May232014

The Development of Matt Tiby’s Game

If you go to one of the UWM men’s basketball game this year, you are bound to notice sophomore forward sensation Matt Tiby.  With his long brown hair flying as he runs and 6-foot-8, 230 pound frame, according to the team’s website, it’s hard not to notice Tiby.

However, he only needs his game to make him stand-out. Tiby’s game has developed tremendously since high school. Tiby’s high school senior year is when his game really took off. Tiby averaged 18.5 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per game and shot 82 percent from the free-throw line. His high school coach Brad Bjorkgren contributes Tiby’s relentless rebounding to his attitude.

“Matt was a team player, but he wanted to touch that ball in the post.” Bjorkgren said. “When he didn’t get it, I think it made him a great rebounder because he wanted the ball more. He rebounded out of his area very well. Matt was taking all of [the rebounds] when he started. He has a knack for rebounding.”

However, even with the stats and a first team all-state selection, Tiby did not receive any Division 1 offers and decided to attend Kirkwood Community College. As a freshman, Tiby was second in team in scoring and rebounding with 11.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest. He also led the team in free-throws made and attempted and shot 76.9 percent while at the charity stripe.

“Tiby came in and made an impact immediately.” Kirkwood’s coach at the time Doug Wagemester said. “For a 6-foot-8 guy, he is a full-court player who is active on both ends. He ran the floor extremely well. He was a better-than-average defender and has a high basketball IQ.”

Tiby’s has always been talkative, but it was until his time at Kirkwood that he took on the vocal leadership role.

“Back in high school, I was definitely not this player.” Tiby said. “I didn’t have this amount of energy, this style of play. Some people say it’s like a swagger to them, but it’s just who I am, who I developed myself in the junior college surrounding.”

He mentioned the fact that Kirkwood had many players who played a different style basketball than he was used too and how this helped him transform his game.

“I had a lot of people from the inner city of Chicago area.” Tiby said. “I had people from the inner city of Milwaukee area on my team. When they came, it was a different kind of basketball for me. They had more up-tempo, it was more talking, more communicating, more trying to get people going and helping people out. Sometimes in practice, just the smallest words can help someone start going and scoring points or developing their own skills for the team. That’s what really helped me build my energy.”

One teammate in particular really stuck out to Tiby and help him realize what bringing energy and what being vocal could do to his game.

“One of my co-players at Kirkwood, Eddie Denard, I don’t remember a day that he wasn’t excited to be there.” Tiby said. “I was thinking, ‘If he’s excited to be here, I’m excited to be here because this is my love; I should be excited to be here.’ Once I got to the business side in junior college and I saw all these schools recruiting me and I was developing all these skills, I was just like, ‘If I can add this to my arsenal, it could help me in the long-run.’ [Denard] really helped me with that and he just brought the energy out of me.” 

However, it wasn’t all good times at Kirkwood. Tiby chose to return to Kirkwood for his sophomore year, but was suspended for the first two games for team violations. This is when another one of Tiby’s strengths was exemplified.

In a recent profile piece on Tiby in the Journal Sentinel, Tiby said he was cut off from gym access at Kirkwood and had to continue his training on his own. So, that is exactly what he did.  

Even Wagemester saw this work ethic in Tiby, despite the issues.

“Matt is a worker.” Wagemester said. “Not many people work as hard as him. He is not afraid to put time in to expand his game. He is not afraid to put in time to hit the weight room. His competitive spirit and work ethic stood out to me. In the today’s day and age, sometimes it can be difficult to get kids to compete and put it on the line. I didn’t have to deal with that [in Matt’s case]. You actually had to corral that.”

During his second year at Kirkwood, Division 1 schools started to recruit Tiby. He eventually ended up receiving scholarship offers from the University of Texas San Antonio, South Dakota State University and UWM. However, his trip to UWM really stuck with Tiby.

“I felt welcome when I got here. A lot of positive vibes when I got in here.” Tiby said. “When I first came up here on my visit, I wasn’t having the best time at Kirkwood. I was kind of out of it and coming up on this trip really helped me out because it really expanded my mind and got my mind off of things back at Kirkwood.”

Tiby had to sit out his first semester at UWM after transferring and was able to redshirt to add another year of eligibility.  The time off allowed Tiby continue his development as a player.

“Learning the offense was really difficult.” Tiby said. “I’m coming from a flex offense. They are running like a basic offense, the Bo Ryan offense. I’m coming from Iowa and I don’t really like [the] Wisconsin [Badgers], so I never watch Wisconsin, never even saw the offense. It was hard for me because I just wanted to get everything down and was trying to absorb everything that everyone was teaching me. It was a great stepping stone for me to have a semester here and then the summer just so I could develop myself as a player and as a student also.”

The hiatus from basketball and having to sit out and watch the Panthers during a struggling season last year has allowed Tiby plenty of time to build up energy.

“I came up here, I sat out and was just building up energy inside and was just too excited to play.” Tiby said. “Once I started to play, I’m just releasing all this tension and energy built up from, you know, could be five years ago, could be from a day ago, I’m just building up energy day by day.”

One of Tiby’s greatest assets is his energy that he brings to the court every time he plays. Talking to Tiby, his coaches, and ex-coaches one thing kept being brought up: his greatest strength can also be his greatest weakness.

“Using my energy towards the team instead of taking away from the team.” Tiby said on an improvement he strives for. “Sometimes I can get to myself and get really down and bring negative energy, not only to myself, but the team as well.”

This feeling was reverberated by his Kirkwood coach.

“Emotionally he had room for growth.” Wagemester said. “He would make himself known on the court in a communication way, but we would have to work with him on the line between players and coach communication. That is no different than any other kid. Matt always had energy, he just needed to channel it correctly. He’s on that edge and it’s a sharp one.”

In his first year at UWM, Tiby seems to have learned how to channel his energy for positive reasons and take his game to a new level. Not only has Tiby been a leader for the Panthers, but he has also added the three ball to his repertoire.

As a high school senior, Tiby attempted and missed only one three. He did not even attempt a three at Kirkwood. However, he has made 16 threes for the Panthers.

In his first year, Tiby has help lead the Panther to a 16-10 record, doubling the win total from last year already. He is also second on the team in scoring with 13.1 points per contest and first on the team with 6.9 boards per game. Tiby is still also very solid at the line, shooting 75 percent on the season.

His emotional maturing, along with the constant improvement on his game, could lead Tiby to a very successful basketball career after UWM, according to his junior college coach.

“Sometimes your strongest assets can be your worst as well.” Wagemester said. “If he learns to channel [his energy], he has a long, bright future in basketball.”

It’s hard to believe that Tiby is only a sophomore this year. With his track record of always improving his game and relentless work ethic, these next two years should be exciting to watch for UWM fans.

May142014

Taking a Closer Look at Top MLB Free Agent Signings

Seemingly every MLB offseason is headlined with huge free agent signing that are supposed to help catapult a certain franchise one step closer to a World Series title.

The 2013 offseason was no different.

The New York Yankees spent over $460 million dollars on their free agent acquisitions. The Seattle Mariners spent over $265 million to help bolster their roster. Even the Milwaukee Brewers signed Matt Garza to a four-year, $50 million contract.

Free agent signings can bring hope for the new season for some fans.

“Teams have different and have had different motives for signing free agents; sometimes it’s simply to make news and excite your fans,” Historian in baseball history Neal Pease said.

Sometimes, the team reaps the rewards right away, as in 2009 when the Yankees won the World Series after signing top free agents Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett for over $420 million in the 2008 offseason. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Angels have signed top free agents Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in consecutive years for over $370 million combined and have no World Series titles to show for it yet.  

However, the more intriguing question is: How have recent free agent signings typically been working out?

After the analysis of 35 players who switched teams in free agency, the numbers show that non-pitchers see their statistics decline more than pitchers.

For the non-pitchers, batting averages dropped 20 points, RBIs drop 18 and games played drop 12. In regards to the pitchers, the average win total did not change and stayed at 13. The average pitcher actually ended up losing fewer games the first year with his team, by going from nine losses to only seven. The average ERA did rise, but only by .359 runs. Finally, the average pitcher ended up pitching 8.13 less innings their first year with a new team.

For the study I conducted, I compared the statistics for the players’ walk-year and their first year with a new team for the top free agents, according to ESPN’s MLB Free-Agent Tracker ratings.

This excludes free agents who re-signed with their team and foreign players who came over to the MLB. I have compared the players from the 2006 offseason, the first year of the rankings, to the 2012 offseason, which allowed me to see the players’ 2013 season numbers. The free agency period starts in December the year before the season, therefore the 2012 free agent would play for their new team for the 2013 season.

I am just looking at the raw data, without taking into consideration any other variables. This is a simplistic method that doesn’t take into account the exact contract status, salary, etc., of each player, but it works well enough to evaluate all those signings in relation to the first year of the new contract.

For the non-pitchers, I am comparing their batting averages, home runs, games played and RBIs. For the pitchers, I am comparing games started, win-loss record, ERA and innings pitched. I chose these statistical categories due to them being the most prevalent statistics mentioned.

I decided to look at the players’ walk-year numbers and the numbers for their first year with a new team to see what the trend has been since 2006 to see if player’s performances do decline between the two years.

Results: Hitters

There were 22 non-pitchers who signed with a new team in free agency.

After analysis, the numbers show that position player’s average age was 30.55 years-old, batted .286, had 94 RBIs, 29 home runs and 151 games played.

In the following year, the average player batted .269, drove in 77 runs, hit 22 home runs, and played 139 games.

 “A player moving to a different team, a different league, a different ballpark and all of that can have a major, major impact on the perceived performance of a player,” Pease said.

The biggest improvement came from Adam Dunn, who improved his batting average by 31 points after leaving the Arizona Diamondbacks for the Washington Nationals.

Victor Martinez upped his average by 28 points when he left the Cleveland Indians for the Detroit Tigers. Alfonso Soriano improved his by 22 points when he left the Washington Nationals for the Chicago Cubs. 

The biggest batting average drop belongs to Andruw Jones and Jayson Werth, who had their batting averages fall by 64 points apiece. Jones left the Atlanta Braves for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Werth left the Philadelphia Phillies for the Nationals.

BJ Upton saw his average drop 62 points after leaving the Tampa Bay Rays for the Atlanta Braves. Carl Crawford’s average dropped 52 points when he left the Rays to play for the Red Sox.  

The new contract has the potential to add extra pressure for the player to live up to the money and that also is what is causing the drops in statistics.

“One could think of reasons why players might be motivated to try extra hard,” Pease said. “Now it’s not clear that would help. Baseball, unlike say football, where one could say there is a clear relationship between a concentrated effort and a better performance, it’s not all clear that baseball works that way. There are a lot of players that say, ‘No, he tried too hard.’”

In the RBI category, Martinez improved his RBI total by 24 runs to lead the way. Jose Reyes increased his RBIs by 13 after signing with the Florida Marlins from the New York Mets. Aramis Ramirez improved his RBI total by 12 after leaving the Cubs to sign with the Brewers.

Jones had the biggest drop in RBIs, with a difference of 80. Jason Bay’s RBI total fell by 72 when he left the Red Sox for the Mets. BJ Upton saw his total drop by 52.

A possible explanation for the hitters’ woes is the change of scenery impact that comes along with signing with a new team. 

“Home ballpark (park factors), run-scoring environment (it’s been much more favorable to pitchers since 2010), health/injuries, etc., all have a strong effect on a player’s performance, too.” Society for American Baseball Research’s Web Content Editor and Producer Jacob Pomrenke said in an e-mail.

Mark Teixeira had the biggest increase in home runs by hitting six more than the previous year. Adrian Beltre improved his home run total by four and Ramirez increasing his total by one. Those were the only hitters to improve their home run totals.

The biggest home run drop came from Bay by hitting 30 less home runs. Jones saw his total decrease by 23 and Josh Hamilton hit 22 less home runs than the previous year.

The average age of the free agents who were non-pitchers was over 30. The older age, in terms of sports, might be a main factor in the drop of the statistics in every statistical category.

“One reason the statistics might decline is that free agents tend to be older players, and studies have shown that, after age 27, batters tend to decline.” Sabermetrics blogger Phil Birnbaum said in an e-mail as to what could possibly be going on with the performance decline. .

Teams may be now locking up their stars before the contract stages even comes to the forefront, as was the case with the Milwaukee Brewers locking up Ryan Braun through 2020.

“A lot of teams are trying to wrap up young stars before they get to free agency,” Pease said. “Giving them the long-term contracts and maybe figuring, ‘well we’re going to pay more upfront, but it will save us in the long range.’”

Results: Pitchers

The numbers tell a much more consistent story for the pitchers.

There were 13 pitchers who signed with a new team to look at.

The average pitcher was 31.9 years-old, had 33 starts the year before signing with the new team, had a 3.54 ERA and 211.33 innings pitched.

In the next year, the average pitcher started 32 games, had a 3.7 ERA and 203.19 innings pitched.

The numbers show that pitchers were consistent in their performance of the both years.

The only pitcher to significantly in performance was Jason Schmidt after he left the San Francisco Giants to play for the Dodgers. He went 1-4 with a 6.31 ERA in only six starts, compared to an 11-9 record, a 3.59 ERA and 32 starts the previous year. Schmidt had had season-ending shoulder surgery to repair an inflamed bursa, a torn labrum and a frayed biceps tendon in his right shoulder.

The average win-loss record of the pitchers went from 13-9 to 13-7, improving by two in the loss column. The biggest win improvement came from 2007-2008 Kyle Lohse, who appeared in the list in both 2007 and 2012, improved is win total by six. Lohse left the Phillies for the St. Louis Cardinals.

John Lackey improved by his win total by three after leaving the Angels for the Boston Red Sox. Sabathia, who left the Brewers to join the Yankees, and Randy Wolf, who left the Dodgers for the Brewers, improved their win total by two.

A pitcher remaining statistically consistent has the possibility of being attributed to them having a very good supporting cast.

“One reason pitcher wins might stay constant is that free agents tend to go to better teams, and better teams give pitchers better offensive support,” Birnbaum said.

On the flip side, Jason Schmidt’s win total dropped 10 games, going from 11-9 to 1-4. AJ Burnett, who left the Toronto Blue Jays to sign with the Yankees, Joel Pineiro, who left the Cardinals to join the Angels, and the 2012-2013 Lohse, who left the Cardinals for the Brewers, all had their win totals fall five games. 

The biggest spike in ERA was from Schmidt, with a 2.72 rise, going from a 0.00 ERA TO A 6.00 ERA. Derek Lowe had the second highest spike, increasing his ERA by 1.43 runs after leaving the BLAH to sign with the BLAH. Finally, Randy Wolf increased his ERA by .94 runs.

The pitcher who improved his ERA the most was Zack Grienke, drooping his ERA by .85 runs from 3.48 to 2.63 after leaving the Angels to sign with the Dodgers. The 2007-2008 Lohse improved his ERA by .84 runs by going from 4.62 to 3.78.  Cliff Lee improved his ERA by .78, going from 3.18 to 2.40 after leaving the Texas Rangers to sign with the Phillies.

Overall, the numbers tend to show that, besides an exception like Schmidt, a team can expect the same performance from a pitcher in his first year with his new team.  

Possible Biases

It is important to note that many factors go into why or why not a player’s statistics vary year to year: batting lineup, injury, the particular ball parks they play at, etc. I also only looked at a very limited amount of free-agents. Not only was the overall pool small, I did also only look at the top ranked free-agents. Being a top ranked free-agent assumes that the player is consistent from a year to year basis.

The list also might not lead to direct correlations with predicting performance.

“I strongly doubt there is any detectable correlation with performance for pitchers or batters,” Baseball Guru’s Craig Tomarkin said in an e-mail. “This is way too small a sample and it’s skewed due to picking the top 5.”

Conclusion

Even with all the possible biases and lack of big pool pf players to analyze, the statistics do show that top free agent signings is not an exact science.

Some players improved, while others declined, that’s just the way baseball goes. It may give a team caution to signing that big name hitter over a pitcher. Statistically speaking, hitters do not live up to their previous year’s performance, while the pitchers performance remains more consistent.

10AM

The Lack of Women Athletic Directors

At only the age of 40, Amanda Braun has quite the resume.

Braun received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Siena College, obtained a master’s degree in sports administration from the University of North Carolina and took law classes at Duke University. She also worked in the athletic administration at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and was the executive associate director of athletics at Northeastern University.

Braun also happens to be the first female athletic director for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee since it was founded in 1885. She is only one of 26 female athletic directors in all of Division 1 colleges, which contains over 300 schools and universities.

The question then becomes: Why aren’t there more women athletic directors in Division 1?

Title IX is a part of the Education Amendments of 1972 and states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance,” according to the U.S Department of Education. Ever since, women have been gaining equality in sports in all levels.

The University of Iowa, Harvard, and Stanford have implemented what are called “women’s sports enhancement programs,” according to the Feminist Majority Foundation. These programs “set a deadline for achieving gender equity by creating new women’s teams, elevating others and providing additional funding in a broad spectrum of areas.”

Title IX has undoubtedly increased the number of women playing sports, but not so much the number of women running sports and giving women like Braun an opportunity at upper level athletic jobs like a director. Women are still very much underrepresented in the athletic director ranks.

When the question is looked at, it is clear the answer is very complex and involves a number of obstacles women have to overcome. The obstacles range from family to the sports culture world itself.

For one, family is consistently cited as a reason for women for not pursuing athletic director jobs. Being an athletic director comes with a major time commitment. From this, comes the notion that women don’t want athletic director jobs due to the desire of having a family instead.

“I think part of [the lack of women in athletic director jobs] is existing sexism in our society,” says Dana Schowalter, a media studies lecturer at UW-Milwaukee and specializes in how media and media representations affects women. “More generally, that makes it very difficult for women who have positions like that to be able to also have a family. We question their values as mothers if they’re working as much as is required to work as an athletic director. It becomes very difficult.”

The sexism Schowalter is referring to is the fact that no one ever brings up the family concerns when a man is chosen for an athletic director position.

Family aspirations shouldn’t hold a woman back in her goal of becoming an athletic director, according to Braun.

“It is a time commitment and for family reasons, a lot of people opt-out,” Braun said. “Women opt-out before they are even presented with a choice.”

When Braun says “opt-out,” she is referring to a book called “Lean-In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” by Sheryl Sandberg. The overall motif of the book is something that Braun finds very important.

“The idea of “Lean In” is to just lean in and go after it,” Braun said. “The more important part of the book, that I think is lost, is; ‘Who is your partner in life?’ That matters more than how many resources you have. If that person supports your career and you distribute the work equally, that isn’t your career work, then you have a better chance of success.” 

By opting-out, women never give themselves a chance at becoming an athletic director in the first place. Confidence in believing that gender shouldn’t be a deterrent in their career goal is a crucial element to more women becoming athletic directors. Mentally believing they deserve the job will allow women to take the plunge and opt-in to pursue their ultimate career goals.

Past the family aspect, comes another obstacle for women to gain the athletic director title. Sarah Wolter, from the University of Minnesota, is also the co-author of the study “Gender Representation in 2010 NCAA Division I Media Guides: The Battle for Equity was only Temporarily Won.” She believes the lack of women athletic directors stems from the culture of sports.

“Because so many people assume that sport is a masculine domain, the automatic assumption is that men will be able to be better athletes/coaches/athletic directors,” Wolter said.

If one were to take a look at the sports world, men would dominate the landscape. The NFL is outrageously popular. The NBA, MLB and NHL all receive their share of national spotlight and popularity as well, and four of those leagues are only played by men.

“I think it has a lot of overlap with how we talk about women’s sports in general and the way we talk about sports culture,” Schowalter said. “Sports is this historically masculine, male-dominated space and we talk about sports in that capacity.”

The exposure of sports only being for men leads to the whole sports culture to have this belief as well—-at all levels.

A recent Time magazine article pointed out that women are unrepresented in sports journalism, stating that only two of the 183 sports talk radio hosts listed in Talkers magazine were women. Women are not even given the opportunity to even talk about sports on the radio.

There are certainly other women like Braun with the ability to become an athletic director. There are also women who are striving to become athletic directors.

Women like Christian Bray. She is currently a graduate student in sports law at Marquette University. However, Bray has noticed other women not having the goal of the top job.

“I haven’t come across a lot of women who want to become an athletic director,” Bray said. “I think they feel the buck stops at a certain point.”

This mentality could be a result of the lack of women in athletic director jobs. Bray had her own thoughts as to why there is a lack of women athletic directors.

“I think there is still an old-boys club,” she said. “Women aren’t seen as knowing as what’s going on, especially in football. I do think times are changing.” She later added, “That mentality needs to go away and I believe it is.”

Braun also mentioned this “club” that exists in the sports culture.

“As you advance in any profession, you actually have more flexibility,” Braun said. “That’s one of the reason I think [more women athletic directors] doesn’t exist. I think there is a very real network out there. I think it used to be called good-old-boy, or whatever it is, that exists. It’s real; people taking care of each other.” 

This “club” then leads to the ever increasing importance of networking. The problem is that women are not even given the chance of networking because they cannot even get a foot in the sports culture due to the firmly held beliefs that women simply do not know and cannot run men’s sports.

One way to start networking would be for women to have a mentor to help teach them the ropes of the sports industry and have the ability to broaden their networks.

“[The lack of women as athletic directors] also relies on mentoring,” Schowalter said. “Men are more likely to mentor men, so if men have historically held these positions of power, men are more likely to mentor other men to be in that position. Men have a social network that leads to jobs.”

Wolter reiterated this thought as well.

“I also think we need to train more girls and young women in leadership,” she said. “Giving girls the leadership tools to succeed in positions like ADs combined with a love for sports is a win-win for everyone involved.

The lack of mentors and the thought that women can only go so far in athletic administration, is yet another obstacle for women to overcome the lack female athletic directors. The obstacles seem just keep piling up for women who strive become athletic directors.

So how does change come? How do more women start getting more athletic director jobs?

It could come in the form of law.

“[Change] could come from legislation that forces people to have more gender equity in positions of power,” Schowalter said. “I don’t necessarily know if [legislation] is the answer, but it’s something that might make that more equitable.

“There are a lot of other countries that mandate that 50 percent of elected officials have to be women,” Schowalter said. “It leads to more gender equity and it’s not like all the sudden all these really unqualified women are in positions of power. Instead, it allows qualified women to get past that sexist barrier and be in that space.”

Or, change could come from a seemingly obvious decision, yet one that is not given due to existing beliefs in the sports culture.

“I think the biggest change in getting more female [athletic directors] and more respect for women in sport overall is to just give them a fair chance,” Wolter said. “Guidelines shouldn’t be re-written; qualifications shouldn’t be changed.  There are qualified women out there who can do the [athletic director] job well, and they should be given fair consideration for jobs.”

The change starts at the presidents and chancellors of colleges and universities, who ultimately make the hire. However, change is much more multifaceted than just that, involves many layers and a lot of dedication.

“Not one thing is going to lead to change for hundreds of years of sexism in sports, it has to be a multifaceted push to recognize the good that is happening and to try and repeat it on a larger scale,” Schowalter said. “If [women] are content with this slow progress, I think that’s ultimately really damaging. Change doesn’t just happen on its own without people pushing for it.”

Recent trends do show very promising signs. In 2012, there were only two women in all of Division 1 who “advanced into AD/Commissioner/Leadership roles,” according to the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA). That number is now eight. Also, in 2013, there were 9.8 percent of women in leadership roles in Division 1 and 29 percent in Division 3, according to the NACWAA. Hopefully the Division 3 percentage can lead to a positive effect on the Division 1 statistics and help make the percentage closer.

Braun did leave a very intriguing statement about the thought of women not being able to lead or even coach men. The quote does, in a way, capture the essence of the issues pertaining to women in the sports culture.

“I’ve always laughed that women can’t coach men,” Braun said. “Are you kidding me? We raise them.”

March122014

Panthers Snap Three Game Skid with Win Over Wright State

What a difference a game makes.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s men’s basketball team held on to defeat Wright State 68-64 Thursday night at the Klotsche Center, in a game of two halves. The victory is less than a week after being dominated in a loss against Detroit University.

“First thing I’d like to say is that our kids, tonight, responded.” UWM Coach Rob Jeter said in the post-game press conference. “We challenged them, obviously, after our last performance. Just in the sense that we want to battle, we want to fight; we just want to show some pride and some effort. I think tonight they did that.”

The Panthers dominated the first half and led by as many as 20 in the second half, but only ended up winning by four. Jeter addressed Milwaukee nearly blowing their 20 point lead.  

“We’ve been up a few times by 20 and seen things happen.” Jeter said. “You’re right, it’s never over. We have to figure out a way to stop that, stop it at 10. Stop those runs.”

In the first half, Malcolm Moore fueled the Panthers. Moore was a spark plug off the bench for the second straight game. He checked in the game when the Panthers were up 6-5. He made an impact right away with a bucket and foul to make it 9-5 Panthers. Moore’s basket sparked what would become a 19-4 Milwaukee run to extend Milwaukee’s lead to 25-9 with 7:31 to play in the first half.

“I’m proud of Malcolm because he has just been battling.” Jeter said. “Obviously he’s not 100 percent, but it doesn’t matter. His 80 to 75 percent is contagious when he plays that hard. He prides himself on being tough and gritty and we need that. To see him have the performance tonight was especially pleasing for me because I knew how much he has battled to get himself to this point in the season.”

The Panthers dominated the paint in the first half, outscoring the Raiders 26-10 in the frame. The inside domination helped Milwaukee shoot 53.6 percent from the floor in the first half. Milwaukee’s defense also held the Raiders to only a 27.6 percent mark from the floor and contributed to Milwaukee’s 38-23 halftime lead.

Wright State fought back the second half, led by JT Yoho. Yoho finished with 20 points for the game, but was 7-10 shooting from the floor, with three threes, in the second half. Yoho cut Milwaukee’s lead to within eight points following a pair of free throws with 6:32 left in the game. The deficit was the first time the score was within ten points in the second half. The lead was then cut to 59-55 with 4:20 left, following two made free throws by forward Tavares Sledge to cap off a 19-7 Raider run.

Milwaukee’s Matt Tiby missed two crucial free throws with 35 seconds left and the score 64-61, leaving Wright State with hope. However, Wright State missed a lay-up on the ensuing possession. Milwaukee’s Jordan Aaron snatched the rebound, got fouled and nailed both free throws to put Milwaukee up 68-64 with 10.7 seconds remaining. Yoho fouled out on the Aaron foul. Yoho’s sub Chrishawn Hopkins sealed the game with an errant pass that sailed over his teammate’s head with 3.4 seconds left in the game.

“I thought Yoho, at the end, was a little tougher than us, but that’s how the game goes.” Jeter said. “It’s a game of runs.”

Wright State ended up outscoring Milwaukee 41-30 in the second half, but it was not enough as Milwaukee grinded out a tough home victory to snap their season long three game losing streak.

Milwaukee had five separate players in double figures this game, following the Detroit game, which featured no Milwaukee player scoring double figures. Kyle Kelm and Jordan Aaron both led the way for Milwaukee with 13 points apiece. Austin Arians and Moore finished with 12 each. Steve McWhorter also added 10. Tiby bounced back from a scoreless game to add eight points in the victory.

Milwaukee capitalized on Wright State’s 16 turnovers by scoring 20 points off of them. The defense also held the Raiders to 41.1 percent shooting for the game. Milwaukee shot 48.9 percent from the floor for the contest.

The loss drops Wright State to 13-11 and 5-4 in the Horizon League. The win improves Milwaukee to 14-9 and 4-5 in the Horizon League. Milwaukee will next play on Sunday against Oakland University at the Klotsche Center.

Game Notes

Milwaukee leads the all-time series 25-24 with the victory.

Tiby broke his three half scoreless streak following a basket with 17:15 left in the second half. Tiby is Milwaukee’s leading scorer for the season.

10AM

Howard Jr.’s Big Second Half Propels Detroit over Milwaukee

The start of 2014 has been a rough one for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men’s basketball team.

The Panthers have now lost eight of nine in January following their 73-54 loss Friday night against Detroit at the US Cellular Arena.

Milwaukee entered the night sixth in the conference standings and Detroit in eighth. The loss drops Milwaukee to 13-9 overall and 3-5 in the Horizon League. The loss also gives the Panthers their first three game losing streak of the season. Detroit snaps their four game losing streak with the win and improves to 9-12 overall, 2-4 conference record, and moves them in a tie with Oakland for the seventh spot in the Horizon, one game behind Milwaukee.  

Milwaukee shot 28.6 percent from the floor in the second half and only 31 percent for the game. UWM Coach Rob Jeter addressed the team’s recent woes in the post-game news conference.

“We just could not get ourselves going.” Jeter said following the loss.

Detroit controlled the game throughout the contest, never trailing in the game. Milwaukee cut the deficit within two in the first half, following a Malcolm Moore three with 3:16 left. However, Detroit responded with a basket, a defensive stop and Anton Wilson making two free throws following a blocking call on the Panthers. Detroit ended the half leading 38-28.

Moore was a spark plug off the bench in the first half for the Panthers. He had eight points, including two threes, and did not miss a shot. However, he only played one minute the second half. Jeter would not address this in the post-game conference.

"Physically he is fine.” Jeter said.

The second half started with a 6-0 run from Milwaukee to cut the lead to 38-34. After that is when Juwan Howard Jr. caught fire. He answered Milwaukee’s 6-0 run with a 6-0 run himself. The Panthers would answer his score on their end, but then Howard would step up and score time and time again. He scored 15 clutch second half points, finishing with 24, well above his season average of 17.8 points per game.

With 8:42 left of the second half, Milwaukee’s student section was completely out of the game, even sitting down. The section started clearing with a little over 4 minutes left, in the midst of a 12-3 Detroit run. The Titans helped their second half cause by making 10 of 11 of their free throws during the half to help stifle the crowd.  

Turnovers were a big factor for Milwaukee. The Panther piled up 12 just by the end of the first half and finished with 18 for the game, well above their season average of 13.1 per contest.  Coach Jeter let his displeasure be known.

“Turnovers were just, I mean, wow.”

Milwaukee’s offense never got into a rhythm because of the turnovers, as well as Matt Tiby never getting it going. Tiby was held without a field goal for the game and only ended the game with two points on two free throws, well below his average of 14.2 points per game. He did not even attempt a shot in the first half.

Points in the paint were also a big part of the game. Detroit outscored Milwaukee 34-24 in the paint and always seemed to have an uncontested layup.

Milwaukee has four players averaging over 10 points a game, but failed to have a player reach double digits against Detroit. Jordan Aaron and Steve McWhorter both led the Panthers with nine points apiece.

“We didn’t share the ball.” Jeter said. “We didn’t impose our will inside. Those are the things that you have to hang your hat on.”

Jeter did have a remedy in mind for the team.

“We need some time to regroup.” Said Jeter about his team.

Time is what they will get as Milwaukee doesn’t play until next Thursday when they face off with Wright State at the Klotsche Center. The time might be helpful for Milwaukee mentally wise as well.

“Mentally, right now, we are just worn down,” Jeter said. “I think that’s the best way to put it.”

Notes: Milwaukee leads the all-time series 21-20.

 Both coaching staffs were wearing sneakers to help raise cancer awareness.

10AM

UWM Announces Changes to Math Department

In wake of criticism that the university’s math program is “unjust,” UWM administrators will be making changes to the math department.

Associate Vice Chancellor Phyllis King announced the changes during the Academic Planning and Budget Committee meeting Nov. 7 in Garland Hall.

King wasted no time getting to the problem.

“How can we admit 1,500 students who end up in developmental math and fail?” King asked. “It has been like this for years.” 

King specifically mentioned Jamaal Abdul-Alim’s article “Dropouts Tell No Tales.” His article highlighted UWM’s low graduation rates, especially for African-Americans. The article also touched on how math is a hard subject for students to pass. He even directly challenged UWM administrators by writing, “Many UWM faculty and administrators I spoke to know that the university has a problem when it comes to math completion rates. It’s not clear, though, whether their heads are sufficiently in the game when it comes to the tough task of changing the institution to better serve at-risk students.”

King and UWM certainly took notice. Addressing a potential solution for the problem, King said the change comes at three fronts: instructional reform, placement reform and pathway reform.

"We have journalists saying we have developed an unjust [math] system,” King said. “And I agree.”

UWM’s current math system is “geared toward calculus by a step by step approach,” according to the math department chair Kyle Swanson. Students have to place out of or pass, math 090, 095 and 105 before being able to take what is considered college level math. Math 090 is the lowest level math, but students still have trouble passing, according to King.

“We have had students fail math 090 four times.”

King went on to mention the correlation between students needing remedial math and not graduating.

“Of the entire 2004 new freshman needing remedial math, only 31 percent graduated in six years.”

Adding to the issue is the fact that different UW schools have different placement scores for the cut-off between needing developmental math and being at a college ready level, according to King. Varying scores can lead to students being place at a higher or lower level depending on the school.

“We had a student place in math 090 here, left for Marquette and graduated with an engineer degree in four years.” King said.

The issue of defining what exactly college-ready math is only adds to the placement issue.

“We don’t have a definition of college-ready math,” King said. “If we were to ask [the math department], they would say ‘you tell us.’”

Swanson did address this topic in a follow-up interview, “Different institutions have different missions,” Swanson said. “You can’t compare UW-Madison to UW-Milwaukee. Madison accepts students with an ACT score around 28 compared to Milwaukee at, around, 21. We can’t sit here and say the college level math is the same for the two.”

The proposed pathway reform creates three new pathways for students in math and still keep math 090 for students who come in through the Academic Opportunity Center, according to Swanson. The first pathway is called the “math literacy pathway.” This pathway will be for students who would have placed in math 090 or for students whose major doesn’t require algebra. This is a two semester pathway to get to college level math. The “algebraic literacy pathway” is for majors that require algebra and is also a two semester pathway. The “placement pathway” is the final pathway for students who were placed at a college level.

For students placed in the first two pathways, there is also an “accelerated pathway,” which is a part of UW-College’s math pilot program. According to Swanson, the program allows for a student to finish the general education requirement for math in just one semester.

The pathway reform directly affects the instructional reform in its nature, due to creating a new math system as a whole. However, it also deals with much more than just that.

King acknowledged that a lot of teaching assistants, who teach the developmental classes, need to be better prepared to teach math. She said that training sessions are underway to help them better teach the students.

King also announced that by fall of 2014, the university will start enforcing the Board of Regents’ 30 credit policy. The policy requires all students complete their remedial credits within the first 30 credits. It should be noted that the policy has been around for 10 years, but the university hasn’t enforced it.

Underlying the instructional and pathway reforms is the placement reform. Students take the placement test to determine whether they’re ready for college level math or need to be placed in remedial math. The placement test as of now is a 60 to 70 question multiple answer test, according to Swanson.

“We are exploring changing the placement test itself,” Swanson said.

The placement reform also deals with getting students ready before college.

“It starts with the K-12 system,” King said.

She stressed the importance of getting students to take the early math placement test as a junior in high school, studying for the test and taking the test multiple times if necessary. King also touched on summer bridge programs like Panther Math Prep that helps incoming students get prepared for math. 

Swanson said the new math system will move away from a calculus based approach, to a more hands on approach for the students.

“We want more active learning in the classroom,” Swanson said. “If students are learning math from a textbook, they are not really learning. They are just learning to decode the textbook. We are moving to giving the students harder problems with minimal help so they work together and help each other out.”

In a more general reform, King said UWM is starting to work with Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) to establish better college math preparation and transfer policies.

The three schools are working together in what is called the Milwaukee Connected Community, according to Swanson.

“We are working with MATC and MPS to talk about curriculum alignment for kids who know they want to go to college,” Swanson said. “We can gear their curricular towards that and help them learn more before college.”

King and Swanson both stressed that the reforms are still very much in the beginning stages, but changes are coming. 

As King ended her presentation, she left the committee with an optimistic look into the future.

“Look for more positive changes to come.”

uwm math 

10AM

Retention rates drop at UWM

Campus-wide retention rates are down to 68.5 percent, according to UWM’s latest one-year retention rates. The rates have been declining every year since 2008. 

Keri Duce, the assistant director for student success, expressed UWM’s concern in regards to the rates.

“The fact that we lose 30 percent of students for one year is troubling.”

The overwhelming majority of UWM’s schools and colleges have had their retention rates drop from 2005, the first year listed in the university’s statistical reports. The Lubar School of Business has seen its rates drop from 69.2 percent to 62.9 percent. The College of Health and Sciences had the biggest drop, going from 82.2 percent in 2005 to 74.7 percent in the latest reports. However, the College of Engineering & Applied Science has increased from 71 percent to 81.6 percent and the College of Nursing increased from 66.7 percent in 2005 to 76.4 percent in the latest reports.

Associate Vice Chancellor Phyllis King attributes the fluctuation of rates between the varying schools and colleges to the students’ own interests.

“I believe those schools are taking off because students are self-select the program,” King said. “There’s more aptitude in those schools. For example, the ACT scores for Engineering is higher than the campus average.”

While addressing campus-wide rates, King mentioned the fact that UWM is an access university has to be factored in.

“We have access in our mission,” King said. “We accept students with challenges and it’s our responsibility to support them. If we accept them, we must provide support to succeed.”

Having this mission allows for students like Devin Walters to attend UWM. Walters was not accepted by three different UW system schools before being accepted to Milwaukee. He was officially enrolled a year, but said he stopped attending classes well before then. Walters explained he chose UWM over entering the job market right out of high school.

“I had to choose between college and getting a job,” he said. “I chose college and wanted to be there. However, the actual school aspect is something I just did not want to do.”

According to King, UWM wants to get the retention rate up to 75 percent. To help students like Walters and reach that goal, UWM offers a variety of different programs dedicated to aiding in the retention of students.

The programs are a part of the “Access to Success” initiative UWM has in place. According to the school’s website, Access to Success is the “campus blueprint to enhance access to UWM, while at the same time, promoting greater student success.” One of the goals of Access to Success is to “increase first-year retention and performance of all freshman.”

King mentioned one of the most successful programs to come from this, is participation in undergrad research.

“Students are more engaged with faculty, which lends to higher retention rates,” King said. “We offer grants to faculty who support students in their research. The students and faculty being more engaged really helps.”

Another successful program King mentioned is offering students tutors for what are called “gateway” courses. These are courses that are fundamental to a major. For example, a journalist major here at UWM must take and pass JAMS 101 before continuing in that major’s path.

“These courses are the first challenges to students,” King said. “So provide tutoring and support for the students helps.”

To continue along the support motif, UWM also offers what are called “Learning Communities.” Keri Duce runs the Learning Communities and explained the purpose is to help the students get used to college and all college entails.

“The goal is to create and environment to help students adjust to the academic rigors of college,” Duce said.

The different types of Learning Communities are: First-Year Seminars, Intro to Profession, First Year Impact Section, Paired Courses and Living Learning Communities (LLC). Duce highlighted the Living Learning Communities as the most successful program.

She said how the LLCs are a commitment to the first year students. Duce explained the LLCs consists of 20 students who live on the same floor and take at least one class together.

“The students live together, go to class together and even go on field trips together,” Duce said. “Their professors teach them about college life. They are assigned a peer mentor.”

Duce further explained the program was to create friendships and feeling of comfort so students will want to stay here at UWM.

“There are mainly two reasons a student doesn’t come back,” Duce said. “One is that they are not doing academically well for various reasons. And the other is because that students had no friends here.”

Duce also runs the program MAP-Works (Making Achievement Possible). She explained students take a 100 question survey about a month or two into college. The survey is then sent to a success coach. The success coach can then see each student’s issues. The coach and student then meet and set a two-week, end of the semester and end of the year goal.

“The idea is to improve personal and academic improvement,” Duce said.

Beyond the programs, King acknowledged that help with retaining students can start even before getting to college.

“We really need to work with training teachers in the K-12 system,” King said. “They need to know expectations for college so they can better prepare students. High school students need to be better prepared. College is very different from high school and we need to provide resources for a successful transition.”

The problem is that high schools don’t always take kindly to college’s advising them, according to Duce.

“High schools don’t want us to tell them what to do, so we have to show them the statistics and hope they adjust,” Duce said.

In the end, retention rates are a priority here at UWM. The university is taking this problem head-on by offering all the programs they do. However, retaining students does ultimately come down to the students, according to Duce.

“We can provide all the support in the world, but if the student isn’t committed, there is nothing we can do.”

10AM

Budget Concerns Hit UWM

UWM is in a financial crisis, according to Provost Johannes Britz. This was revealed in the Academic Planning and Budget Committee’s meeting on Oct. 24, in which Britz and the committee discussed changes to how the university distributes money to schools and colleges.

Enrollment drops, problems with retaining students, and a smaller budget number than some think is helping cause the concern.

The change in giving more money to the provost’s office to distribute to schools and colleges also raised some concern among committee members.

The committee met to discuss possible ways the university and the professors can bring in more money for UWM.

“We have a challenge ahead,” Britz said as he addressed the committee. “There’s no doubt about it.”

The crisis is due to a huge gap in UWM’s reported budget and actual budget. According to the school’s website, UWM’s reported budget is $675 million, but the actual number is a lot smaller, according committee member and Professor Swarnjit Arora.

“There is a potential of double counting and we do not have all of the money for us to spend.” Arora said. “For example, $210.4 million is for federal student aid, which goes to students at the same time students pay tuition of $230.7 million. So should we count $210.4 [plus] $230.7 [equaling] $441.1 million in our budget resulting in total of $704.6 million or to examine funds available for us to spend, only count[ing] $230.7 million?”

Arora went on to explain there is a similar issue when dealing with the Auxiliary Funds of $78.4 million.

“These funds contain segregated fee of $33.9 million plus $47.2 million for the fee charged for services such as university housing and restaurant businesses,” Arora said. “Again, these funds are not available for us when we are looking into the flexible amount for us to spend on various programs like faculty and staff salaries library, IT, Graduate School and other administrative units.”

Arora further explained all of these factors add up to the huge discrepancy in the budget.

“Thus if we subtract away, student aid, research grants, indirect cost etc, we have only about $450 million,” Arora said. “And if we exclude auxiliary fees and some other users’ fees, we are left with only $353 million for our planning purposes. Which is not much.”

Also contributing to the budget concerns is the drop in enrollment, especially in the college of Letters and Science (L&S), according to Britz.

Along with the declining enrollment rates is also the issue of a staggering 37 percent of UWM students end up leaving the university for various reasons, including dropping out, according to Britz.

All of these factors are contributing to the budget crisis and leading into questions of how to allocate the scarce funds. The proposed distribution model is more of a decentralized system, which was opposed by some committee members.

“I would go absolutely in the opposite direction than the proposed distribution,” committee member Paul Florsheim said.

He was not the only one to disagree with the proposed model either.

“Going to that decentralized model is dangerous,” committee member Rebecca Klaper said in response to the proposal of each school or college deciding what to do with their own budgeted money.

In this decentralized system, each separate college would get 100 percent of all indirect costs, sponsored funds and trust funds, along with 80 percent of the tuition revenue.

Some colleges may need more money than other colleges and might need more than is budgeted, leading to the objections. The College of Letters and Science enrollment rates are declining, but enrollment in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences is up, according to Britz.
 
Under a more centralized system, if one College or School would need more money than budgeted, the money would be there if needed. The proposed system does allocate over $30 million for the provost to be able to have the flexibility to give extra money to some programs if needed to act as a sort of a centralized pool.

A way to bring in more money to the university is by writing grants. The problem is that either the money isn’t there to fund the grants or there just are not grants being written. That money can then be put towards funding things such as scholarships. Funding for scholarships happens to be the committee’s main concern, according to Arora.

Britz came prepared with a four-point plan to get through the crisis.
 
The first step is to be smart and start sharing money smarter, he elaborated.

Second is to be more efficient with money and with the faculty.

“There’s no need for three professors to teach one class,” Britz said. “We could take those other two teachers and use them to help write grants and bring money into the university.”

The third step is to invest smarter and wiser in programs that will bring money to the university.
 
Finally, the Provost wanted the committee know that they were not alone in this crisis.

“We’re all in this together.” Britz said.

Though the Provost has a plan in place, the fact is that the university is in a financial crisis.
 
However, Britz did leave the committee with an optimist view.

“We’ll get through this.”

uwm budget 

October42013
s-h-e-e-r:

Dark Side of the Moon by simonGman on Flickr.

So tight.

s-h-e-e-r:

Dark Side of the Moon by simonGman on Flickr.

So tight.

9AM
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