Monday, December 27, 2004

UWM vs. Kansas

UWM took on Kansas Wednesday night, and for all of Milwaukee's channel 41's faults, they showed the game flawlessly. And it was quite the game, with the Panthers keeping things much closer than expected on one of the nation's top teams. I'm saddened that I didn't get to see Wayne Simien suit up for Kansas, but KU had enough other ridiculously talented players to keep me appeased. Here are the thoughts:

1) It had been awhile since anyone had seen anything from Ed McCants, but he gave a performance on Wednesday that I can only describe as Diener-esque. Wow. For a long stretch (up until the final 5 minutes or so), it seemed like if McCants threw up a three-pointer, it was certain to go in. That was among the best performances that I've seen this year. It was nice to have Ed back.

2) While McCants stuck out, the Panthers aren't in the game without the play of a few other guys, most notably, Adrian Tigert. I never remembered Tigert being the inside-outside threat that he is now, but he has progressed to the point where he can kill you with a three-pointer, or a nice duck-under move underneath the hoop. As long as Ed McCants, Joah Tucker, and a handful of other flashy guards are around, Tigert's never going to be the name that gets hyped up at UWM, but don't be fooled--the Panthers would not be nearly as well off if he wasn't around.

3) Keith Langford has really been around Kansas for awhile. I still remember all of the hype he got when he was a freshman, which was somewhat surprising, since I think Danny Manning was national player of the year that year, as well.

4) If you look at a box score from the game, you'd think that James Wright had a pretty pedestrian, or even bad game. No points, no assists, six rebounds. Doesn't seem like he did much. But, if you watched the game, you'd know that Wright's crafty work in the post resulted in him drawing about five fouls on Kansas' freshmen rotatation that was attempting to replace Wayne Simien, including one stretch where he drew three off-the-ball fouls on two consecutive UWM offensive possessions. Of couse, Wright, who's nearing retirement age, should be able to outwit a bunch of freshmen.

5) Well, I guess Kansas's Alex Galindo is their next big outside shooting threat. I was pretty pleased with his looks from behind the line, and on the foul line. I'll have my eye on him for the next few years.

6) Who's letting Jason McCoy shoot from behind the three-point arc? Who do I need to talk to to make this stop?

Overall, I was pleased to see a UWM team respond well in a tough environment following a bad loss. The Panthers will never be on the level of Kansas, but they showed in this game that they could give a team like Kansas a run in the tournament if Ed McCants or Joah Tucker gets hot. And with Chicago-Illinois' loss to UW-Parkside, you'd have to think that the Panthers will have an easy road to the conference championship as they embark on the rest of their journey through the Horizon League.

On a final note, the holidays have been busy for me, and I'm still down one game for the weekend. I'll recap that, along with my trip to the Badger Classic high school tournament in Madison, which I plan on leaving for immediately after posting this. And yes, I did take the day off of work to watch high school basketball. Stop making fun of me.


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