EuroBasket: Ilyasova stars for Turkey in easy 94-66 win over Bulgaria
A day after helping Turkey top Lithuania, Ersan Ilyasova played just 15 minutes against Bulgaria--because playing more would have been overkill. Ersan torched the overmatched Bulgarians for 16 points (6/8 fg, 1/2 threes, 3/4 ft) and seven boards in just 15 minutes of first half action, propelling the Turks to a 53-28 halftime lead that allowed them to rest their starters in the second half. Ilyasova showed a bit more of a one-on-one game as well, glassing in a turnaround from the elbow and also blowing by a defender on the baseline. The NBA will require some readjusting, but we're seeing more and more why the Bucks are banking on Ilyasova to be a major part of the frontcourt rotation. Turkey is playing right now against Poland (featuring Szymon Szewczyk!), look for updates in the comments.
EuroBasket: Croatia, Ukic fall to Greece but beat Macedonia
I've only had the chance to watch the Turkey games, but Roko Ukic and Croatia were also in action yesterday, falling 76-68 to Greece. Ukic made just 6/15 shots (1/5 from deep) but still had a team-high 15 points to go along with two assists and no turnovers.
This morning the Croats bounced back with an 81-71 win over Macedonia. Though Ukic made just 2/8 fg for seven points, he did add six assists without a turnover.
Berri: Revising Expectations Upwards in Milwaukee
Echoing Ty at Bucks Diary, Dave Berri thinks the 09/10 Bucks will surprise people. Somebody likes us!
Of these ten players [in the projected rotation], six are above average performers. If these players maintain this production, then the Bucks will not be one of these worst teams in the Eastern Conference in 2009-10. In fact, it’s possible this team will challenge the Hawks and Wizards for the fourth seed. In other words, the Bucks could actually reach the second round of the playoffs (where they will probably get blown out by the Cavaliers, Magic, or Celtics).
Even if you buy into wins produced as a methodology, the notion of players maintaining their levels of production can't be taken for granted--I'm namely looking at Ridnour and Carlos Delfino being pegged as above average performers in Berri's quick analysis. For instance, while Berri notes that the 08/09 Bucks would have been a good team if healthy, that was far from obvious a year ago. No matter what you think, Bucks fans can at least agree on one thing--let's hope Berri's right.
Bogut: Rehab progressing well
Head over the Andrew Bogut's blog to catch up with the big fella's latest workout update. And of course the latest on his cars.
This past week I have stepped up the training in my effort to get to 100% after my injury. Every day of last week I was out of bed by 8am and @ the gym by 9. I got treatment for about half an hour. Following that I was in the weight room. Hitting the weights, doing a lot of Pilates and core and finally finishing with Conditioning. Following that I worked out with the fellas for 40 mins. The only thing I couldn't do with them was scrimmage which is what they did at the end. On Tuesdays and Thursdays following that I did some extra running outside on the grass near our facility. Tuesday I did some wind sprints, and Thursday a pretty tough set of uphill sprints. The good news is I pulled up fine by the weekend and got through the week great! Its a small step but it's going in the right direction.
HoopsHype: Bogut interview
Given Bogut's constantly tweeting and blogging, I wasn't expecting to learn a lot from Raúl Barrigón's interview with him at HoopsHype, but it's actually a very good read. Among the interesting points: Bogut doesn't expect Ramon Sessions to be back. Not shocking, but another nail in the Ramon-might-be-back coffin.
Gardner: Ridnour focused on healthy outlook
One somewhat ovelooked reason why the Bucks seem content to let Luke Ridnour play the role of unthreatening veteran as Brandon Jennings takes his rookie lumps? It's less awkward chemistry-wise than Ramon Sessions give Jennings credible competition for the long-term job. As you'd expect , Ridnour is working out ahead of the season and saying all the right things about Jennings and his role with the team.
"I'm excited about him, and to help the team win," Ridnour said. "I'll do what I can to help him get better."
It's still possible Ridnour or another Bucks veteran could be traded this week as part of an effort to match Minnesota's offer for Sessions. But that seems unlikely at the moment. The Bucks are $1.6 million under the luxury tax level, and Sessions' deal would put them about $2 million above that mark.
"I don't worry about it," Ridnour said. "Ramon has worked hard and deserves it, so I'm happy for him. It's been a weird deal for those guys (restricted free agents) this off-season."
While there are few teams Ridnour would start for, he certainly had his moments last year, and it's easy to forget that he was always a bit banged up--missing games here and there with back spasms early in the season, losing 10 games to a broken thumb, and then looking just awful when he rushed back from the injury. With his contract expiring and Jennings perhaps ready to play major minutes as a rookie, it's no secret that Ridnour's future in Milwaukee could be limited, but at least you can count on him being a professional about it.
As encouraged as I was by Jennings' summer league, I'm still on the fence as to whether he will actually be the starting PG on opening night. But a lot of that is based on the politics and psychology of starting a 19-year point guard. Jennings and everyone else knows that he's expected to be the man eventually and he no doubt wants to be starting as soon as possible. So the question becomes whether Skiles thinks he's ready to be the man from day one, both from a basketball and developmental standpoint.
NYTimes: Mbah a Moute's long journey
There have been a number of articles lately detailing Luc Mbah a Moute's journey from Cameroon to the NBA, and now even the New York Times is on the story.
"The kids here are not like Americans because to them the N.B.A. is so far away," said Mbah a Moute, a 6-foot-8 forward. "I remember that feeling. Even though some Africans have made it, you can’t actually grasp the possibility until you leave the continent."