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News » Deep dilemma Better bench poses other questions

Deep dilemma Better bench poses other questions

Deep dilemma  Better bench poses other questions By TOM ENLUND

St. Francis - The Milwaukee Bucks are only in the second week of their National Basketball Association exhibition season but they are deep into the process of determining roles for the players.

One thing is clear already.

The Bucks believe they have improved the team's depth over last season, which was one of management's primary goals going into last summer.

"I feel totally comfortable in saying that no matter who starts, our bench is much, much better," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles. "It'll just be a matter of finding out who can start the game for us and get us off to a good start because we've got some good versatility and can play different ways.

"It will just be a matter of trying to find the right combinations."

The bench was definitely not one of the team's strong points last season, especially after guard Michael Redd and center Andrew Bogut went down with injuries. But through the draft, free agency and a couple trades, general manager John Hammond constructed a roster that is basically three deep at every position.

Luke Ridnour, rookie Brandon Jennings and Roko Ukic are manning the point guard spot, with Redd, Charlie Bell and rookie Jodie Meeks at shooting guard. Bogut is working his way back from his back injury and figures to be the team's starting center, with Dan Gadzuric, Francisco Elson and possibly Kurt Thomas backing him up. The team has a glut of forwards, with some able to play both the power forward and small forward positions.

Skiles used the same starters for the first two exhibition games (forwards Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova, Bogut, Redd and Ridnour) but plans to start mixing up the starting lineup for the next few exhibition games, with the hope of using what may look like a regular rotation for the final two games.

Skiles and his staff have lots of players and combinations to look at before the regular-season opener in Philadelphia on Oct. 30.

While having a lot of players who can potentially contribute is a luxury any coach would like to have, it could also be a double-edged sword during the regular season since there are only so many minutes to go around.

Bogut, in his second season under Skiles, knows the answer to that, though.

"It'll be good," he said of the team's depth. "But it might cause problems, too. But we have to stay together as a unit. If you think you're not getting minutes and are not getting the good end of the stick, then you have to come in and practice harder and work harder. That's the obvious formula with coach Skiles. There's no secret about it. If you think you're getting screwed with minutes or whatever, come and show him on the practice court and he'll definitely give you a chance. I think if most guys understand that we'll be OK."

Once the regular season begins, most coaches like to have an eight- or nine-man rotation established so that there is some continuity and players get accustomed to their roles. Some coaches try using a 10-man rotation but that can get cumbersome. Teams can carry up to 15 players on their roster and activate 12 for each game.

When asked what kind of rotation he like to would employ, Skiles gave the impression that he is not ruling anything out.

"I could see a 14- or 15-man rotation," he said. "Everybody is going to have to do something as the year goes on. I don't think there's any doubt about that. In an ideal world, we'd have a bunch of guys playing very well and would have a nine- or 10-man rotation and we'd be winning games. But my instinct is - and not that it means we won't be winning - is that everybody is going to get a chance at some point. We're going to need everybody.

"As the season goes on I'd like to have some sort of rotation but I'll bet you that everybody comes into play at some point."

Skiles sure of one thing.

"One of our goals was to get better off the bench," he said. "I'm comfortable that we've accomplished that."

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.)

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 10, 2009


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