Behind the Scenes: Milwaukee Panthers men's basketball

Behind the Scenes: Milwaukee Panthers men’s basketball

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- College basketball is a billion-dollar industry that takes over the country in March. Millions of fans watch some of the best student athletes in the world go head-to-head for 40 minutes. But 40 minutes on the court are just the finished product, a fraction of the work that goes into it behind the scenes. The Milwaukee Panthers and Coach Bart Lundy let CBS 58 take a peek behind the curtain at a recent game.

Twenty minutes before tip-off, he stands in an empty locker room, waiting.

"Misery, yeah, it's [the waiting] the worst. Absolute worst part of game day, right here," Lundy said. 

Coach Bart Lundy

He fills the time writing the final matchups and keys to the game on the whiteboard.

"It's really a three-day prep for each team. I've kind of gone away from the 'rah-rah' speeches I gave as a young coach so if I give one now it's effective," said Lundy.

Instead, assistant coach Ben Walker gives the pre-game speech before this game.

"Don't play with your food. Are you hungry? Yes sir. Well, let's go eat then!"

The Panthers are favorites so the coaching staff is worried about a "trap game." Their message to the team all week has been to stay locked in and not overlook their opponent. But Coach Lundy knows his team well.

After a sluggish workout he paces back and forth during starting lineups worried the message didn't sink in as well as he wanted it to.

"Today is a great day to analyze that [how well the pregame talk sank in with the team]. We didn't think the initial warmup was good and we were locked in even though they came in the locker room and said, 'we're locked in and ready to go' and we came out in the game and we weren't locked in. We weren't ready to go," Lundy said. 

He's right, at the first TV timeout the Panthers still haven't scored.

Things improve from there. One by one the shots start falling and suddenly Milwaukee is up five heading back into the locker room for halftime.

"I feel like...we're going to throw a knockout punch, that's not how it's going to work. We're going to beat this team with singles," said Lundy.

The message sinks in. The Panthers dominate the second half on the way to a 20-point win. In Bart's office after the game, he told CBS 58's Scott Grodsky he knew his halftime speech hit home.

"I thought at halftime, at halftime when we talked about you can't hit a home run, it has to be play after play after play," said Lundy. "I thought, just looking at them and their heads nodding. You can tell who is listening with their eyes, the body language of the team, whether they are really locked in. I thought they were locked into that and we came out and played we were locked in."

Relationships behind the scenes are what drives success in college basketball. Bart learned that early when he became one of the youngest head coaches in the country more than 25 years ago. While his relationship with players has evolved, the core stays the same.

"I think in a lot of ways I've always been more of a player's coach. Now maybe instead of being that young coach they relate maybe it's more of a father-figure type relationship," Lundy said. 

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