PantherU

A Jerk’s Guide to the Milwaukee Panthers

PantherU has decided to forego the usual ho-hum season previews of basketball teams in the Horizon League, instead…well…we’re just gonna trash your team in the style of Deadspin (yeah, we’re not even covering up that we’re ripping them off). For years, PantherU has been second only to the Horizon League office in pissing off Horizon League hoops fans, and it’s high time we embraced the villain. It’s all in good fun, so don’t take it seriously and be ready to enjoy the previews. If you are a fan of a Horizon League team and you want to be a part of trashing your own team, feel free to send all to jimmy@pantheru.com.

The team: Milwaukee Panthers

2014 record: 21-14 (7-9 Horizon League)

The coach: Rob Jeter. When you type in Jeter’s name on Google, the first suggestion is “Rob Jeter Salary.” Which tells you exactly what the wide majority of Milwaukee’s fan base thinks of Coach. Other coaches in the Horizon League have their “Name School,” “Name Twitter,” or “Name Something unrelated.” Jeter? Fans want to know if we can afford to fire him. They’ve always wanted to. It’s remarkable that “firerobjeter.com” isn’t a thing.

And why is this? Because he’s not Bruce Pearl, who – let’s be honest – probably cheated, definitely did the things at Milwaukee that lying about at Tennessee cost him his job. BUT WE WENT TO THE SWEET 16! Yeah, I get it. But I didn’t feel the need to take a shower after this.

It’s not that Jeter is without faults. I think the sponsorship with Harley’s is the only reason we can’t admit that most of Jeter’s suits came from Bernie Mac’s estate sale. He’s well-known in the program for not exactly being a nice guy in practice, like Bo Ryan. I mean, the Prahl twins have been in the program for a full year and the joke right now is that Jeter still can’t tell them apart.

What’s his record? In nine full seasons, Jeter is 150-141. That counts regular season games against Southwest Minnesota State, Judson, etc…yet he’s got four conference championships (2 Tournament, 2 Regular Season) on his resume. It’s insane. Most of the top half of the league have coaches with higher winning percentages. In some cases much higher. But none of them have hung the banners that Jeter has.

The star: Matt Tiby, the Horizon League’s best case for a corporate sponsorship with Prozac. The Panthers’ junior gets a lot of rebounds and a lot of points, and a lot of opposing teams pissed off at him by just being him. Did you see Tavares Sledge cold-cock him in the title game? Hey, he was just doing what everybody was thinking, right? If you want to know what people think about Matt Tiby around the league, all you need to do is check out their message board after they play Milwaukee. Win or lose, they all want Tiby in a dunk tank.

He drummed up a whole bunch of attention early in the season last year – Sasquatch, etc. Yet no one could come up with a nickname that was worth a damn. How’s this – “Sweet Emotion.” The guy plays with enough passion to make you seriously wonder whether or not he has Tourette’s Syndrome (no). So students can sing like Steven Tyler every time he comes in the game or pushes somebody to the ground for beating him to a rebound.

Could be worse: After an offseason where everyone had to digest the incredibly stupid postseason ban, fans of the Panthers will be happy to see Jordan Aaron’s replacements right and ready to go from the start. If Springs and Lyle were unavailable, we’d be looking at Cody Wichmann playing 35 minutes a game. I’m all for getting more minutes to the sophomore; he came up HUGE during the stretch run. But oh man, when it gets to January and Wichmann’s got bags under his eyes that make him look like an addict and his legs are pumping battery acid, that would be rough. The Panthers have depth at every position. Enough that redshirting BBBBBBBRRRRRRRRROOOOOOCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKK Stull is a possibility, even though he can play right now.

This is the worst: Following up their first NCAA tournament in eight years, Milwaukee got banned from the postseason. It’s totally unacceptable, but the sad truth is that some former players weren’t graduating. That’s the long and short of it – you get a free ride to college, you play a game to do that, and you have academic help at every turn where you need them. You even get to major in something ridiculous like “Communications” or “Landscape Architecture” (we don’t have that, I just loved that was Kirk Penney’s major at UW).

I get that there are legitimate reasons that keep people from graduating. Being lazy or a monumental prick aren’t acceptable ones. The Panthers had enough of them that we lost practice time, and we lost the ability to defend our title. So we’re screwed. We have a lot of people who oversee student-athletes. The oversight on some of these guys cost us, and the program burned up much of the goodwill fostered by the tournament run.

Now students who could go to games won’t. They can no longer say it’s because the team sucks. Now, it’s going to be because “these guys aren’t real students” or something stupid like that. Especially since not one of these players on this year or last year’s team was responsible for the APR score.

Which is the worst. You have a school, the biggest in a city of 600,000 people and an area of 1.2 million, and it has no respect from anyone, not even the 30,000 students who go there. At Marquette and Wisconsin, having fan bases that care 365 days a year allows them to make enough money to stay nationally relevant. At Milwaukee, you get an entire campus that mobilizes the second the victory buzzer sounds in the Horizon League semifinals, then shuts down the second the team loses in the NCAA Tournament. Then, people complain that we’re not winning enough or in the spotlight enough. A school roughly 1/3rd the size of Milwaukee can fill the Bradley Center, yet the UWM community doesn’t go to games because we don’t “win enough,” even though their presence would hasten the team’s sustained success they’re looking for. Welcome to the Circle of Life. Cue African-sounding tones and Elton John.

Look forward to: JeVon Lyle with a shot. When he wasn’t doing his best impersonation of a chair last season, he was on the court driving the lane and being generally twitchy, dribbling the ball away or putting up a frantic shot. He was not unlike a pet gerbil, just SO DAMN EXCITED to get out of the cage, so he came in all jittery and did something dumb. Over the course of the year he settled down, and Milwaukee really saw what they could have when Jordan Aaron had his suspension.

Lyle put in a ton of work in the offseason on his shot and it shows. Having him available and ready to go is going to be a big deal for Rob Jeter in trying to win some basketball games.

Hey, how about that: With the NCAA Tournament done, it should be time to seriously be ready for all these high-major games. For some reason, we started scheduling like Oakland, which may or may not be genius. The Panthers have to face five of them, but none is more important than the December 10th stilt with Wisconsin. Win that game, and a lot of people are going to forgive the team for missing the tournament due to collective idiocy.

What Milwaukee fans have to say:

Josh:

The Panthers would probably play better if maintenance could find the mysterious source of James Haarsma’s “Hit” single Love Me Too being played on loop in the locker room. But then again who could blame them. My ears are still bleeding after hearing it once.

 Mike:
If there’s anything dumber than the university’s chosen name for the arena, I don’t know what it is. I could hear Lemke having a heart attack from my office window when I read ‘UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.’
Joe:
Our fans have the potential to combine their headline causing drunkenness and basketball to be a rowdy student section, but most of the time its 5 guys from the B&G in the front row doing most of the chants and a bunch of freshman standing around on their phones behind them. Creepy old alumni in the stands cheer better than our own students.

I absolutely had to post this one, which was sent to me through e-mail.
From Zachary Just (zjust@outlook.com):
I love the going to UWM games. I love the city, the team, the school, and I even love Rob Jeter, making me the only person to say that.  But there is one thing I cannot stand about UWM basketball, and that’s you, Jimmy.

It’s not those sweaters you wear that force you to spend the entire game resisting every attempt to scratch every single crevice on your body. Most of those attempts end up failing, anyway.

It’s not that you seemingly block my view wherever I stand, including once in the bathroom somehow.

It’s not that you walk around the entire place acting like you’re cool with everyone. I’ve witnessed multiple people call for their parents after you talked to them, with a couple of them being children.

It’s not even that you’re working on a novel. Whatever bro.

The reason I cannot stand you, Jimmy, is that you consider yourself the face and leader of the fans.

If I want to jump to the song “Jump Around,” then let me jump! I really do not understand this imaginary rivalry you’ve built up between Wisconsin and UWM. I’m a UWM fan first, but I will not hesitate to cheer for Wisconsin after UWM. In case you forgot, Jeter was a Bo Ryan assistant at Wisconsin, which I thought was common knowledge, but judging by this imaginary rivalry you want, I don’t think you knew that. So if you don’t want to jump around, that’s fine, but the whole screaming in people’s faces to sit down if they are jumping around and having fun is not something that people appreciate. You are not the leader of the fan base. Scream at people who don’t come to games, not the ones who do.

Go Panthers!

Please print this.

You got it, Zachary! While you’re far from the only person who is a Jeter-backer – nor am I, there are plenty of fans steadfast in their support of our Coach despite the roller coaster ride instead of sustained success year after year that we’d all prefer. I enjoyed your fat jokes, mainly because they were at least somewhat original (you can’t go through life as a fat guy without laughing at fat jokes).

I walk around the place “acting like I’m cool with everyone” because I have made plenty of friends through Milwaukee Athletics and people don’t “act like they’re not cool with me.” You may not be cool with me – that’s fairly evident from your little angry tirade on here – but you certainly haven’t shown this to me. In fact, after I read your e-mail, I looked you up on Facebook to see if I recognized your face. Unfortunately, I don’t know who you are. Nobody does. Our two mutual Facebook friends haven’t heard of you. Since Jump Around hasn’t been played in years at the Arena, I’m sure you were a student awhile ago, likely when I was.

It’s possible that because of my size that you’re mistaking adults for “children.” Moving past the pretty heavy implications you threw in there because you never expected this e-mail to see the light of day, I can assure you that I’ve never had anything but great words from fans whose kids have interacted with me and other fans. I just sold a car last week to one of those parents. Another one of those kids is now a student, writing for me and doing a hell of a job for a sophomore in college.

I don’t think I’ve ever said that I consider myself the “face” of UWM fans, although I see how you could think so. Isn’t it obvious that Michael Poll is the face of our fan base? I didn’t even know that was up for debate, let alone think of myself as such.

I am, however, quite literally the leader of a group of fans. When I was a student, I was the President of the Student Black and Gold Club, which is quite literally the leader of a group of fans.

I can see why you want to Jump Around from your Facebook profile, since it says you attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Of course, it’s your prerogative to disagree with me – to my face would have been more effective, but since you’re a little rat I can see how writing an e-mail loaded with fat jokes seems safer. Hell, only I’m gonna know you wrote it, right? Oops.

zjust

Zachary Just, in his element.

Zachary Just on Facebook

Zachary Just on LinkedIn

There you go. Now people know who you are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *