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News » BUCKS NOTES Rotation a work in progress Skiles says flexibility key to matching foes

BUCKS NOTES Rotation a work in progress Skiles says flexibility key to matching foes

BUCKS NOTES  Rotation a work in progress  Skiles says flexibility key to matching foes By TOM ENLUND

St. Francis - Three games into the National Basketball Association's regular season, Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles has already used three different starting lineups. Eight different players have started. A total of 10 players are averaging 12 minutes per game or more.

It's pretty safe to say that the Bucks' rotation is still a work in progress.

Part of that is due to Michael Redd's injury, but it's also because Skiles continues to seek out combinations of players that will be productive. A team's starting lineup and a coach's substitution patterns often come under close scrutiny, but Skiles is of the opinion that far too much is made out of a team's rotation.

"I think one of the most overrated things to discuss is a rotation," he said. "Most of the coaches now (feel that) you'd like to have your same top 10 guys or whatever, but during the course of the game you're going small, you're going big. . . . There's just so many ways you can go to change a game. I just think it's kind of an overrated thing."

Skiles has said already this season that many players are going to have to play well for the Bucks to succeed.

He is right.

Kurt Thomas started the first two games at power forward while Hakim Warrick started Tuesday in Chicago and is expected to start Friday in Minnesota. Skiles has said that the power forward position might be fluid all season long. Carlos Delfino and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute have both started at small forward, and now Charlie Bell has taken over at shooting guard in place of the injured Redd.

Skiles has used 11 players in two of the games so far and all 12 in the other.

"I think more and more guys are starting to understand that if you watch NBA games, there's just so many situations where teams are going small and you might need to match up," said Skiles. "Or against a certain opponent you'll go small and against another opponent you won't.

"It doesn't mean that you want total disarray going into every game. You'd like to get something fairly solidified. . . . These are my small lineups, these are when we go big, that kind of thing. You don't want it to be always up in the air and the players never know what's going on. But at the same time, we're kind of in an era where teams are playing differently all the time and you have to be versatile and ready to adapt to it."

On the move: After struggling through the first two games, center Andrew Bogut showed some lively legs in Tuesday's loss in Chicago, and the Bucks are hoping that it's a good sign.

"After not playing last year and then pretty much all summer, and kind of being held back even in the pre-season, it takes some time," said Bell. "It'll take 10 or 15 games to kind of get your rhythm back, especially with a defense on you. Sometimes, when you're working out in the off-season and nobody really banging you, you've got to get used to that.

"A back (injury) is pretty serious to try and come back from, and I've got all the faith in the world in him. Guys are still going to look to him, and he's going to deliver."

Keeping score: So far, the Bucks are being out-scored by an average of 89.0 to 87.7 points per game.

Is that an indicator that their games will be in the high 80s and low 90s this season?

"That's where we want our opponents to be," said Skiles. "And us to be in the mid 90s and above in an ideal world. I don't think this is going to continue.

"We have guys that are way below their career (shooting) percentages. Guys are going to revert back to who they really are."

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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