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Larry Drew is new, Herb Kohl is old

The Bucks' newest head coach predictably offered some reasons for optimism in his introductory press conference. But if you were looking for bold new ideas from Herb Kohl...well, you may not want to read on.

USA TODAY Sports Larry Drew press conference video
Introductory press conferences can be whatever you want them to be. Enough softballs usually get served up for any new coach to come off looking fairly impressive and well put-together, and Monday's presser with new Bucks coach Larry Drew was no exception. Welcome to Milwaukee, Larry.

  • If you thought John Hammond was going to talk about his new head coach without talking about the kind of man he is, you don't know John Hammond. In short, Larry Drew wasn't hired because he was a fast-talking used car salesman.
  • Drew talked up his belief in establishing personal relationships with his players, taking a page directly from the "how to assuage the fears of people who just watched Scott Skiles coach their team for five years" playbook. So that was nice, though saying he wanted to be "good friends" and "buddies" with his players felt kind of hokie, too. It was interesting to note Drew's discussion of managing a locker room full of expiring deals in Atlanta last season--that clearly became an issue for the Bucks, but the Hawks kept things together surprisingly well in spite of rampant speculation about the future of virtually everyone not named Al Horford.
  • Drew talked up the value of length and his excitement about the Bucks' young frontcourt assets, wisely using the word "development" in discussing Larry Sanders and John Henson.
    "This team has really good young talent. Young talent that I’m excited about developing.

    "The big guys are going to be a big part of the future. Their development is going to be very important, but you can’t teach height, you can’t teach length."

    Henson flew in earlier than expected to be in attendance and earned an early shout-out from the father of his former teammate at UNC, Larry Drew II.
    "You get on the coach's side right away," Drew joked, drawing laughs.

    "I think he's going to be a real good fit," Henson said. "He's just what we need. He's a player relationship guy and the players are going to know their roles."
  • Interestingly, the players Drew did mention were as notable as those he steered clear of discussing. No one seemed particularly interested in talking up the possibility of Monta Ellis and/or Brandon Jennings returning, which speaks to the ongoing uncertainty around both players' futures. Despite all that, everyone continues to talk up the team's opportunities for improvement despite a rather half-baked roster that will need a ton of help over the summer to be playoff-caliber group. Via Andrew Gruman:
    "They are not very far away at all," Drew said. "There are some things I feel I can bring to this team. I really feel from a coaching standpoint, offensively is where we really have to get better. They finished 28th in the league in field-goal percentage last year. We can improve that. That can be an easy adjustment. It's a matter of players committing, as my guys did in Atlanta."
    The only problem here is that the Hawks got notably worse offensively after Drew replaced Mike Woodson. After ranking 2nd offensively under Woodson in 09/10, Drew's teams ranked 21st, 16th and 18th in offensive efficiency over the past three seasons. Don't get me wrong, it's modestly reassuring to know that Drew has the sense to see the fundamental inefficiency of the Ellis/Jennings-led offense, but history suggests he's not going to turn the Bucks into an offensive juggernaut either. Which isn't to say Drew is doomed in Milwaukee. The Pacers, Grizzlies and the Derrick Rose-less Bulls provide compelling evidence that the most direct route to competitiveness is on the defensive end, and Drew's teams have been solid on that end (13th, 6th and 10th). Not fantastic, but solid.
  • Curiously, Drew said the Bucks hadn't discussed team expectations during the interview process, which struck me as, you know, utterly impossible. But presumably this was just Drew and the Bucks trying to tip-toe around the tricky dance of setting expectations with a fanbase that has grown weary of the team's annual flirtation with the 8th seed, or at least deferring it to Mr. Business As Usual, Herb Kohl (more on that next).
FS WIsconsin: Herb Kohl is still Herb Kohl
While Drew generally left a positive impression, Herb Kohl's latest foray into sports conversation was decidedly less inspiring. Look, there are rational reasons for the Bucks wanting to be competitive and make the playoffs even if real contention remains elusive; Kohl isn't wrong about bad teams having a nagging tendency to stay bad, and a 3-4 year rebuilding project isn't exactly convenient for a franchise in need of a new building four years from now. The problem is that Kohl has long since lost the benefit of the doubt with most fans on this topic. It's one thing to want to win and do so, it's another to talk about it and then thrash around aimlessly...for twenty years. So you'll forgive those of us who hear Kohl defiantly sticking to the party line and think he just doesn't get it. If nothing else, at least try to make it seem like you're taking a slightly different angle on it all. I feel like I could coach Kohl pretty well on this topic, but for whatever reason it seems fairly lost on him.

Speaking of a new arena: Kohl once again addressed the topic in general terms and spoke confidently of getting a deal done to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee for the long term. No individual is as important as Kohl to all of this, but we haven't gotten to the point of hearing anything specific from him regarding his promised contribution to a new arena. Instead, Kohl is trying to deflect some of the spotlight away from his franchise--a wise move given the circumstances--and toward the bigger picture of how a new building could benefit the community more broadly.
"The Bucks are part of it, and they are a key part of it, one of the anchor tenants. But we take 40 or 41 or 42 dates a year. And a facility holds upwards of 200 events in a year. So it's really important not just for basketball but for the community, for economic development, to get a 21st-century facility that is comparable to what is found in many, many other medium and large cities in this country. We have to get there. It's important for our community and our state to get there. And along with that, that will see to it that the Bucks stay here. They sort of need each other. A facility needs the Bucks and the Bucks need a facility. We are determined to get there.

"Getting a facility built is a big challenge. We are into it now, in the beginning stages. There are many elements to it. We hope people understand how important it is for the community and the state, a 21st-century facility. And in order to have that we need the Bucks as an anchor tenant. I think it is a mistake to see the facility as (solely) for the Bucks. That's not really true."

Ford: Mock 4.0 has Larkin heading to Milwaukee
Chad Ford has the Bucks going small at #15, projecting Miami PG Shane Larkin as the current favorite to end up in green and red.

With the Bucks hesitant to make a big free-agent offer to point guard Brandon Jennings, that position might immediately become a need for Milwaukee. Sources say Larkin's workout in Milwaukee was a "wow" for the Bucks. Pairing him with Monta Ellis would make for a pretty small backcourt, but Larkin's ability to run the pick-and-roll is very appealing to them.

Chris Terlop from Green Bay's The Fan 1075 wrote yesterday that the Bucks had actually made Larkin a promise after his workout on Friday, so at a minimum it sounds like he impressed the Bucks' brass with his work at the Cousins Center. I'm not sure what benefit would come from making Larkin a promise at this point, but the Bucks aren't standing pat: they have their next workout scheduled for Wednesday.

Woelfel: Schröder has eyes on first round
While Larkin may have the inside track to the Bucks' heart, Gery Woelfel writes that they've long had an eye on German point guard Dennis Schröder as well.

The Bucks have been closely monitoring Schröder’s development for almost a year. Schröder said Bucks general manager John Hammond and Bucks player personnel director Dave Babcock both had seen him play last season in Germany.

Furthermore, Hammond and Jeff Weltman, the Bucks’ assistant GM, got an up-close-and-personal look at Schröder several weeks ago at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore. That’s where Schröder wowed virtually every NBA official in attendance with his myriad talents and athleticism.