Skiles Coaching Philosophy Changing?


by Andrew Coughlin

In the temple that Scott Skiles built, the mantra has always been: Defense, defense, more defense, lots of hustle and then defense.

98, 97, 104,119,105,105, 115, 120, 116 and 91.  These are the points scored by the Bucks in their last ten games.  Milwaukee went 7 - 3 during that ten game stretch.  They had a six-game win streak beore finally losing to the Boston Celtics the other night. 

Usually coaches don't change their coaching style because of their players, players are the ones adjusting to their coaches.

Are we seeing Skiles changing his coaching tactics due to the personnel he has at his disposal?

I think we are.

Wedged in there were a 22 point beat down of the Golden State Warriors and a 29 point pounding against the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Those games come on the heals of that big trade that sent Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson to Golden State and brought Monta Ellis and Epke Udoh to Milwaukee.

Udoh is a nice addition to Skiles' defensive minded squad, but Ellis is a scorer who will play defense when he wants to.  I'm not sure Skiles had him out on the floor the past few nights as  a defensive stopper. 

Ellis and PG Brandon Jennings will learn how to play with each other.  A rhythm in the backcourt should be established, but it will definitely take a few weeks for these two guys to become comfortable with each other.  However, Skiles has already made sure that these two smaller guards have had their share of minutes together without even hesitating about the defensive liability they might be.

Moving forward, Skiles knows that the backcourt he now has could cause matchup problems for other teams to defend and I think the coach is placating his defensive minded style based on the players he now has inherited.

"We're taking early shots if they present themselves. Hopefully we might even get a little bit quicker. Certainly, Monta is very quick," Skiles said.  "Hopefully we can continue to play in that style, move the ball around and cause people problems."

This all came about long before the Bucks acquired Ellis.  Bogut has been lost now for quite some time and Skiles has adjusted beautifully, bringing this team to a 21-25 record; just 4 games under .500 and 1 1/2 games within the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks are giving up 98.4 points/game, good for 23rd in the NBA.  Not exactly a lockdown defense.  What is surprising to see is that Milwaukee is 9th in the NBA in points/game at 97.8 and 3rd overall in assists/game at 23.0.

The assists stat shouldn't be surprising to anyone who's been watching lately, because this team shares the ball refreshingly well.  There is not one guy out on the court with a "I'm gonna fill my stat line tonight" kind of attitude. 

"Everybody's out there having fun, sharing the ball, and everybody's on the same page trying to get some wins," Ellis said. "That's all that matters to us."

The ball gets worked around until the open shooter is found which is establishing a chemistry and flowing style of basketball that is helping this team compete night-in-and-night-out.

And coach Skiles certainly likes the offense that is coming from all of those passes, even though he knows that defense may sometimes be the sacrificial lamb.


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