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News » Coming to pass: Bucks improve ball movement

Coming to pass: Bucks improve ball movement

Coming to pass: Bucks improve ball movement By CHARLES F. GARDNER

St. Francis - It was a highlight-reel play in Saturday night's game, a pinpoint pass from Carlos Delfino to a streaking Hakim Warrick.

Delfino got the ball in the backcourt and immediately looked ahead to his Milwaukee Bucks teammate, who did not break stride while tossing down a powerful dunk.

The Bucks aim to make such plays a staple of their game during the upcoming season rather than just a passing fancy.

"I never expected him to catch the ball and jump from there," Delfino said after the Bucks' practice session Monday at the Cousins Center. "I thought he was going to make at least one dribble.

"I was like, 'Wow.' I know how he can jump, but it was amazing. When you share the ball and you're pushing the ball without dribbling, it creates a great up-tempo game. We have many guys who can do that, and for me, it's great Basketball."

The Bucks (3-3) will play their final preseason road game Tuesday night in Charlotte and will try to continue the progress they have displayed in winning three of their last four outings.

Coach Scott Skiles has remarked several times he expects to have a stronger passing team, in part based on the additions of several players, including rookie point guard Brandon Jennings and Delfino. And there's also the return from injury of center Andrew Bogut, a player Skiles said was possibly the team's best passer last season.

"We put a lot of emphasis on moving the ball," Skiles said. "If you get into a playoff series against a really good ballclub, and in the regular season as well, you've got to move the ball, strong to weak.

"The guys right now are good at it. They're really playing unselfishly, looking for the open man and hitting the open man."

The Bucks had 29 assists on 38 baskets in their 101-87 exhibition victory over Minnesota on Saturday at the Bradley Center.

A particularly encouraging sign was the seven-assist total posted by Jennings in a starting role after he had picked up 12 assists in a loss to Chicago in the previous game.

"Brandon is doing a much better job of getting in the lane for us," Bogut said. "He's doing a great job of finding open guys on the perimeter and getting the ball inside.

"And if you can run the floor and get open, it's always an easy bucket for you."

Jennings was impressive enough in his 28 minutes against the Timberwolves to keep his starting spot for the game against the Bobcats, who have a talented point guard tandem in Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin.

"He's got good vision, a good sense of timing on when to deliver a ball," Skiles said of Jennings. "He's coming off a good performance, and we'll see what he does (Tuesday)."

Delfino's arrival in an August trade with Toronto gave the Bucks a true wing player with ball-handling ability and court awareness.

"It's a pretty simple game for Carlos," Skiles said. "I can't recall him forcing anything yet; he stays under control. He's another guy out there who can facilitate some ball movement and offense for you, and he's handy to have."

Backup point guard Luke Ridnour contributed five assists on Saturday, while shooting guard Michael Redd had four assists and Warrick and Delfino each had three.

Ersan Ilyasova also is a good passer at the power forward spot, and veteran Kurt Thomas is extremely unselfish.

Ridnour averaged 5.1 assists in 72 games last season despite struggling with injuries, and he has a career-best average of 7.0 assists, set in 2005-'06 with Seattle.

"We understand sharing the ball makes the team grow," said Delfino, who was taught to handle the ball from a young age in his native Argentina.

"As long as we continue to understand that, we have a chance to be a very good passing team.

"Push the ball, not dribble. It's nice to watch. It's faster and everybody is involved on the plays. When you catch or make a good pass, it creates a good atmosphere. You're talking about creating shots for everyone."

Bogut occasionally is stationed in the high post, where the Bucks use his passing ability to find players cutting to the basket.

"Sometimes you can pass up a good shot to get a great shot, and that's what coach has emphasized," Bogut said. "We have a couple sets where I'm up high and the guards are down low. Our sets are really good because they mix up both aspects of people's games."

Good passing also is a product of strong rebounding and tight defense. If the Bucks can force turnovers and get in the open court, it will give Jennings a chance to make some eye-popping plays.

"The chemistry is good right now, for a bunch of new guys coming in here," the 20-year-old Jennings said. "And it's good to give the crowd a little something every now and then."

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 21, 2009


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