Hope springs eternal in basketball; especially when teams have yet to experience a full week of practice together.
Not even 24 hours removed from their first practice of the 2011-12 NBA season , Milwaukee Bucks players and coaches spent Saturday morning fielding questions from a sizeable chunk of the Wisconsin media.
Amidst the clichéd answers to questions about winning, the lockout, and this roster playing on greener grass than the one compiled roughly 365 days ago (it’s not easy to ask or answer questions of a team that’s barely a day old), a few quotes did offer some insight into how the team predicts it will function while playing a condensed schedule.
Alex Boeder at Brew Hoop already noted the contrast in comments from Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson about managing expectations. Their sentiments of guarded optimism were prevalent throughout the Bucks’ entire interview session, which is really what you should expect from a team that just got its first taste of NBA failure in the face of expectations.
Bucks Media Day has been covered and analyzed by publications on and off the web, so in the tradition of those “30 minutes of unseen footage” perks on your favorite DVDs, we’ve compiled a list of interesting quotes that probably didn’t make it to your browser or front door step:
Call him crazy, weird, or a family man, Stephen Jackson doesn’t care.
By now, you’ve probably read Captain Jack’s impressive collection of quotes from Media Day, compiled by Jeremy Schmidt at Bucksketball. Hands down, Jackson was the most entertaining, unfiltered interview of the day, and it was evident throughout his time in front of the media that “Stephen Jackson” and “losing” are not close, personal friends.
Jackson’s confidence is an aged version of Brandon Jennings’ own verbosity, which only adds more intrigue to the question of how Captain Jack will fit in as a Milwaukee Buck.
Brandon Jennings wants more referee handouts.
“I plan on getting to the free throw line a lot more. Drawing a lot of fouls, being more aggressive going to the basket. That’s why I was in the weight room.”
– Brandon Jennings
Jennings added that he spent little to no time working on his three ball, and plans on taking fewer three pointers this season. You read that correctly: Brandon Jennings wants to shoot less and penetrate more. Does anyone else hear the halleluiah chorus?
It’s encouraging to hear that he recognizes a main flaw (penetration, drawing contact) and is willing to sacrifice a large part of his game in order to compensate for a team-wide problem (The Bucks ranked 20th in free throw rate last season). Jennings’ aggressiveness has often been mitigated by his lack of strength fighting through double teams and larger defenders, so an added 15 pounds of muscle should help his confidence and ability to get to the basket.
Of course, saying and doing are totally different things, especially with basketball habits. But with the additions of Beno Udrih, Mike Dunleavy, and a healthy Carlos Delfino, Jennings should have more space on the floor to play with than he’s ever had as a pro.
The NBA has a chicken vs. egg problem.
“Last time, it was hard to quantify if the defenses had an edge or just offensively coming out of a lockout the players were so rusty. I don’t know, but in theory that could be a strength of ours early on. We know what we have to do. We have to be a top 5 defensive team and we have to score more points.”
- Scott Skiles
It’s better to have a great defense than a great offense in a regular NBA season, so the ability to prevent scoring is, at least, a slight advantage in a shortened schedule. The Milwaukee Bucks spend much of December/January on the road (12 of 18 games, to be exact), so building early chemistry defensively in hostile arenas could have a huge impact on how the team responds once the schedule evens out.
The dual point guard lineup is inevitable…
“One thing Brandon has proven he’s good at, in that type of lineup, is that if he doesn’t have the ball in his hand, Brandon’s best shot is his spot-up three. You have to have somebody who has the ball in his hands able to make that play to Brandon. Both of those guys are penetrating type players that’ll kick the ball out.”
- Scott Skiles
Brandon Jennings also pointed out the interesting prospect of two lefty point guards sharing the court. We’ve covered Skiles’ love for this lineup throughout his time in Milwaukee, and adding Udrih as well as Shaun Livingston should stoke those flames of desire. Plus, as Skiles mentioned later (see below), there tends to be a good-sized positional gray area in his offensive sets.
…And won’t be the only hybrid cars in Scott Skiles’ garage.
“(Stephen Jackson) and Mike (Dunleavy) both are more threes than twos, but they both have enough versatility. The way we structure things anyway, they’re kind of interchangeable and it really doesn’t matter. We have a lot of versatility there; the question is how it fits together. We have the ability right now on paper to put a lot of different lineups out there, and surround Bogues with small lineups, big lineups, shooters.”
- Scott Skiles
Translation: The 2011-12 Milwaukee Bucks have fewer ball stoppers and more veterans with proven track records in defined roles than the 2010-11 Bucks. The trick for Skiles is figuring out how to fit everything together and make everyone happy with their contributions.
“We have a lot of ideas, but we have to get everybody out here first. The challenge is encouraging every individual player to play his game, whatever that is,” Skiles said. “At the same time you do have to occasionally make some sacrifices for someone else, because they’re trying to play their game too.”