On Thursday, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee athletic director Amanda Braun was speaking at a Milwaukee Press Club Newsmaker luncheon. For whatever reason, the topic of a future men’s basketball game between Marquette and UWM came up, and here’s what she had to say, as reported by the Milwaukee Business Journal with a headline that called the potential match-up “likely”:
“There has been a lot of discussion,” Braun said at a Milwaukee Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon downtown. “I think everyone involved is interested in making that happen. They feel like that’s good for basketball in Milwaukee.”
Braun said “logistics issues” postponed renewing the series for the upcoming season.
“We’re going to continue to explore that,” Braun said. “We were hoping to have that this year and we were talking dates and it just didn’t work out for us.”
Rich Kirchen pointed out in his article that Marquette athletic director Bill Scholl said that “he has held discussions with Braun on scheduling a game.” However, if you actually click on the link to that story, here’s Scholl’s exact quote:
“Amanda (UWM athletic director Amanda Braun) and I actually have had a number of conversations," Scholl said. "Is there any chance? There is a chance we will play some games. We certainly have not made any commitments. We’ll see where that goes.”
Marquette and UWM play each other every year in women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. Of course Scholl and Braun talk to each other as a part of those events being scheduled and played. It’d be foolish to think otherwise. However, Scholl’s quote makes it very clear that as of a year ago they were nowhere near an agreement to play men’s basketball games in the future and calling that “discussions with Braun on scheduling a game” is kind of ridiculous. With the “is there any chance” part of that quote, Scholl may as well have said “never say never” or “can’t completely rule it out.”
Marquette holds a 39-0 all time record against UWM in men’s basketball. Thirty-nine. To zero. Sure, there was that 75-72 game in a 70% full UWM Panther Arena that was Milwaukee’s lone home game in the most recent contract between the two teams, but that’s about as close as a game has ever been. I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly care about re-igniting a “rivalry” game that hasn’t had two contests closer than 10 points since before World War II.
Braun claimed that the “logistical issues” were just not being able to work out dates with Marquette, or at least that’s what she makes it wound like. I’ve got some logistical issues for her: Under the most recent contract with UWM, Marquette drew fewer and fewer fans for the games against the Panthers as it went on and by the end of the contract, Marquette did not show a significant bump in attendance when they played UMW in comparison to the other buy games on the schedule.
Here’s the cold hard facts of the matter:
2007-08: UWM game - 18,283; other buy games - 13,743
2008-09: UWM game - 15,168; other buy games - 13,398
2009-10: UWM game - 14,244; other buy games - 13,914
2011-12: UWM game - 14,917; other buy games - 13,449
And by the way: the lone home game in that five game contract for UWM? 7,120 in a building that seats over 10,000. Yeah. First time Marquette played on UWM’s floor in nearly 80 years and Panther fans collectively went “eh.” I was at that game, sitting in the upper deck, and I bought my tickets early. I know people who waited to buy tickets, and they got BETTER seats than I did, because UWM was eventually forced to allow Marquette fans to buy closer seats because they couldn’t find enough UWM fans to buy them. I’m not making a word of that up.
Back to Marquette’s most recent home games with UWM. The final scores of those games, in order: 100-65, 100-80, 71-51, and 64-50. Yes, playing UWM for the first time in nine seasons meant something for attendance in 2007. It promptly meant 3,100 fewer tickets less the next year, and nearly another 1,000 fewer again the year after that. Why? Because UWM got flippin’ shelled in those games and all of a sudden, UWM fans didn’t bother wanting to pay to see their team get shelled, go figure. Even UWM’s narrow miss in 2010-11 only mattered to the tune of about 700 tickets the next season. When you’re talking about a difference of somewhere between 300 and 1,500 tickets between the Panthers and literally any other buy game that you bring into the building, who gives a rat’s behind who the opponent is?
Look, maybe Scholl and Braun are really close on some kind of arrangement. Maybe we’ll see the Panthers on the court in the Bradley Center in 2017-18, or maybe we’ll see them on the court of the new arena in 2018-19. All I know is that I don’t think it makes any financial sense for Marquette to do it and I don’t care if Marquette ever gets that 40th consecutive victory against UWM.