Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at all 326 Division I teams. To order the complete 2006-07 edition of Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, visit www.blueribbonyearbook.com or call 1-866-805-BALL (2255).
(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)
COACH AND PROGRAM
It was a great run while it lasted. But it ended on graduation day last May when six seniors walked across the stage to pick up their sheepskins. The seventh will do so in December. Five starters: gone. Two key reserves: gone.
There's not much left from the outfit that claimed its third consecutive Horizon League regular-season championship last March. That's not to say second-year coach Rob Jeter can't assemble a contender this winter, but he'll be starting almost from scratch.
The Panthers said adios to Joah Tucker, Boo Davis, Adrian Tigert, Chris Hill, Jason McCoy, Derrick Ford and Mark Pancratz. That group kept Milwaukee's title run intact during the transition from Bruce Pearl to Jeter.
When Pearl left for Tennessee after guiding the Panthers to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2004-05, Jeter inherited a ready-made lineup and didn't miss a beat. Milwaukee won the Horizon League regular season and tournament, went to the Big Dance for the third time in four seasons and won a first-round game for the second straight year. After the
Panthers bounced sixth-seeded Oklahoma, then were bounced themselves by eventual-champion Florida in the second round.
Jeter even considered leaving himself. He interviewed for the vacant Iowa State job but decided to stay in Milwaukee and put his own stamp on the program that fought its way to the top of the Horizon League totem pole. The winning didn't change under Jeter's watch. Neither did the modus operandi. The Panthers pressed and ran their way to a fifth-consecutive season of leading the league in scoring (74.0 ppg).
Let the rebuilding begin. There's no one who started a single game last year and no one taller than 6-7. The parts include: three role players who averaged at least 10 minutes a game last year; two promising youngsters who sat out last winter; an important Division I transfer; and a recruiting class that will have to hit the floor running.
"I've been around situations like this before," Jeter said. "When I was at [Wisconsin] Platteville, we had a lot of strong, senior-dominated teams. So hopefully, that will be helpful to me.
"Another thing is that even though this group is gone, they did leave a mark on the program. They passed on a lot of their habits and winning ways to the group that's going to follow. I think success brings a lot more success. These guys have been around it. They've tasted it, lived it. It rubs off. We're just going to see how much."