Bucks Diary

Sunday, June 08, 2008

How Coach Skiles might encourage the Bucks to play defense


I've been thinking about how new Bucks coach Scott Skiles will succeed in bringing real change to Milwaukee's defense when his predecessors have promised the same and utterly failed. Oddly enough, my answer may have come from someone most Wisconsinites would probably associate with football, not basketball... Packers voice Wayne Larivee.

"Oh, you'll see real changes", Larivee promised moderator Dennis Krause during a recent episode of The TW Sports Roundtable, "If Michael Redd plays defense like he did last season, he'll find himself parked on the bench for substantial segments of time."

In other words, it sounds like the Milwaukee Bucks are about to get a taste of the old "attitude adjustment" technique my Grandpa used to use on unruly patrons who made trouble in his tavern years ago.

My Grandpa was not a big man. But he was a tough man because he had to be. He worked 8 hours every day making ovens at a metal fab factory and then he managed a bar until closing time every night. That kind of grind cost him part of his finger, both of his knees, and most of his life. But it also helped him raise a family of four boys who were his life's pride and purpose until the day he died. In yiddish, the word to describe him would be "mensch".

But I always wondered how a guy his size could preserve order at a tavern by himself when the tavern's clientele were mostly war veterans (the tavern was called "The Armory K"). Once when I asked him about it he told me a technique he learned in the military.

If trouble breaks out, he said, and you don't have the manpower to put it down, what you do is you zero in on the biggest troublemaker, you take him to the ground before he has time to react, you bury your knee in the small of his back, pin his arm behind him, and then you loudly inform him of the consequences that will follow if there's any further trouble. My Grandpa told me it worked every time.

It ought to have; its based on sound logic. Dog trainers basically use the same method. If you can break the alpha dog, you can bend the entire pack to your will.

On the Bucks, the closest thing to an Alpha Dog at the moment is Michael Redd. And if necessary, I imagine Coach Skiles would be more than happy to break him. In fact, I get the distinct impression he will do whatever it takes to "encourage" the Bucks to play defense... for the first time in, literally, a generation.

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