Basketball Season Begins As Panther Men Host Parkside
Oct. 31, 2006
Game #EX1 Wednesday, Nov. 1 UW-Parkside 7 p.m.
Of Note: UWM and UW-Parkside are meeting in exhibition play for the second-straight season; teams also met in regular season in 2004-2005.
UWM: 22-9 in 2005-06; exhibition opener UWP: 15-13 in 2005-06; exhibition opener Arena: U.S. Cellular Arena (10,783) Tickets: Available through all Milwaukee-area Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 414-276-4545 or online at ticketmaster.com. UWM students are admitted free. TV: None Radio: WOKY (920AM) - Bill Johnson play-by-play Online: Live gametracker at www.uwmpanthers.com
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team opens the 2006-07 season with an exhibition contest against in-state rival UW-Parkside. Wednesday night's contest tips off at 7 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Arena.
UWM will be playing fellow NCAA schools in exhibition play for the fourth-straight year, thanks to a rule change that has encouraged exhibition games between Division I teams and their Division II and III brethren. The Panthers have gone a perfect 4-0 against DII and DIII foes in exhibition play over the past three years. UWM beat Southern Indiana in 2003, Lawrence in 2004 and UW-Parkside and UW-Platteville in 2005. In addition to this year's contest with Parkside, the Panthers will play Edgewood next Monday.
Playing With Parkside
UWM and UW-Parkside will meet in exhibition play for the second-straight season, and the teams have also met three times in the regular season since 2002. The Panthers haven't lost to the Rangers since 1994, when UWP claimed an 80-79 upset win. Parkside does hold a slight, 16-15, edge over UWM in the all-time series, though that mark includes only regular season games. The two programs are also tied together through their head coaches, as both Rob Jeter and Luke Reigel are graduates of UW-Platteville. Reigel played on the 1995 NCAA Division III National Championship team Jeter was an assistant coach for.
Much will be made of all of the new faces around the Panther program, and rightly so. But, UWM will also look to its group of returnees to provide stability and leadership, especially early in the season. Nick Hansen and Kevin Massiah make up this year's senior class. Massiah is in his second year in Milwaukee while Hansen, who has been on the roster as a walk-on the last three years, was awarded a scholarship. Juniors Allan Hanson and Avery Smith also return. The duo played in every game a season ago, with Smith averaging 4.7 ppg and Hanson shooting 46.7 percent from three-point range. Walk-ons Michael Bendall and Myles McKay also return for their third seasons on the UWM roster.
A Lot Of Fresh Faces
When you lose seven seniors in one graduation class, you would figure to have a lot of new players on the roster. Well, UWM's expansive 2006-07 roster includes 19 players, with 15 of those players in either their first or second years in Milwaukee. Nine players from that group are in their first year at UWM.
Finally Getting Their Chance
Paige Paulsen, Ricky Franklin and Kaylan Anderson all sat out last season for different reasons, and now all three are looking forward to getting their chance as the 2006-07 season begins. Paulsen sat out last season due to NCAA transfer regulations but played two solid seasons at Northern Illinois University and stands as one the Panthers' most experienced Division I player. Franklin sat out last season due to NCAA Initial Eligibility Standards but was the Milwaukee City Conference Player of the Year in 2005 and is expected to have an immediate impact for the Panthers. Finally, Anderson played during the exhibition season a year ago before redshirting the season. He should also receive an opportunity to crack the playing rotation this year. Zach Holt also returns for a second season as a walk-on after sitting out last season.
New In Town
A number of players are spending their first year at UWM, and many from that group will get a chance to contribute this year. Guard Charlie Swiggett played last season at Notre Dame Prep, the consensus #1 prep school in the country a season ago. Roman Gentry was the Iowa Class 4A Player of the Year a season ago and averaged 20.6 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. And, Ryan Thornton helped his team to the Illinois Class A state title game while making 117 three-point field goals as a senior. Walk-on freshmen Jason Averkamp and Jason Deutchman also join the squad for this coming season. It should be noted that, for the second-straight year, the NCAA is allowing players who play in exhibition games to still redshirt the season, so any decisions or conclusions on who might redshirt will likely not be made until after the two exhibition contests are complete.
Waiting Their Turn
UWM's roster includes a pair of players who are eligible for practice but not game action this coming year. Torre Johnson is a transfer from Oklahoma State University who will have one year of eligibility remaining, while Deion James is a transfer from the University of Tulsa who will have two years remaining. Both are natives of Milwaukee.
It Doesn't Look Easy
With a roster full of new faces, you would think the Panthers might look to go easy on their 2006-07 schedule. Well, think again. Last year, UWM's slate wound up rated as the 21st-most-difficult non-league slate in the country, and this year's looks like it might surpass that. The Panthers will face two teams from the Big Ten (#9 Wisconsin and Michigan), two from the Missouri Valley (Northern Iowa and Missouri State) one from the Pac 10 (Washington State) and one from Conference USA (UAB). In all, the Panthers will play five non-league games against teams that played in the postseason a year ago, with UAB, Northern Iowa and Wisconsin all making the NCAAs while Michigan and Missouri State made the NIT. The Panthers will also again participate in ESPN's BracketBusters event while continuing a three-year agreement with Wyoming of the Mountain West Conference.
The Thompson Classic
One of UWM's scheduling goals in recent seasons has been to upgrade the quality of teams that play at the U.S. Cellular Arena. While the Panthers can negotiate their way into guarantee games on the road, it is often difficult to get high-profile teams into Milwaukee. Well, this year's John Thompson Foundation Classic has helped to circumvent that situation, as Washington State, UAB and Radford will all come to The Cell as part of the event. The matchup with Washington State will mark the first time UWM has ever faced a Pac 10 team - home or away - while UAB will become just the second current member of Conference USA to visit The Cell in recent seasons. Rice did play at UWM in the NIT in 2004. Next year's home slate is shaping up to be just as attractive, with Wisconsin and Northern Iowa among the teams already slated to visit the U.S. Cellular Arena.
UWM has made three changes to its 2006-07 schedule since announcing it in early September. Two of the changes involve dates and have come about because of conflicts at the U.S. Cellular Arena with the Milwaukee Wave. The game with Youngstown State, originally scheduled for Dec. 9, has been moved to Sunday, Dec. 10 at noon. Also, the game with Wright State, originally scheduled for Jan. 20, has been moved to Sunday, Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. Finally, the Jan. 27 game home game with UW-Green Bay will now tipoff at 1 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. That change was made to accommodate a national television broadcast on ESPN2.
A View From The Outside
The outside expectations placed on the Panthers for the 2006-07 season figured to be down, and indeed UWM was picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League. That vote came from among the league's coaches, SIDs and media members. Loyola was picked as the league favorite, with UW-Green Bay and Detroit close behind. The Panthers also had no players selected for either the preseason first or second teams.
UWM will again make a number of appearances on television in 2006-07, highlighted by an ESPN2 date with UW-Green Bay at the U.S. Cellular Arena. This will mark the 19th national television appearance for the Panthers since the 2002-03 season, and the eighth time in the last five seasons the national cameras have turned their sights on the U.S. Cellular Arena. UWM will also again have a local TV deal with WMLW. The full schedule of games has not been finalized, but the slate is expected to include eight contests, including the Dec. 13 game at Wisconsin and the Feb. 24 game at UW-Green Bay. Daron Sutton and Jason Clark return to call the action on WMLW.
UWM has signed a new five-year contract with Clear Channel Communications to keep the broadcast of its men's basketball games on WOKY Radio. The agreement provides UWM athletics with a great deal of on-air promotional inventory while also moving UWM women's basketball games to WOKY. Bill Johnson returns for his eighth season as the voice of the Panthers, and pregame coverage on WOKY will again begin 15 minutes before the tipoff of every contest.
Get Your Tickets!
Tickets are now on sale for every UWM men's basketball home game this season. Single-game ticket prices run from $10-$20, though the availability of $20 tickets for most games is extremely limited. Single-game tickets are sold through all Milwaukee-area Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 414-276-4545 or online at ticketmaster.com. Season tickets are also still available by calling the UWM Ticket Office at 414-229-5886.
A Look Back At 2005-06
UWM lived up to preseason expectations in 2005-06 by winning its third-straight outright Horizon League title and then advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It was another step in the incredible progress of the program. UWM had never won a regular season Division I league title until the 2003-04 campaign. In fact, prior to winning the 2003 Horizon League Tournament title, UWM hadn't won a basketball title of any kind since winning the 1960 Wisconsin State Collegiate Conference title. Last year's league regular season and tournament titles give UWM 13 in the 110-year history of men's basketball at the school.
In Select Company
By winning a third-straight outright regular-season league title, UWM joined select company nationally. In fact, Gonzaga is the only other school in the country that has won its league regular-season title outright for the last three seasons. Two other teams -- Nevada from the WAC and Pacific from the Big West - have won at least a share of their league title for the past three seasons. In Horizon League annals, UWM and Butler are the only two schools to have won a regular season title in the last seven years, with Milwaukee winning the last three after Butler won four-straight from 2000-2003.
The Panthers collected at least 20 wins for the fourth-straight season a year ago, something that had never happened in the 110-year history of the program. In fact, until the 2004-05 campaign, no UWM team had even tallied three-straight 20-win seasons. The Panthers also clinched a seventh-straight plus-.500 season, notable for a program that had just seven plus-.500 seasons in the 20 years prior to the hiring of Bo Ryan in 1999. The school record for plus-.500 seasons is nine-straight from 1965-66 thru 1973-74. All of UWM's winning has also led to a number of extended winning streaks by the Panthers. Milwaukee had an eight-game winning streak last season and has had a winning streak of eight games or more in each of the last four seasons.
Topping The Charts
UWM has enjoyed record-breaking success over the last few seasons and, in the process, has cemented itself as the top program in the Horizon League. In fact, over the last five regular seasons, the Panthers are 63-17 (.788) in regular season Horizon League contests. And, over the last four seasons, UWM has lost just 12 league games. The league standings for the last five seasons:
Milwaukee has posted a sparkling homecourt record since returning downtown to the U.S. Cellular Arena for the 2003 Horizon League Tournament. In all, the Panthers are now 36-6 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 (Feb. 15) and Missouri State (Feb. 18) spoiled the run last season. Combining games at both the Klotsche Center and the U.S. Cellular Arena, UWM is now 47-7 in regular season Horizon League home contests over the last seven seasons.
Milwaukee hosts Edgewood College Monday at 7 p.m.