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News » SPORTSDAY Jennings allure putting TV focus back on Bucks


SPORTSDAY Jennings allure putting TV focus back on Bucks


SPORTSDAY  Jennings allure putting TV focus back on Bucks As a team that has finished last in its division the previous five seasons, the Milwaukee Bucks are accustomed to playing away from the national spotlight.

Their games are not sought after by the National Basketball Association's television partners when the schedules are cast.

In that five-year span, the Bucks have played on national television just four times, usually against an opponent with national appeal. If you count just the last four seasons, the Bucks have been on national TV just twice. This total does not include NBA TV appearances.

Last season, just as in the 2006-'07 season, the Bucks had no nationally televised games. They were not scheduled for any national games this season.

But rookie guard Brandon Jennings has helped change that.

ESPN this week got clearance from the NBA to televise the Bucks at Oklahoma City Thunder game at 8:30 p.m. Friday night. The Thunder features second-year forward Kevin Durant.

"For us, it's a chance to showcase two very young and up-and-coming teams," said Doug White, ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions. "Obviously a unique feature of both teams is that they have two very good young players. Milwaukee already has an all-star and bona fide all-league player in Michael Redd. We are impressed by how both teams are performing, not just Milwaukee.

"The other added value for us in particular is Brandon Jennings' incredible start to his NBA career. He has definitely shown he is a force to be reckoned with. We wanted to give all our fans and all NBA fans a chance to see him on the national stage."

White said ESPN is able to flex about five to 10 games a season.

In this case, ESPN put the Bucks-Thunder game in place of Phoenix at Minnesota. So the Bucks will be making their first appearance on national television since they played on ESPN on Jan. 11, 2008, when they played the Lakers.

"What we generally do is, myself and my team, along with the NBA , we keep our eye on the schedule on a day-to-day basis," White said. "We monitor the schedule, the standings, how teams are playing, how they are performing and not performing.

"We look at areas in the schedule where we think we can make improvements, or where we can showcase certain teams and certain games. That was something we did in this case. We basically identified this game as a potential one for us."

White said the network tries to make flex changes about a week-and-a-half or two weeks out from the time of the game, but in the Bucks-Thunder case, the decision was made on shorter notice.

On occasion, the league will initiate a flex request for a certain game, White said.

Do NBA clubs, through the league, lobby for flex scheduling?

"Not really," White said. "I can't say enough about the NBA their willingness to make changes like this. They are great about seeing what they can do to help get the games we identify as target games."

A few seasons back, point guard Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets were hot and ESPN adjusted its schedule to feature more Hornets games. The Bucks may be line for that kind of consideration if the team and Jennings continue to play well.

Author, author

Packers beat reporter Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the author of "The Ultimate Super Bowl Book," is set for three signings this weekend at area bookstores:

Book World in Manitowoc, at noon Saturday; Barnes & Noble in Greenfield at 4 p.m. Saturday; and Barnes & Noble West Towne Mall in Madison at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Making their pitch

Former Brewers reliever Rollie Fingers and three other Hall of Fame relievers will discuss their managers, teams, careers and the styles of today's relievers in a 90-minute show at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the MLB Network.

Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage were interviewed by Bob Costas in a show taped during the induction ceremonies this year in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"There are a lot of setup guys who come in the eighth inning who punch out the side and they're out of the ball game and here comes your closer," Fingers said. "If I'm a manager and my guy punches out the side in the eighth inning, he's going out in the ninth inning.

"I got my $10 million dollar man in the bullpen to back him up. They don't do that anymore because managers don't want to get second-guessed with 'Why didn't you bring in your closer?' "

Call SportsDay at (414) 223-5531 or send e-mail to bwolfley@journalsentinel.com

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: November 26, 2009

 

 
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