If you watched the draft last night, you know Joe Alexander is excited to run with the Bucks. Naturally, the team is quite contented to have him as well. Increasingly, the reciprocal good vibes between Alexander and the Bucks seem authentic.
You expect players to say all the right things before the draft, which he did during interviews after his workout at the Cousins Center.
"I love the style of play that’s about to be played here," Alexander said. "It’s very similar to what I had at West Virginia. A physical style, playing really hard, bodying people up, and locking down on defense."
As part of the media that day, I got the impression, like many others, that Alexander was just the type of player Scott Skiles and John Hammond would covet. But that was all guesswork at the time, because the workout wasn't open to media. Only Bucks' management knew whether Alexander walked the walk before all the talk. Clearly, the West Virginia forward proved on the court that day that he was the real deal, that Alexander appeared committed to playing a physical brand of basketball, and that Bob Huggins did prepare him for the NBA and instilled in him a high priority on defense.
Fast forward to this afternoon at Summerfest. I was working at the 540 ESPN tent, and we had a wide (yes) mix of people approach our table in hopes of winning an 18-foot Leinenkugel's canoe. The aim of the contest, you see, is to guess the number of Leine's beer cans in the canoe. The painful part (to the hearts of myriad Milwaukeeans) is explaining that the beer in the boat isn't included in the prize, and that after sitting in the sun for a week and a half, the alcohol won't exactly be in prime consuming condition.
Anyway, this is a story more about Alexander than alcohol. This time. Promise.
Mere hours after being in New York for draft night, none other than a certain Mr. Joe Anthony Alexander showed up at the outdoor music festival in Milwaukee to chat on radio with Steve "Homer" True of 540 ESPN.
The highlight of the back-and-forth came after Homer read part of a post-draft SportingNews.com recap written by Mike DeCourcy.
In the past couple weeks, the words "tough" and "rugged" began to appear in assessments of Alexander. This brings the word "ridiculous" to mind. That's not who he is as a player. He is uncommonly skilled, strong and athletic for a 6-8 guy. He can shoot it deep and has a mid-range game. He can operate at the small forward spot. But the Joe Alexander who played at West Virginia last year was challenging to motivate and not always focused on the game. How desperately does he want to be a significant pro?"
Shortly thereafter, Alexander took the sheet of paper Homer read the quote from, and tossed it away, to the cheers and laughs of a group of Summerfest'ers who had stopped to take pictures and hear the newest Buck speak. Obviously the 21 year-old, clad in Bucks gear at the Big Gig, didn't care for the big dig at his game.
We'll add that DeCourcy's Sporting News colleague, Sam Smith, handed out an A to the Bucks for their draft day exploits.
First-round pick Joe Alexander is Scott Skiles' kind of player. He will hustle and attack the basket. If Skiles can get his backcourt guys to give up the ball occasionally, the team could be in for a big jump.
We know for certain that Alexander can jump big, and the offseason moves so far indeed suggest at least a medium-sized jump in wins for the Bucks, and a pretty good deal of confidence in our new management.
Unlike Yi's welcome to Milwaukee, hoopla didn't surround Alexander's arrival in Milwaukee. That makes sense, because in absolute contrast to Yi's situation, Alexander's trip to his new NBA town came quickly and without any hint of reservation. And, as Tom Enlund noted:
Let history show that these were among the first words that forward Joe Alexander of West Virginia University spoke as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks:
"I can't wait to get there," the 6-foot-8 Alexander said minutes after the Bucks selected after the Bucks selected him with the eighth pick in the National Basketball Association draft Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
He proved that sentiment true with his appearance today. And you can't help but think that Alexander's starkly dissimilar Bucks' beginning from last year's first round draft pick foretells a story that doesn't end in less than a year's time, like that of Yi's.
Postscript: The only regrettable thing about Alexander's insistent Bucks-love is that he could've had a wonderful nickname if he followed in Yi's dramatically slow footsteps to Milwaukee... Alexander the Late. Yesa, but no.