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News » NOTES Journeyman Thomas offers high praise for coach Skiles

NOTES Journeyman Thomas offers high praise for coach Skiles

NOTES  Journeyman Thomas offers high praise for coach Skiles By TOM ENLUND

St. Francis - Milwaukee Bucks forward Kurt Thomas, in his 15th season in the NBA and with his seventh team, has been around several kinds of training camps.

After being obtained by the Bucks in a trade with San Antonio last summer, Thomas is completing his first week with the team and has formed some first impressions of coach Scott Skiles and the way he conducts a practice and training camp.

Thomas puts Skiles in some pretty good company when it comes to laying the foundation for an upcoming season.

"It's a little different from the last couple camps I've been in," Thomas said after Friday's practice at the team's training center. "His camp really reminds me of Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy. It's real defensive-oriented and real intense. It's a lot of fun.

"I think he's a damn good coach and I've only been with him a couple days. I think Milwaukee has a good coach on their hands."

Thomas spent last season with coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, and he opened the season before that in Seattle when it was coached by P.J. Carlesimo. Earlier in his career, Thomas spent seven seasons in New York, where he played for Van Gundy. Thomas began his career in Miami, where he played for Riley.

And now, he's learning the Skiles system.

"He's really defensive-minded and from what I've seen so far he's a real good Xs and Os coach," said Thomas. "It's just a matter of time before he gets the guys in here that he wants and really implements his philosophy, and he'll turn this team around.

"He takes time. He's a teacher. That's what coaching is about, and he takes his time, not just with one or two guys but with all the guys on the roster and really implements his philosophy."

Long week: Going through their sixth practice in four days, the Bucks' fatigue was evident in Friday's nearly three-hour workout. When the Bucks opened a scrimmage late in practice by making four bad plays in a row - two by each team - Skiles stopped the proceedings to remind the players that fatigue was not an option, and they had better get used to playing tired because a long season looms.

"I haven't been a big fan, since I've been coach here, of the way we play when we're tired," Skiles said after practice. "I feel like we've given in to that way too much. I know that for an absolute certainty. That's an area that we've got to get much better in as a group. But having said that, I do understand we've been going really hard with these guys. So I understand it."

Said Thomas, "After we've been doing two-a-days for a couple days and then come in here, you're still going to have tired legs. It's expected. This is us getting in shape. We're going to benefit from this in the long run."

Last hurrah: After Thursday's practice - what turned out to be his final one with the Bucks - former Marquette University point guard Dominic James talked about how much he enjoyed being in camp.

"I love it," said James, who was waived Friday so he could play in Europe. "It's a lot of hard work, but something I've been looking forward to. I'm taking it all in one day at a time. I feel like a little kid. I'm learning something new every day.

"You definitely get challenged. But that's a challenge I always look forward to. Mentally and physically, pushing your body to the limit, and that's what being a professional is all about. I'm just trying to get accustomed to that, that lifestyle and really taking care of myself coming in every day ready to work."

The Bucks also released 6-9 forward Charles Gaines after Friday's practice, bringing the number of players in camp to 15.

On the mend: Second-year forward Joe Alexander, sidelined with a hamstring injury, still hasn't practiced. He said earlier in the week he was being held out as a precaution and expected to be back soon. No word on when he'll be able to return.

Sneak peek: Bucks fans who want to get a jump on the season can watch the team during its open practice session at the Bradley Center on Saturday.

The free event will begin at 11:30 a.m. with a tailgate party on the Bradley Center plaza, and the gates will open at 12:45 p.m. Food items at the tailgate will be sold for $1 each, and proceeds will benefit hunger relief through the Roundy's Foundation.

The Bucks will hold a full-team workout at 1 p.m., before heading to Minnesota to open the preseason against the Timberwolves at 5 p.m. Sunday in Mankato.

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 4, 2009


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