Udrih the latest player to speak out against Scott Skiles

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

If there’s one thing that seems glaringly obvious to me after this season covering the Milwaukee Bucks, it’s that NBA players prefer to be treated like men.

They want to know what’s going on and why they aren’t playing if they aren’t playing. It’s a matter of trust and honesty. If they’re sitting on the bench, they expect their coach to let them know why they are there and what they can do to get off of it. Without those conversations and assurances, things can get testy.

There are a few ways things can play out without that communication. A player can blow up and demand a trade, publicly or privately. A player can pack it in a bit and let his condition deteriorate. Or a player can silently stew, going about his job as unhappily as possible until he’s removed from the situation.

We’ve been fortunate enough in Milwaukee to see all three in the past year or so.

First, we had Stephen Jackson. He and Scott Skiles started off on the right foot, but Jackson’s lack of productivity and some lateness apparently did not appeal to Skiles. He was quickly benched in Milwaukee last season and was very vocal about how poorly Skiles handled the situation in his eyes. Months later, he was traded after saying he knew his situation would be taken care of soon enough. Here’s Jackson to Gery Woelfel in early January of this year:

When I asked Jackson whether he had talked to Bucks coach Scott Skiles, with whom he had a tumultuous relationship, since being dealt, Jackson looked at me incredulously and said, “Are you serious? … Are you serious?”

He then paused, raised his voice and again said, “Are you serious? No, I haven’t talked to Scott Skiles. I wish him the best.”

Samuel Dalembert handled things a bit differently when he clashed with Skiles. He stuck around and continued to support his teammates, even though he found himself suddenly out of a rotation he figured he’d play a big role in:

There was no explanation. There was no conversation. Nothing was said to me. He didn’t say, ‘Hey, this is what I want you to focus on or anything like that.’

It wasn’t just me. Other guys were going through the same thing with him, guys who have been here way before me. So you can only imagine what they were going through. For me, it was new. I never got a chance to know him or what he didn’t like about me.

The latest ex-Skiles player to come out against his former coach to a degree was Beno Udrih. The recently traded Udrih spoke to reporters in Orlando the other day and lamented a lack of opportunity, regardless of how he was performing, in Milwaukee:

He clashed with former Bucks head coach Scott Skiles. He rarely played and the fit with the Bucks was forced to say the least.

At the root of all of these problems Skiles had with players was his communication style. Less blunt and direct than you’d think and more evading and cryptic.

Let’s be honest: Udrih was never going to get many minutes in Milwaukee, especially not after Monta Ellis arrived. But perhaps there was a way to cushion his lack of playing time better. Or maybe Milwaukee could have been more flexible about not playing Ellis over 35 minutes every night regardless of how many shots he missed. Udrih was often more productive,and while he may have been less capable of offensive explosion, he was also much less likely to implode.

Typically when one player, Jackson for instance, cries foul regarding a coach, it’s easy to brush aside his complaints as those of a player who won’t take responsibility. But when more and more players come out that a coach benches them and then doesn’t explain why, it reflects poorly on that coach.

Skiles may very well be a head coach in the NBA again, but for his own good, hopefully he’ll do his best to learn from any of his mistakes in Milwaukee and figure out a communication style that can better mesh with his very bright mind for the NBA game.

Categories: Fringe Players

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  1. Unfortunately, this apparent problem with coach Skiles
    may have cost the Bucks a promising young player and
    potential star in Tobias Harris. I’m not sure that coach
    Boylan has been much different. I’ve never heard or read
    a good answer as to why Harris wasn’t playing — at most
    just vague mumblings about him needing more time to develop
    while he atrophied on the bench and possibly lost his
    confidence — as well as perhaps his enthusiasm for the team
    that drafted him in the first round and then relegated him
    to obscurity.

    All I wanted for Tobias was 15-30 minutes per game, especially
    when the team has been so mediocre and really needed a scoring
    boost in the frontcourt. By the way, in his first game with
    the Magic, in 25 minutes, Tobias’ line was something like 14 points,
    6 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Whether he succeeds or fails in the NBA,
    the point is the Bucks didn’t give him real support.

    As I’ve said before, he never got half the chance that Luc got from his very first year. Also, Brandon and Monta have been given unlimited minutes with unlimited shots and unlimited mistakes, while Tobias couldn’t get decent time to work through his inexperience and hone his talents. Apparently, Brandon and Monta can do whatever they feel like doing on the court, disrespecting coaches and neglecting teammates, and thus creating chaos, discouragement and inconsistency.
    I haven’t given up on them, but can’t tolerate them as prima donnas.

    So, it seems, this post struck a nerve with me. I hope the rest of
    this season is an audition to find players who will play hard, play smart, play together, and play to win. This means that coach Boylan
    has to assert himself as the boss while still communicating
    positively with his guys. This is the real drama, not some paltry
    8th seed in the playoffs.

    • Tobias didn’t get the chaces(minutes) Mbah a Moute got cause he couldn’t defend NBA players. He still can’t, and plays too out of control.
      Not to mention Mbah a Moute played three years at UCLA and was a developed 21/22 year old, unlike 18/19 year old Tobias with one year at Tennessee. Maybe he didn’t get chances, but Tobias wasn’t going to help us win now.

  2. I usually backed up Skiles, but unfortunately the more that comes out the more I’m happy he’s gone and wish it would have happened sooner.. You can’t go through life not communicating your issues Scottie

  3. Good post.
    BTW, listened in yesterday on 95.3 FM and 1530 AM The Score, Appleton’s BEST sports talk radio. One of the few places to hear actual Buck’s talk in this quadrant of the world. Thanks for going on Jeremy!

    • I usually listen to 107.5 in Appleton as I am a delivery driver. Do they actually talk about the bucks on 95.3? I find myself trying to pick up 620 just to hear any talk about them. All the local show on 107.5 talk about are the packers and brewers… and they aren’t even in season O.o

  4. I’m still gonna side with Skiles here.
    Dalembert just got suspended AGAIN and from the things I’ve heard I’m not really sure how he is still on the roster after the trade deadline.
    Jackson is a walking time bomb. Look how he has left the places he was at. “Are you serious(ly)” going to take SJax over Skiles?
    And can you blame Udrih? He was getting good minutes(starting) on Sacramento and comes here in a backup role.

    I may not have loved Skiles, but he was a no nonsense guy I’m siding with him over these three guts.