppg (2004-05) and 65.1 ppg (2000-01). The lowest points per game in the last 30 years was in 1982-83, when UWM gave up just 60.7 points per contest. The Panthers have never finished a season holding opponents to less than 30 percent shooting from three-point range.
The Ups And Downs On Offense
Milwaukee has hit a rough patch on offense of late. The Panthers made a late surge to get to 41 percent shooting in Saturday's win but have now shot below 40 percent in five of their last seven games. In those five outings, the Panthers have shot just 34.9 percent overall and 25 percent from three-point range while averaging 54.4 points per game. The one game in this recent run where UWM truly found its touch was against Nebraska-Omaha, when the Panthers made 15 three-pointers and shot 48.4 percent overall.
Getting The Message About Touching The Post
Entering Saturday's game with Green Bay, the Panthers had found themselves leaning on the three-point shot more and more. In fact, in the five previous games, UWM had attempted 139 three-pointers, and in the previous four games the Panthers had made just 28-of-110 from beyond the arc. Saturday, that changed as Milwaukee attempted just 14 three-pointers and scored 51 of its points from either in the paint or at the foul line. The 14 three-point attempts tied a season low, which was originally set in the third game of the season against IUPUI. For the moment, though, UWM remains on pace to set a new school record for three-point attempts this season. Milwaukee has tried 383 this season, with the record sitting at 747 (2009-10).
Yet They Still Find A Way
The Panthers have combined their excellent defense with timely offense to pull out a number of close and low-scoring games this season. Milwaukee has won three games this year when scoring fewer than 60 points. The last time Milwaukee won that many times with less than 60 points was in 2004-05, when UWM also claimed three victories. You then have to go all the way back to the 1950-51 season to find a year where the Panthers won more than three times scoring 60 or less, with Milwaukee claiming five such wins. One season earlier, the Panthers won seven times when scoring less than 60 points.
The Non-League Notebook
Ryan Allen had a school-record six blocks to go with 16 points and 13 rebounds at Marquette ... UWM shot just 26.7 percent from the floor overall and Milwaukee made just 4-of-28 from three-point range at Marquette ... the overall shooting percentage was the lowest since a 24.1 percent effort in a loss at Butler in 2009 ... five days earlier, Milwaukee had made 15 threes - including 10 in the first half - in a win over Nebraska Omaha. The 15 total are tied for the fifth-most in a game in school history ... the 36-point margin of victory against UNO surpassed the 35-point margin in UWM's win over Texas Southern and was the biggest for the Panthers since a 41-point win over Youngstown State in 2006 ... this is also the first time since 2004-05 Milwaukee has tallied at least two wins of 30 or more points ... the Dec. 5 victory at DePaul was UWM's first win over a Big East foe since knocking off Boston College, who was then in the Big East, in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The Panthers also own a win over Virginia Tech when the Hokies were in the Big East in 2001 ... it was also the first win over a BCS foe since a 2006 win over Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament and the first regular season road win over a BCS team since the Panthers won at Purdue in 2005 ... the Panthers shot an Allstate Arena record 61.7 percent from the floor, the fourth-best in Milwaukee's Division I history ... individually, Tony Meier and Paris Gulley each made all five of their three-pointers, one short of the school record for most made threes without a miss. Joe Schultz made all six of his tries in 1991.
Milwaukee hosts Detroit Saturday.