Bucks veterans echo coach’s disappointment
Bogut, Jennings, Delfino review frustrating season
By Truman Reed
“Obviously it was frustrating,” Andrew Bogut said. “It’s a losing season, so there’s not one guy on this team who would say it wasn’t frustrating."
In his review of the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2010-11 season, Head Coach Scott Skiles made no excuses.
And Skiles made it loud and clear that despite any circumstances that were responsible for it and beyond any silver linings anyone may have found in it, that season was a disappointment.
And he would strongly disagree with anyone who felt otherwise.
“Unless you’re the type of person who has an incredibly low bar,” Skiles said. “This has been a poor season.”
Fortunately, three players who were key components in the Bucks most successful season of Skiles’ tenure prefer to set the bar high, too. And after helping steer the team into the NBA Playoffs for the first time in four years in 2010, they, too, expressed their disappointment with the team’s ensuing campaign of 35-47.
Of the three, Andrew Bogut has been with the Bucks the longest – six seasons.
Bogut was unable to play in the final six games of the regular-season and the seven-game opening-round playoff series with Atlanta after sustaining multiple injuries to his right arm during an April 3, 2010 game against Phoenix.
When Bogut returned for training camp about six months later, he was excited at the prospect of the Bucks getting back to the playoffs and hopefully advancing past the first round.
So the results of the 2010-11 season were deeply disappointing to him.
“Obviously it was frustrating,” Bogut said. “It’s a losing season, so there’s not one guy on this team who would say it wasn’t frustrating. From the team’s standpoint, we had expectations we didn’t live up to, but if you’re playing professional sports and you want to make the playoffs and you don’t have a winning season, you should be disappointed no matter how good or bad your roster is.”
Bogut missed 17 games of the 2010-11 season due to injuries, so he wasn’t always personally capable of doing something to right the team’s wrongs.
Neither was Carlos Delfino, who had an enormous impact during the team’s 2010 drive to the playoffs. Delfino missed 32 games this season, most while recovering in seclusion from an early-season concussion.
Like Bogut, though, Delfino made it clear that what Milwaukee’s 2009-10 season did not sit well with him – and many others in the organization.
“It was a difficult season for everyone,” Delfino said. “Everyone – from the top, from the general manager, to the ball boys – to everyone. We had injuries. We were expecting much more, trying to get to the playoffs and do better than last season.
“We’re not playing in the playoffs. I guess no one’s happy. We are frustrated about it.”
Second-year point guard Brandon Jennings, who averaged a team-best 18.7 points per game as a rookie during Milwaukee’s seven-game playoff foray in 2010, was forced to the sideline by injury for the first time in his career when he broke a bone in his left foot during the Bucks’ December 18, 2010 game against the Utah Jazz.
Jennings wound up missing a total of 19 games in his sophomore NBA season.
“Well it was my first injury so that was something I had to deal with mentally,” Jennings said. “Of course it was tough for me, but it’s a learning experience.
“This year, we just seemed like we couldn’t get over that hump. That was the most disappointing thing.”
Jennings expressed frustration at the many scoring droughts the team experienced. The Bucks wound up last in the league in scoring and field-goal percentage.
“I feel like we executed but we’d get into a slump where we just couldn’t score and it kept happening consistently,” he said. “That was the only frustrating thing about it.”
Bogut, who was coming off the best statistical season of his professional career and a third-team all-NBA selection, found it difficult to cope with the fact that his injured arm rendered him unable to improve upon or even duplicate that form during 2010-11.
“It was so up and down,” Bogut said. “The more games we had in short periods of time, by the end of a long trip – seven or eight games – my arm felt like jelly. I had no feeling whatsoever in my arm. The couple times that we had four or five days off between games or two games in seven days, it felt much better, but the reality of the NBA is you
“It was the worst I shot from the free-throw line in my career. I missed a lot of layups, a lot of easy hoops that I usually make with my right hand. It was probably the most frustrating part and it’s always on you mentally, then you’re not as aggressive offensively. I had games where I had three or four points for the whole game. That was something I was trying to work through this season and it really frustrated me.”
Delfino didn’t use the Bucks’ assortment of injuries as an excuse, but he did acknowledge the toll it took on the team.
“We had many injuries and we missed many games,” he said. “I was talking to Drew Gooden –about how we played maybe 10, 15 games together. We need the chemistry on the court. We’ve been talking about chemistry this season. You have the get the chemistry playing and working together and spending time together on the court and at the practice facility, and we didn’t have the chance.
“When you talk about justifications and this season and what went wrong and what was good, of course, the injuries are the first thing. With that comes chemistry among other things.”
Jennings and Delfino addressed the dramatic transformation the Bucks need to make to get where they want to go in 2011-12 and beyond.
“My personal goal for next year is to lead this team and be a top-five team in the Eastern Conference, being a better person, a better teammate, come back stronger, better,” Jennings said. “I really got inspired by Derrick Rose and the way he’s been playing this year so my main thing is working in the offseason and working hard.”
Delfino, the consummate team player, realizes Milwaukee will only achieve its goals through teamwork on everyone’s part.
“We have to work as individuals to give a push or a hand to the rest of the team,” he said. “We need to spend more time together working on the court.
“We have talent; we feel like we should have been a much better team than what the numbers say.”