Coach: Rob Jeter (62-61 at Wisconsin Milwaukee, 62-61 overall)
Over the last couple of seasons Wisconsin-Milwaukee has had to do some rebuilding. This year Coach Rob Jeter’s squad should have the weapons to make a serious run at a postseason tournament. It may not be the NCAA Tournament and the success the Panthers had under Coach Bruce Pearl, but it should be a step in that direction.
Key Losses: G Deion James, G Avery Smith
The backcourt does not lack in scoring prowess. Tony Boyle is a quality outside shooter who led the team with 13.2 points per game last year and should be in for a big senior season. Boyle is more than just an outside shooter and will use his speed to get to the basket. The bigger concern in the backcourt is replacing point guard Avery Smith. Deonte Roberts will have a shot at the job. Roberts, who averaged 6.4 points and 1.6 assists last year, is a quality player, but he turned the ball over too much last year and that will have to change if he is going to become Milwaukee’s number one point guard.
Tony Meier started all 30 games last year and proved to be a difficult player to defend. He connected on1.2 three-pointers per game and most opposing power forwards will have a difficult time defending him all the way out beyond the arc. James Eayrs usually came in off the bench last year, but he was still the most productive forward on the team, averaging 11.2 points and a team high 5.5 rebounds. With senior Jason Averkamp being a capable backup, and junior Anthony Hill back to provide some rebounding, the frontcourt has plenty of experience. With a couple newcomers, most notably Tyler, this unit can turn into a force in the Horizon League.
Who’s In for Wisconsin Milwaukee:
The player who is most ready to contribute amongst the newcomers is junior college transfer Michael Tyler. The 6-5 junior is raw, since he did not even play much basketball in high school, but he made major strides in his game during his two years at Pratt Community College and will be ready to contribute either at the small forward or power forward position. Ja’Rob McCallum and Lonnie Boga will provide some depth in the backcourt and redshirt freshmen Riley Walker, Patrick Souter and Ryan Haggerty will also be looking for minutes. It is Walker, a 6-6 forward, who has the most potential if he can find minutes on what is turning into a pretty crowded forward position.
Ricky Franklin was the most prolific and efficient outside shooter last year and ended the season averaging 9.1 points per game. Franklin, who is just 6-1, is also a great rebounder for a guard and that could prove to be very useful if the Panthers end up running a three guard offense. But that will depend on whether or not Roberts is ready to run the point. If he is not, that job will likely fall to Franklin. Yet, there is another determining factor for Franklin. He may not be eligible this year as a fifth year senior if things do not go as planned in the classroom over the summer.
Final 2009-2010 Wisconsin Milwaukee Projection:
Assuming Franklin is back, the offense should be in good shape. The big question is at the point. If Roberts cannot handle it, Franklin will be less of a scorer and more of a distributor and that takes the team’s best shooter and puts him on the ball when he would be much more effective running off screens and looking for open three-pointers. Either way, Milwaukee should end their mini postseason drought and at least make it to the CBI or CIT.