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Jeter, McWhorter speak at Horizon League Media Day

The countdown to a new season has begun for the Milwaukee Panthers, even if they know exactly when the journey will end. Along with other coaches and players in the Horizon League, Panthers head coach Rob Jeter and senior point guard Steve McWhorter met with the media for the first time, 30 days before the beginning of the 2014-15 season, at Horizon League Media Day in Chicago on Wednesday.

With the Panthers banned from postseason play for this season, due to low APR scores, some would assume that the team would consider this season lost, with nothing to play for. It looked to be another stumble on the rough climb to respectability for the program, even after coming off an incredible turnaround season where the Panthers went from being predicted to finish dead last, to suddenly finishing 21-14, making a push in the conference tournament to win the Horizon League Championship, and making the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005-06.

The players, at least McWhorter, would disagree. “If anything, this has made me even hungrier…to go prove that we can still win the Horizon League regular season championship, and be as good a Milwaukee team as we were last year,” said the Panthers starting point guard.

Rob Jeter shared McWhorter’s optimism, saying, “I think, for us, the focus is how we can now take that speed bump, and take what seems to be a setback, and how we can set ourselves up for better success.”

Future success seemed to be the underline for what Jeter said to the rest of the Horizon League media. With the Panthers only having two seniors this season in McWhorter and Evan Richard, the vast amount of underclassmen returning gives Jeter reason to have confidence in the Panthers’ future beyond this season. Even more, with those underclassmen, the fact they have stayed together and have stayed on the team, has shown how devoted they are to Jeter and to the program, and to each other. “We’re a family,” stated Jeter. “I think, more than anything, this whole process that we’ve been through has proven that. Not one (player) has transferred. Everybody’s fired up to play.”

One such player is junior Matt Tiby, the undisputed vocal leader for the Panthers, who was named to the All-Horizon League preseason 2nd team, and whom Jeter couldn’t help but smile about as he talked about him. “He’s passionate, he’s emotional in the right way…He gets so fired up about what he can bring, and he takes real pride in that.”

Pride may be all that the Milwaukee Panthers are playing for this season, but that alone might be incentive enough for the Panthers this year, and with the talent returning, and growing, there’s no reason to think the Panthers can’t still have a regular season to build on.

“It’s still fun, it’s still basketball,” said Jeter. “Every game is important. It’s just that we already know when the end for us is going to happen. So, we’re just going to go out there and have fun.”

In an additional note, the Horizon League preseason poll was also unveiled, as shown:

  1. Green Bay
  2. Cleveland State
  3. Detroit
  4. Valparaiso
  5. Wright State
  6. MILWAUKEE
  7. Oakland
  8. Youngstown State
  9. Illinois-Chicago

One Comment

  1. Boyee

    October 16, 2014 at 5:22 am

    I think the Horizon League would be wise to expand to 12 schools, which might help stop teams from leaving as Loyola and Butler did in the recent past. I think adding Belmont University, Robert Morris University(PA), and one of the following: Northern Kentucky University (Atlantic Sun)/Lipscomb University (Atlantic Sun)/Murray State University (Ohio Valley)/Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (Ohio Valley)/University of Evansville (Missouri Valley). Only one founding Horizon League (Midwestern City Conference then Midwestern Collegiate Conference before taking Horizon League name) member is still remaining (University of Detroit Mercy).

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