Monday, January 14, 2008

Wait...Milwaukee has a pro basketball team?

Yes we do! What is even more amazing is that almost half of the regular season has gone by and it appears that more and more people in this town just don't seem to care (I would include myself in that group). Well...we haven't been missing much. Good thing the Packers have been dominant.

To get a midseason report on the Bucks, I sat down for a little Q & A with my buddy Two Name. He is a former sports journalist who has developed a small man-crush on Andrew Bogut (and you will see by his answers).

So without further adieu:

WozisZeus: The Bucks are 15-23, "good" enough for 10th place in the Eastern Conference. What do you think have been the main problems that have led to their struggles so far this season?
Two Name: In a nutshell: poor defense, too many jumpers, lack of ball movement. Coming into the season, depth and talent were two words associated with this young roster. But for whatever reason, only a handful of guys take the shots night in and night out. That leads to frustration from the players who don’t get to shoot, resulting in poor defense and a me-first offensive mentality.
Let’s face it, if an NBA player doesn’t get “his” on offense, he won’t bust his ass on the other end of the floor. So no matter how talented the team is, the majority of guys don’t get the opportunity to show their potential. Michael Redd is a star-by-contract-only, and his flirtation with the Olympic team has led him to believe he is the one to carry this team. If Redd let the game come to him, get his 20 points while incorporating his teammates, the Bucks would be better off now and in the future.

WozisZeus: Is Larry Krystkowiak the right fit for this club? How would you evaluate his job performance thus far?
Two Name: As far as I’m concerned, an NBA coach is one of the most over-hyped professions. Ever hear the coaches when they wear the microphones for an ESPN broadcast? Here’s a synopsis: “Alright guys, let’s just keep it up. Match their intensity. Keep hitting the boards and passing the ball.” Thanks, coach, way to earn that ridiculously overpriced contract.
But to answer the question, he is the right guy for the job, but he hasn’t showed it so far. I thought he would come in, install a defensive mindset, pound the ball into Andrew Bogut and let the offense go inside-out. Coach K. finally figured out the offense in the last five games, supposedly scripting a handful of plays for the former No. 1 pick, and the results have been favorable. Getting the ball inside slows the game down, in turn aiding a soft defense. So Larry K. will be better in time, but regardless, if the players don’t want to pass or move their feet on “D,” he won’t last long.

WozisZeus: If you had to go back to draft day and do it all over again, would you still take Yi? Put another way, is there any guy that was taken after Yi that you wish the Bucks had now?
Two Name: Yes. No. I didn’t like the pick at first. Basketball is a business, and I thought the selection was for economic interests rather than basketball ambitions. Yi has proved me wrong so far, exhibiting an efficient, high-percentage offensive game with hustling defense. His hands are too soft and his frame is too slight, but the guy is like 20 years old or whatever the Chinese government wants to make him these days.
Bogut and Yi will be the franchise’s cornerstones, and the Bucks couldn’t be happier to get the best of both worlds with basketball and business molded into one. Plus, do you see who went after him? Spencer Hawes for God’s sake.

WozisZeus: You have mentioned to me (after a few beers) that you think there is a possibility that Michael Redd will be traded...can you elaborate on that?

Two Name: A few beers? Anyway. It’s mostly rumors but there have been rumblings that he could be on the block. It will never happen for two reasons: his outlandish contract and his impeccable personal makeup. No team wants to pay the maximum amount of dollars for a shooter who refuses to make anyone better. I was a Redd guy before he started to think he was a Kobe Bryant-, LeBron James-level of player. He’s not close, never will be. That said, Herb Kohl is a politician, and having a “star” player who doesn’t drink, smoke, hit the club or bend over jersey-chasers in a hotel room reflects nicely on Herb’s management principles. Again, business over basketball. So, no, he won’t be traded but the Bucks would be better off if he was shooting 25 times, stalling someone else’s offense.

WozisZeus: In your opinion, is Andrew Bogut being used effectively (leading question!)
Two Name: In the last five games, the Bucks finally have realized they drafted a 7-footer No. 1 for a reason – and that’s not to be a role player. His career high 29 points on 14-of-16 shooting against Amare Stoudemire and Phoenix shows his potential WHEN HE GETS THE BALL. Yes, I’m biased. I liked Bogut when he was at Utah because I saw how good he was as an integral piece to an offense. He has been forgotten for two and a half years, but Larry K. is finally realizing running the offense through Bogut pays dividends. He doesn’t have to shoot every time, but, like most foreign players, he can pass and has good instincts.
Get the ball to him on the majority of the possessions and he’ll hit a cutter, find a shooter or take it himself. The NBA is all about the big man, and the Bucks now realize they have one to build around. Yes, he’s not a good free-throw shooter and yes, he still needs to get tougher on “D,” but the guy is going to be good. Bring on the criticism, I know there are a lot of Bogut haters, like every player who’s picked No. 1 and doesn’t have a LeBron-like impact.

WozisZeus: What is your outlook/prediction for this Bucks team the remainder of the season?
Two Name: They’ll improve, thanks to a heavy home schedule in the second half, but they won’t make the playoffs. Fans will be encouraged as the year winds down, and Larry Harris will have some decisions to make with Bogut and Charlie Villanueva needing contracts. Next year Milwaukee will be the sixth or seventh best team in the East. It won’t be pretty, but things are headed in the right direction.

Two Name makes some good points. Interesting to see a Bucks fan actually admit they won't make the playoffs when the team is only 3 and a half games out of the 8th playoff spot halfway through the year.

As far as I'm concerned, there are only two ways the Milwaukee Bucks can salvage this season:
-Dump Mo Williams and bring Vinny Del Negro out of retirement. Install an offense that ensures him a touch every time down the court.
-The Senator demands every player jack up his socks like Elliot Perry used to do.

Like you wouldn't watch games if these two things came true?


one of your two female readers said...

Nice post Woz...welcome to the crazy "Chuckie" world!

Goldy said...

I am a Bucks fan, but they have just been terrible to watch so far this year. As was mentioned in the interview, you have about 4 guys who shoot and the rest don't do squat. I've always been calling to run the offense through Bogut as well. The other thing that makes this team unwatchable is the announcers. I know John and Jim have been together for about 20 years now, but they are jjust brutal. I would venture to say they are the worst announcing team, tv or radio of all the major sports teams.
If the Packers make the Super Bowl, that will lead right in to pitchers and catchers reporting. That will give the Bucks no window for anyone to pay attention to them this year.

Anonymous said...

Great opening act Woz!

Anonymous said...

They need to trade Redd. He's too much of a ball hog and him and Mo are about the same player. No need for both of them.

But as was mentioned, the Packers' success and the Brewers season starting soon will ensure that nobody cares.

Matt said...

Here's how the end of the games usually sound on Bucks telecasts.

Reload, Jim. [Translation: The Bucks just gave up another God!#$ offensive rebound, Jim, and at the worst possible time!]

We're in the short strokes now. [Translation: There is not much time left, and the Bucks are still losing]

They let him into the pop-up zone. [Translation: The Bucks just let the opposing team get another layup, thus sealing the defeat]

Brad said...

Matt - Don't forget "The Cowboy" every time Mason touches the ball.

Right now, the Bucks are built around a jump shooter. That never works. The 3 spot is a joke...Simmons is still stealing money.

Nobody seems to know their roll. They all think they can be 20 ppg scorers, and do nothing else. I herd somebody refer to Chuck V as "Charmain" Villanueva. Ha.

Goldy said...

This could be the most Bucks discussion that has occuerd this entire season.

Broadcasts also usually end like this: John: "What the Bucks need here is 4 straight stops on defense and hit a couple quick jumpers on the other end and we are right back in this." Jim "Obvious no-call on LeBron James there."

Not so anonymous Jake said...

Johnny Mac loves his stop and a score line. I can remember one time where the Bucks actually got the stops and scores needed to comeback and win the game. Sadly this was a long time ago against the Spurs and I believe "Human Highlight" Wilkins was making his comeback. Why do I remember this?

DreamCrusher said...

Congrats on the first post Woz. This blog is surely destined for great things...ahem.