Thursday, January 28, 2010

More On Big Lumber

The James Eayrs media blitz continues this week, as the Minneapolis Star Tribune checks in on a local kid made good.

You can read the story from Michael Rand here.

We're still waiting on the latest blog post from the big guy over at HLN ...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crush Of The Week

Ole James Eayrs is always popular, as noted by his previous appearances in some stuff, Deadspin and elsewhere.

This week, Eayrs is featured by's Pat Forde as his "Crush of the Week." Pat caught up with big James yesterday and the column has been posted today.

You can read this week's Forde Minutes here ... the stuff on big James is #35.

Word is big James will have a new blog entry up on the Horizon League Network shortly, too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

WBB Top Moments of the 2000s - Part 4

I really tried to key in on relevance when I posted some of the top moments in the 2000s. I tried to line up a game against Green Bay with our game against Green Bay. The second moment of last week, which was actually posted this week, culminated with a win over the Phoenix in the league championship game.

This week’s (or the second this week but should really be the only one for this week) moment happened in the gym where the Panthers are played today (Saturday). The game I am referring to is Traci Edwards’ school-record 45-point outburst.

Edwards, in becoming the highest scoring woman in state of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee or Horizon League history, posted two career 40-point games. As close in total points they were, the games had vastly different complexions.

In January of 2007 (Jan. 20 to be exact), Sandy Botham’s game plan against Cleveland State was to get the ball inside to Traci. And, the team executed wonderfully to the tune of 33 shot attempts for the Menasha, Wis., native. She finished the game 17-of-33 from the field with 42 points. For good measure, she added 16 rebounds and tied a school record with six blocked shots. Not her most efficient shooting night, but a sign of just how dominant the then-sophomore could be.

Fast forward one year, one month and one day. The Panthers are playing at Loyola and the game plan, while focused on Traci as per usual, is not intended to get her 33 shots. What does transpire is an efficient dismantling of the Rambler defense. Edwards got just 14 shots off from the field. She made 12, including her only three-point attempt. Any other night, her 25 points from the field would be a good night.

Not in this game.

Traci Edwards went to the free throw line an astonishing 22 times. Not to waste the opportunities, she made an equally astonishing 20 free throws to give her a Gentile Center record 45 points in the game. Three Loyola post players fouled out trying to guard Traci.

Every point was necessary, as both teams were on fire from the field, combining (COMBINING) to shoot over 59 percent from the field. The Panthers got by the Ramblers, 83-78, in one of the top-two* offensive performances in Milwaukee Basketball history (men’s or women’s).

* In case you are not aware, Von McDade dropped 50 points at Illinois in the early 90’s. He did have the advantage of overtime, but you could probably stage a competitive debate on which performance was better.

Friday, January 22, 2010

MBB: Decade Of The 2000's - Best Opponents

For the next entry in our look back at the decade of the 2000's in UWM men's basketball, I thought I would step away from reflecting on our side for a moment and put together a quick list of the best opponents UWM faced over those 10 years.

In all cases, these are non-league opponents. Within Horizon League play, the Butler teams of the early 2000's were probably the best UWM saw, though honestly the UIC team in 2003-04 was as talented as any league opponent Milwaukee has faced in the last 10 years.

But, in the non-league, here is a quick top 10 and some honorable mentions ...

First those honorable mentions, all from the mid-major ranks. I would include a pair of Bracket Buster opponents in there, with Southern Illinois in 2003 and Manhattan in 2004. My personal favorite, though, was the Montana team in 2005-06. Maybe it was the crowd and the whole atmosphere, maybe it was the god-awful officiating UWM was able to overcome, maybe it was that Missoula was a really cool place to visit, but the Grizzlies were a solid club that made the second round of the NCAA Tournament that year.

#10 - Wisconsin in 2002-03. The Badgers were unranked when UWM lost to them in the Kohl Center but wound up in the Sweet 16.

#9 - Marquette in 2007-08. You could put the 08-09 team at this line, too, as I suppose there wasn't a ton of difference between those two squads. But, with the beat-down they laid on the Panthers at the Bradley Center, this Golden Eagle team gets the nod.

#8 - Boston College in 2004-05. One could make a strong argument for placing this team higher on the list, because it was #1 in the country at one point during the season. But, the Eagles struggled late and UWM took full advantage in the NCAA Tournament Second Round. If not for a slow start and a ton of BC free throws, UWM would have won easily. The Eagles were 14th at the time of the game, making them the highest-ranked opponent UWM has ever beaten.

#7 - Wisconsin in 2006-07. The Badgers were #7 when UWM went into the Kohl Center, and eventually rose all the way to #1. If not for an untimely injury, Wisconsin may well have been in the Final Four and wound up much higher on this list. But, that Badger team was knocked out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by UNLV.

#6 - Kansas in 2004-05. At the time the game was played, everyone would have thought this team would rank much higher on this list. But, the Panthers seemed to expose some things in the Jayhawks that they never really got solved. And, a team that was #2 in the country when UWM faced them at Kemper Arena wound up knocked out by Bucknell in the NCAA Tournament.

#5 - Wisconsin in 2004-05. At the time the Panthers went into the Kohl Center in mid-December, the Badgers were unranked. But they drubbed the Panthers on that day and wound up going all the way to the Elite 8. We can leave it to Badger fans to decide if this was, in fact, Wisconsin's best team of the decade. But, considering they went to the Elite 8 and beat a Sweet 16 Panther team by almost 30 points, they have to get the highest nod of all UW teams on this list.

#4 - Illinois in 2000-01. What more do I need to say besides the final score - 85-44? Sitting at floor level watching Illinois play that night was a sight to behold, though not a very pleasant one from the Panther perspective. Dunks, runouts, blocked shots and a long four-hour journey back from Champaign. The Illini shared the Big Ten title and went to the Elite 8.

#3 - Memphis in Preseason NIT in 2005-06 season. When we got to the FexEx Forum for the game, we thought there was a Grizzlies game that night based on what Memphis looked like in warmups. And the Tigers did not disappoint, rolling past the Panthers. Memphis wound up in the Elite 8, falling to UCLA.

#2 - Illinois in 2005. What might be most noteworthy here is that you can make an honest argument that if the game between UWM and Illinois were played somewhere besides Chicago, it might have gone down to the wire. But, the talent and crowd were too much for the Panthers to knock off the Illini, who wound up falling in the title game to North Carolina. But make no mistake, that team was loaded, and the success a couple of those guys have had at the next level should show you that.

#1 - Florida in 2006. Hard to argue with this one, considering the Gators won the national title. This team was beyond loaded and got to play UWM in Jacksonville. But just look back at the roster ... Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, Taurean Green, and it goes on and on. That was a squad, and undoubtedly the best the Panthers saw in the 2000's.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

WBB Top Moments of the 2000s - Part 3

I apologize for the delay in posting last week’s second moment of the decade and, by default, pushing back this week’s. I’m going to blame computer issues.

The 2000’s got off to an auspicious start for Milwaukee. In their first full season of the decade/millennium, the Panthers won their first league championship as a Division I program and advanced to their first NCAA Tournament.

Jan. 20, 2001, UWM dropped a heartbreaker at Green Bay, 67-63. This is the previously mentioned “Jessica Wilhite knocked down 10(!) three-pointers” game. The loss dropped the Panthers to 6-9 on the season. After that game, they rattled off a modest four-game winning streak. Then, after a setback at Detroit, they would not lose again until the NCAA Tournament.

The team went on a nine-game winning streak, which included a 72-66 win over Green Bay and culminated with another win over the Phoenix, 77-62, in the MCC Tournament championship game. Wilhite knocked down seven treys in that game on her way to a league tournament record 26 points and Maria Viall set a league record of her own with 15 rebounds.

Milwaukee’s season came to an end at No. 3 Duke, but it was easily the program’s finest season as a Division I program up to that point. The team went 19-11 and posted a 14-2 conference mark. The key was a strong team in every aspect.

Leading the way was three senior captains—Teri Stoltenberg, Nichole Luchsinger, Janelle Jonason. The Panthers also had a three-point specialist in leading scorer Wilhite, who knocked down a school and league-record 93 three’s on the year. In the post was a young center, Viall, who would score over 1,800 career points, pull down almost 1,000 rebounds and win win back-to-back league player of the year awards.

The roster also included a pair of junior guards in Holly Tamm and Ali Klaas that provided solid depth and leadership on this team, as well as the 2001-02 squad that won 20 games.

All the pieces were in place for a special season and the Panthers did not disappoint.

Monday, January 18, 2010

On the road with the UWM swim team ... Final Blog

Well, the trip is over and the UWM swim team will be back in action this Saturday at the University of Chicago... Hope you enjoyed the team blogs.

The final entry comes from head coach Erica Janssen:

The final full day of training in Florida ended up being the best day of the entire trip. The team was able to to get in a great workout in the morning and a great set of Animal Kicks at the night workout. The staff pushed the team to its limits during the morning with a full two hour swim workout, plus an hour of incredibly tough dryland.

Even though the weather was already hot
and humid, the team pushed through the workout with great adversity.

Today we were very lucky to have the most beautiful day of weather on the
trip. It was in the high 70's, which allowed for some fun on the beach after
morning practice. Some people chose to lay on the beach and take a nap
while working on their tans, others chose to be more active, hence the many
games of beach football and frisbee being played.

The waves were also the
largest we have seen on the trip so many swimmers, including the staff, ventured out to bodysurf some of the larger sets. With the ocean being extremely active today, we had many jellyfish and man-o-war stings througout the team, but well worth the pain for the thrill of riding a great wave.

Overall, we had a very successful training trip to Florida this year. Training in a warm environment away from home allows the team to forget the pain they are enduring every day during their 5+ hours of training. The importance of team bonding on a trip like this is vital for the upcoming part of our season. With only three dual meets left and then the conference
championships, we will need to be a team, in every aspect, more than ever.

This training trip has allowed us to develop great relationships and a
stronger team bond in a beautiful location with everlasting memories.

Friday, January 15, 2010

On the road with the UWM swim team... Day 7

With the UWM swimming team down in Florida on their annual training trip, we thought it would be fun to have a member of the team share their thoughts each day on the UWM Blog.

The Panthers are in sunny Fort Lauderdale, training at Pinecrest School, both short and long course. The team hotel is right on A1A on the beach for the third-straight season. They will be on the trip through the 16th of January before resuming the regular season schedule second semester against the University of Chicago on Jan. 23.


The seventh blog entry comes from junior Ellie Gross:

The alarm goes off around 7, making my roommates and I jump out of a not-so-restful sleep to begin another day of training trip.

With no "practice is cancelled due to the weather" text we all assume that the temp must have reached a marvelous 50 degrees or above, so we venture out into the definitely not sunny Ft. Lauderdale to head to the fleet of Flexes (a very attractive type of van which slightly resembles a hearse).

After a silent drive to the pool we stretch and mentally prepare for the coming set. And then, a bit of good news for the Mid-Distance crew. We get to swim this mornings practice in the short course pool, a thing which is unheard for the Mid-D and distance crew.

What we were unaware of was how lucky we really were. With a set of 200's and 100's that increased in intensity (which we measure by the color your face turns as you swim the set ... blue comes right before max), we quickly learned that although we might be in the shorter pool, the practice was definitely not going to be easy...which of course we LOVED!!

The poor breaststrokers suffered strongly, battling massive waves from the freestylers. The backstrokers doubled that magnificent effort by battling both waves from the butterflyers and the scorching rays from the sun that beat into their poor eyes. And the butterflyers...well what more can I say other than that they had to swim butterfly for the whole set. That is the biggest battle of all.

After practice, we all moved to quickly put away our equipment bags so that we could run to the locker rooms and change out of wet battle suits into our warm relaxation clothes. Unfortunately we were stopped by the coaches telling us they had an announcement. Afternoon practice cancelled? No never!! Thank goodness! We simply had to meet an assigned coach (mine was the brilliant assistant coach Kyle) at 1 to "discuss something that cannot be explained till then."

What could this strange message mean?
We didn't have long to wait till 1 rolled around. My group met with Kyle where he explained that we each had 100 bucks (these are imaginary bucks) to bet on a series of sets for warm-up, kick, drill, transition, main set, and cool-down. Determined to not have a hard main set, I used my money wisely, resisting the urge to bet on "drawing a picture of yourself and Coach Erica on the beach" for warm-up or "a deep conversation with Dave Lake" for the kick set, or even a very tempting "red light green light with Chyla" for drill.

Some found it hard to resist even hard sets, like Mike Brady who bet 5 bucks on the longest warm-up set...way to go Ginger!! Taking whatever was left, I waited calmly for the main sets to come around, finally betting all my money on a pull-up contest with Dave Lake. A good choice I think...

Finally, the long awaited afternoon practice arrived. Some of my teammates had used their money so wisely, they didn't even have to enter the water!! Imagine how wonderful that must have been. I swam my sets, while watching my teammates cheer like maniacs, write creative poems/raps, and do strange dances around the pool deck during the rests.

Finally, the main set arrived and I finally got to get out of the water! We did rock, paper, scissors for who would get the privilege of doing as many pull-ups as possible and since I never lost, I was denied the pleasure of ripping my arms out of their sockets in an attempt to lift my chin above the bar.

Finally, Dave had us skip around the pool deck with a partner Wizard of Oz style singing "99 bottles of suntan lotion on the wall" confusing the Canadians who we share pool time with (crazy Americans) and finally ending the pull-up war.

After a quick cool-down we headed back to the hotel, stopping quickly for a nutritious meal at Wendy's. Thoroughly exhausted by the trying but rewarding day, my room went to sleep early, skipping the bedtime stories and going straight to sleep on our incredibly comfy beds.

On the road with the UWM swim team... Day 6

With the UWM swimming team down in Florida on their annual training trip, we thought it would be fun to have a member of the team share their thoughts each day on the UWM Blog.

The Panthers are in sunny Fort Lauderdale, training at Pinecrest School, both short and long course. The team hotel is right on A1A on the beach for the third-straight season. They will be on the trip through the 16th of January before resuming the regular season schedule second semester against the University of Chicago on Jan. 23.


The sixth blog entry comes from sophomore Sam Keele:

As our training trip begins to wind down, the intensity of the workouts has only gotten more difficult. But luckily, the weather has continued to improve and this morning was the warmest morning yet.

Our morning practice consisted of a set which the whole team had been expecting and is one which we do periodically throughout the season. The Mid-Distance group had to do two sets of goal 50s. One set of goal fifties consists of ten 50s on 2:00 minutes holding the fastest pace possible. This set tests us both mentally and physically.

Even though the weather was much warmer today it was very cloudy, so some people decided to take advantage of the clouds to head indoors to the mall. Two vans made the long journey to the mall, which took about an hour to get to. We spent about four grueling hours walking up and down the halls of this enormous mall.

The final practice consisted of an hour of swimming and an hour of lifting. Many of us were relieved by the fact that we were only in the water for half the time as usual. The hardest part of the swim was 50 meter underwaters, which had to be done until everyone was able to make them, in the end we did 12 total.

As the trip comes to an end its seems to me everyone has had a very good time, but are also looking forward to getting home to their own beds and being able to have some clean clothes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

MBB Live Blog - Detroit at Milwaukee

MBB: Decade Of The 2000's: Titletown

So as Detroit rolls into town tonight for a key Horizon League contest, it brings to mind the title-game matchup between the Titans and Panthers in 2005. Thus, today’s entry in looking back at the last decade will focus on the four league title games UWM played in.

I don’t figure I need to go in-depth recapping each of the games, though I do have links to the recaps below.

That Detroit game holds a lot of meaning, of course, because without a win there the Panthers’ magical Sweet 16 run would have never happened. For that matter, one could argue Bruce Pearl may not have gone to Tennessee that season if the Panthers only went to the NIT (though that argument may or may not be true). Of the three title games UWM won, it was the only one that was close down the stretch. In fact, it was a struggle throughout, and I think for most of us evoked memories of the loss to UIC in the title game a year earlier.

And, really, that is what I remember more than anything else about it – the pressure. I don’t recall if the pressure was tangible in the week leading up to the semifinals, and I thought the Panthers played very loose against Loyola in the semifinals. But, when you combine the loss the previous season with a team that actually beat UWM at the Cell that season, it nearly turned the situation into an unpleasant one.

I was actually standing with Deidre Merritt in the corner behind the Detroit bench as the game wound down – no way I could sit still during that game. And, while the details are a bit sketchy, I think we both jumped as high as we possibly could when Brandon Cotton missed that last shot. It was excitement and relief all wrapped into one, and who would have predicted just how great the next two weeks would be?

Should I get the bad one out of the way next? That loss to UIC in 2004 really didn’t come as much of a surprise, I suppose. The Panthers really struggled over the final month of the season, and even the semifinal win over Detroit in Indianapolis was a taffy-pull. But, with the Panthers coming back home and all of the talk of the rivalry between UWM and UIC, maybe the stars were aligning.

Instead, my lasting memory of that night is that UWM never really had it. Sure, the Panthers still could have pulled it out and Ed McCants actually had a really good look at the long game-tying three.

I’ll also remember that we rolled the dice as a staff on the fact the Panthers would even host the tournament final. If you will recall, the league format was in transition and Butler was the host so long as it was in the tourney. UWM beat Detroit in what was the first semi in Indy, while UIC eventually knocked off sixth-seeded Butler in the second semi. But, regardless of how either of those games had turned out, we had already purchased a Sunday newspaper ad promoting the title game in Milwaukee. So, we almost had our own “Dewey Beats Truman” moment, but I think it’s a risk we would take again tomorrow. And, in so many ways, it paid off, as to draw over 10,000 fans when there was basically three days – rather than 10 days or even weeks as was the case in other years - to sell tickets was really something.

Speaking of almost not hosting, that would also be true of the 2006 title game. Remember, after UWM had run out to a big lead in the league standings, the Panthers went into the final week needing to win AND have Butler lose. Detroit played a key role in both, as the Panthers beat the Titans during the week before UDM knocked off Butler that weekend. That gave the Panthers the outright league title and hosting rights.

What is most striking about that year, though, is just how dominant UWM was in its two tournament games. In all three previous league tournaments that saw the Panthers play in the final, they were challenged at least once. But not this year.

Just three weeks earlier, there was panic, as Adrian Tigert got hurt and Milwaukee lost back-to-back games. But, AT was healthy (healthy enough to be tournament MVP!) and the Panthers rolled.

There was some relief again, certainly, as the pressure was high all season for UWM to live up to the lofty expectations. But, in the end, the Panthers were just a lot better than everyone else. And, include the first round of the NCAA Tournament in that discussion, too, because it was no upset that UWM knocked off Oklahoma.

But I saved the best for last, because I just don’t think anything can match the exultation of getting to the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Trust me when I say this – in 2003, no one had any idea what we were getting into. Not in hosting the tournament … not in playing in that title game against Butler in front of the largest crowd you thought you would ever see cheer the Panthers on at home … not in jumping out to that big early lead and, quite honestly, celebrating during most of the second half … and not in the days to follow that led up to the NCAA Tournament.

Yes, the tournament was flawless, if I may say so myself. But the people of Milwaukee deserve most of that credit, because the Horizon League never imagined the turnout it would have for that first tournament in Milwaukee. The media attention, the intensity of the fans, the true “March Madness” atmosphere … it really put the Horizon League Tournament on the map.

And, could you have written a better script as far as how the game went? Nerves had to be high among everyone … was this too good to be true … could UWM really make the NCAA Tournament? Then, the Panthers scored the first 14 points and it was never a ballgame. Simply perfection on all fronts, and something everyone associated with it will never forget.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On the road with the UWM swim team... Day 5

With the UWM swimming team down in Florida on their annual training trip, we thought it would be fun to have a member of the team share their thoughts each day on the UWM Blog.

The Panthers are in sunny Fort Lauderdale, training at Pinecrest School, both short and long course. The team hotel is right on A1A on the beach for the third-straight season. They will be on the trip through the 16th of January before resuming the regular season schedule second semester against the University of Chicago on Jan. 23.


The fifth blog entry comes from sophomore Brady Huemann:

So, I made it through another day of our training trip. I am not sure what day it is because time is irrelevant on the training trip. I awoke at seven and skipped gleefully to my van, excited for another day of swimming and dryland.

It was finally getting warmer outside and it was a scorching 45 degrees when we hopped in the pool. I awaited for someone else to jump in before me today because the other day when it was only 36 degrees, I ran through the wretched weather in my skimpy speedo and jumped in the pool only to find out that we weren’t going to swim that day.

However, today we did have a full practice and boy, was it a good one. We were separated into free and IM'ers and we all had to fight through the pain and hold back all of our tears to survive our hard set.

After our two hours of swimming we all were yearning for more, so we had an hour of dryland. We did everything that you could possibly ask for running, burpees, sit ups, squats, and push-ups. And we did a plank contest to finish it all off. Congrats to Jeremy for holding his plank for a nearly 7 minutes.

Finally 5:30 rolled around and we were ready for some more swimming. We started off by watching our brave student athletic trainer, Kyla, swim a 100 meter freestyle. She swam so well that it motivated everyone to get back in the water and swim like men (yes, even the women). I had fun this afternoon because we got to do a circuit, which means that each lane did something different. This circuit also gave us a chance to swim with people that we normally don’t swim with.

There was a lot of people in my group because I am so cool that everyone loves to swim with me. Our circuit had its ups and downs, but overall it was a practice that we all enjoyed.

Although the weather has not been very nice and every day I wake up hurting more and more, I am having a great time in Florida with my team. I have not gone in the ocean yet because I am deathly afraid of everything that the ocean holds. My back is killing me from all the suicides we did the other day and all the girls want to give me a back massage (ugh, sometimes it is difficult being a ladies man). I have the best vanmates and an awesome driver, Kyle. Everyone is missing out on being in my van because I tell really good stories.

But at the end of the day, it is nice to go back and chill in my room and go to bed while my roommates Sky, Evan, and Dan tell me bedtime stories until I fall asleep.

Monday, January 11, 2010

WBB Top Moments of the 2000s - Part 2

This week the Panthers play Green Bay. With that in mind, I put off last week’s women’s basketball moment of the decade until early this week because the next two moments are Green Bay relevant and will be posted this week.

Today’s moment stemmed from the Jan. 20, 2001, meeting between the Panthers and the Phoenix and is also relevant for another reason, but more on that later.

In the game in question, Jessica Wilhite set a school and league record with 10 three-pointers on her way to 32 points. She was 11of-23 in the game from the field and 10-of-17 from three-point range. The unfortunate part of the game was that it was not enough and GB won, 67-63.

The game recap and box score are here.

The 10 three-pointers came during Wilhite’s sophomore season, a campaign in which she would lead the team in scoring a knock down a school and league-record 93 three-pointers. She was named to the all-league first team that season and led the Panthers to their first NCAA Tournament. Behind seven more Wilhite three-pointers and a league tournament record 36 points, UWM exacted revenge on Green Bay in the tournament finals to clinch its post-season berth (more on that later… not “today later” but “soon later.”).

In four years in a Panther uniform, Wilhite proved to be a deadly three-point shooter, hitting 277 by the end of her career… a figure that lasted until last Saturday when Maggie McCloskey reached 278 for Loyola. (See… more relevance.)

When she graduated, Wilhite was a member of UWM’s 1,000-point club and the program’s career Division I leading scorer (1,471 points). She remains sixth in school history in scoring and is one of just six players in school history to average double-figures in points in each of her four seasons.

Wilhite proved to be a multi-dimensional guard for Milwaukee, finishing fifth in school history with 266 career assists and fifth with 178 steals in her career. It was, though, the three-pointers that set her apart. But, it was as a dynamic three-point shooter that she cemented her place in school history.

Some other somewhat related tidbits about 10 three’s in a game and big games at Green Bay… Ronnie Jones holds the men’s school record when he hit 10 three’s at Youngstown State Jan. 2, 2002. Before anyone had ever heard of Traci Edwards, the school record for points in a game was 38 by Andrea Filipek at Green Bay Jan. 23, 1999. She was 13-of-18 from the field and 7-of-8 from three-point range in 27 minutes… off the bench.

Jessica Wilhite is on the ballot for the Milwaukee Panthers All-Decade Team. Have you voted? Click here to vote for the top five players of the 2000s.

On the road with the UWM swim team... Day 4

With the UWM swimming team down in Florida on their annual training trip, we thought it would be fun to have a member of the team share their thoughts each day on the UWM Blog.

The Panthers are in sunny Fort Lauderdale, training at Pinecrest School, both short and long course. The team hotel is right on A1A on the beach for the third-straight season. They will be on the trip through the 16th of January before resuming the regular season schedule second semester against the University of Chicago on Jan. 23.


The fourth blog entry comes from senior Ali Winius:

Today was one of the coldest days in Florida since we have been down here. We had 25-mph winds and it was only about 35 degrees.

Practice was cancelled in the morning due to a chance that people may get hypothermia from swimming outside. Our day mostly consisted of us sleeping in our hotel rooms and avoiding going outside at all costs.

Because it was too cold to swim outside in the afternoon the team did a 2-hour dryland workout instead which turned out to be extremely hard. It sucked at the time but the whole team supported each other and we all got through it.

Luckily we ended the 2-hour practice with a couple games of Lightning to lighten all of our moods.

All of our fingers are crossed that we can get a hot and sunny day soon so we can lay outside and get tan and be mildly warm while we swim.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

MBB: Decade of the 2000's - Expect The Unexpected

For the next entry in my list of memories from the decade of the 2000’s, let’s look at some of the most unexpected individual performances from Panther players.

I’m coming at this idea from a few fronts. First, perhaps the most memorable of all came at the U.S. Cellular Arena in a game against Green Bay, whom that Panthers just beat yesterday. It’s actually a game that may make a couple of other lists, as well. Also, our man Jason Averkamp makes this list, and his performance last Tuesday night at SIU Edwardsville got me to thinking about the first time he posted big numbers as a Panther.

So, the two “rules” for making this list are pretty simple. First, the performance had to happen in a big game. Not necessarily a win by the Panthers, but at least the performance had to make you wonder how you’d have ever been in the game without that particular player. (Kevin Schifferer reaching double figures against Mount Senario does not count.) Second, the performance had to be way beyond what that individual would have ever been expected to do in their season or career based on either expectations or their career numbers.

I came up with seven … I thought about going all the way to 10 but I really wanted to keep it to performances that truly, truly stood out and made a difference. Here we go, in order from seven to one.

#7 – Tyrone Young at Montana in December of 2005
Young scored just 10 points in the game, so that’s what puts this performance seventh. But in some ways you could make an argument for putting this one at the top, if you look strictly at how unexpected it was. Young scored just 39 points in the rest of the games that season and transferred to a Division II school after the year was complete. But, he played a big role in one of the best games of the season for the Panthers – a road win at a sold-out arena against a team that, as I recall, also wound up making the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

#6 – Nate Mielke vs. Loyola in December of 2002
Nate Mielke had a solid three-year career for the Panthers, but was never a go-to person on offense. In fact, he had just seven double-figure scoring performances in his career. Yet, in mid-December of 2002 against Loyola at the Klotsche Center, Mielke teamed up with Dylan Page for a dominating offensive performance. He tallied 22 points and seven rebounds in a 100-80 win over the Ramblers. Dylan actually had 32 in the game, giving Milwaukee a stunning total of interior points. The game is also memorable for the way UWM won the game twice, building a big first-half lead, losing it, then running out again for a 20-point win.

#5 – Mike Sowder at San Diego in January of 2001
Sowder was the true definition of a role player for the Panthers, and he played that role to perfection in an exciting win over a solid San Diego team in January of 2001. The victory gave UWM a season sweep of the Toreros, as the Panthers had beaten them in Milwaukee two days before Christmas. It also made for a very pleasant trip to California in the last time Milwaukee has visited the state. And, it helped Milwaukee overcome another shining example of home cooking from the men in stripes, as this was also the game where the late Doug Beard earned UWM’s bench a technical foul with some comments from the crowd that the officials swore came from Bo Ryan. Sowder scored 12 points in the victory – including a big three that helped UWM pull out the win late. He would score just 46 total points in the other games that season.

#4 – Deion James at Valparaiso in January of 2008
James’ play at the ARC checks in at fourth, mainly because he actually had a number of solid efforts that season, making his 20-point night against the Crusaders not totally unexpected. But, remember the variety of circumstances in that game. The Panthers had still only recently lost a host of players from their roster, and were actually riding a five-game winning streak coming in to the game. Then, Paige Paulsen fouled out with over six minutes to play on a pair of really, REALLY shaky calls (I’m tellin’ you, that worst call ever list would be great!), and Milwaukee was down seven points. But, Deion responded and played a huge role in helping win the game for the Panthers.

#3 – Marcus Skinner vs. Butler in February of 2008
Skinner played a larger and larger role as the 2007-08 season progressed, but certainly at the start of the campaign you would have never predicted the kind of game he posted against nationally-ranked Butler. He scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as UWM nearly pulled off the upset. In fact, a three-point play by Skinner with three minutes left had the Panthers up six. But, Milwaukee would fall short in overtime. Skinner did have 17 more rebounds in the next game against Green Bay and was clearly one of UWM’s best during the final two-thirds of that season. Still, he makes this list since he didn’t even play in two of the first three games of that season and had just 13 points in the first eight games of the year – and this was already his second and final season in Milwaukee.

#2 – Jason Averkamp vs. Valparaiso in February of 2008
Maybe now that we have seen some other big shots and great outings from Averkamp, we wouldn’t be that surprised by his play against Valpo in February of 2008. But, remember where things stood when that game started. Realistically, Averkamp would have only played a few minutes in that game if it wasn’t for injuries to Marcus Skinner AND Paige Paulsen early in the first half. He wound up helping the Panthers dig out of a huge hole and nearly pull out an improbable victory. Averkamp scored 21 points in the game after scoring just 25 total points in the season leading up to that game. He wound up having a very nice week as Skinner remained sidelined, and has remained a valuable part of UWM’s roster ever since.

#1 - Kalombo Kadima vs. Green Bay in January of 2004
Kalombo Kadima was another valuable player throughout his career as a Panther, and he even redshirted during the 2002-03 season to make himself available for a more prominent role in 2003-04. That game plan, hatched by Kadima and the coaching staff, worked like a charm, as he started 15 games as a fifth-year senior. But, no one will forget the game he put together against in-state rival Green Bay. With Dylan Page, Joah Tucker and Ed McCants all struggling from the field, Kadima poured in 22 points that extended UWM’s league record to 10-0 in front of more than 8,700 fans at The Cell. Kadima didn’t have more than 10 points in a game at any point during that season – except on this magical night.

On the road with the UWM swim team ... Day 3

With the UWM swimming team down in Florida on their annual training trip, we thought it would be fun to have a member of the team share their thoughts each day on the UWM Blog.

The Panthers are in sunny Fort Lauderdale, training at Pinecrest School, both short and long course. The team hotel is right on A1A on the beach for the third-straight season. They will be on the trip through the 16th of January before resuming the regular season schedule second semester against the University of Chicago on Jan. 23.


The third blog entry comes from freshman Mike Schalla:

We awoke this morning to find drastic weather change from the sunny 70s yesterday to it being 40 and raining. We got ready for practice only to be pleasantly interrupted by the captains to inform us that morning practice was cancelled due to the cold weather. We immediately hopped back in bed to get some well-deserved rest and get ready for the afternoon practice.

After a nice long nap most of the team thought it would be a good idea to get lunch, so our very handsome chauffeur/assistant coach, Andrew Belton, drove us to some local restaurants to sample the local cuisine.

After that, since most of the team members are bird experts we decided to try to trick the local birds into walking into our fellow teammate’s room by using their favorite food, bread … we were unsuccessful in our endeavor.

Soon it was practice time, so everyone bundled up since it was now a balmy 43 degrees outside and we headed to practice. We arrived to find a locked pool since we were the only team willing to brave the weather in order get faster, stronger and sexier. Even the LSU girls team had not had practice that day which was a big disappointment to us.

The scene before us looked to be of one from a movie battle scene. The strong winds swept across the pools bringing with them the billowing steam that formed from the frigid air meeting the pool water.

Our coaches walked in with gloves on with hoods up while we surveyed the pool with AH wondering if we really were going to have to get in. The Big Dog Bryce cried out with a booming roar that it was time to “man up and get dirty!!!” And sure enough us brave soldiers drove onto the battlefield known as the Pinecrest Pool, with a fury as mighty as the gods themselves. The wind whirred, the ice started to form, but we kept swimming. The steam rose like a creature from the depths of the pool, attempting to swallow us whole, but we kept swimming.

After a laboring workout we dragged ourselves out of the pool, our bodies gleaming in the steam, 6-packs and hard pecs were quickly hidden by warm clothes to slow hypothermia.

Alas, we were again greeted by our warm beds where we warmed up. That night we headed to team dinner to talk about the team scandals and we soon retired to our chambers to rest for the forthcoming day.

It's days like this that test us more mentally than physically and it is these days that will make us into the team we want to be, a conference championship team.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

On the road with the UWM swim team... Day 2

With the UWM swimming team down in Florida on their annual training trip, we thought it would be fun to have a member of the team share their thoughts each day on the UWM Blog.

The Panthers are in sunny Fort Lauderdale, training at Pinecrest School, both short and long course. The team hotel is right on A1A on the beach for the third-straight season. They will be on the trip through the 16th of January before resuming the regular season schedule second semester against the University of Chicago on Jan. 23.


The second blog entry comes from junior Lauren Roy:

These last couple days have been really hard but completely worth it. Today was the first nice day, which kept our team morale high.

Although we’re all really sore we’re getting through practices well. This morning, running to the pool was one of the hardest runs, but we all were very encouraging towards each other and it made it a little bit easier.

After morning practice we got to lay on the beach and that was a lot of fun! Katie and I achieved our goal of doing a flip on the beach was awesome.

But, after laying on the beach for an hour, we all seemed pretty worn out and weren’t very up for practicing, especially when we heard what we had to do. But, once again we got each other through the practice.

It may not have been our best practice, or even close to it, but it was good to see that that wasn’t bringing everyone down.

So far this trip has been really hard, but I’m going to be sad to leave. We’ve all done so great down here and I really hope our spirits stay just as high when we head back.

Live Blog - Green Bay at Milwaukee

Friday, January 8, 2010

On the road with the UWM swim team...

With the UWM swimming team down in Florida on their annual training trip, we thought it would be fun to have a member of the team share their thoughts each day on the UWM Blog.

The Panthers are in sunny Fort Lauderdale, training at Pinecrest School, both short and long course. The team hotel is right on A1A on the beach for the third-straight season. They will be on the trip through the 16th of January before resuming the regular season schedule second semester against the University of Chicago on Jan. 23.


The first blog entry comes from sophomore Sky Boggio:

The second day of training trip was a reminder of what training trip is all about. Four hours in the pool and another hour of dryland are an intense start to a tough trip.

The morning practice started at 8:00 am, which isn’t early for a morning practice (usually morning workouts will start between 6 am or 7 am). But, it seemed earlier with the clouds covering the sun most of the time.

The temperature was in the high 40’s at the beginning, but once in the heated water the complaining seemed to decrease. Many of the guys put on swim caps to retain body heat, which helped but didn’t make it feel too warm.

After the morning practice was over I went straight to my room to take a nap. Some went to the beach, but others didn’t have the energy, plus it was only in the 60’s. My day was nothing special to talk about because I just stayed in my room basically the whole time in between practices.

After a long day of travel yesterday and a couple of practices sleep seemed to be the best option, tomorrow will be a better day to hang out on the beach.

Finally, the afternoon practice consisted of a stand up set known as “Melvins”, named after the gold medal-winning 200 butterflyer, Melvin Stewart. Stewart decided that if he was going to break the world record in the 200 butterfly he needed to even split it (make the first 100 the same speed as the second one).

He made up a set where one does a 100 off the block at a very fast pace, a 200 easy swim, followed by a 100 all out sprint from a push which is supposed to beat the time of the beginning swim. It was a tough way to finish the day.

I hope anyone reading this doesn’t think that I am a complainer because I understand working hard is the purpose of the trip and this team is going to be great because of it. I honestly wouldn’t want it to be any other way.

I think our trainer Dave Lake described it really well today when he said, “Anyone can do this training when they feel great. It’s how you perform when you feel like crap that makes a good Division 1 athlete.”

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Live MBB Blog - Milwaukee at SIU Edwardsville

Saturday, January 2, 2010

MBB: Decade of the 2000's - Heartbreakers

When Kevin Conway and I talked about making these lists - if you even want to call them lists - of the best Panther basketball moments of the 2000's, we were all over the map. We could truly make a top-10 list and count down from 10 to 1, but aren't the top couple of moments for each team pretty obvious (i.e. NCAA Tournaments)?

So we set more down the path of putting together a list of 10 things, topics, even players and moments to look back on the decade. We also talked about tying it in - at least sometimes - to the game(s) going on at the present time for the Panthers. As Conway noted in his first entry Saturday morning, he started by writing about Traci Edwards because some of her notable accomplishments came against Youngstown State, whom the women beat Saturday.

For this first entry, I was going to write about all of the great battles between UWM and Butler in the last decade. There was a little bit about that in my game notes for Saturday's contest. But I've decided to hold that until we play Butler the second time around, because Thursday's loss at Valpo got me to thinking about another subject from the decade ... the most heartbreaking losses. So, I took a little extra time to recollect along those lines.

Now, I don't mean to go negative on the first list. But, let's face it, you can't have heartbreak unless it means something to begin with, and this list certainly reminds me how many really, really important games the Panthers played in over the last 10 years. You can't win them all, sometimes you get absolutely steamrolled (another list for another time, maybe?), but many other times you are right there and it just slips away.

So, how about the most heartbreaking losses of the decade ..?

A few are obvious ...

Heading into Hinkle Fieldhouse, as we did Saturday, you can't help but be reminded of Avery Sheets burying a three at the horn to give the 2003 Horizon League regular season title to the Bulldogs instead of the Panthers. Justin Lettenberger had hit two free throws to put Milwaukee ahead before BU rushed down the floor and won the game. At that moment - OK, for a lot of long moments after that - it felt like the dream season of 2002-03 had been crushed. But, only 10 days later, UWM rolled past Butler at the Cell to win the league tournament (remember, UWM had hosting rights even after finishing second as the tourney format was in transition). Did that make up for not also winning the regular season title? I'd say probably not, but it sure made it easier to take.

Read my original account of the game here.

Just a week earlier, there was another heartbreak. Do you remember the name Stetson Hairston? His tip-in gave Southern Illinois a two-point win over UWM in the first-ever BracketBusters. It was the first-ever national TV appearance for the Panthers, and it was an amazing game in front of a full house in Carbondale. UWM was down 16, took the lead late, but was done in by a tip in.

The account of that game is here.

That season included another game that would fight for the top spot on the all-heartbreaker list ... the 70-69 loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers overcame a slow start, led late, and then missed a layup at the horn that would have won the game. From where I was sitting alongside Chuck Lang behind the Panther bench at the RCA Dome, you could see those final seconds develop in a "this is too good to be true, we're gonna win!" kinda way. And then the ball rolled off.

The AP story from that game is here. I guess was too heartbroken to write my own story!

Those all come from the same 2002-03 season, I guess a sign the Panthers could have won a few more games than the 24 they did that year. But how about from some other seasons?

Remember the return of Bo Ryan to the Klotsche Center in December of 2001? UWM had the ball in a tie game, but Devin Harris made a steal and layin to win it for the Badgers.

In that same year, the Panthers blew a big late lead and lost, 73-71, at UIC on a 35-footer by Martell Bailey. As you just might recall (of course you recall), there was quite a feud between BP and Jimmy Collins, and that was one of Jimmy's highlights in the battle. My bigger memory is of then-official Sam Lickliter getting absolutely flattened by a UIC male cheerleader that rushed on the court when the game-winner went in. I note I did not mention that in my original recap.

Go back one year before at UIC, and the Panthers and Flames played in the longest league game ever - a 4 OT contest that UIC won, 112-106.

A few other "honorable mention" additions to the list ... how about the 72-71 loss at Valpo in December of 2004? That Panther team was unbeaten going in, and Valpo was winless. UWM bounced back to go to the Sweet 16 - something that seemed miles away that night. And I was being kind when I called the referee's judgement "controversial" at the end of that game. I even remember which of the three referees listed in the box score made the call, though I'll leave that aside today in the spirit of forgiveness. But maybe I could come up with a "worst calls ever" list at some point, too.

Certainly the league tournament title-game loss to UIC in 2004 was a tough one to take, but there was also the quarterfinal loss at Wright State in 2001. It turned out to be Bo Ryan's final game at UWM. And, there's a great freshman-year picture of Ronnie Jones in the recap.

Finally, one more honorable mention takes us back to Hinkle Fieldhouse for the February 2006 loss to the Bulldogs. It also takes me to another game that could land on the "worst calls ever" list, now that I think about it. Check out the measured quote from Rob in the recap. I get angry just thinking about it again now!

Anyway, UWM looked like it was ready to put another league title on ice, but BU's last-second heroics struck again to force OT. Butler went on to win in OT and nearly stole the league title from UWM. Alas, Butler suffered its own heartbreak a month later, losing at the buzzer to Detroit and falling from the top seed to the second seed in the league tournament. The Panthers went on to win the league tourney title and then beat Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament, turning heartbreak into happiness.

WBB Top Moments of the 2000s - Part 1

The reason I chose to do these top 10 moments in no specific order was that the timing of this first one just seemed perfect. We are in Youngstown, Ohio, to take on YSU Saturday and it was on this road trip last year that Traci Edwards became the first player in school (man or woman), league or state history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career. She did in the same game, no less.

When you have a player break the all-time school scoring record, for men or women, then follow that up with cracking the 2,000-point plateau, followed by the league scoring record and then, in the waning days of her collegiate career, the Division I state scoring record (men or women), it seems as though one season could make up four to five moments in its own.

With that in mind, the 2008-09 season of Traci Edwards milestones is wrapped up all into one.

To be honest, I started counting down to the 2,000 and 1,000 milestones since Traci was a freshman. It’s not every day that a freshman scores 500 points and pulls down 311 rebounds in a season. In fact, it was just the second 500-point or 300-rebound season in the program’s Division I history. She was a strong league player of the year candidate, finishing second (I think after four years I can publicly confirm that) and snared newcomer of the year honors.

Her next two years were nothing short of spectacular. Sure, the rebounds weren’t there in nearly as high of quantities, but she averaged better than 20 points per game over a two-year stretch. First as 20.5 as a sophomore, she broke the school’s single-season scoring record, then 20.6 as a junior, she broke her junior season record.

The rebounds did come, as she averaged nearly a double-double in each of those seasons and led the league both years—well, her all four years, to be exact, but more on that later.

So, as I mentioned, I anticipated the 2,000/1,000 club for a while. I wasn’t alone. I mean, she was dominant at times and the numbers kept piling up.

Obviously the school scoring record was the first to fall. Jaci Clark had held the school scoring record since 1983 before Maria Viall broke it in 2004. The next dominant post player in school history, Edwards was poised to break it and did in a memorable game at Wisconsin Dec. 2, 2008.

The game itself saw Milwaukee overcome a 16-point deficit in the second half to take the lead in regulation. The Badgers came away the victors in double overtime, but Traci had 30 points and 10 rebounds to surpass Viall (1,867).

That set the stage for Jan. 8, 2009, when Edwards had 21 points and eight rebounds to push her up to 2,000 points and 1,003 rebounds. To get the both milestones is an impressive feat in and of itself. But, she reached both in the same game, making the accomplishment all the more rare.

Milwaukee led wire-to-wire in the game, so there was little drama in that category. Her 2000th point came on the second of two free throws to make it 70-56 with 1:12 remaining in the game. Rebound No. 1,000 came with 16:53 to play in the second half.

Traci was the only woman in state history to 2,000/1,000 for all of a month and four days. Interestingly, Megan Scheele of Division III Edgewood College joined the club on Feb. 12… also in one night. Just the eighth Division III player to the milestone, their SID was able to track down that she was the first player at that level to reach both milestones on the same night. Which, given its rarity, should lock the two in history for some time to come.

Now, as to whether Traci was the first Division I player to do so, it gets a bit dicey as she was the 116th Division I player to 2,000/1,000.

The story does not end here… well, with the 2,000/1,000 it does, but she was not done. On the second leg of this road trip at Cleveland State, Traci had 23 more points to break Julie VonDielingen’s (Butler) league record of 2,018 career points.

Lastly, to make her scoring record list complete, she surpassed Jolene Anderson’s (Wisconsin) Division I state scoring record for men and women (2,312) on March 13 in the league semifinals against Cleveland State. While Anderson’s mark covered all men and women at the Division I level, it was also an all-divisions mark for women (including NAIA). Traci finished her career with 2,340 points.

There you have it, the first of the top 10 moments of the 2000s for Milwaukee Women’s Basketball. The next moment will be posted here at the Verizon Wireless Panther Blogzone next week, probably on Thursday before UWM hosts Detroit.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to vote for the Milwaukee Panthers All-Decade Team at The early voting numbers are good, but we’d like to get as many to vote as possible. You will also have the opportunity to do so in person at the Klotsche Center on game days throughout the month of January.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

This is the women's basketball version of the Men's Basketball All-Decade post from New Year's Eve.

For all but one and a half seasons of women’s basketball in the 2000s, I have had the unique perspective of watching the team grow into one of the top teams in the Horizon League from a courtside seat. First as a student assistant in the Sports Information Office beginning in the Panthers’ 2000-01 run to the NCAA Tournament. Then, after a year away following graduation (2003-04), I was once again courtside at the Klotsche Center in a full-time capacity. I then became the full-time women’s basketball contact in 2005-06... another run to the NCAA Tournament.

In that time, I have witnessed, covered and researched some of the most impressive feats in the program’s history. I have attended approximately 199 pre-season and regular season games, mostly home games until 2005. I have also been fortunate to witness some of the program’s greatest players. Our look back at the decade is not about setting the 2000s apart from the other decades of Panther basketball. In fact, it is only to celebrate another chapter closed in an impressive program history.

Like Kevin O’Connor with the men’s basketball team, I will present what I think are the most memorable moments of the decade. They will be presented in no specific order. They will be released once a week. I will also share the statistical, historical and the atmosphere (for games I have been at) of each event on the program.

I hope you enjoy the moments, as much as I enjoyed covering them. The first moment will be posted here, at the Panther BlogZone, on Friday or Saturday, before the Panthers’ league-opener with Youngstown State. The next nine will also be released around that weekend’s games.

But now, here are the numbers of the decade.

Since the calendar turned to Jan. 1, 2000, the Panthers:
• Have gone 169-128 overall
• Posted a 122-48 league record
• Won two league regular season championships
• Advanced to three league title games
• Won two league tournaments and susequentally went to two NCAA Tournaments

From Jan. 1, 1990-Dec. 31, 1999, the Panthers posted a 122-149 record and a 37-57 record in six conference seasons.

- kevin conway