Bucks’ Skiles: Until Rose returns, it’s Hinrich’s show


Oct 16

The last time the Bucks saw the Bulls, Derrick Rose was putting the finishing touches on a 30-point, 11-assist night by draining a 20-foot jumper at the buzzer to give Chicago a 106-104 victory in Milwaukee.

It was Chicago’s fourth victory in as many meetings last season and eighth overall in the series.

“He keeps the constant pressure on you defensively with his penetration,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said on Tuesday of Rose. “Now, he’s an improving three-point shooter so you’ve got to be concerned out there as well. His strength, finishing at the rim, his athleticism… it’s easy to say, ‘Don’t give a guy a three-point play. Foul him hard.’ But he’s a little LeBron-like. He goes in there and he’s so strong.”

While the good news for Skiles and the Bucks—and the rest of the Eastern Conference, for that matter—is that Rose remains sidelined while he rehabs his left knee, the bad news is the Bulls still have an extremely formidable starter at point guard in Kirk Hinrich.

Scott Skiles and Kirk Hinrich“Kirk is keeping the tempo up,” said Skiles. “If Derrick Rose is out, you’ve got a pretty good guy there playing for him.”

Skiles and Hinrich have plenty of history between them, dating back to when Skiles was hired as the 15th coach in Bulls franchise history on Nov. 28, 2003. Factor in that the Bucks were in search of another guard this past summer, and it comes as no surprise that the two talked “at length” on a couple occasions regarding Hinrich’s free agency decision.

“I love Kirk,” said Skiles. “He played hard and very well for me. We have a good relationship. But we weren’t dangling a starting job. With Derrick out, it’s kind of Kirk’s show right now.”

When Skiles took over for the Bulls nearly a decade ago, the team was 4-12 and change was needed. Enter Hinrich, only a rookie that season, who came up big.

“He was incredibly helpful in trying to develop some sort of defensive philosophy because he’s a very, very good defender,” said Skiles of Hinrich. “Luol [Deng] was a young player, but becoming a better defender. Then we had [Andrés] Nocioni and he was a tough, hard-nosed guy. We had some bigs in Antonio Davis, but Kirk was kind of the key to all of that. He was a young player, but a very, very good defender who played with energy and effort.”

Though Hinrich has endured his share of health issues the last two seasons, he’s back playing at a high level once again with averages of 11.3 points and 6.0 assists in 27.7 minutes per game through three preseason contests.

“He looks good now,” Skiles said of Hinrich. “I’ve watched him and he’s playing with a lot of energy. He looks like Kirk. You can’t always control being injured. I’m sure he feels much more comfortable. He’s back in a place he’s familiar with and playing with a couple guys that he played with before. So I’m sure he’s happy about it.”

Bucks big men will be tested vs. Bulls

As the Bulls and Bucks prepared to square off Tuesday at the United Center, Skiles said he believes that one key for his team will be how his big men measure up against the Bulls, specifically with respect to rebounding the basketball.

“The Bulls have killed us on the board,” Skiles stated following his team’s morning shootaround. “And they do a lot of people. That’s one of their biggest strengths. Jo [Noah] is on the board, [Taj] Gibson is on the board, Lu [Deng] gets on the offensive board. They’re hard enough to stop anyway. If you stop them and they get on the [offensive] board, you can’t win.”

In March, the Bucks dealt former franchise player, center Andrew Bogut, along with Stephen Jackson to the Golden State Warriors in return for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown. This season, the trio of Samuel Dalembert, Joel Przybilla and John Henson will attempt to provide Milwaukee with something it lacked most of last season as Bogut battled injuries before being traded—much-needed size to patrol the paint.

Skiles acknowledged facing the Bulls frontline represents a big challenge, adding it will provide him with a better gauge on their newly acquired length.

“It’s a trademark of their team,” Skiles said of the Bulls’ ability to rebound on the offensive end of the floor. “When Rose was playing, and now Kirk, they’d get penetration, help comes and a shot goes up. Then those guys fly to the board. It’s got to be a point of emphasis to get our guys in there.”

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