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News » Fresh feeling: Bucks need to gel quickly, Redd says

Fresh feeling: Bucks need to gel quickly, Redd says

Fresh feeling: Bucks need to gel quickly, Redd says By CHARLES F. GARDNER

Training camp is less than a week away for the Milwaukee Bucks , and veteran guard Michael Redd figures it will be a critical time for the team's reshuffled roster.

Gone are Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions, all of whom filled starting roles at some point last season. And in Jefferson's case, he started all 82 games at the small forward position.

When the Bucks open camp on Tuesday morning at the Cousins Center, they will have seven new players acquired in free agency, via trades or in the draft.

"We just need guys to step up and play minutes they normally would not have played," Redd said. "We're very young. It will be interesting to see how we turn out."

Two of the newcomers - point guard Brandon Jennings and shooting guard Jodie Meeks - were obtained in the National Basketball Association draft in June. Forwards Ersan Ilyasova and Hakim Warrick were signed as free agents, and forwards Carlos Delfino and Kurt Thomas and guard Roko Ukic were acquired in trades.

"I'm anxious to see how we do in pre-season," Redd said. "We've got to develop chemistry quick, in training camp and pre-season."

That process has been helped by the early arrivals who have been working out informally at the team training facility for several weeks.

"We've had a very good summer, a much better level of commitment," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "A lot of guys are in working hard, and we're pleased by that. Now we just hope it translates on the court. In my experience, it usually does."

Redd is among the players who arrived in early September, and he is pleased with the progress he is making after suffering a serious knee injury last season.

"I'm on the court now, doing some running," Redd said. "I'm doing Basketball drills, progressing as far as cutting goes. I've been shooting for a month.

"As long as I'm healthy on opening night, that's all that matters."

Redd referred to the Bucks' regular-season opener Oct. 30 at Philadelphia. His goal is to be in the lineup that night, which would mark a dream fulfilled after he sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee against Sacramento on Jan. 24.

"When you suffer an injury like this, the first couple weeks are really dark," Redd said. "It's been a really great summer for me. Body-wise, I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. And I'm hungry to play again, too. That motivated me all summer long."

Following a glorious 2008 summer that resulted in a gold medal for Redd and the U.S. Olympic team, the Bucks guard encountered a difficult NBA season.

His troubles started when he suffered a right ankle sprain in New York in the fourth game, an injury that kept him out of 14 games in November. Then he missed the final 35 games after injuring his knee.

He was limited to 33 games, the fewest he had played since his rookie year with the Bucks when he appeared in just six games.

"Last year was pretty brutal," Redd said. "I got hurt right away, and that threw a monkey wrench in a lot of things."

The return of Redd and center Andrew Bogut from injury will be vital to the Bucks' hopes. But so will the contributions of the newcomers.

Redd admits he is not too familiar with the Bucks' new players. The only one who has been a teammate is Ilyasova, who played with the Bucks during the 2006-'07 season before moving to Regal FC Barcelona for the past two seasons.

Warrick, who spent his first four pro seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, is considered a strong contender for the starting power forward spot.

"I haven't seen a whole lot of him," Redd said. "He's very lanky, very athletic. He has a little experience under his belt. I know he's anxious to play and help us win."

Jennings, the 10th overall pick in the June draft, will get a chance to play major minutes at point guard with the departure of Sessions to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"I know his work ethic is great," Redd said. "That's what it takes. I've encouraged all our guys, just continue that mind-set of being hungry. Being a top-10 pick, he has a target on his back.

"This is a great opportunity for him this season."

James added to roster: Former Marquette University point guard Dominic James has been added to the Bucks' training camp roster, general manager John Hammond said.

James impressed Bucks officials with his play during a summer league camp in July, and he would have been on the club's Las Vegas summer league team if he had not picked up an injury. James suffered a second-degree sprain of his right knee while diving for a loose ball during a scrimmage, forcing him to stay home.

Hammond said James and two players to be named later will be on the training camp roster with non-guaranteed contracts.

"He's a guy people projected to be an NBA player earlier in his career, and injuries set him back," Hammond said of the 22-year-old James. "He's one of those guys who will have to be right place, right time, but if it all fits for him, he could make the league."

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: September 24, 2009


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