Coach renews for five years

Wisconsin-Milwaukee is hoping to become another Gonzaga, getting to the NCAA Tournament on a regular basis while still keeping the same head coach.

The Panthers and Bruce Pearl have agreed on a new five-year contract, with a total worth over $1.5 million.

Pearl has won 60 games the last three seasons and amassed a 37-11 record Horizon League play. He led the Panthers to the 2003 NCAA Tournament, the 2004 NIT, the 2004 Horizon League regular-season title and the 2003 conference tournament title. Pearl also won a school-record 24 games in 2002-03.

A two-time Horizon League coach of the year, Pearl was a successful coach at Division II Southern Indiana, winning the 1995 national title, before arriving at UWM in April 2001.

"They've made a real commitment here," Pearl said Tuesday. "We're playing our games at the 11,000-seat U.S. Cellular Arena, formerly the Mecca. We're playing eight of our 11 non-conference games against NCAA and NIT teams."

The Panthers play at Kansas, Wisconsin, Purdue, Saint Louis, Manhattan and Valparaiso this season, but play Air Force at home.

"You can't upset a major program unless you play them, and you can't play them unless you go on the road," Pearl said.

The Panthers, who won the Horizon League (13-3) last season but failed to win the conference tournament, lost Horizon Player of the Year Dylan Page.

"We won't be as good a halfcourt team, but we'll get back to running, pressing an creating offense out of our defense," Pearl said.