Whitewater men won't get caught looking ahead
WHITEWATER—Area sports fans are salivating over a potential fourth meeting between UW-Whitewater and UW-Stevens Point.
Pat Miller says his Warhawks men's basketball team isn't taking that bait.
The Warhawks advanced to the Sweet 16 last weekend and play the University of Texas-Dallas at 5 p.m. Friday in Stevens Point. A Whitewater victory could mean another battle with Point, whose only loss this season came to UW-W, on Saturday night with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
“We haven't addressed it; I think the group itself is pretty focused,” Miller said. “It was interesting after the game Saturday night. It was a subdued locker room for a team that just advanced to the Sweet 16.
“They basically said, 'We have four more games to play.'”
First up is a date with the Comets, who are 27-3 overall and topped No. 12 Whitworth in a game at Richardson, Texas, to advance to the Sweet 16.
Senior forward Kyle Schleigh scored 49 points over the two first-weekend games and averages 17.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
“They're experienced and have a returning All-American,” Miller said. “He can score at all three levels—in the post, mid-range and on the perimeter.
“There aren't very many common opponents, but they've played a couple teams that we know. So we have a good gauge of where they're at, and they're a very good offensive team.”
The Warhawks counter with Beloit Memorial alum KJ Evans, another player capable of scoring at all three levels.
Evans is averaging a team-high 16.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
“He's played great,” Miller said. “His game has developed over the course of his time at Whitewater. His inside game has improved dramatically.”
Miller liked how the Warhawks bounced back from a disappointing WIAC tournament—they lost to Stevens Point in the title game—to win two games emphatically last weekend.
That effort could lead to the fourth meeting with Point. The two teams have been ranked as the top two teams in Division III at times this year and are currently Nos. 1 and 3.
“The way the Midwest is in Division III basketball, you learn to expect having extremely difficult games … and expect to run into conference opponents,” Miller said. “Amherst and Williams are 45 miles apart and on the opposite side of the bracket, so they would not meet until the Final Four. They easily could have put us in the South part of our bracket but didn't.”
It could make for an Elite Eight thriller, but the Warhawks aren't looking that far forward.