Note to Scott Skiles: Last season’s forwards, please

The Bucks 2010-11 Bucks in their first two games look eerily similar to the 209-10 team that tried and failed last Nov.-Dec. to work Michael Redd into its rotation.  The Bucks with Redd stood around on offense; the ball didn’t move; they lacked chemistry and consistent defense; and they lost twice as often as they won (the Bucks were 6-12 when Redd played).

To be fair, that team — like this season’s Bucks — had injury issues.  After a 6-3 start Andrew Bogut went out for six games with a deep thigh bruise and Luc Mbah a Moute missed a couple of weeks with a bum ankle.  Mbah a Moute has been hobbled by a bad ankle in the Bucks first two games this season, and Bogut has been limited by foul trouble, his healing right arm and some conditioning issues.

What last year’s Bucks team had that the current Bucks do not was a backup center in Kurt Thomas; a backup point guard nicknamed Frodo who knew the offense as well as the coach and played with desperate energy; and they had the unselfish “D-Wade stopper” Charlie Bell, who made sure that the ball was going in the post to Bogut.  With the unsung hero Bell starting in Redd’s place, last year’s Bucks were 19-16 including a couple of clumsy, disjointed losses with Redd firing ill-timed bricks in a reserve role.

What last year’s Bucks team didn’t have was a logjam at forward; they had a simple rotation (when Redd wasn’t playing).  The eight-man rotation of Jennings, Bell, Luke Ridnour, Carlos Delfino, Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Bogut and Thomas was well-knit, smart, unselfish, and extremely hard-working. Nobody outrebounded that team by 23 boards (the T-Wolves had a 62-39 rebounding advantage). That team never gave up 19 offensive boards. What’s different about this season?

1) Not once last season did Skiles relegate Ilyasova and Mbah a Moute to scrub 26 minutes … COMBINED.  And;

2) Not once during the 2009-10 82-game schedule did the Bucks suit up without a legitimate backup at center for Bogut.

Those two factors are directly attributable to the rebounding failure in Minneapolis Friday night, and the failure to win “50-50” plays and get to loose balls in the paint.  And it’s no accident that when Skiles played Mbah a Moute, finally, late in the 3rd quarter, the Bucks pulled back into the game and erased most of a 17-point T-wolves lead.

On the court for that run were Brandon Jennings, pint-sized Earl Boykins, Corey Maggette, Mbah a Moute and Bogut.

Skiles can’t solve the backup center problem until GM John Hammond acquires a backup center.  But coach Skiles can remember last season, and some of the things that made the Bucks tough, scrappy and competitive for most of it.

More Mbah a Moute, now that he’s able to play, and some renewed trust in Ersan Ilyasova are two of those things.  Here’s hoping Skiles remembers them tonight in the home opener against Larry Brown’s Charlotte Bobcats — no strangers themselves to scrappy play and tough D.

A must win home opener: Both the Bucks and Bobcats are looking to avoid starting 0-3. With a difficult Portland-Boston back-to-back on the schedule next week for the Bucks, 0-and-3 could very quickly become 0-5.

10 thoughts on “Note to Scott Skiles: Last season’s forwards, please

  1. Nathaniel Parenti

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  2. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Investing much in a back-up point guard wasn’t something Hammond wanted to do, which really just makes the Ivey snub all the more interesting. The Bucks took what little room they had under the cap and gave it to …

    Drew Gooden. Next we’ll hear that Hammond is making inquiries about Darko.

  3. Kevin

    Compare that to 3.5 mil this year for Dooling. Boykins is at 1.2, same as Ivey. The problem is trading for expiring contracts and those players may have no intention on staying, especially if they don’t even play. But with Luke gone, the door was open. I really don’t know if Bucks still wanted him.

  4. J.D. Mo. Post author

    2-years, $2.4 million, that’s what the Thunder are paying Ivey, the second year not guaranteed. That’s not a lot to pay for an all-around player who plays the great D Ivey is always good for.

    You know, it’s entirely possible that Ivey simply prefers to be in cities not named Milwaukee.

  5. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Ivey will always be an early mistake by Hammond — shouldn’t have let him go to Philly in summer of 2008, and it only took a million a year to keep him here. The Bucks could have used his help in 2008-09, and considering all they went through last year with Redd, etc. – having Ivey on the same page as Skiles would have made the Bucks all the more tougher. Sometimes its the little things.

    Hammond and CDR — one can only wonder at this point, I suppose. He’s got a lot of dough tied up in Maggette and Salmons.

  6. Kevin

    In case you didn’t hear, Ivey signed with Oklahoma City, Stackhouse with Miami. Another year, another team. Keith Bogans went to SA and Chicago after us. Hopefully, CDR is better.

  7. Kevin

    Hindsight being 20/20, the Bucks definitely needed to get bigger at power forward. But there is depth at the position if Gooden continues to struggle. He’s a fish out of water.
    I am all for Boykins being #2 point guard. He and Dooling were great the first four preseason games. But keeping Ivey would have been fine as well as the centers.
    You mentioned Stackhouse’s best games, but he provided much needed quality minutes at 2. But he needed to go.

  8. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Brickhouse had a couple of good games in the ten he played before the arrival of Salmons, one in a blowout against Minnesota, another against the Pacers. The unsung hero in all that was Charlie Bell, of course, but without getting into The Charlie Bell Factor again, Maggette does look like an improvement over Stackhouse as far as hitting midrange stuff, and getting his drives to go. I hope Maggette stays at least three feet inside the 3-point line, though — at least with Stackhouse there was some hope that he’d be on a streak and the three would go down. Maggette’s got no three-point touch, but other than that and a few defensive lapses, he looks good.

    I’m souring on Gooden fast, sorry to say so early in the season. Truth is, he’s never been a player of Anthony Mason’s caliber — never. Not once, and he’s a defensive liability. Why again did Hammond throw so much money Gooden’s way? Does he have a special trust in guys named ‘Drew?

    I’ve also gotta admit that I thought the Bucks would be okay at backup point without Luke. They haven’t been … and why not hang on to Royal Ivey — big point guard, excellent defender who could stick a shot and run Skiles’ offense? I’d take Ivey over Dooling. Anyway, early indications are that Boykins is going to steal most of Dooling’s PT.

  9. Kevin

    Dan Gadzuric was part of that group, boy, do we miss him or what? Anyway, that group was still one game under .500 when Redd wasn’t playing. Then Jerry Stackhouse made an impact before the arrival of Salmons. So now we go with Maggette, a big improvement over Jerry.
    One thing I don’t understand is why let your guys walk to sign a one year deal somewhere else, Kurt Thomas with the Bulls and Brezec in Europe?
    Gooden at this point brings back memories of Steve Blake, a decent veteran who stunk it up in Milwaukee. Suddenly, Anthony Mason doesn’t look so bad. At least he played D.

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