Ajami in Transition

Former Milwaukee Panthers guard Jerard Ajami is in his first year after college. Graduating with a degree in Communication, Ajami has moved into the color commentator role on home broadcasts of Panther games opposite Bill Johnson.

PantherU sat down with Jerry recently to talk Panther basketball, his transition to radio and his future with the Black and Gold.

Jimmy Lemke: Finishing up your playing career with a regular season championship, you immediately took over duties as color commentator at home games along with Bill Johnson on 1130 WISN. What’s the biggest difference between seeing games as a player and seeing them as a commentator?

Jerard Ajami: After our great season and me grabbing my degree in communications I still wanted to be a part of UWM and the basketball program. The closest thing I could see myself doing right away was color commentary, because I feel like I know the game, I know the X’s and O’s and I think it helps that I like to goof around a lot. You put all that together and you get color commentary. The biggest difference though is you see everything way more clearly, you see a pass that’s open, you see a dumb mistake and also you see A LOT of tendencies that you may not notice while you’re running up and down the court.

JL: It’s pretty cool that you got to step into that role right after your eligibility finished. Is this something you want to make your career?

JA: Down the road, I think I really got a good chance at making it a career with either radio or television (because my looks are off the charts). But seeing basketball from the sideline instead of in-game makes me kind of want to get into the coaching side of things so I can actually tell the players what’s up and what they’re doing wrong so they don’t make the same mistake twice. But knowing the game and being confident in what you know is really what color commentary comes down too.

JL: What has been the most challenging part of being a color commentator?

JA: The most challenging part of being a color commentator would have to be keeping it PG and also not short-arming your explanations. It’s always better to explain in details so the listeners know what you’re talking about, because they can’t see the game.

JL: Has Bill been helpful for you as you get your feet wet?

JA: Absolutely, First day bill told me to be confident on what I say and from day one, I feel more comfortable. So definitely he has.

JL: How much homework would you say you do on opposing teams before each game?

JA: I was never a homework kind of guy [laughs], but before every game I look over the stats and make sure I get the main guys and then I look over the guys who possibly could be the main guy that game. Maybe because of their past games they have had really good games. But really to me it’s just how the flow of the games goes.

JL: The Panthers have had some difficult times and are on the outside looking in heading into the conference tournament. Apart from the obvious two games as top seed to four games as #3 or lower seed, how is this going to be different for them compared to the team that you played on as a senior?

JA: It’s definitely different for this team because they show flashes of being a #1 Seed and they show flashes of being a #7 Seed. But the good thing about this team and this league is that they can beat everyone in this league top to bottom. They don’t have to worry about NBA type caliber players like Shelvin Mack, Norris Cole, Matt Howard, Brandon Wood. Going into the tournament it’s about which team has the most momentum. I think them beating Fairfield was HUGE for the team because their momentum carries over to the Chicago trip and if they can get those 2 it’s that much better. Right now this league is up for grabs to get to the championship game, and I like Milwaukee getting another shot in the championship game.

JL: Ten years from now, if you are still involved with the program, what would you want to be doing?

JA: That’s a hard question. Whatever it is, I’d want to be a part of athletics department. The athletics department staff are passionate people that at the end of the day want to see Milwaukee athletics win, So yeah somewhere in there.

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