Milwaukee Pro-Am cures withdrawal

Detractors call it unorganized, pick-up nonsense.  It’s not basketball so much as it’s the And One Mixtape Tour.  Is it true?  Partially.  The dunks are frequent, the pace is frantic at times, and the defense is a little lax.  But the fact of the matter is this: if you are a college basketball fan of Marquette, Milwaukee, Green Bay or in general, there is no reason you should be sitting at home on your couch instead of attending the Milwaukee Pro-Am.

Jim Ganzer’s inaugural smash is better than advertised.  I came in expecting to see a lackluster all-star game with no one putting forth the effort.  Of the four games I saw today, not one lacked the heart of a college basketball game.  The best part about the Pro-Am, for the fan, is that this isn’t the Bradley Center, the Resch Center or the Cell.  This is Homestead High School, where the two gyms provide extremely close proximity for the price of admission (a whopping free).  Fans are on top of the action, and the action is excellent.

Meier is working on conditioning and defense this off-season

There are three days left, August 4th and 6th at Homestead lead up to the culmination, a tournament on Sunday August 8th at the Al McGuire Center.  I would recommend making it on Wednesday the 4th and Sunday, because even I won’t be there on Friday the 6th; there’s no way I’m missing the Joah Tucker Charity Game (details coming soon).  Now, some notes on Panthers and other players at the Pro-Am on Saturday:

– James Haarsma, for lack of a better word, is a beast.  6’7” he is not; I would hazard a guess and say he’s much closer to 6’4”.  But he’s wide in the shoulders, extremely strong, and fights for everything on the court.  His hustle in the Pro-Am, where you wouldn’t expect the effort, gives me good feelings about the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons with Haarsma at the power forward slot.  He has a nice, quick jumper that he can hit from the mid-range.  I didn’t see him take a three, but there’s more Pro-Am to come!

– Tony Meier is stronger than he was last year, when he struggled in his sophomore season after a stellar freshman campaign.  He still has the sweet outside shooting touch, canning a wide-open three that broke the back of the opposing team, led by Jarvis Williams of Green Bay.  Meier definitely improved on his conditioning, as he played the full game without coming out.  A funny moment came in garbage time when several dunks in succession by both teams were followed by a lay-up by Meier, who was chided by Lonnie Boga from the stands that he was “Breaking the flow.”  The next time down the court, Meier threw down an excellent jam that got a standing ovation from the Panther section.

– Ricky Franklin played most of the summer with NBA players and prospects, and it shows.  Rick played the point flawlessly for the Athletico team, dishing out several assists and feeding the monster that Darius Johnson-Odom has become.  His play is more crisp, and he looks the part of a pro point guard.  A long pro career awaits him, most likely overseas.

– Joah Tucker has not lost a step since his college days.  His three-point shot seems more reliable and he can throw down like he’s still 22 years old.  In fact, one of his dunks reminded me of the monster jam he laid on James Augustine in the Sweet 16 back in 2005.  Tucker is putting together his Charity Basketball Game that benefits the high school named after his cousin, whom he lost in 2001 to a battle with cancer.  The game is August 6th at Nicolet High School; yes, it will still be there, they will have the floors ready.  Alando Tucker, Carl Landry and perhaps Wes Matthews, who played at the Pro-Am today, may be playing in the game.  You can bank on players such as Larry House from Creighton and Quemont Greer from DePaul to play in the event, as well as a dozen or so former Milwaukee Panthers.

– Jarvis Williams, the Junior College transfer from Green Bay, will be their best player this season not named Bryquis Perine or Rahmon Fletcher.  He is extremely athletic, although he does not have much size to him and may have difficulty banging in the block with big  Horizon League opponents.  Should the Phoenix find a decent post player to take eyes away from Williams, watch out – he can jump out the gym, has an all right shot and hustles as much as Haarsma.

No Milwaukee Pro-Am next weekend, as it’s an off week.  The final two days at Homestead will be Wednesday the 4th and Friday the 6th.  The championship tournament will be Sunday the 8th at the Al McGuire Center.

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