By Jace Darling
October 11, 2013
KEY MATCHUP vs. BUCKS
Al Jefferson vs. Larry Sanders
Al Jefferson has been solid at the start of his Bobcats tenure, beginning the preseason with a seven-point, nine-rebound, two-block effort in 26 minutes on Oct. 8 against the Hawks. There’s no questioning his production when the ball is in his hands, but the key for the Cats now is to find ways to get Jefferson even more looks in the preseason so he can entrenching himself as the low post threat the Cats knew they’d have running Head Coach Steve Clifford’s four-out, one-in offense. Jefferson could have his hands full with a Milwaukee team that doesn’t give up points in the paint easily… The Bucks broke the franchise record for most blocks in a season with 550 in 2012-12, breaking their old mark by 18 blocks. Milwaukee has picked up right where it left off so far in the preseason. In their first preseason game, the Bucks set an NBA preseason record with 13 blocks on Oct. 8 in Cleveland. The biggest threat Jefferson might face could come from fourth-year pro Larry Sanders. The VCU standout shattered most of his career highs last year, including notching an astonishing 2.8 blocks… “ I haven’t really played against him much,” Jefferson admitted about being matched up with Sanders. “I think he missed a game for personal reasons (last season) and I missed the game against them because of my ankle injury. Years before though, he was young, but you could tell he had an upside on he defensive end. I’m just going to go into the game like I go into every game. I just do what I do best and try to make him adjust to me.”… This low post battle between starting centers should prove to be a great matchup. If nothing else, the big men battling down low should create open looks for both teams on the outside.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (0-1, preseason; as of Oct. 11)
After a near buzzer-beating win against Atlanta on Oct. 8 in Asheville, the Cats now are in the midst of a three-game road trip with back-to-back games Oct. 11 and Oct. 12 in Kansas City, MO against Miami before heading to Milwaukee. The trip finishes up on Oct. 15 at the Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, OH. After a game against the World Champs Friday, Clifford has his team moving in the right direction. The test tonight against Milwaukee and their brand new team and coaching staff will be a tremendous barometer for the season. Both teams are working on developing relationships as teammates, as well as new coaching philosophies. Avoiding the Bucks block party will be paramount to the success of the Cats for this matchup. Given the Bucks propensity for shot blocking, it should give Kemba Walker plenty of opportunities to crash the lane and dish to an open perimeter shooter.
SCOUTING THE BUCKS (0-2, preseason)
The Bucks are a completely different team from 2012-13. With a brand new coaching staff and a host of new players donning the Milwaukee jersey… This is the first season for Bucks Head Coach Larry Drew, who enters after compiling a 128- 102 (.557) record in three years at the helm of the Atlanta Hawks and led them to the playoffs each year… Of the 18 players on the Bucks training camp roster, only four are returning from last season. That’s 14 new faces. Prior to this year, the largest roster turnover in Bucks history was eight players in the 1997-98 season. The new faces this preseason include: Giannis Antetokounmpo (draft), Caron Butler (trade), Olek Czyz (free agent), Carlos Delfino (free agent), Stephen Graham (free agent), Brandon Knight (trade), O.J. Mayo (free agent), Trey McKinney Jones (free agent), Khris Middleton (trade), Gary Neal (free agent), Zaza Pachulia (free agent), Miroslav Raduljica (free agent), Luke Ridnour (trade) and Nate Wolters (draft). The four returning players from last season are: John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders and Ekpe Udoh.
The Cats tip off against the Bucks at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 in Milwaukee. Listen to the game on WFNZ.