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News » The Skiles' hook Players know what they face if coach is unhappy

The Skiles' hook Players know what they face if coach is unhappy

The Skiles' hook  Players know what they face if coach is unhappy By CHARLES F. GARDNER

It happened to Andrew Bogut just 30 seconds into an exhibition game in China last October.

The Milwaukee Bucks' 7-foot center suddenly found himself on the bench after being yanked by coach Scott Skiles.

Bucks players learned quickly last season that mental mistakes would not be tolerated by their hard-driving new coach. Now, as the team approaches its second training camp under Skiles' direction, returning players say they know a bit more what to expect.

The Bucks start preparations for the 42nd season in franchise history on Tuesday, as they open fall training camp with two practice sessions at the Cousins Center.

"I'm not going to lie," Bogut said of playing under Skiles, who previously coached the Phoenix Suns and Chicago Bulls. "It was an adjustment for me and everybody else. It was a whole new system.

"The way he coaches in the NBA is very unique, with the way he runs sets and defensive schemes. You kind of feel ahead of things right now as a returning player; most of the guys know the system."

Bogut laughed when thinking of the quick hook he received in that exhibition game against the Golden State Warriors.

"You figure out quickly that it's not personal," Bogut said. "In this league a lot of guys would take it personal and have a falling out with him. He has no hidden agendas. He doesn't play favorites. If you're not playing the way he expects you to play, you're not going to play.

"I got taken out in China with 11 minutes 30 seconds left in the first quarter. The good thing about coach is, you make a mistake and one of the assistants will come and tell you what to do, and you'll go straight back in. He won't sit you for three or four quarters to punish you."

During the off-season the Bucks lost veteran forward Richard Jefferson in a trade with San Antonio, and regulars Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions departed in free agency. Seven new players arrived, including free agents Hakim Warrick and Ersan Ilyasova and draft picks Brandon Jennings and Jodie Meeks.

"With the young guys now, we're able to convey what he (Skiles) expects," veteran guard Charlie Bell said. "Last year everyone had a learning curve. This year there are a couple guys we've got to bring along. Going into camp, I think we're going to be ready."

Skiles is not afraid about giving young players a chance, particularly if they show they will play tough defense.

Forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute played in all 82 games as a rookie last season, including 52 starts, and averaged 25.8 minutes while guarding some of the top scorers in the league.

"The one thing I really love about him is he played Basketball, and he understands," Mbah a Moute said. "He was a starter, he was a bench player and he was a player who did not dress. And he played under different systems for different coaches.

"He understands how the players feel and also knows the game. He really did a good job of helping me through the process, when I was starting or not starting, when I was not playing a lot.

"He's always going to demand the best out of you, and he wants you to go out there and compete. If you do those things and stay out of trouble, you're going to be fine with Scott."

Skiles was combative as a player in 10 pro seasons, including five years with the Orlando Magic in the prime of his career. So it's not surprising that the former point guard shows that same competitiveness as a coach.

"He's the type of guy you want in your corner," Bell said. "If he feels it was a bad call and you're playing hard, he's going to cuss the ref out for you. He has his players' back, and we have his back.

"You can see his intensity in the locker room and on the sideline. If he could still go out there and play, he would."

Bell's first NBA experience came with Phoenix in the 2001-'02 season when Skiles was coaching there.

"He would practice with us, and he would play hard," Bell said.

Those days may be gone, but the 45-year-old Skiles has a direct approach and is heavily involved with on-court instruction during practice sessions.

Jim Boylan, who also served as Skiles' lead assistant in Chicago, returns to the Bucks coaching staff along with Kelvin Sampson, Joe Wolf, Bill Peterson and Adrian Griffin.

"Boylan is a little more soft-spoken," Bell said. "One is more intense, and one is more laid-back. They definitely work together very well."

It's inevitable that Jennings, the 10th overall pick in the draft, will make his share of mistakes while battling some of the elite point guards in the league. But if he winds up spending some time on the bench, he will be in good company.

"You may make a couple shots, but that's not what's important with coach," Bell said. "What you're doing on the defensive end, bringing energy and playing hard night in and night out, that's what gets you on the floor.

"If you come off the bench and you don't know what's going on, the next horn that goes off, there's somebody coming to get you. Starters know if they don't start the game the right way, coach is not afraid to pull the trigger.

"He treats everybody the same. No matter where you are as far as pay or how many years you've got in the league, it doesn't matter. Everybody is on the same level."

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 27, 2009


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