Bucks trying to find identity as they look to right ship
NOV 26, 2013 6:26p ET
Bucks coach Larry Drew stressed his team needs to find an identity after Monday's 113-94 loss in Detroit, and his message wasn't any different in the meeting.
"We had to do a little soul searching after last night's game," Drew said. "In discussing with our guys, they are in total agreement that we are a team without an identity right now. My next question to them all was 'Who do they want to be?'
"I got some very interesting responses. The commitment has to be made if they want to be who they are saying they want us to be. We'll see if guys hold up to it."
Letting the players speak their minds, Drew wanted to gather opinions on what type of team they wanted to be. He wants the Bucks to hang their hat on being a defensive team, mostly because they are 28th in the NBA in points per game at 89.8.
But Milwaukee is 20th in the league in points allowed per game at 100.2 -- a long ways from being able to hang its hat on defense.
"For the most part (they were positive)," Drew said of the responses he heard. "It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but it was the truth. I don't have a problem in dealing with the truth. I just want to make sure that they see who we are and there's no misconception of who we've been these first 13 games. They see it, so we'll see how we respond tomorrow."
The Bucks are tied with the Jazz for the fewest wins in the NBA, but they were at least competitive up until Saturday's loss to Charlotte. Even in blowout losses to Indiana and Miami, Milwaukee hung around for most off the game before fading late.
Charlotte and Detroit jumped all over Milwaukee and buried the Bucks early. A 21-0 Pistons run left heads hanging on the bench and took all the fight out of the Bucks.
"We had a heart-to-heart, man," Bucks forward John Henson said. "We kind of had to look at ourselves and say from top to bottom we aren't doing what we are supposed to do. It has to change or it's going to be a long season.
"I think it can get turned around. The parts we have, the pieces we have, it can be easy to turn this around. That's what we have to do."
Like Drew, Bucks forward Khris Middleton believes the turnaround has to begin on the defensive end and go from there.
"Everybody heard the message," Middleton said. "We just have to come together as a unit, figure out what our identity is and then go out and play like that.
"It's embarrassing when you lose nine straight games. Everybody just has to put their heads to it and just go out and play."
Starting with Wednesday's game against Washington, Drew hopes to see his players put their words into action by proving their commitment to turning things around through their play.
Milwaukee's next eight games are against under-.500 teams and it feels like it's now or never as far as righting the ship.
"There's a long, long ways to go (in the season)," Drew said. "I don't want these guys to look at who we are right now and be satisfied with it. From their responses I didn't sense that there was a level of satisfaction at all. I sensed there was a level of disappointment, I sensed a level of frustration, but I also sensed that they want to do something about it. Let's see how they respond.
"There's no satisfaction from the first player to the last player, coaching staff included. We see that we have to become something totally different than we've been."
Drew doesn't want to just see the Bucks commit to an identity for a short period of time, but it has to have longevity.
"Once we find that identity, can we sustain it?" Drew said. "Will that be who we really are? We won't be a team to outscore people. We have to be a gritty team and bring a blue-collar mentality every time we step on the floor. There can be no possessions off. We can't play a finesse game. We have to be ready to grind it out and do the dirty work."
Injury report: The Bucks began Tuesday's practice at the BMO Harris Bradley Center with 13 healthy players but finished with 11.
Forward Ekpe Udoh was forced to leave 15 minutes into practice when the pain in his surgically repaired right knee flared up. He has been playing through the soreness and is expected to play against the Wizards.
Shortly after Udoh left, rookie point guard Nate Wolters had to head to the locker room with an illness.
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