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News » BUCKS Getting Bogut back to normal Bucks vigilant in handling center

BUCKS Getting Bogut back to normal Bucks vigilant in handling center

BUCKS  Getting Bogut back to normal  Bucks vigilant in handling center By CHARLES F. GARDNER

St. Francis - There's little doubt a healthy Andrew Bogut is needed for the Milwaukee Bucks to make an impact in the upcoming season.

So the Bucks are trying to be prudent and cautious in handling the 7-foot center during the preseason. Bogut sat out when the Bucks played in Chicago on Tuesday night, but he should be back in the starting lineup against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night at the Bradley Center.

"You don't want to take days off, but I think it helped me get prepared for the game this week," Bogut said after practice Friday.

"It's getting my legs back under me again. It's just having the confidence to get hit and not think twice about it, which I don't have yet. It might take a month or two."

Bucks coach Scott Skiles saw his team struggle without Bogut and guard Michael Redd after both went down with season-ending injuries in late January. But both have responded well in training camp and are focusing on the Bucks' regular-season opener at Philadelphia.

"The goal always was to get in shape this month, play some games, play 20 minutes in a couple games," Bogut said. "But the main goal is still Oct. 30 (opening night)."

The nature of Bogut's injury, a stress fracture in his lower back, meant that he could not play Basketball or even do any conditioning work while the bone healed.

"He didn't do anything for four months," Skiles said. "He's rebuilding himself and working really hard.

"We want him to be able to play 82 games and be a factor for us. It would be a shame if something happened right now that would keep him out of a regular-season game. We're just trying to guard against that."

Bogut played 9 minutes in the Bucks' exhibition opener and increased his time to 12 minutes against Detroit in the second game. Then he played 18 minutes against the Bulls in Green Bay a week ago and 18 minutes in Houston on Monday night.

He should play about 20 minutes against the Timberwolves.

"I've been able to go in most practices and most games," Bogut said. "During the season there might be days where I need to go do some rehab stuff and go a bit lighter at practice, which you never want to say or do.

"But to play back-to-backs and so on, I might have to do it."

Bogut played in 78 games during the 2007-'08 season and averaged 14.3 points and 9.8 rebounds. He improved his rebounding average to 10.3 in the 36 games he played last season.

"Most of his career he's going to be a top-10 rebounder," Skiles said. "He's always in the right spot defensively. He can catch balls near the basket and finish. He's a very good passer. He knows what we're running inside and out.

"He definitely brings a lot to the table for us."

Possible start for Jennings: Skiles hinted that rookie point guard Brandon Jennings could get his first start Saturday, which would create a head-to-head matchup with fellow rookie and former draft workout partner Jonny Flynn of the Timberwolves.

"I might," Skiles said with a grin. "We'll see."

Earlier this week, Jennings was slated to start against the Bulls. But a poor outing in Houston meant Jennings came off the bench on Tuesday in Chicago.

Jennings produced 10 points and 12 assists in 31 minutes against the Bulls, penetrated the lane and didn't let his shooting struggles affect the rest of his game.

"He had his best practice today," Skiles said Friday. "We feel like he's coming off his best game, and he's had two good practices. He's starting to learn what he can and can't do out here."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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Added: October 18, 2009


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