ST. FRANCIS, WI (WSAU) The N-B-A’s Milwaukee Bucks will open their training camp today, and coach Scott Skiles promises a renewed emphasis on defense. The Bucks held their annual Media Day yesterday, where Skiles said the team had to get bigger during the off-season – and it did. Skiles said the Bucks gave up too many lay-ups last season, especially after Andrew Bogut was hurt and then traded – and 6-10 Drew Gooden was given the job of facing the N-B-A’s larger-and-bulkier centers.
The Bucks acquired 6-11 veteran center Samuel Dalembert in a trade from Houston. They also signed 7-1 center Joel Przybilla for his second stint in Milwaukee. And they drafted 6-11 John Henson in the first round in June. The Bucks will also have three 6-10 players besides Gooden – Ersan Ilyasova, Ekpe Udoh, and Larry Sanders.
Skiles said the Bucks proved last year that they can score, as they averaged 99 points a game. But they also gave up around 99 points a night – and Skiles said a better defense would give the Bucks a stronger running game in transition. Udoh said the Bucks now have enough big men to cause problems for other teams.
Skiles also expects big things from his smaller backcourt. High-scorers Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis will have their first training camp together – and Skiles says he’s excited to see they can do. Jennings averaged over 19 points a game last season, and Ellis – who was traded from Golden State in March – had almost 18. Bucks’ forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (bah-moo’-tay) is expected to miss Milwaukee’s entire training camp – and part of the regular season – after he had knee surgery in May. Mbah a Moute struggled last season through an ailing patella tendon in his right knee. He said it has bothered him for the last year-and-a-half. And after his surgery, Mbah a Moute says he looks forward to being pain-free and playing at a higher level.
Mbah a Moute is a native of Cameroon, took part in the N-B-A’s “Basketball Without Borders” program for children in South Africa in late August and early September. When he got home, he had his knee examined – and he said it felt like it was really healing for the first time. Mbah a Moute averaged just under eight points and five-and-a-half rebounds in 43 games last season.