Janesville25.3°

Fountain of youth fuels Bucks thus far

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Charles F. Gardner
November 9, 2009
— General manager John Hammond stressed it during the off-season.

The Milwaukee Bucks would need strong contributions from their two picks in the June draft, point guard Brandon Jennings and shooting guard Jodie Meeks.


So far, so good.


The Bucks are only five games into their season, but both players have helped the team get off to an encouraging 3-2 start.


Jennings, the 10th-overall pick in the draft, is the leading scorer among league rookies at 18.4 points per game and ranks second in assists at 4.4. He has quickly fit into a starting role and given the Bucks a much needed energy boost.


Meeks, the 41st pick, was inactive in the Bucks’ first two games. But a knee injury suffered by veteran guard Michael Redd, gave the 6-foot-4 Meeks a chance for some playing time.


The former Kentucky star took full advantage in the Bucks’ weekend victories over Minnesota and New York.


He played 19 minutes against the Timberwolves on Friday night and had six points and five rebounds, even though he struggled to hit his shots (2 of 8).


But Bucks coach Scott Skiles didn’t hesitate to insert Meeks into the game in the first quarter Saturday, and he responded with a blistering three-point performance (hitting 5 of 7 attempts) and a 19-point outing to help the Bucks rout the Knicks, 102-87.


Skiles was prophetic before the game Saturday when he said this about Meeks: “He’s one of the logical guys for us to make shots. We need to keep giving him some good looks out there.


“We feel he’s going to start knocking those down, and when he does, he’ll be valuable for us.”


Meeks’ big night helped the Bucks shoot a respectable 46.6 percent from the field, and the percentage would have been much better if they hadn’t misfired so much in the second half (32.6 percent).


“Jodie did a great job,” Bucks center Andrew Bogut said. “He’s a flat-out shooter. The good thing about him is he doesn’t hesitate. If he’s open, he’s shooting it.


“I think he’s going to be one of the steals in the draft, especially in the second round. He has a phenomenal stroke, and we’re happy to have him on our team.”


While Meeks stole the spotlight on Saturday, the 6-1 Jennings has been attracting national attention since he nearly posted a triple-double on opening night in Philadelphia.


Jennings had 17 points, four rebounds, three assists and a team-high five turnovers against the Knicks while playing 26 minutes.


“I didn’t think his intensity on the defensive end was as high as it has been in other games,” Skiles said. “I thought he was a little loose with the ball.


“Having said that, I also thought he made some good plays, particularly in the first half.”


Skiles and Jennings have been reviewing film in individual sessions after each game, with the former point guard using it as a teaching tool for his 20-year-old floor leader.


The Bucks coach has said that Jennings is a quick learner and is able to make necessary adjustments.


Before Saturday’s game, Jennings spoke with a large group of New York reporters and told them frankly he thought the Knicks would take him in the draft.


Instead they passed on him and chose power forward Jordan Hill from Arizona.


“I thought I showed them enough in the workout, one-on-one drills, pushing the ball up the floor, beating everybody up and down the court, playing defense,” Jennings said.


Charles Gardner covers the Bucks for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


“I thought I showed what I learned over in Europe (last season in the Italian League). “I tried to bring it back here (New York). Maybe it wasn’t enough.”


Jennings went against Tyreke Evans in the Knicks workout, who wound up being selected fourth overall by Sacramento.


When Jennings worked out for the Bucks, he was paired with Jonny Flynn, who was picked sixth by Minnesota.


“Draft night came, and they (the Knicks) just skipped on me,” Jennings said. “But everything happens for a reason, and I’m happy where I’m at now.”



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