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News » BUCKS Team's fate could lie at charity stripe Skiles tells team to get there, connect

BUCKS Team's fate could lie at charity stripe Skiles tells team to get there, connect

BUCKS  Team's fate could lie at charity stripe  Skiles tells team to get there, connect By TOM ENLUND

St. Francis - There are any number of factors that will determine how successful the Milwaukee Bucks will be this season, not the least of which will be at the foul line.

And it won't just be how well the Bucks shoot their free throws that will be important, but also how often they visit the foul line.

The Bucks haven't fared very well in either department during the preseason as they have made 135 of 195 free throws (69.2%) while their opponents have made 209 of 276 (75.7%). In other words, the opposition has made more free throws than the Bucks have attempted.

That's partly due to the fact that in the first two exhibition games Minnesota made 50 of 56 free throws and Detroit made 31 of 46, but there are other factors involved also.

"We've had two really high (opponents') numbers that have skewed it a little bit," said coach Scott Skiles after Wednesday's practice.

"But we have fouled too much. The thing that has bothered me more, though, is our free-throw percentage. I don't know yet if we're going to be a team that is going to get to the line a lot or not.

"We had big blocks of time last year where 10 or 15 games would go by and our opponents would have made more free throws than we had even attempted. That's a bad stat. You can't weather that very much."

One of the reasons the Bucks signed free-agent forward Hakim Warrick last summer was his knack for getting to the foul line. He has shown that in the preseason.

In seven games, he has made 38 of 50 free throws (76.0%), both team highs. Second on the team in both departments is rookie guard Brandon Jennings who has made 20 of 26 foul shots (76.9%).

Last season, the Bucks ranked 13th in the league in free throws attempted (25.2 per game) and 11th in free-throw percentage (78.0%).

But the three players who got to the foul line most often for the Bucks last season - Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva, and Ramon Sessions - have departed.

Jefferson shot an average of 6.3 free throws per game, Sessions shot an average of 4.5 free throws per game and Villanueva averaged 3.1 free throw attempts per game. Those three players combined to shoot 53.8% of the Bucks free throws last season.

Michael Redd averaged 4.8 free throw attempts per game last season but played in only 33 games because of injury.

Enter Warrick, whose total of 374 free throws attempted last season would have been second on the Bucks only to Jefferson (518 free throws attempted). Warrick said that he'd always been able to find a way to get to the foul line.

"Make them pay for sending me to the line," said Warrick, who is 72.5% career shooter from the line.

"You just have to be aggressive, that's the main key. I want to attack the rim and try to use my body and my quickness and get fouls and get to the line. You want to have patience. Use pump fakes and keep guys off balance. But most important, you just want to be aggressive."

Skiles would also like to see his team get into the penalty sooner.

"One of our weaknesses (last season) was getting to the foul line and getting into the penalty early in quarters," he said. "It's something that people don't often look at - if you get in the penalty before your opponent in each quarter. That's a big advantage in an NBA game."

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 23, 2009


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