Panthers need to avoid Phoenix’ transition game

With the hopes of a double bye fading with each loss during this road swing, the focus for the Milwaukee Panthers should gradually shift away from getting the number two position in the conference tournament to getting their collective basketball house in good order for the Panthers to make a run in early March in the Motor City. The Panthers can begin said house cleaning Monday night as they attempt to secure a regular season sweep of the Green Bay Phoenix in the Panthers’ final road game of the regular season.
Green Bay has two wins alternated by two losses since their last meeting with the Panthers. Their conference record of seven and six is even with the Panthers. Green Bay continues to feature Linc Darner’s #RP40 style of play (Relentless Pressure for 40 minutes). They continue to maintain a high tempo and quick pace. The Panthers did a good job dealing with the Phoenix pushing the tempo in the first match-up with Green Bay, as they only committed eight turnovers. That’s a key statistic given the Phoenix are the league leaders in steals per game (9.7). Carrington Love and Jordan Fouse lead the Phoenix and the Horizon League in that category, and are the main box score fillers for Green Bay.
With two weeks remaining before the conference season ends, there is one big problem that has caused a couple of issues on both ends of the floor for the Panthers. The problem is the Panthers insist on taking a bunch of three-pointers, to varying degrees of success. As was the case Saturday, they can lead the Panthers into holes from which they cannot recover. All the attempts at long balls have obvious detrimental effects on the offense but they also effect the defense in ways that many may not realize. The Panthers have had distinct front court advantages in the majority of their games this season especially in a conference that is not filled with large amounts of size. The Panthers hit just 8 of 31 long ball efforts on Saturday for a 25.8 success rate. This caused the Panthers many long offensive droughts in the first half as they scored only 29 first half points.
The offensive effects of all the missed threes are fairly obvious but they also hurt defensively as well. Long missed shots can equal long rebounds. Rebounds come off the rim and end up traveling a fair amount of distance. If the offense is somewhat out of rebounding position, that long shot and subsequent rebound, act as a first pass of sorts to up tempo teams like Green Bay, Detroit and Oakland, with whom the Panthers have recently dealt. The Panthers have had enough defensive issues at points; they cannot afford to start defensive possessions on a personal disadvantage. For example, let’s say a three-pointer is attempted from either deep corner of the floor. If that shot is missed there is a good chance the corner shooter is either going to be at a significant disadvantage or out of the play entirely because of the angle and distance that the shooter is away from the ball in a rebounding situation. If the rebound is long, there is a good chance of the ball being back to half court or even deeper in penetration before the shooter is able to recover and work themselves back into a contributing position defensively. The Panthers need to get back to running a balanced offense and take advantage of their front court height advantages. Doing so will help improve both their offense and defense. That balance needs to show Monday night against Green Bay, in the final conference games of the season and going forward toward the conference tournament.

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