6th Fan Blogger: Bucks vs. Pacers

March 14, 2010
Jake LeRoy

My Favorite Turk

I was absolutely giddy when word broke over the offseason that the Bucks were bringing back Ersan Ilyasova at the bargain-bin price of $7 million over three years. Anyone that knows me can tell you that I've been one of his biggest proponents ever since his rookie campaign three years ago. He was every bit the 19-year-old he was at the time, and it was evident in his game.

He showed flashes of being something special (22 points and nine boards in a loss to Chicago), but there were definitely holes in his game. The combination of a strong season in the D-League as an 18-year-old and the skills he displayed the following season in the NBA was more than enough to whet my appetite, though. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that he spent the next two seasons overseas, but there's no doubt that time was well spent.

It's apparent to anyone who watched Ilyasova as a rookie that his game greatly matured during his time in Europe. Between playing in the Euroleague and Spanish basketball league, Ilyasova averaged approximately 10.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in 22 minutes per game last year. Questions were raised about how those numbers would translate to the NBA. I would say quite well as he's averaging 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per game as a Buck. And he's doing this as a 22-year-old. If he were from the United States, he'd likely be preparing for the NCAA Tournament this week.

Effort is what defines the Turkish Thunder's game right now. Ilyasova outworks almost everyone on the floor, keeping balls alive for himself and his teammates. He's in the top 50 in the league in rebound rate, pulling down a higher rate of rebounds than the likes of all-star big men Chris Kaman, Kevin Garnett and Amare Stoudemire.

Offensively, Ilyasova runs the floor like a gazelle, which often results in easy baskets in transition. He's shown to an efficient scorer within 10 feet, connecting on 60 percent of his attempts from that range. His mid-range game could use some improvement, but he's been known to bring rain with his Jon McGlocklin-esque rainbow jumper. And that pump fake, oh that pump fake.

Granted, Ilyasova's game in its current form is far from aesthetically pleasing. His movements are a little herky-jerky, he shoots the occasional fade-away layup and he's a foul magnet. But he's got this kind of functional spasticity that has proven to be quite effective. He may not necessarily look great doing what he does, but the results are there and that's what's most important.

Hedo Turkoglu, nope. Mehmet Okur, probably not. Dr. Christopher Turk, not even close. Ersan Ilyasova is my favorite Turk.

In-game Musings

  • Being the worry wart that I can be, I entered the arena cautiously optimistic today. To me, this game sets up as a classic letdown game, a getaway game and a look-ahead game. Coming off three consecutive wins over quality opponents, they could definitely let their guard down against the much weaker Pacers. A Sunday matinee with a three-game West Coast trip on the horizon reeks of getaway game. And it'd be almost impossible not to look ahead to the road trip to the West Coast, a region of the country that has historically been very unkind to the Bucks. I'm hoping none of those three scenarios comes to fruition.
  • As I'm won't to do, I experienced a childhood flashback walking into the BC today. I saw a fellow fan sporting a mid-1990s pullover jacket from Starter, similar to the one seen here, but with the purple and green Buck colors of that era. I wore the heck out of that very same jacket during my middle school years, and I loved every second of it. Everybody had that style of Starter jackets at that time, but I was the only one in the school rocking the Bucks version. And I can guarantee I'd still be wearing it today if it would hang lower than my lower rib cage.
  • Andrew Bogut attempted a lefty hook in the lane in the opening minutes of the game, and it looked like he got hit on the arm by Roy Hibbert, and the wayward direction of the shot suggested as such. No foul was called, so Bogut chatted with the ref while awaiting free throws on the other end. He even requested that the ref ask Hibbert if he committed the foul, saying "Ask him. When the ref obliged, Hibbert responded with a not-so-surprising look of bewilderment. Does an NBA player ever commit a foul? The only one I can think who hasn't is Rasheed Wallace.
  • I don't know what it is about Duke graduates, but I cringe every time I see one. It was like an epidemic today with Dunleavy, Josh McRoberts and Dahntay Jones.
  • I don't think there's a better spot on the floor for Bogut than as the trailer at the top of the key. He trailed on several plays in the third quarter, received the pass at the top, and just schooled Hibbert from there. The secondary break, that's where it's at.

Final Thoughts
And another one. The Bucks avoided the letdown, the getaway and the look-ahead. Barely. They sure could've made it easier on the ol' ticker. The refs tried to give it to the Pacers, and the Bucks seemed like they were trying to give it away. Milwaukee used a huge first-half rebounding advantage, a dozen more shot attempts and a 40-17 scoring advantage off the bench.

Jerry Stackhouse and Kurt Thomas had a flashback to "the Year 2000" today. They were both looking all kinds of spry with Stackhouse pouring in 20 points in 24 minutes and Thomas chiming in with six points and nine boards in just 15 minutes. Bogut didn't shoot well from the floor, but he helped in other facets with 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks to go along with his 17 points.

Now comes the dreaded West Coast trip. That time zone has been extremely ruthless to the Bucks in the past, but they've been bucking trends for the last month plus, so hopefully they can continue to defy the odds. No lead is comfortable, as the Bucks proved this afternoon, but they extended their lead for the fifth seed to 2.5 games with the win. Here's to hoping they can put a little more distance between themselves and Charlotte, Miami, Toronto and Chicago out West.

Work hard. Play hard. Type hard.

Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.