In the stairs leading out of the locker room at Notre Dame Stadium, the Fighting Irish football players hit a sign on their way out to the field. It reads "Play like a champion today."
Valparaiso, another private school in northern Indiana, lived those words today. Milwaukee, a large public school in Wisconsin, did not.
Armed with scores of Valparaiso fans in attendance, the Crusaders of VU stomped the living daylights out of the Milwaukee Panthers, 76-52.
Milwaukee's Paris Gulley scored 18 points to lead three Panthers in double digits, but the player who really took the game in hand, as he often does, was Ryan Broekhoff of Valpo.
The lanky Australian did what he does best: simply put, he got in the best spots on the floor and beat the Panthers for 26 points on 9-for-13 shooting, counting a wicked 7-for-9 from beyond the arc.
Broekhoff's offensive intelligence easily stole the show. On fast breaks, he trailed into the perfect spot to take a three. One offensive set broke down, and he took a slower defender off the dribble to the left, then darted down the right side of the lane to avoid three defenders for an easy layup.
It doesn't take Jerry Tarkanian to see that Broekhoff had Milwaukee's number no matter where he dialed up.
With less of an impact but an impressive game all the same, Kevin Van Wijk could not be stopped by Milwaukee's post players. Whether it was Kyle Kelm, James Haarsma or JJ Panoske, KVW took them all to task for 6-for-7 shooting.
Milwaukee got some help from Demetrius Harris, whose inside post play was seemingly effective at times against Valpo's interior defense, but there was nothing the Panthers could do to get their shots going, which ended up being the story on the Black and Gold side of the ball.
Milwaukee's bright spots? Every bit of 3,048 people came out for today's game, although how many were Valpo fans or people there for the free kids' jersey, we'll never know.
Not so bright? The 24-point victory for Valpo was their largest road conference victory in fourteen years (thanks to Paul Oren for the heads up on that one). They weren't even in the Horizon League then.
If Milwaukee is going to turn things around and salvage something out of this season, they're going to have to do it with scoring. You can't get five points out of James Haarsma, five points out of JJ Panoske, nothing out of Ryan Haggerty or Kyle Kelm. The players - specifically Jordan Aaron and Demetrius Harris - need to pass the ball more frequently (read: at all) so the other Panthers don't get lulled into standing around and waiting for other guys to do things.