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News » Skiles decides to keep Milwaukee's starters under wraps

Skiles decides to keep Milwaukee's starters under wraps

Skiles decides to keep Milwaukee's starters under wraps By CHARLES F. GARDNER

St. Francis - Brandon Jennings says it doesn't matter to him if he's in the starting lineup on Friday night against Philadelphia.

Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles knows who is starting at point guard and power forward he said after the team's 2-hour practice session Sunday, but he's not revealing the secret quite yet.

And the Bucks will be down a small forward on opening night, with Carlos Delfino suspended one game for a preseason incident with Detroit's Austin Daye.

"I don't see any reason to let the other teams know, not that I'm not trying to be super-secretive or anything," Skiles said. "I've already got it decided."

The 20-year-old Jennings had predicted during the summer - in a recorded conversation that he thought was private - that he would be the starter and veteran Luke Ridnour would be the backup. During the preseason, Ridnour started the first five games and Jennings the final three.

"Hey, if I come off the bench, that's fine," Jennings said. "I think Luke Ridnour has been playing good. He's been here the longest, and he knows what's expected.

"I'm still learning. If he starts, that's fine with me."

But Jennings said he also would be prepared to be in the starting five on Friday. He has faced a number of top point guards already, including Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls, Aaron Brooks of the Houston Rockets and Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey of the Pistons.

The 76ers no longer have Andre Miller, the veteran point guard who signed with Portland, but they do have fifth-year pro Lou Williams, veteran Willie Green and rookie Jrue Holiday.

"The main thing is just don't get down when I miss a shot," said Jennings, who shot 33% from the field (30 of 91) during the preseason. "I can do other things to help the team win, like distribute the ball, playing defense, getting steals.

"One of my coaches told me, 'When you're not making shots, do other things to make everybody else great, like Jason Kidd.' He's a perfect example. He doesn't always shoot well, but when you look at the stats, he has eight assists, five rebounds, three steals, zero turnovers."

The Bucks have been burned by Detroit's offensive-minded guards in two preseason games, and Milwaukee will face them again in the home opener on Saturday night.

"Our overall team defense after the first two games has been pretty good," Skiles said. "We've got guys in the right spots, and they're trying to help each other. It's been our individual (defense) that has given us a lot of problems.

"At our 1, 2 and 3 positions, we've had guys just breaking us down off the dribble, and we've got to get better in that area. What you try to get your guys to do is play a guy for three dribbles. It's those one-dribble blow-bys that are killers."

The other question mark is the power-forward spot, where Skiles could choose veteran Kurt Thomas, Hakim Warrick or Ersan Ilyasova.

"He (Ilyasova) is starting to get a comfort level with us and what we're trying to do," Skiles said.

Second-year pro Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is the likely starter at small forward against the 76ers.

Skiles said there's no doubt the Bucks will miss Delfino's presence on opening night. The 6-foot-6 native of Argentina shot 39% from three-point range and averaged 9.0 points and 3.5 rebounds during the preseason, while making five starts.

"It's one of the reasons he has the value he does, because he can step out there and knock down those shots," Skiles said. "It's part of the game. We're going to have guys miss games this year, and we've got to be able to come up with ways to still win."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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Added: October 27, 2009


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