Panthers need to find a way to win

Good basketball teams find ways to win close while bad basketball team find ways to lose them. While it is not fair to characterize the Milwaukee Panthers in to one of those two broad categories based on one tournament, it is a fair statement to make that they have had two opportunities to win in the first days of the Golf Coast Showcase and have failed to convert either opportunity. It is hard to tell specifically whether the break downs in the Panthers 96-92 loss to the Duquesne Dukes were caused by a lack of preparation or a lack of execution but either way it was a disappointing loss for the second consecutive day in the tournament.
Derrick Colter and Micah Mason combined to score 53 of the Dukes 96 points. They also hit seven of the Dukes ten made three-pointers. The Panthers struggled to cover them. They are both good enough shooters that once they give the ball up in a given possession, it has to be the defense’s goal that they do not touch the ball again in that possession. Yet the Panthers allowed several occurrences where either would give the ball up only to have the Dukes reverse the ball back to the opposite side of the floor to find either of them wide open for threes. The Panthers needed to do a better job of locking these guys up and not let them get the ball back once they gave it up. The Panthers defense has to be way better as well overall. The Dukes shot over 55% on three-pointers and over 64% on overall field goals.
The Panthers offense also bears responsibility for the second loss in as many days. For the latter portion of the second half and for most of the overtime the Panthers had all five Dukes starters playing with four fouls. Yet they only managed to foul one of them out half way through the overtime. When you have the opposition in foul problems you have to attack the basket in order to get them fouled out of the game. Yet time and again in the latter stages of the second half, the Panthers took quick shots early in the shot clock. That basically bailed out the Dukes defense. If the Panthers were more aggressive offensively the result of Tuesday’s game may have been very different. So now the Panthers move on to Wednesday morning’s seventh place game against Central Michigan seeking to salvage something from the Golf Coast Showcase.
Central Michigan finds themselves in the seventh place game of the tournament due to a tight loss to Weber State on Monday followed by a blowout loss to Western Kentucky in in the second round. The Chippewa’s feature a four guard, one forward starting line-up. Senior Guard Rayshawn Simmons is Central Michigan’s best player, the team leader in points and assists and second on the team in rebounding. Central Michigan is not an overly deep team as they use a seven man rotation. Josh Kozinski is their main guard off the bench. The Chippewa have two additional players averaging in double figures. Junior Guard Braylon Rayson averages over 13 points a game and Senior Forward Jon Simons averages 10 points per game. The Chippewa take a lot of three point shots. They attempted 127 three pointers in four games entering Tuesday’s game and they took another 41 against Western Kentucky on Tuesday. They do not hit them at a rate that that the Dukes did but the Panthers need to be prepared to again defend a lot of three point shots.
Matt Tiby had a great offensive game on Tuesday against the Dukes hitting five of seven three point attempts and totaled 29 points. The Panthers will need another strong game from him on Wednesday, but he needs to improve on the boards after only pulling down two Tuesday. As a team the Panthers should have a one-word mission for Wednesday: finish. They have been in command in both games of the Golf Coast Showcase but they have not gotten the job done as second half leads have slipped away on both days. Central Michigan is certainly a beatable opponent and the Panthers need a complete effort from both sides of the floor in order to make that happen.  

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