As a member of the Horizon League, the UW-Milwaukee men’s basketball team is loosely considered a Division I mid-major.
Reasonable size? It’s a whole different story.
Thanks to two off-season transfers as well as several leftovers from last year’s squad, the 2021-22 Panthers could hold on to many NBA teams when it comes to overall height.
Moses Bol, a transfer from central Florida (and yes, a cousin of Manute Bol), is 7 feet 1 inch tall and weighs 225 pounds. Samba Kane, a transfer from the University of San Francisco, is 7 feet tall and 220 pounds.
Then there’s Joey St. Pierre, a junior redshirt from UW-Parkside, who is 6-10 and 275.
And it’s right in the paint.
Of course, there’s 6-9, 220-pound winger Patrick Baldwin Jr. There’s 6-9 junior Redshirt, 190 pounds Vin Baker Jr. And then eight other players on the 17-man roster that s’ register between 6-4 and 6 -7.
âOne thing we wanted to address from last year is the presence of the paint and our size,â coach Pat Baldwin said on team media day Monday. âYou see with teams, whether they win our league or progress in the NCAA tournament, most of the time their presence in the paint is pretty good.
âSo we wanted to enlarge, to have more size – and not just in the paint but also on the perimeter. We think if we can be a good enough defensive team on the edge that will help us hopefully win more than our share of games. ”
Neither Bol nor Kane bring rich gaming experience; Bol did not play last season for Central Florida and Kane averaged 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in 9.6 minutes per game in San Francisco.
St. Pierre, meanwhile, was a training player for the Panthers in 2020-21 after making his first three seasons at Division II Parkside.
But the size of the trio should at least be able to protect the rim, take up space in the paint, and help on the boards.
âIn training it’s just different,â said junior guard DeAndre Gholston. âThey’re athletic, they’re tall, so getting to the edge isn’t easy at all. It gives us a feeling of play. We know that during the season there aren’t a lot of big players that are that big or athletic, so that will help us in the long run. ”
With expectations raised for the Panthers – preseason polls are not out yet, but expect UWM to finish in the top three in most if not all, thanks in large part to the student’s presence. freshman Baldwin – teams will chase them early on.
Their non-conference schedule includes road games in Florida (November 18) and Colorado (December 10) and a home game against Rhode Island (December 13), and size is usually a critical component of power conference teams. .
“I think they’re 7ft with big wing spans, it allows us to be more creative with our finishes because when we go deep into tournaments we have guys who are 7ft tall, big wing spans , can jump “, Baldwin Jr. noted. “So I think if we train against him every day it doesn’t just make us better as players, it also makes our team better.”
At 6-5, Gholston is the tallest of the UWM’s true guards with returnees Josh Thomas and Jordan Lathon registering at 6-4. The smallest player on the roster is Donovan Newby, a 6-1 sophomore who is a candidate for more minutes for the point guard this season after proving himself as a substitute last year.
Thomas also played some point last year, but he’s more effective as a goalscorer and slasher.
âWe are versatile and can play in different ways on the pitch which will hopefully be an advantage for us,â said Baldwin. âHaving bigger wings, having height in the post, I think that will definitely help. If we are able to play with traditional 6-10, 6-11 and 7 feet in the post, we hope to create inconvenience for our opponents.
“Then on the other hand, we have to be really good on the defensive end and that size still has to protect maybe smaller opponents than we could potentially face.”
Lathon, a transfer from UTEP who missed all of last season with various injuries, could start in point. He led the Miners in assists in 2019-20 at 3.1 per game and is also a versatile player enough to put up a monster 32-point, 18-rebound game in the freshman.
âJordan has done a great job this summer and this fall as a point guard,â said Baldwin. âObviously Donovan played last year and did a great job as well. So I think we’re in a pretty good position with our leaders and guys who can handle the ball.
“The way we want to play this year, we’re going to have several ballhandlers on the pitch so hopefully that creates some issues if we can bounce back with these guys as well and start the transition a bit earlier.”
Lathon added, âWith this year’s squad and the size that we are, it’s going to be fun. We are very versatile. For me, it’s going to be about being in the job and being able to stay healthy and being available to my team every night.
UWM plays an exhibition game on October 30 against MSOE, then opens the regular season on November 9 in North Dakota. His first home game is on November 13 against Eastern Kentucky.