Dec. 2, 2011
The Hot List
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team wraps up a weekend homestand by welcoming UIC to the U.S. Cellular Arena for a Saturday afternoon contest.
UWM is off to a 6-1 start, its best beginning to a season since starting 2004-05 at 6-1. Milwaukee hasn't been at least 7-1 since winning its first eight games to begin the 1992-93 season.
The Panthers' sixth win of the season came in the Horizon League opener against Loyola Thursday. Milwaukee outscored the Ramblers, 37-23, in the second half on its way to a 59-41 win.
Milwaukee outrebounded Loyola, 42-20, and outscored the Ramblers in the paint, 34-8.
Transfer James Haarsma has made a big mark on the Panthers in the early season, leading the team in both scoring and rebounding. He was named the Horizon League Player of the Week Monday.
UWM has held five of its seven opponents this season to fewer than 60 points and opponents are shooting just 37.1 percent from the field overall against Milwaukee. The Panthers currently lead the league in scoring defense.
The Panthers have already had seven different players reach double figures in points.
Milwaukee has been picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League this year in a poll of the league's head coaches, SIDs and media. Butler was picked to win the league.
Seniors Kaylon Williams and Tony Meier each earned a spot on the preseason all-league team in the same poll. Williams, who led the league in assists last season, was put on the first team while Meier, who averaged 12.0 points per game a season ago, claimed a place on the second team.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team wraps up a weekend homestand by welcoming UIC to the U.S. Cellular Arena Saturday afternoon.
The Flames are 2-4 on the young season ... UIC lost a heartbreaking 71-68 contest at Green Bay Thursday ... the Flames had a three-point lead with two minutes remaining but could not hang on ... UIC owns an impressive non-league win over Evansville ... former Wisconsin assistant Howard Moore is in his second season at UIC.
The Division I series between the two schools finds UWM with a slight 21-20 lead ... the two teams have played in some memorable and important contests in recent seasons, including five league tournament meetings ... the Panthers have won seven in a row in the series ... 14 of the last 23 meetings have been decided by eight points or less ... Tony Meier is averaging 15.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in five career meetings with the Flames ... Kaylon Williams had 14 assists and 12 rebounds in a win at UIC last season.
An Early Start In The League
For the 10th-straight season, UWM is opening its league schedule in December. For the fifth-straight season, though, the early start includes every league school, with the addition of Valparaiso to the league creating an 18-game schedule and increasing the need to dedicate an early-season weekend to league play. Including Thursday's win, UWM has gone 10-8 in December league games, having won a single league game in four-straight seasons from 2002-03 through 2005-06 before dropping both of its December league games in 2006-07 and 2007-08. In 2008-09, Milwaukee went 3-0 in league contests in December while UWM has gone 1-2 in the month in each of the last two years. The Panthers will play four league games in December this year.
A Decade Of Horizon Success
Over the last 11 years, Milwaukee and Butler have established themselves as the top two programs in the Horizon League. In fact, since 2000-01, Milwaukee has the second-most league wins behind Butler and those are the only two schools to average more than 10 league wins per season. UWM has been below .500 in league play just once in 11 years - only Butler and Wright State can also make that claim. And, Milwaukee has now won 10 or more league games in eight of 11 years while winning four regular season crowns. The standings over the last 11 years, including Youngstown State (joined 2001) and Valparaiso (2007).
Butler 138 44
Milwaukee 120 63
Wright State 106 77
Green Bay 90 93
Detroit 87 96
UIC 81 101
Cleveland State 80 103
Loyola 74 109
Youngstown State 40 129
Valparaiso 36 36
The Panthers have been picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League, according to the results of the league's official preseason poll. Butler claimed the top spot in the poll, Detroit was picked second and CSU is third. Meanwhile, Kaylon Williams and Tony Meier each claimed spots on the official Preseason All-Horizon League Team. Williams was a preseason first-team all-league selection while Meier was voted onto the preseason second team.
Happy At Home
Milwaukee has had plenty of success on its homecourt in recent seasons. UWM is off to a 4-0 start at home this season and is now 88-31 in regular season and postseason contests at The Cell since their return in 2002-03. Even better, if you combine games at both the Klotsche Center and The Cell, UWM is 79-19 in league home contests over the last 12 seasons. Rob Jeter's teams are 65-29 at home.
Getting Healthier, And Then A Bump
UWM looks to be slowly but surely getting closer to fielding a fully-healthy roster of players as the calendar turns to December. Senior Tony Meier (calf) returned to active duty for the first time Thursday, playing 18 minutes off the bench. Junior Lonnie Boga has also missed the early season with a shoulder injury but is getting closer to a return. One name was added to the injury list, though, as junior Ja'Rob McCallum aggravated a wrist injury in practice Wednesday and did not play Thursday. His status for games Saturday and Monday is unknown.
Off To A Fast Start
The Panthers' 6-1 start to the season marks their best since the 2004-05 campaign. That season, Milwaukee started 6-0 before an upset loss at Valparaiso. The last time UWM has done any better than 6-1 after its first seven games was in 1992-93, when Milwaukee started 8-0 before losing the ninth game of the year. Plus, the Panthers' have now gotten December off to a successful start after a very nice November. In fact, the five wins in November equal the most in the month in school history, as UWM also won five November games in 2009-10. And, Milwaukee's two true road wins in the month are the most since 1999-2000, when Bo Ryan led the Panthers to wins at Central Michigan and UMKC in his first season at UWM.
The Last Time Out
Ryan Allen scored a team-high 14 points to lead three players in double-figures as UWM took over in the second half in posting a 59-41 victory over Loyola Thursday night at the U.S. Cellular Arena. The Panthers outscored the Ramblers, 37-23, in the second half to claim the victory. Allen added five rebounds while Kyle Kelm scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds. Kaylon Williams had a great all-around game with 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. UWM has now won its last four league openers.
Getting It Done On D
The most impressive part of the Panthers' play in the early season has been their defensive effort. Thursday added another very nice entry to that list, as UWM allowed just 41 points while Loyola shot only 35.7 percent from the floor. That means five of UWM's first seven opponents have failed to get to 60 points and the Panthers have held all seven opponents to less than 44 percent shooting from the field. Some other defensive notes:
- The 38 points UWM allowed to Texas Southern are the fewest the Panthers have allowed since giving up just 21 against Mount Senario in December of 2000. And, the 38 points are the fewest UWM has allowed to a Division I team since moving back to Division I in 1990.
- If you combine the efforts against both IUPUI and Texas Southern, UWM gave up just 87 points in back-to-back games. That's the fewest points allowed in back-to-back contests since UWM allowed just 76 against San Diego (55) and Mount Senario (21) in 2000.
- Milwaukee is giving up just 53.1 points per game, the best mark in the league and now up to ninth nationally. Opponents are also shooting just 22.8 percent (21-92) from three-point range, the seventh-best mark in the country, and just 37.1 percent overall, which ranks 28th nationally.
- The Panthers limited IUPUI to just 30 percent shooting, the lowest by a Panther opponent since Youngstown State shot just 27.4 percent against Milwaukee in January of 2009.
- All of last season, UWM held only five opponents under 60 points.
- UWM has also now held three opponents under 50 points. The last time that happened was in 2004-05, when four opponents failed to reach the 50-point mark.
Controlling The Inside
Along with a stout defensive effort Thursday, the Panthers used to their size and bulk to control the interior. UWM wound up with a 34-8 edge in points in the paint while the Panthers outrebounded the Ramblers, 42-20. Milwaukee had 17 offensive rebounds, the sixth time in seven games where UWM has reached double figures in the category. And, the Panthers are outrebouding their opponents by more than seven boards per contest.
Kaylon Settles In
After missing the first two games of the season - one exhibition game and the regular season opener - preseason all-league honoree Kaylon Williams seems to be settling in. He had 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the win over Loyola Thursday and now has five outings of five or more assists plus three double-figure scoring efforts in his first six games of the season. He has gone past 200 assists for his brief Panther career and has also knocked in nine 3-pointers.
Heavy On Haarsma
Panther fans have been eagerly awaiting the chance to see James Haarsma in a Milwaukee uniform and the junior transfer is showing why. He is averaging 11.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in seven outings so far this season and led the way with 17 points in the win at Little Rock last Saturday, earning him Horizon League Player of the Week honors. He opened the season with a 17-rebound effort against Southwest Minnesota State that included 10 offensive boards. Then, he posted a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds in the win over NIU Nov. 14. His 10 offensive boards against SMSU marked the first time a Panther has reached double digits since Marcus Skinner did it against Green Bay in 2008. And, the 17 total rebounds equaled the second-most in a game in Division I school history (also tying Marcus Skinner).
Getting Everyone Involved
UWM has done a nice job of getting a wide variety of players involved in the offense early this season. In fact, the Panthers landed four players in double figures in each of their first three games and now have had seven different players in double figures in points. James Haarsma, Ryan Allen and Kyle Kelm all now have four double-figure outings while Ja'Rob McCallum and Kaylon Williams each have three apiece. Evan Richard has now done it twice while Paris Gulley was in double figures in the season opener.
Other Early-Season Numbers
Kyle Kelm set a collegiate-high with 10 rebounds two weeks ago against Texas Southern ... Kelm added 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the win Thursday ... Paris Gulley made his second start of the season Thursday in place of the injured Ja'Rob McCallum ... Shaq Boga had eight points to go with four rebounds and two assists at Michigan State ... UWM's 35-point win over Texas Southern was the biggest for the Panthers since a 41-point win over Youngstown State in 2006 ... the Panthers knocked in a season-high 12 three-pointers at Little Rock last Saturday. Five different players made at least two 3-pointers apiece.
A Little Background On Last Year
UWM wrapped up the 2010-11 season with 19 wins, a league title and the school's fifth-ever Division I postseason berth. The Panthers won the Horizon League regular season title with a 13-5 mark and then came up short in their quest for a fourth NCAA Tournament berth, falling to Butler in the league championship game. The Panthers still earned a spot in the NIT and fell to Northwestern, 70-61, in the first round. Milwaukee finished the regular season with a flourish, winning its final nine regular season league contests, with that run taking Milwaukee from 4-5 and seventh place after a loss at Valpo Jan. 21 to the top spot. Head coach Rob Jeter claimed Horizon League Coach of the Year honors while senior Anthony Hill was a First-Team All-League performer. Hill also earned league all-tournament recognition and was named a NABC Second-Team All-District 12 performer. Kaylon Williams was named to the league's all-newcomer team and Tony Meier was one of 11 players to earned NACDA Division I-AAA Scholar-Athlete honors.
Previewing Things For This Time Around
UWM returns three starters and eight letterwinners and once again has high expectations. Senior point guard Kaylon Williams heads up the list of returnees after collecting178 assists last season, the second-most in a single season in over 100 years of Milwaukee basketball and the top tally in the Horizon League. Senior Tony Meier also returns after averaging 12 points per game last year, with five 20-point outings and league player of the week recognition after the final weekend of the season. Among the other returnees, junior guard Ja'Rob McCallum started 26 games a season ago and has made 88 three-pointers in two seasons. Ryan Allen came on strong late in the season and Lonnie Boga played in 25 games. Kyle Kelm posted a solid true freshman campaign while playing behind Meier and Anthony Hill. UWM should benefit from an influx of strong new talent, including transfer James Haarsma.
Schedule Is Plenty Tough
UWM is set to play 13 games against teams that played in the postseason a year ago. The highlight of the home schedule is a visit by Wisconsin to the U.S. Cellular Arena Dec. 13. This will mark the second time the Badgers have played the Panthers at The Cell, and just the fourth time since UWM moved to Division I the Panthers and Badgers will meet in Milwaukee. In all, the slate includes a total of 16 contests against teams that won at least 19 games last season, while Milwaukee will see two teams from the Big Ten and two teams from the Big East.
Milwaukee heads to Chicago to face DePaul Monday night.