ST. FRANCIS, Wis. – John Henson was grinning from ear to ear and rightfully so.
For the first time in nearly three weeks, the Bucks rookie was a full participant in practice, and barring any setbacks Tuesday, he will be active for Wednesday’s game against Memphis at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Henson sprained his left knee and suffered a bone bruise Oct. 16 in an exhibition game against Chicago. He returned to non-contact practice last week, but Monday was the first day he did everything.
“It went well,” Henson said. “It was good to go up and down for the first time in 2.5, 3 weeks. I felt it a little bit, but I got through it.
“I’m progressing well. Obviously I was a little winded, because that’s just how it is, but it’s progressing well. I made some plays that I usually can make.”
Missing camp time can be deadly to rookies trying to sneak into NBA rotations. While Henson was out, forwards Larry Sanders and Ekpe Udoh both have played well. Skiles said after practice Monday that he saw signs of Henson’s talent both Monday and early in camp, but rust and missed time also showed.
“He struggled a little bit to pick up what we are doing,” Skiles said. “The talent is obvious. All you have to do is watch him for a few minutes in an exhibition game to see what kind of upside he potentially has.”
For Henson, it hasn’t been easy watching his team move along without him. He’s chomping at the bit to get in and contribute.
“I look upbeat but there were some tough days watching them play,” Henson said. “The knee has felt fine for a week or so, just trying to get back and working out.
“Hopefully I can help the team a little bit with whatever I need to do. If we can keep playing like we’ve playing, it’s going to be a good year.”
With 15 men on the roster, the Bucks have needed to make two players inactive in each of the first two games. With Skiles confirming Henson will be active Wednesday, somebody else will be deactivated for the game.
Henson had an important visitor checking in on him Saturday. North Carolina coach Roy Williams sat courtside, in town to watch former players Henson and Cleveland forward Tyler Zeller square off. Williams has made it tradition to come see one of all his drafted players’ first few games in the NBA.
Though he was unable to play, the visit was special to Henson.
“It means a lot,” Henson said. “I knew he was coming. It meant a whole lot just to see him out there supporting us courtside. I think that’s why he’s one of the best coaches out there.”
The crowd booed Williams when he was introduced on the scoreboard. Henson had a theory as to why.
“He got the boos because I think they still remember that Marquette game when we beat them by 30 in the Elite Eight,” Henson said. “I don’t think Milwaukee took that too well.”
Bench shining: Through two games, Milwaukee’s bench has outscored opponents 99-46, including scoring 62 points against Cleveland.
Forward Mike Dunleavy, on the bench to provide an offensive spark, scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds Saturday.
The Bucks fell behind by 12 early to the Cavaliers, but watched the lineup of Dunleavy, Sanders, Udoh, guard Beno Udrih and guard Doron Lamb quickly erase the deficit, igniting a 16-0 run to start the second quarter.
“That’s huge for us,” Ellis said. “We’ve got the guys who can do that. Mike Dunleavy came off and gave us a good spark, Larry, Ekpe, Beno and the list goes on. Right now we are playing as one. It is good when you can have your first five out of the game and have another five come in and keep that same intensity, defense and mindset to make it easier when we get back in.”
Considering the Bucks are still without forward and defensive stopper Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, as well as Henson, Skiles has rotation options that he hasn’t had in years past.
“We feel like we are going to have a strong bench,” Skiles said. “Beno (Udrih) has been a starter in his career, Mike (Dunleavy) could certainly start. We’ve got guys over there that can come in. We feel comfortable there.”
Jennings visits Lambeau: With Sunday an off day for the Bucks, Brandon Jennings headed to Green Bay to watch the Packers take on the Cardinals.
Most athletes would have used their connections to finagle seats in a suite, or somewhere private, but not Jennings.
“I did sit in the seats at Lambeau,” Jennings said. “I was right behind the 40 (yard line), like six rows up. Sitting in the seats, right with the fans, they were going crazy. I was just blending in with everybody.”
He didn’t make it the whole game, however.
“I kind of left by the end of the third,” Jennings said. “It was getting cold out there.”
Power rankings: I’m not a believer in reading much into power rankings, but Monday’s newly released rankings were interesting.
ESPN.com jumped the Bucks up from 18th to 4th in the NBA, while NBA.com moved Milwaukee from 24th to 20th.
There’s quite the difference between 4th and 20th. Further evidence that power rankings mean very little, especially two games into the season.
Look at week ahead: Being Monday, might as well take a gander at the upcoming schedule.
The Bucks host a tough Memphis team Wednesday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. I’ll get more into the match-up with the Grizzlies in Bucks Tuesday , but it will be a tough test for the Bucks, primarily inside with Memphis featuring Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Milwaukee then travels to Washington to take on the Wizards on Friday before wrapping up the week with another game with Boston, this one at home.
One would have to think the Celtics will be awfully hungry for revenge.