Our guest this week for the Thursday Q & A is Jeremy who runs Bucksketball, a blog devoted to the Milwaukee Bucks.  In today’s installment we’ll get the story behind his site and of course his thoughts on this year’s Milwaukee Bucks team.

Tell us how you started Bucksketball and why you decided to begin blogging about the Bucks in general.

I was fairly unhappy with my career choice and always thought I had a knack for writing.  My passion for sports has existed since I was a child, so I combined the two.  At first I was doing it just to try and sharpen up a bit and so I could keep in practice as I returned to school.  I never expected the offer of an affiliation with ESPN,  that was simply the best of luck in the world.
I did notice there weren’t many Bucks blogs outside of BrewHoop that I felt were that strong though.  I thought I could compete and knew I’d be more passionate writing about the Bucks than any other team.  It’s important to be passionate about what you’re doing if you want to succeed at it.

Do you find it harder or easier to generate content with the Bucks not having the season everyone expected?

It’s more difficult, simply because so many of their games play out the same way.  And this isn’t my whole life.  I have a job, I go to school.  So writing about the Bucks 87th fourth quarter collapse in the exact same manner can get a bit grating.  I still enjoy it though and I think the challenge is a good thing, especially since I’m so new to this whole scene.

Are the current Milwaukee Bucks falling below last year’s expectations, or was the bar just set too high with 46 wins last season?  

Oh, it’s hard to say. If they were completely healthy, or at least relatively healthy, for the whole season, they could be much better. But I think 50-win proclamations now appear to have been a bit unrealistic. That being said, I’m sure I’ll be excited for an improved season next year, simply because how much worse could things get?

A lot was made of the team chemistry the Bucks had last season, especially after the John Salmons trade. Why is it so different this year?

Chemistry and health seem to have relation. If Milwaukee was 100% and guys were working with each other in practice every day and then winning games, I think we’d hear a ton more stories about how much everyone loves each other in the locker room. But the guys haven’t been healthy. So they haven’t been traveling always, they haven’t had a lot of time together on the road for big group dinners and outings. Those things are nice for players to have, they help build a little something. This group hasn’t been able to experience that.

Did GM John Hammond mess up the team’s chemistry by letting veterans Kurt Thomas, Jerry Stackhouse & Luke Ridnour walk in favor of getting younger and more athletic?  Or did last year’s Bucks play over their heads and sneak up on opponents?

Oddly enough, they haven’t really gotten more athletic. Sure, Corey Maggette adds a little bit of that, and Larry Sanders too, but Drew Gooden isn’t all that athletic. Neither is Chris Douglas-Roberts or Earl Boykins or John Brockman. What they seem to have lost most in those veterans is guys who really knew how to prepare for opponents. You never saw Thomas or Ridnour out of place or unaware of what opponents were going to do. Maggette and Gooden have never been known for those skills and CD-R and Brockman are young guys learning how to do those things still.

As sort of a follow-up to the above, with just over 50 games into the season, what are your takes on the trade for Corey Maggette and the signings of John Salmons and Drew Gooden?

The length of the Salmons and Gooden deals most bother me. In reality, they are bench guys, and if this team was hesitant to sign Ramon Sessions to a four year deal two years ago, why go out and lock Gooden up so long the following season? I think they saw him as a solid, starting power forward, but why? When had he ever been more than a replacement level player before? Maggette was acquired at such a low cost that it still probably makes sense, but obviously he had a very rough start to the season. If he plays next season, the full season, like he’s played this past month, he’ll have accomplished what he was supposed to have.

Scott Skiles has a history of wearing teams out. Is that happening or could that happen in the future with the Bucks?

I don’t think that’s happened yet. My reasoning starts and ends with defense. This is still a top-10, top-5 defensive team. If he had burned them out, they wouldn’t be putting forth that sort of effort defensively. Skiles never attacks his guys, he doesn’t use the media to bait them or over criticize them as motivation, he’s even handed and honest. He’s big into equal treatment. I think he’s grown as a coach. Now if they keep losing through next season, then yeah, anything can happen. But so far, so good.

The Buck’s starting lineup seems to change week-to-week. What is your starting 5 for the Bucks and why?

I think Jennings-Salmons-Maggette-Mbah a Moute-Bogut works out well. If has the right scoring punch and defensive mix. Mbah a Moute isn’t an idea power forward, but he defends so well. Maggette can kind of get a little too shot-happy with the second unit and he and Jennings balance each other around Bogut.

What, if anything, can be done to salvage this Bucks season?

Too late. They could make a run at the 8th seed, but that’s irrelevant. They won’t beat Miami in a first round series, and while they could bother Boston and have a fun series, probably won’t beat them either. Another mid-first round pick and another long wait ’til next year.

Overall, what do you feel the future holds for the Bucks and can they reclaim the prominence they had last year next season and beyond?

Next year is a big year. Are they closer to this team or the team from last year? I think Bogut’s health and Jennings development are obviously the two biggest things to consider. If those two end up being real, NBA level building blocks going forward, it changes everything. The front office’s whole plan was built around those two. And this season that’s worked out horribly. But if they rebound next season, suddenly everyone looks smart again.

…and now for the lighting round.
Your all-time favorite Bucks player is:

Toni Kukoc.  Love the awareness, passing, flair, shooting.  Had it all.

Your favorite Bucks blog to read that is not named Bucksketball is:

BrewHoop .

If there were no Bucks, you would have a blog about:

Television comedies.

If you were a pro basketball player, your position would be:

Point guard. I’m pretty aware of what’s going on, but I gamble for the home run pass far too often.

Should I ever run into you at a bar, I should buy you a ______________ for taking the time to answer these questions.

Whiskey & Water

Thank you Jeremy for being our guest this week.  You can get all of your Bucks news, notes and more over at Bucksketball.com and also make sure to follow the site and Jeremy on twitter at http://twitter.com/bucksketball .

Would you like to be the guest for a PocketDoppler.com Thursday Q & A? Let us know!


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