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Panthers need to slow down track meet with Phoenix

In the best of circumstances, Milwaukee Panthers senior guard JR Lyle is a nice insurance policy to bring off the bench who can provide some scoring, defense and most importantly leadership to the second unit. In less than ideal circumstances, like the one the Panthers found themselves in on Monday night against Oakland due to a knee injury to Akeem Springs, Lyle can easily be raised to a much greater role in impact and minutes.
Lyle played a season high 28 minutes while scoring 13 points, including three of four successful long connections. But his greatest contribution occurred defensively, drawing two charges on Kahlil Felder, eventually fouling out the leader in the clubhouse for conference Player of the Year. With Springs possibly out again Friday night, the Panthers could use a similar contribution from Lyle as the Panthers take on cross-town rival Green Bay Phoenix at Panther Arena.
The Panthers and Phoenix currently have identical 5-3 conference records but the Phoenix are almost an entirely different team then the one Panthers are used to seeing. In years past, Green Bay was somewhat of a slow tempo team, wanting to always get the ball inside to the post on almost every possession. Brian Wardle and that offensive system built around Alec Brown are both gone.
In their places are Linc Darner and #RP40 – Relentless Pressure for 40 minutes. The Panthers have faced this type of style in the past. In the 2014-2015 season opener, the Panthers played Bruce Pearl and Auburn and later in that season they faced Mike Anderson and the Razorbacks. In both games the Panthers struggled handling the relentless pressure. Relenting to the pressure is what made each team hard to handle, because it requires players to be continually mentally sharp to maintain proper spacing and passing angles.
That defense has fit Green Bay well. Green Bay leads the conference in steals, averaging better than ten per game. They also lead the conference in opponents turnovers forced per game. Almost half of those steals are generated through their best players, Carrington Love and Jordan Fouse. Fouse is one of the best individual on ball defenders that the Horizon league has seen in years. He lives to get into your face on an every possession basis. Fouse is also the team leader in rebounding. The Panthers guards have to be ready to go to the glass as well as deal with the defensive pressure that Fouse and Love are going to bring. Green Bay turns all this defense into offense, as they are the highest scoring team in the conference (86.2 ppg) and have scored over 95 points in each of their last three games.
An offensive key to for the Panthers in this game is to not get sucked into the craziness that Green Bay wants to create. They will have opportunities to score as Green Bay also allows the second highest point total in the conference averaging 81.3 points per game. The Panthers need to slow this game down and be patient. Offensive patience was not on display enough on Monday night as the Panthers brought the ball down on several occasions, then made one or two passes before putting up a long ball attempt.
If that pattern repeats itself Friday night the Panthers will again be in trouble. Green Bay wants to make this game a full court sprinting contest. The Panthers instead need to make it a half court low post power struggle. Green Bay does not have anyone who plays in their regular rotation who is taller than 6’8″. The Panthers have an advantage inside in this game and need to use it as a counter to RP40.

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