What are three things that describe the Milwaukee Panthers Men's Basketball program? History of success, employing two of the best coaches to ever coach in the state of Wisconsin in Bo Ryan and Bruce Pearl, and the lack of facilities would be how I describe the basketball program.
Lack of facilities has always been an issue but it has grown and become a bigger problem over the past ten months. On June 26th, 2012 Andy Geiger, Director of Athletics, announced the move back on campus to the Klotsche Center. This move was designed to trigger greater student engagement in athletics and add to the campus life, culture and atmosphere while providing the Panthers with tremendous home court advantage.
This move did nothing but hurt Milwaukee Basketball. Students attendance was still low, season ticket holders were upset, and most importantly this move did not provide any home court advantage with only a .500 winning percentage this past season.
Now with conferences above the Horizon League looking to add teams, you would think Milwaukee would be considered because of their proven success, being in bigger media market, and room for growth. These three things make Milwaukee an attractive option, but the lack of a quality basketball arena is holding us back.
The Missouri Valley is currently looking for a new member to replace Creighton, who is moving to the new Big East, and three teams from the Horizon League, Valparaiso, Loyola and Illinois-Chicago are being considered. Milwaukee is better than all three of these schools, and if the Panthers had a long-term lease with the U.S. Cellular Arena, none of these teams would be on the list, Milwaukee would be the list.
In 1977 the Klotsche Center was opened for student recreation, not to hold a Division One basketball program. A D-1 program should never play in a high school size gym, and there is no excuse for why the Panthers are. Without moving back to the U.S. Cellular Arena, the Panthers will be stuck in the Horizon League, and will have no chance of being a competitive basketball program.
All the blame should be put on Andy Geiger for this mess, and May 1st cannot come quick enough when new Director of Athletic, Amanda Braun, takes over. Her first decision needs to be moving back to the Cell. If we continue to play in the Klotsche, Milwaukee Basketball will be a joke because we will have no room for growth and will struggle to land talented recruits, which will lead to disappointing play on the court.