Led by career scoring highs from senior Cody Wichmann (23) and junior Brett Prahl (18), the Panthers sent their Horizon League match-up against Youngstown State on Sunday afternoon to overtime, then outscored the Penguins 19-10 in the extra stanza to pull out a 94-85 victory for their second win in a row. The victory avenged Milwaukee’s 88-87 double overtime loss to Youngstown State on December 29.
“We thought it would be a good idea to test the loyalty of all our Panthers fans to take the game to overtime to see who was going to run up the stairwells to find a television set to catch the Packers game,” joked Milwaukee Coach LaVall Jordan, knowing full well that the end of his game bumped into the start of the Green Bay Packers–Atlanta Falcons playoff game, something that seemingly every sports fan in the state of Wisconsin had been fixating on all week.
Prahl sent the Panthers into the overtime session by tracking down a missed shot of teammate Brock Stull, contorting his body under the basket and making an acrobatic shot at the rim to tie the score at 75 with 2.4 seconds left in regulation. That hoop put a punctuation mark on a highly efficient afternoon for Prahl that saw him make 9-of-10 field goal attempts, all at the rim, pull down five rebounds and block two shots. He finished the game as the top field goal shooter in the conference with a 74 percent shooting mark.
Scoring often off penetration, mostly below the rim and never calling attention to himself, it could be said that the 6-9 Prahl scores his points in a quiet manner. “He goes about everything quietly,” said Jordan. “He asks the right questions and has improved greatly since we (Jordan and coaching staff) got here. If we had to give a most improved player award to someone, he’d get it.”
Prahl failed to start a single game in his first two years with the Panthers. In fact, his total points scored in those years did not reach triple digits. Coming off a four-point outing in the Panthers most recent game, a buzzer-beating, 63-62 victory over Cleveland State on January 20, Prahl carried an 8.4 ppg scoring average into the Youngstown State game.
But he more than doubled his average by scoring around Youngstown State centers Jorden Kaufman and Devin Haygood with both hands and often out of post-ups along both sides of the lane. “He got himself in great shape over the summer,” said Jordan. “We needed him to because we wanted him to be able to run the court and show on ball screens.”
“We have the most confidence in Brett,” added Wichmann. “Nine of ten (made shots), that’s ridiculous. He knows when to shoot and when to pass it out.”
Wichmann got Milwaukee rolling in the overtime by doing what he does best–knocking down a shot from distance. Those were the first of seven points Wichmann would score in overtime as he later drained all four of his free throws to help keep the Penguins at bay.
A product of a small town just outside Green Bay, Wisconsin, Wichmann resisted the temptation to transfer after the dismissal of longtime Milwaukee Coach Rob Jeter after the end of the 2015-16 season. Unlike former teammates of his like Akeem Springs and Austin Arians, now starting at Minnesota and Wake Forest, respectively, Wichmann bought into Jordan and has started every game for the Panthers after playing exclusively off the bench last season.
A left-handed shooter, Wichmann is more comfortable shooting off the catch than dribble. His first made three-point shot came in transition and staked the Panthers to a 9-2 early lead. Later in the first half, Wichmann drifted to the corner to receive a pass from point guard August Hass and knocked down a triple to push the Milwaukee lead to 19-14. For the game, Wichmann made 3-of-7 attempts from behind the arc.
With a sparkling .421 career shooting percentage from distance going into the season, Wichmann’s accuracy had suffered this season. He brought a .370 three-point percentage into the Youngstown State game. “Everyone’s keying on Cody and he’s at the top of everyone’s scouting reports,” said Jordan. To counter the added defensive attention above the arc, Wichmann has increased his activity off the ball. Against the Penguins, he back cut defenders and was able to create separation to receive passes and scored twice at the rim.
Milwaukee got an unexpected scoring infusion from fifth-year senior Cameron Harvey, who brought a 1.6 ppg scoring average with him into the game. Harvey knocked down 3-of-4 shots from behind the arc and scored three more baskets in the paint to finish with 15 points. The Stetson transfer had been struggling since the start of the Horizon League season. In fact, his 15-point game surpassed his scoring output in the Panthers first seven league games. “Every single shot that he made seemed like a big shot,” said Jordan.
A freshman from Copenhagen, Denmark, Haas was solid orchestrating the Panthers offense. Entering the game with an assist-to-turnover ratio of closer to one than the more desired two or more, Hass handed out nine assists without turning over the ball once. “August is starting to understand the (point guard) position and is finding his sweet spots on the floor,” said Jordan. “We’re giving him more ownership of the offense and he likes being in command.”
The Penguins squandered a 71-62 lead in the last seven minutes of regulation and were outscored 13-4 as they were forced into the extra session. They had built their lead behind the marksman of junior guard Cameron Morse, a 6-3 shooting guard who brought a team-high 22.4 ppg scoring average into the game. A high volume shooter who carried a 41 percent shooting mark into the game, the native of Flint, Michigan connected on half of his 16 shots including making five of eight shots from behind the arc.
As Milwaukee heads to Michigan for games against Detroit Mercy and Oakland on January 27 and 29, respectively, Jordan said he will take a different feeling about his club with him. “Eleven of our 21 games have been three possessions or less, and we’ve come out on the other (losing) side more times. I think we’re figuring out a way to make enough plays down the stretch to win these now,” said the first-year Milwaukee coach.
The Penguins return to Youngstown to open a three-game homestand on January 28 against Cleveland State.
This article was written by Tom Osowski, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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