Larry Drew was officially introduced as the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks at a press conference this morning. Both the man and his coaching philosophy/strategy highlighted the introduction, which was paramount in the decision made by General Manager John Hammond.
“We talked to coaches that coached. We talk to head coaches that he served as an assistant under. We talked to executives that he worked under. We talked to players that he coached for. In almost every single one of those conversations, almost every single person started those conversations talking about Larry Drew as the man…..and they also ended talking about the man….it makes our decision very easy. We know we have a great coach, but knowing we have a great man makes it more exciting.”
Before Drew even began talking about his coaching tactics, he acknowledged and thanked his family, Senator Herb Kohl, Hammond, and John Henson, who had changed his travel plans to be in attendance today. Drew cracked that he thought it was great that Henson “got on the coach’s side right away” by showing up.
As for the basketball side of things, Drew stressed commitment, relationships, and being on the same page.
Commitment was the buzzword of the day. Drew has had experience with rosters in flux before, with last season being his most difficult test. With nine free-agents and a coach on an expiring deal, the Hawks could have easily fallen off the tracks. Drew and his staff kept everyone on track by “forcing them to play the right way.” With the departure of Joe Johnson the previous year, the Hawks had to completely revamp their offense, and they ended up finishing this past season second in team assists.
The Bucks didn’t have that type of success offensively, but Drew isn’t concerned.
“They finished 28th in the league in field goal percentage last year,” he said. “We can improve that. That can be an easy adjustment. It’s a matter of players committing, just like my guys did in Atlanta.”
To achieve this commitment, everyone is going to have to be on the same page, which didn’t appear to be the case for the home stretch last year. This may be where Drew stood out the most.
In order to get on the same page as the players, Drew’s approach is to “recognize the player as an individual.” He definitely takes pride in establishing a strong bond between coach and player.
“When you’re on the same page, good things happen…It’ s more than running up and down a basketball court. It’s going to lunch or dinner with your player, getting out there and shooting baskets with your player, just something to form that bond with your player. It’s something that works for me. I do it because I care about these guys, not just as ball players, but as young men. These guys have to understand that I understand and believe in what I do.”
This “buddy” ideal is all well and good, but you still have to play the game. So how will Drew bring the most out of whatever roster is in place this fall?
It will begin with defining roles within the team. Drew said that he plans to sit down every player [under contract] and discuss with them what he thinks their role is on the team and will allow feedback from the players. The objective, not surprisingly, is to get on the same page with everyone individually to “put forth a product that the city can be proud of.”
Offensively, Drew is not a fan of predictability. In stretches of games last year (especially towards the end of close games), the Bucks offense would get disturbingly stagnant and predictable, and the production would suffer greatly. Under Drew, the offense will be expected to not take that form, because “when you’re predictable, you become a stationary target.” Drew expects everyone to be both committed and involved on both ends of the floor. Not everyone will be expected to produce quality numbers, but everyone will be active and a part of the scheme.
Defensively, Drew believes that the Bucks aren’t that far away from being successful. With the emergence of Larry Sanders and Henson last season, the Bucks have something to build a defense around. The key to making it consistently great is to make the necessary in-game adjustments and adapting to whatever is thrown at them. Drew said that having the most solid game plan going into the game means nothing unless you are prepared to adjust and adapt to the counter-punches. The Bucks will be prepared to use multiple defensive looks and they will be ready to adapt to whatever the situation calls for. That’s the most important aspect to his defense.
When asked about how confident he was that he could implement his styles and “winning” ways to the Bucks, Drew replied, “Oh, I’m confident. I’m over-confident [that it will work].”
Larry Drew seems convinced that he will be able to hit the ground running with this team and they will be able to make progress year by year in an effort to restore some excitement and credibility to this franchise. If Drew can handle the regular season as well as he handled his introductory press conference, he may just be the man to accomplish that tall task.