Thursday State Sports Briefs: Bucks set rotation for run to the playoffsWisconsin Sports
-- Milwaukee Bucks’ coach Scott Skiles is tightening up his rotation to try and make a final push for the playoffs.
MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee Bucks’ coach Scott Skiles is tightening up his rotation to try and make a final push for the playoffs.
Rookies Jon Leuer and Tobias Harris are staying on the end of the bench, as Skiles uses his four most productive reserves to give the starters a rest. Mike Dunleavy has become one of the NBA’s best sixth-men. He has averaged 18 points in his last 11 games, while shooting 61-percent from the floor and 55-percent from three-point range. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Beno Udrih, and Ekpe Udoh are also getting minutes off the bench. Mbah a Moute had a career night against Golden State a couple weeks ago with 22 points and 17 rebounds. Udrih has been steady. And the 6-10 Udoh tied a career-high with 10 rebounds on Tuesday night, when he started for the injured Ersan Ilyasova in Milwaukee’s home win over Atlanta.
The Bucks are two-and-a-half games behind New York for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with 16 games left. Boston has the second-to-last playoff spot with a five-game edge over Milwaukee. If the Bucks do make the post-season, they’re likely to get the eighth spot and play the NBA’s best team, Chicago, in the first round. The Bucks are off tonight. They’ll play at Cleveland tomorrow night, and will host Memphis on Saturday night.
Former UW-Green Bay women’s basketball coach Matt Bollant says he has always wanted to test himself against the best teams in the country. And he’ll have that chance, after he was named yesterday as the new coach at Illinois. His base salary has more than doubled from the $150,000 he made with the Phoenix to $330,000 in Champaign, plus performance bonuses. But Bollant says he’s more excited about coaching the blue-chip recruits he couldn’t land at Green Bay. Bollant has talked more than once about his frustrations in not convincing many of the best players to even visit Green Bay, despite the success the team has enjoyed. He mentioned it again yesterday in his introductory news conference with the Fighting Illini. He said he believes that teams must recruit well within five hours of its school – and Illinois produces talent that’s as good as anyone. There was speculation that Bollant was also a candidate for the coaching vacancy at Indiana. He led Green Bay to 31-or-more wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. And Bollant led the Phoenix to its first Sweet-16 appearance a year ago.
Former Milwaukee Bucks’ coach Don Nelson will be inducted into the Basketball Hall-of-Fame later this year. The official announcement won’t be made until Monday at the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans. But Nelson told ESPN he was informed of his selection yesterday. He called it a great honor to cap his career. The 71-year-old Nelson is the NBA’s all-time winningest coach with 13-hundred-35 regular season victories. He coached Milwaukee from 1976-through-’87. His teams won seven straight division titles, and he had an overall record with the Bucks of 540-344. Nelson also had two coaching stints with Golden State, and he also coached at Dallas. He won two of his three NBA coach-of-the-year awards with Milwaukee. Nelson also starred as a player with the Boston Celtics, where his old Number-19 is retired.
In hockey, the Milwaukee Admirals got closer to playoff contention with a 3-2 overtime win over Houston last night at the Bradley Center. Kyle Wilson scored on a power play with three-point-one seconds left in the OT. Chris Mueller and Brodie Dupont also scored for the Admirals, who moved to within two points of the eighth-and-final playoff spot in the American Hockey League’s Western Conference.