Basketball Notebook: Panthers Counting On Senior Leadership
Oct. 22, 2012
MILWAUKEE - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball is well into its preseason practice schedule, with its first exhibition game just two weeks away.
One of the main tasks of this preseason has been to mix a group of five seniors and eight letterwinners with a talented group of newcomers. In fact, many of the newcomers are being counted upon heavily to contribute this season.
That leaves the older group in a key position of teaching and sharing the ways of Milwaukee basketball. James Haarsma and Paris Gulley each started much of last season, while Ryan Haggerty, Christian Wolf and Demetrius Harris have all been role players throughout their Milwaukee careers. But all five are being counted on to lead the team on and off the court this year.
"I'm excited about the leadership we have," Milwaukee head coach Rob Jeter said. "It starts with our seniors. They understand what we want and our core values do not change from year to year. So it is the same message each year, but it's just new personnel and new faces. They just have to understand the messages. When you have veterans like our senior group, those messages are going to keep resonating and coming through. The newer guys will pick on them fairly quickly."
The latest is College Sports Madness, which put together four preseason teams for the Horizon League and also has been running down its list of the top programs in the country.
Haarsma claimed a spot on the publication's second team while Gulley was on the third team.
Plenty Of Tests
Along with a road games at nationally-ranked Wisconsin and another contest against MVC power Northern Iowa, the game that jumps out is a Nov. 17 home contest with Davidson. In fact, USA Today Sports Weekly tabs it as one of five Horizon League "Don't Miss Games," and the same publication says, "There hasn't been this much excitement about a Davidson basketball season since Stephen Curry's final season."
The Wildcats do return all of their starters, including co-Southern Conference Players of the Year Jake Cohen and De'Mon Brooks. Jeter knows it will be a stiff test and one that almost didn't make it onto the Panthers' slate.
"It was late for us trying to finish our schedule - like late August and early September - and they were in the same position we were in," Jeter said. "We have a lot of respect for Davidson and the program and we were looking for a team to bring in for our fans to have a really marquee home game. They always have a chance to be in the NCAA Tournament, they won 25 games last year, so it is going to be a great contest for us."
The addition of a squad like Davidson to the schedule fits a trend around much of the Horizon League, with teams making further efforts to add notable non-league foes.
"What we're all trying to do is continue to ramp up our non-conference schedules and to play in tough environments because our league is so tough and you have to get ready for that," Jeter said.
Upcoming Event Reminders
Both events are this week, with scrimmage set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Klotsche Center and the luncheon scheduled for noon Friday at the Milwaukee Athletic Club.