Panthers Continue Homestand By Hosting Loyola
Feb. 27, 2008
#28: Loyola (11-16, 6-10) @ Milwaukee (13-14, 8-8)
The Panthers dropped a 66-57 decision to Valparaiso Monday night and in the process may have lost senior Marcus Skinner. Skinner went down with a leg injury in the second minute of the game and did not return. He is not expected to play Thursday night. The good news for Milwaukee, though, was the play of sophomore Jason Averkamp in place of Skinner. The walk-on collected a collegiate-best 21 points while making 6-of-10 from the field.
The Ramblers have won two-straight games and five of their last eight to keep alive hopes of a home game in the first round of the league tournament. Meanwhile, the Panthers can wrap up a home game with a win Thursday night.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team continues the final week of the regular season with a Thursday night contest against Loyola at the U.S. Cellular Arena.
Scouting The Ramblers
Loyola has won two-straight games and five of its last eight overall to keep alive hopes of claiming a home game in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament. J.R. Blount leads the team offensively at 14.8 points per game and is one of four players in double figures. Andy Polka is the team's leading rebounder at 6.6 boards per contest.
Milwaukee holds a 21-17 series edge over Loyola but the Ramblers have won the last three meetings between the two teams. Prior to this latest run by the Ramblers, UWM had won 11-straight over the Ramblers. The Panthers had also won seven-straight over the Ramblers in Milwaukee until Loyola pulled out a win last season. All-in-all, though, there have been plenty of competitive games between the two schools in recent seasons, including a pair of meetings in Horizon League Tournament semifinals.
12/8/06 - UWM overcame double-digit second-half deficit but then lost four-point lead in final 19 seconds before losing in OT
1/30/06 - UWM led by only six points with 1:31 left before winning, 68-57
2/10/05 - UWM trailed by six with 7:53 left before rallying for 74-67 win
1/10/04 - The game was tied early in the second half and Loyola was still within two late in the second half before UWM pulled away for a 97-87 win
2/1/03 - The Panthers hung on for a 92-91 victory
2/4/02 - UWM trailed by six at the half before rallying for an 80-70 win
1/14/01 - Loyola rallied from a late 10-point deficit to force OT before UWM claimed a 94-93 win in double overtime
First Time With The Ramblers
Leon Young scored 21 points and Loyola forced overtime with a last-second tip-in before pulling away for a 73-68 win over UWM Dec. 8 at the Gentile Center. The Panthers looked to have the game won when Marcus Skinner converted a pair of free throws to put Milwaukee up 56-52 with 19.4 seconds remaining. But, after J.R Blount cut the lead to 56-54 on two free throws with 11.2 seconds left, UWM's Ricky Franklin was called for an offensive foul before the ball was inbounded. On Loyola's ensuing possession, Blount missed a long three-pointer but Tracy Robinson tipped-in the miss with 0.7 seconds remaining to force overtime. The Ramblers then pulled away in the extra session, making 4-of-5 from the field and 9-of-12 free throws while leading the entire way.
Senior Marcus Skinner has been diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain and is not expected to dress for Thursday's game. He was injured in the opening minutes of action Monday night in the loss to Valparaiso. Meanwhile, senior Paige Paulsen is expected in the starting lineup after being poked in the eye Monday night. He did return to action in the second half of that game and, after being examined again Tuesday, returned to practice Wednesday.
Special Saturday Ahead
Saturday's final regular season home game will feature a pair of special events. First, the annual Alumni Game will tip off at 4 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Arena. Admission is free. Then, Saturday will also feature Senior Night, with seniors Paige Paulsen, Marcus Skinner and Allan Hanson all being recognized in pregame ceremonies.
Milwaukee has posted a strong homecourt record since returning downtown to the U.S. Cellular Arena for the 2003 Horizon League Tournament. The Panthers are now 51-19 in regular season and postseason contests at The Cell since their return, and UWM had a 19-game homecourt winning streak until back-to-back home losses to UIC and Missouri State spoiled the run in 2005-06. Combining games at both the Klotsche Center and the U.S. Cellular Arena, UWM is now 56-13 in regular season Horizon League home contests over the last eight-plus seasons. The Panthers are 8-6 at home this season, including wins in six of their last eight home games.
Sorting Out The League
The Horizon League's regular season is down to the final weekend and there is still plenty to decide when it comes to seeding for the league tournament. Closest to home, UWM can clinch a home game in the first round of the league tournament with a win Thursday night while the Panthers can still move as high as fourth place with a pair of victories this week. UIC, Green Bay, Valparaiso and Loyola are also still in the running for first-round homes games. At the top, Butler can clinch the top spot with one more win while Wright State would secure the second spot with another victory. At the bottom, Detroit knows it will be the 10-seed while YSU can climb no higher than the eighth spot.
The `08-'09 Schedule
The just-completed BracketBusters matchup with Bradley brings UWM's 2008-09 schedule a little closer to being finalized. Already on the docket for the Panthers are road games at Marquette, Wisconsin and South Dakota State as well as a tournament at Iowa State. Milwaukee is then scheduled to host the Braves in a return game while also welcoming Ball State and next year's BracketBusters opponent to the U.S. Cellular Arena. In league play, UWM's two early December contests are scheduled to be home games with Detroit and Wright State, while the Panthers will finish their league slate with five of their final six games on the road.
Winning And Losing
UWM has experienced plenty of highs and lows in the first 27 games of the 2007-08 season, finding itself just below the .500 mark heading into the final weekend of the regular season. After enduring a six-game losing streak from late November to mid-December, the Panthers put together a six-game winning streak from late December until the loss at Butler Jan. 12. The winning streak marked UWM's first six-game win streak since Milwaukee won eight-straight from Dec. 17, 2005, to Jan. 11, 2006. Since that run, the Panthers have had a three-game winning streak and a three-game losing streak. Overall, UWM has lost six of its last seven games while still having won 10 of its last 17 outings.
Learning The Lessons Of A Challenge
Perhaps one of the answers to UWM's much-improved play over the last two months comes from the idea the Panthers' non-league schedule truly got them ready for league play. In fact, the five non-league teams that have beaten UWM are a combined 118-45 entering play Wednesday, and UWM's overall non-league schedule is ranked 57th nationally. Wisconsin, Marquette and Drake are all nationally-ranked while Sam Houston State is 19-6, Northern Iowa is 15-13 and Bradley is 17-13.
Updating The Roster
UWM's roster is officially down to 13 players, with 10 of them active for the rest of the season. But, with the likely loss of Marcus Skinner to injury, the Panthers will actually have just nine active players for this weekend. Since the start of the year, the Panthers have lost five scholarship players. Those that have departed include Avery Smith (dismissed Nov. 7); Torre Johnson (dismissed Dec. 18); Roman Gentry (left team Dec. 18); Kevin Johnson (left team Dec. 20 - officially dropped from roster Jan. 18); and Tim Flowers (left team Dec. 20 - officially dropped from roster Jan. 23). Of the 13 on the roster, Joe Allen and Zach Holt are both sidelined for the season by injury while Brad Carroll is redshirting this season, though he does dress for games. Walk-ons Deion James and Jason Averkamp are also part of the active roster.
Milwaukee's 26.8 percent shooting clip Thursday was its lowest since shooting 22.2 percent in the opener of the 2005-06 season at Memphis ... UWM's 32 three-point attempts Monday against Valparaiso tied a season-high by the Panthers. Milwaukee also tried 32 in a win over Green Bay in January ... in a statistical oddity, UWM and its opponents have scored exactly the same number of points in the first half (474) and the second half (559) in league play ... Charlie Swiggett's two best collegiate games have come against the Missouri Valley, with the sophomore scoring 16 points at Missouri State last year and 13 points at Bradley Saturday ... after its win Feb. 16, Milwaukee has now beaten its in-state rival from Green Bay 13 times in the last 18 meetings between the two schools. That streak includes wins in nine of the last 10 contests in Milwaukee, with UWM's average margin of victory nearly 17 points per game in those nine wins ... Milwaukee's loss at Cleveland State last Wednesday snapped an 11-game winning streak by the Panthers in the series ... the Panthers have rallied from a double-digit second-half deficit to win a game four times this season. Most recently, Milwaukee trailed Green Bay by 12 points with 14 minutes to play Saturday before rallying for a 10-point win. UWM almost did it again Monday night after trailing by 14 points before rallying to within a point ... Allan Hanson made five 3-pointers against Butler Feb. 12 but has made just 14 three-pointers in the other 26 games this season ... UWM has fielded five different starting lineups this season, though the Panthers have used the same starting five over the last 17 games. Seven different players have earned starts. Last season, the Panthers used seven different starting lineups with eight different players earning starts.
Last Time Out
Jason Averkamp scored a collegiate-best 21 points while replacing an injured Marcus Skinner but UWM could not overcome a 14-point first-half deficit in falling to Valparaiso, 66-57, Monday night at the U.S. Cellular Arena. Skinner went down with a lower-leg injury a little over a minute into the game and senior Paige Paulsen headed to the sidelines a few minutes later after being poked in the eye. UWM wound up shooting just 14.8 percent in the first half and, despite closing to within a point with 5:58 to play, the Panthers could never get over the hump. Ricky Franklin added 11 points for Milwaukee, while Paulsen did return to play in the second half but scored just four points.
Youth Is Served
UWM's underclassmen continue to step up as the season goes along. Monday night against Valpo, the leading scorer was sophomore Jason Averkamp while next on the list was junior Ricky Franklin. Saturday at Bradley, sophomore Charlie Swiggett and freshman Anthony Hill were the top scorers. UWM's three leading scorers in the Green Bay win Feb. 16 were all underclassmen and junior Deion James led the Panthers in scoring last Wednesday at Cleveland State.
One big concern of UWM head coach Rob Jeter heading into the final weekend of the regular season is his team's penchant for an ill-timed scoring drought. The Panthers have endured at least one notable scoreless streak in each of its last four outings. By far the longest came in the win just over a week ago against Green Bay, as UWM went 9:38 without a basket. That was countered by Green Bay then going 9:16 without an offensive tally. But, in the three games since then, the Panthers have gone 4:53 of first half without scoring at Cleveland State, 5:32 of the first half without scoring at Bradley and stretches of 4:06 and 4:04 in the first half Monday vs. Valpo.
Change Is Good
With the number of roster changes UWM has endured throughout the 2007-08 season, the team's overall individual stats can be a bit deceiving. In fact, a look at the individual stats since the Panthers began playing with their current roster Dec. 19 shows great balance and solid figures in a number of category. Numbers from the last 16 games:
Paige Paulsen 14.2 ppg. 6.4 rpg Ricky Franklin 10.2 ppg. 4.2 rpg Deion James 9.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg Marcus Skinner 9.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 57.5% Deonte Roberts 8.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg Simple Stats
In-depth analysis could lead to a wide variety of "keys to victory" for a UWM team that has dropped six of its last seven outings yet has still gone 10-7 since starting the year 3-7. But, two simple stats might point out the real keys to winning. First, UWM is 12-5 when it either wins in the rebounding battle or the numbers are even, while the Panthers are 1-9 when being outrebounded. Next, UWM is 12-4 when it scores 70 or more points but just 4-9 when allowing 70 or more.
UWM wraps up the regular season Saturday night by hosting UIC. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. CST.