Nov. 23, 2012
The Hot List
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team heads south of the border for its final two games in the Hoops for Hope Classic. The Panthers play Jacksonville Saturday and Rider Sunday, with both games taking place in Puerto Vallerta, Mexico.
The Panthers suffered a disappointing 59-43 loss at Arkansas-Little Rock Monday night. Milwaukee shot just 32.7 percent from the field and committed 19 turnovers.
Jordan Aaron and Demetrius Harris continue to lead the charge for the Panthers on offense. Aaron has been in double figures in all four of his games in a Panther uniform and is averaging 19 points per game. Harris has been in double figures in each of the last two games and is averaging 11 points per contest.
The Panthers continue to play tremendous perimeter defense. Opponents have made just 9-of-51 from three-point range in the first four games of the season.
The Panthers are returning three starters and eight letterwinners from a team that won 20 games and played in the College Basketball Invitational a season ago. UWM also has five seniors on its roster, including returning starters James Haarsma and Paris Gulley.
UWM is without Gulley for at least another week after the senior broke his left hand in practice late last month.
Milwaukee has been picked to finish sixth in the Horizon League and did not land anyone on the preseason all-league team.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team is in Puerto Vallerta, Mexico, for its next two games. The Panthers face Jacksonville Saturday and Rider Sunday.
A Quick Scout
Jacksonville enters the weekend 2-3 ... the Dolphins lost at UALR, 78-56, Wednesday night ... JU did claim an impressive win at Missouri State earlier in the week ... the Dolphins, a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, have six players averaging between 6 and 10 points per game ... Rider is also 2-3 entering the weekend ... the Broncos have victories over Robert Morris and Monmouth ... Rider lost at SMU Wednesday before coming to Mexico ... St. John's transfer Nurideen Lindsey is averaging 18 points per game ... Rider and Jacksonville play Friday afternoon in Puerto Vallerta.
Hitting The Road
The Panthers are spending plenty of time over these two weeks. This journey began last Sunday morning with a flight to Little Rock for Monday's game at UALR. Then, Milwaukee headed to Puerto Vallerta early Tuesday for these final two games of the Hoops for Hope Classic, with UWM playing back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday. Then Milwaukee finishes off its string of road games with a contest Dec. 1 at Northern Iowa. In all, the Panthers will play just six of their 15 non-league games in Milwaukee.
This weekend will mark the first time the Panthers have ever played a regular season outside of the U.S. UWM has taken two foreign tours during the summer months, playing in Belgium, Germany and France in 2003 and Italy in 2010. The Panthers went 6-2 over those two trips, and also returned to the U.S. to win Horizon League titles each of those seasons.
This weekend's two games are part of the Hoops for Hope Classic. The tournament also previously sent Milwaukee to South Carolina and Arkansas-Little Rock. Those two schools, plus SMU and Missouri State, are also playing in Mexico this weekend. In addition to UWM's games, Rider and Jacksonville are playing Friday. Then, on the other side of the bracket, SMU and UALR matchup in one game Saturday while South Carolina and Missouri State play in the other games. Those winners and losers play Sunday.
The Last Time Out
Arkansas-Little Rock scored 15 of the final 17 points of the game to run away with a 59-43 win over UWM Monday night at the Jack Stephens Center. Will Neighbour tallied 17 points and Leroy Isler added 13 for UALR, which made 56 percent of its shots in the second half in avenging a loss to the Panthers in Little Rock a season ago. The Panthers never got on track offensively, shooting just 32.7 percent from the floor while committing 19 turnovers. Yet, in spite of the offensive struggles, Milwaukee was still in position to pull out the win most of the way. The score was tied at 32-all early in the second half and the Panthers were within 44-41 with five minutes remaining before the Trojans ran away with things.
Heavy On Harris
Senior Demetrius Harris is really starting to settle in to his spot in the Milwaukee lineup. The forward tallied 15 points in his homecoming at Arkansas-Little Rock Monday after collecting 17 points in the win over Davidson a week ago. Harris played in 19 games off the bench a season ago but now has become a featured part of Milwaukee's lineup this season.
Making His Point
It hasn't taken long for junior-college transfer Jordan Aaron to settle into the backcourt for Milwaukee. Aaron has been in double figures in scoring in each of UWM's first four games, including a 28-point effort at South Carolina and a run of 13 points in a row in a win over Davidson. Aaron has already earned Horizon League Co-Newcomer of the Week honors once and has posted a pair of five-plus assist efforts. Aaron's 28 points at South Carolina were the most by a Panther since Anthony Hill scored 32 against UIC at the tail end of the 2010-11 campaign. Aaron is filling the void at point guard left by all-league performer Kaylon Williams. He played the past two seasons at Southeastern Community College and was highly sought-after before coming to Milwaukee. As a freshman at SECC, Aaron led his team to the national semifinals. Then he added 14.4 points per game as a sophomore.
Other New Faces Pitching In
Jordan Aaron is far from the only new or relatively inexperienced player making an impact for the Panthers in the early season. In fact, four of UWM's five starters in the season opener against Mary were making their first-ever collegiate start. Thierno Niang, a JUCO transfer from Senegal via Triton Community College, is starting in the backcourt in place of the injured Paris Gulley. Niang had 12 rebounds in last Saturday's win. Returning players Demetrius Harris and Christian Wolf have also each played much bigger roles early this season than ever before. Each has started the first four games of the season after the two had combined to appear in just 57 games total over four seasons of college basketball coming into the year. Plus, true freshman Austin Arians has posted some big performances, including a 13-point outing Monday night in Little Rock.
Dialing Long Distance
UWM has plenty of shooters on its roster in 2012-13, and the Panthers have been busy showing that off in the first three games of the season. Milwaukee reached double-digits in three-pointers made in each of the first two games, knocking down 13 three-pointers in the season opener against Mary and then 14 more in the loss at South Carolina. UWM has added 12 more over the last two contests and is averaging nearly 10 made threes per game. Seven different players have already made at least one 3-pointer, and Milwaukee has outscored its opponents 117-27 from beyond the arc. All of this is happening without arguably UWM's best three-pointer shooter on the court, as Paris Gulley remains sidelined by a broken hand. A year ago, Milwaukee made 10 or more three-pointers 11 times and made 264 threes as a team on the season.
And There's The Perimeter D
Milwaukee's perimeter defense appears to be up to whatever challenge it faces. The Panthers have allowed just nine made three-pointers in three games so far this season. South Carolina failed to make a three-pointer in 11 tries, Mary made just 3-of-21 from beyond the arc, Davidson made just four and UALR only two. That means opponents are shooting just 17.6 percent from beyond the arc against Milwaukee, converting just 7-of-46 attempts. All in all, hopes are high Milwaukee can put together another stellar defensive season. A year ago, UWM allowed opponents to shoot just 41.9 percent from the floor overall and only 29 percent from three-point range. And, a season ago, the Panthers held five opponents to less than 50 points in a game, including two to under 40 points.
More News And Notes
UWM lost in overtime to South Carolina, the first OT defeat for the Panthers since January of 2009 vs. Green Bay. Rob Jeter is 9-7 as a head coach in overtime ... James Haarsma tallied the first double-double of his Milwaukee career in the loss at South Carolina. The senior had 14 points and 10 rebounds. It was third double-figure rebounding outing of his career at UWM ... Kyle Kelm has reached double figures in points in two of the first four games of the season ... Milwaukee was tested in its lone exhibition contest, as Jordan Aaron had to hit two free throws with five seconds remaining to give UWM a 68-67 win over UW-Parkside Nov. 5. The Panthers trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half and by six with a minute remaining before rallying for the victory.
The Panther Overview
UWM returns three starters and eight letterwinners from a team that posted a 20-14 mark a season ago. In fact, the Panthers qualified for the postseason for the second year in a row, earning a spot in the College Basketball Invitational. Milwaukee's season ended with a loss at TCU in the first round of the postseason. Now, Milwaukee turns its focus to the 2012-13 campaign looking for its third 20-win season in the last four years along with its ninth top-four league finish in 11 years.
The Panthers were picked to finish sixth in the Horizon League in a preseason poll of the league's coaches, sports information directors and media. No Milwaukee player landed on the all-league team. Valparaiso, the defending league regular season champion, was picked to win the crown, while Detroit was picked to finish second. Other preseason publications have placed the Panthers anywhere from fourth to sixth in the league standings, with both James Haarsma and Paris Gulley earning preseason accolades from some pollsters.
UWM has again assembled a difficult non-league schedule. The Panthers will play at Wisconsin, South Carolina, Northern Iowa and DePaul while hosting Davidson. Milwaukee is also spending Thanksgiving in Puerto Vallerta. In all, the Panthers will play 11 games against teams that played in the postseason a year ago while squaring off with squads from the SEC, Big East and Big Ten. Plus, UWM plays at home just twice in its first seven games.
A Leader On The Horizon
The Horizon League takes on a slightly new look in 2012-13 with the departure of Butler to the Atlantic 10. That move caused a late adjustment in the league schedule, which now will not begin until early January. The Panthers are scheduled to open league play on the road at NCAA qualifier Detroit. UWM also now takes over the mantle of winningest Horizon League program over the last 12 years. The Panthers are the only school to average more than 10 league wins per season in that time and Milwaukee has been below .500 in league play just once in 12 years. UWM's 130-70 mark in 12 seasons bests Wright State (113-87) by 17 games and those are the only two schools to win at least 100 league games in that time.
Time Warner Cable's Sports32 is again the official home for Panther basketball, with Sports32 carrying at least nine games this season. Daron Sutton and Adrian Tigert return as the voices of Panther basketball on TV, while radio play-by-play man Bill Johnson is back as the host of "The Rob Jeter Show." Along with the nine games on Sports32, Milwaukee will appear at least five times on the ESPN family of networks while also making appearances on FSN and BTN.
Panther basketball is again back on WISN (AM 1130) as UWM and Clear Channel Radio have inked a new agreement for both men's and women's coverage. Bill Johnson returns for his 14th season as the play-by-play man. Coverage begins 15 minutes before every game. The weekly "Panther Sports Report" will also return in January.
UWM has signed three players to National Letters of Intent during the fall signing period. Trinson White of Milwaukee, Wis., Cody Wichmann of Pulaski, Wis., and Brett Prahl of East Troy, Wis., will all join the Panthers for the 2013-14 season. Wichmann and Prahl are currently high school seniors while White is a junior-college standout at Indian Hills Community College. A 6-foot-5 wing, White played his high school basketball at Milwaukee Riverside, where he was an all-state performer at Riverside. Wichmann is a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Pulaski High School, where he was a Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association First-Team All-State honoree as a junior. Prahl is a 6-foot-9 forward from East Troy High School who averaged 12.9 points per game as a junior while earning First-Team All-Walworth County and All-Rock Valley Conference recognition.