Ridnour gets early start on next transition game

Ridnour gets early start on next transition game
Veteran point guard rolls with the changes

By Truman Reed
October 1, 2009

Luke Ridnour
Luke Ridnour is ready for another season with the Bucks.

The 2009-10 National Basketball Association season will be the seventh for Luke Ridnour.

That puts the 28-year-old point guard among the upper tier of Milwaukee Bucks as far as professional experience is concerned.

This doesn't mean, however, that as the upcoming season unfolds, Ridnour will be able to shrug everything off and say he has been there and done that.

2009 has already proven to be a year of firsts for the former University of Oregon standout. 

He completed his first season with the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 28.2 minutes 9.6 points, 5.1 assists and a career-high 3 rebounds per game in 72 contests.

He played his first 48-minute game in the NBA, collecting 19 points, four rebounds, four assists and a steal on Nov. 15 against the Boston Celtics.

He made a career-high six steals in a Dec. 23 game against Utah, adding 11 points and 11 assists for a double-double.

He tied a career best with nine rebounds versus Minnesota on Jan. 10.

He staged a perfect shooting performance on April 11 against many of his former teammates with the Seattle Super Sonics (who relocated to Oklahoma City), going 8-for-8 from the field -- 2-for-2 from 3-point territory -- in an 18-point performance.

Luke and his wife Katie became parents for the first time, welcoming Traden Lukas into the world on April 13.

So Ridnour's offseason of 2009 was, first and foremost, his first as a father, and he enjoyed it tremendously.

"Oh, it was fun, man," he said. "I was glad I got to be around a lot and help out and see the little guy getting bigger and bigger. It's been fun, just rehabbing and getting healthy and getting ready to go."

The proud parents have been fascinated by their son's development.

"I'd say every two weeks, he's changed," Luke said. "He's slowly starting to develop a personality. He's started smiling and laughing ... giggling. That's probably been the most fun part to watch."

Luke, who grew up as a basketball coach's son, became renowned in his hometown of Blaine, Washington for having a basketball with him just about everywhere he went, including to bed.

He even had a basketball in hand when he made his official campus visit to the University of Oregon.

Ridnour's son is apparently being encouraged to carry on his father's tradition. Luke said there are plenty of basketball toys in the youngster's crib. And dad says he is not solely responsible for putting them there.

"My wife has gotten him a lot of stuff, and so have the grandparents," Luke said. "It's been a blast."

Adjusting to fatherhood hasn't been the only transition Ridnour has faced in the past year or so.

After spending his first five NBA seasons with Seattle, he was traded for the first time in his career last August, coming to Milwaukee along with Adrian Griffin and Damon Jones in a deal that sent Mo Williams to Cleveland and Desmond Mason and Joe Smith to Oklahoma City.

In Ridnour's first year in Milwaukee, he saw action in 72 games, the most he had played since the 2005-06 season, when he saw action in 79 contests.

His first year in Milwaukee did not come without adversity, though. He missed nine games due to injuries that included lingering back spasms and a fractured right thumb that his coaches believe affected his shooting accuracy more than Ridnour ever let on.

He still shot a team-best 86.9 percent from the free-throw line and ranked 13th in the league with an assists-to-turnovers ratio of 2.85 to 1.

Following his offseason, Ridnour returned to Milwaukee Sept. 10 to begin early workouts with his teammates. He was greeted by a number of unfamiliar faces, so he is about to begin another season of transition soon.

Since the 2008-09 season drew to a close, the Bucks bid farewell to Ramon Sessions, who pretty much split the point-guard minutes with Ridnour last season. Sessions, a restricted free agent, signed a lucrative offer sheet with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Bucks declined to match it.

Ridnour's new backcourt colleagues will include Milwaukee's two 2009 draft choices: 20-year-old Brandon Jennings, whom the Bucks selected with the 10th overall pick; and 22-year-old Jodie Meeks, a former University of Kentucky All-American who averaged 23.7 points per game as a junior with the Wildcats.

There are more newcomers.

Veteran power forward Kurt Thomas was one of three players acquired in a trade that sent Richard Jefferson to the San Antonio Spurs.

Veteran swingman Carlos Delfino and young point guard Roko Ukic were obtained from the Toronto Raptors in a deal involving Amir Johnson, who was earlier acquired from Detroit.

Veteran forward Hakim Warrick signed on as an unrestricted free agent.

A number of the newcomers have joined Ridnour for the early workouts at the Bucks Training Center, and he likes the talent he sees surrounding him.

"We've got a lot of guys who are really talented and can play," he said. "Both of our rookies are really tough, and the other guys they've brought in are going to be good.

"So it's just a matter of us jelling as a team and getting going."

Ridnour believes the veterans the Bucks brought on board over the summer will provide some valuable commodities.

"I think some stability, and the fact that they know how to play," he said. I think everyone who's come in knows how to play and plays hard.

"That'll fit in with the way we want to play this year."

Ridnour has also seen a willingness among his new teammates to share the basketball.

"Yeah, I think that goes along with guys knowing how to play," he said. "They have a good feel for the game. I don't think anyone cares who scores; it's all about trying to win the game.

"That's going to help keep the ball moving and just feeding off each other."

Ridnour has had a bird's-eye view of the rookies' willingness to learn, too.

"You can definitely tell that they want to get better," he said. "They already have the skill and talent. And they want to get better, so that's going to take them a long way."

Ridnour was asked to provide Bucks fans with a sneak preview of what they can expect to see from Jennings.

"He plays hard and he pushes the ball," Ridnour said. "He's very good with the ball. People will get to see him going into traffic and going around people, throwing good passes. It'll be fun for people to watch him play.

"He's a good player, and I'm excited for him. I think he's just going to get better and better."

Ridnour likes what he has seen from both Bucks rookies.

"For both Brandon and Jodie, the more they play, the more comfortable they'll feel and the more shots they're going to make," he said. "They're going to get better and better."

Ridnour returned to Milwaukee early in hopes of doing that, too. And while he does, he'll enjoy watching the youngsters develop -- the one at home and the two working alongside him.


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