Panthers Start Practice For August Trip To Italy
July 16, 2010
MILWAUKEE - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team got an early start in its preparations for the 2010-11 season, taking the floor for a 6:30 a.m. practice today in the Pavilion.
The Panthers are allotted 10 days of practice prior to their trip to Italy next month. The first three practice days are scheduled for this break in the July recruiting period, while the other seven practice days will come early next month.
UWM is set to head to Italy Aug. 15-25, playing at least four games. Opponents for those games have not yet been determined. The privately-funded trip is scheduled to take the Panthers to Rome, Florence, Venice and Lake Como.
This morning's workout, the first of two scheduled for Friday, got the summer sessions off to a positive start, according to head coach Rob Jeter.
"It is very exciting. It really is the beginning of the 2010-2011 season," Jeter said. "The guys were excited, the staff - we were excited. It's really important this summer that we get to work with the freshmen and new players, too, so having our full team - it was good to get the guys together and get them started early."
Jeter was pleased with the conditioning and readiness of his players, many of whom have been working hard in Milwaukee this summer. In fact, Jeter said his guys may well get more out of these summer workouts than they do in the early fall, when conditioning takes center stage.
"I think it actually looked a little better than coming back in the fall in those first days of school," Jeter said. "When school starts, most of the guys have usually been gone for a month and you're not quite sure of their conditioning level. Plus, their minds are on getting settled in for the semester and starting school. We break the guys down physically in September with weightlifting and the hills. Now, we have a group of guys who have been lifting and conditioning and really have been getting ready to play games. They are at a much better starting point compared to the fall and that will lead to better practices."
In the end, these summer workouts serve two purposes - preparation for game action in Italy and an early start on the work that will pay off from November to March. Jeter says the main focus this summer is on the team, putting in the pieces that will help the Panthers succeed in game action.
"We'll do a little skill development, but you really have to get yourself prepared to play some games," Jeter said. "We want to go over there and play well. So, that means we're putting in a lot of our plays and putting in our offensive movement and our defensive responsibilities. We're trying to deal with the whole rather than breaking it down into a lot of parts. It's very important, especially for the new guys, to get up to speed on the things that we do on both ends of the floor."
While UWM will find itself counting on some new faces this season, including junior-college transfer Kaylon Williams and true freshman Kyle Kelm, a large group of veterans will lead the way during these early practices. Seniors Anthony Hill and Tone Boyle both have all-league aspirations, while players like Tony Meier, Ryan Haggerty, Lonnie Boga, Ja'Rob McCallum and Jerard Ajami all hope to take a big step now that they have more extensive collegiate experience.
Last season - playing without all-league guard Boyle, who was sidelined by an injury - the Panthers won 20 games for just the 10th time in school history.