The Milwaukee Bucks have been incredibly successful with their philosophy and play style under Coach Budenholzer, and college coaches are taking notice.
When a change in philosophy and approach leads to such a significant change in fortunes as the Milwaukee Bucks have experienced over the past two seasons, it’s no real surprise that the attention of many from all corners of the basketball world will focus in for some closer study.
Having suffered a first round exit and been cemented at the back of the playoff pack for a couple of years prior to Mike Budenholzer’s arrival as head coach at the beginning of the 2018-19 season, the relentless winning pace the Bucks have set in the regular season since, and the major strides, if not the ultimate leap, that Milwaukee took in the postseason last season have been evidence of something special brewing in Wisconsin.
Therefore, it’s only a matter time before copy cats begin to sprout up at all levels of the game, and those who were locked in to the Bucks’ broadcast for Monday’s scrimmage against the Pelicans may have heard Jim Paschke discussing the fact that a notable case study in following the Bucks’ lead may be set to get underway at the college level.
With a very strong recruiting class locked in, promising transfers receiving eligibility, and no shortage of size available to him on his roster, Arkansas Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman is making no secret of the fact that he’s looking to the Bucks for inspiration.
In a profile of Musselman and Arkansas by CBS Sports’ Eric Cobb last month, the Bucks received multiple notable mentions in terms of the direction the Razorbacks are looking to head in with their current squad.
It goes without saying that Arkansas lacks a focal point of the MVP caliber of Giannis Antetokounmpo, but they can look to emulate how the Bucks utilize space and let fly from deep, as Cobb detailed:
“It should come as no surprise that [Musselman] plans to model an NBA system for the 2020-21 season. Musselman wants the Razorbacks to play like the Milwaukee Bucks. While Arkansas does not have a Giannis Antetokounmpo equivalent, the Hogs do have a cache of versatile players who will be happy to hoist 3-pointers.”
Specifically, one example that was flagged up is how the Razorbacks’ 7’3″ center Connor Vanover can learn from how Brook Lopez factors into the Bucks’ offense.
In highlighting how the Bucks’ style could fit on to this own team’s plans, Musselman shared a sentiment that won’t be remotely unfamiliar to Milwaukee’s fans over the past two years:
“We feel like, unlike last year, we can have a really, really big lineup,” Musselman said. “We can also have a lineup that’s really small and versatile.”
Budenholzer has often spoken about the value of being able to play in a small ball style from a skill perspective without actually surrendering any size, and the results that have accompanied that approach speak for itself.
Speaking to the Sentinel Record on Monday, Musselman laid out his interest in Milwaukee even more clearly:
“Our big study has been Milwaukee’s offense,” Musselman said. “We spent a lot of time on it and broke down every aspect of it. I think it’s really going to help us.”
The personnel certainly need to be good enough to deliver on that front, but it will be interesting to see how Arkansas fare with this style, and how the influence of the current Bucks’ squad will continue to expand across the US and around the world.