Bucks Friday: Frontcourt minutes up for grabs
By Andrew Gruman
Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles won't talk about how minutes will be spread around to the seven frontcourt players on his roster.
He isn't dodging the question, he's simply telling the truth.
"I honestly don't know," Skiles said. "I don't know what that grouping of seven bigs, how that's going to play out yet."
It is likely that center Samuel Dalembert and power forward Ersan Ilyasova will find themselves in the starting lineup for the season opener in Boston, but after that there are plenty of questions.
Skiles will have to choose from Drew Gooden, Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders, Joel Przybilla and rookie John Henson to fill minutes at the two inside positions.
For the time being, Henson will be behind the eight-ball, as his sprained left knee suffered in Tuesday's preseason loss to Chicago will cause him to miss about two weeks.
Udoh missed two preseason games with a left knee strain but returned to practice Monday and played 21 minutes off the bench Thursday.
"At some point, probably after Monday's game, I'm going to sit down with all of them and talk about it," Skiles said. "If all the guys are healthy, it is impossible to play them all in an NBA game. You just can't. Somebody is going to be left out, if not two people. I don't know who that is."
Skiles started Dalembert and Sanders inside Thursday against Memphis, with Tobias Harris starting at small forward.
Ilyasova played 19 minutes off the bench, while Drew Gooden played just 11:54. Przybilla didn't make it on to the floor.
Ellis breaks out: During the last two preseason games, guard Monta Ellis shot just 7 of 21 from the field.
Thursday that changed. Ellis found his stroke, shooting 50 percent and scoring a game high 20 points.
"My shots will come when it's time to come," Ellis said Wednesday. "Right now, I'm just trying to get a good feel for the system and the new teammates and trying to be a leader."
Exploring the state: Playing preseason games in other Wisconsin cities is an important way to build the franchise's brand, and Skiles knows it. He also knows playing well in those cities is important.
"You don't want to go to a city in the state where people are looking forward to seeing guys play and all of a sudden they show up and three key guys aren't even in the game," Skiles said.
Thursday's 97-94 loss to the Grizzlies in LaCrosse, Wis., was the first game the Bucks have played in the western Wisconsin city since 2008.
The Bucks will play their final preseason game at the Resch Center in Green Bay on Nov. 26.
Gate sponsors: For the first time in its history, the BMO Harris Bradley Center will have sponsors for all four of its gates.
Kohl's Department Stores, Miller Lite, Northwestern Mutual and Potawatomi Bingo Casino all have committed to multi-year gate sponsorships as part of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce's "Champions of the Community" effort.
According to BMO Harris Bradley Center board chairman Marc Marotta, the new gate names take effect immediately, while interior and exterior signage and other design elements will be added in the next 30 days.
Kohl's will sponsor the northwest gate, Miller Lite the southwest gate, Northwestern Mutual the southeast gate and Potawatomi the northeast gate.
Squad Six lives on: Andrew Bogut is gone, but the loud and rowdy fan section the former Bucks center built isn't going anywhere.
The section formally known as "Squad Six" will be taken over by Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova.
Bogut launched the section in 2009, purchasing 100 lower bowl tickets for fans that were chosen through auditions to sit in the section for each home game.
When Bogut was traded to Golden State last March, some worried it would be the end of the successful idea, but Ilyasova has stepped up to keep it going.
Fans can audition to be a part of Ilyasova's section Saturday before the Bucks take on the Wizards. Registration starts at 10 a.m. in the East Atrium Lobby of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, with auditions beginning at 11 a.m.
If fans are unable to attend, they can submit an online audition video at Bucks.com.
The name of the group is up for fan vote as well on the Bucks' website.