PantherU

Milwaukee beats Platteville, 68-54, at home

Despite only leading by two points at the end of the first half, the Milwaukee Panthers came out strong in the final 20 minutes of play, beating Platteville 68-54 in an exhibition contest at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Thursday evening.

With Austin Arians sitting out after rolling his ankle a couple weeks ago, the Panthers needed someone to step up and fill the void left offensively. Akeem Springs was that guy.

Springs, a sophomore transfer from Northern Illinois, displayed his excellent ability to drive to the hoop, tallying a game-high 15 points, with nine of them coming in the opening eight minutes of the second half.

“I thought he was solid,” said Panthers head coach Rob Jeter. “That’s what I expect from him. Truth be told, I expect more from him, and I think he expects that from a coach. I was pleased to see the aggressiveness in the second half.”

Springs is a big, physical guard who plays well on both sides of the ball. Sure, he needs to become a more consistent shooter, but he has the skills and potential to be an outstanding player for Milwaukee.

Besides Springs, senior point guard Steve McWhorter also chipped in 14 points, while junior forward Matt Tiby added 10 points and 13 rebounds for Milwaukee.

With this only being an exhibition contest, it allowed Jeter to player more of his younger players to see how they would perform in a game situation.

Although sophomore guard Cody Wichmann was only able to score three points in 21 minutes of action, he played well, especially for at times having to play forward, when Jeter decided to use a smaller lineup.

“It was a little more difficult to play both bigs,” Jeter said. “I thought Cody coming over to play some four, we were able to stretch the defense a little more and make some better decisions from the perimeter. I thought he did a nice job tonight.”

This versatility for Wichmann, to go along with his solid ability, will help him earn more minutes throughout the regular season if he decides to not redshirt this season.

Redshirt freshmen Alex Prahl and Brett Prahl were also able to finally step onto the court in a Panther uniform for the first time after sitting out all last season. In their limited time on the floor, they brought a physical attitude, displaying their excellent potential.

These two players are both physical forwards, who will provide Jeter with a lot of size off the bench this season.

“They are just solid,” Jeter said. “I know what they can do, they just play as hard as they can. I’m really pleased with how they are progressing in practice and today. They allow us to be a lot more aggressive and a lot more physical with our inside play.”

Another freshman who fans were eager to see in this contest was guard Justin Jordan. In his six minutes of playing time, he showed glimpses of his ability to handle a team, playing well for an incoming point guard in his first game.

While some might have been disappointed that this was a close game early on, this could have been a positive thing for the Panthers. It allowed them to feel the pressure of playing in a close game, and it will allow them to take a lot more away than a blowout victory would have done.

Milwaukee will open their season next Friday night on the road against the Auburn Tigers, but there still is some work that needs to be done in order for them to be ready to face a high-major program.

“Defensively we are much farther ahead then offensively,” Jeter said. “I think that is still the question mark for us. Our inside play and how we are really going to put a mark on this team offensively.”

Jeter and his staff will figure it out, and when they do expect the Panthers to make some noise because they have a lot of talent, especially at the guard position.

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