(I took the above picture, which centers Yi among his new teammates during warmups.)
“I’d be very surprised if a team outworks us this year.”
Those were the words from coach Larry Krystkowiak that preceded the team’s open scrimmage, which occurred on October 6 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
The intra-squad scrimmage divided the players into teams called Team Black and Team Grey. Here are the teams, with the starting fives listed first.
Team Black defeated Team Grey 77-64 in the game, which featured eight-minute quarters. Despite appearing evenly matched on paper, Team Black cruised to victory after building a 24-13 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Here are five observations:
- Yi tallied ten points overall. Unofficially, by my count, he shot 4-9 from the field and 2-3 from the free-throw line, and grabbed five rebounds. He started the game slowly, struggling to find any rhythm offensively in the first half. Worse, he had no answers defensively while matched up against an aggressive Bogut, whose twelve first-quarter points almost matched Team Grey’s output. Yi did break loose for a two-handed dunk in the second quarter, but didn’t really get on track until an intermission activity which preceded the fourth quarter. Teamed with a group of kids who slowly made the necessary layup, free-throw, and three-pointer, Yi floated a perfect shot from half-court into the basket in his first attempt. The crowd erupted, Yi smiled, and more importantly, he loosened up, setting up a smooth final quarter. His fourth quarter highlights included a pretty jumper, attacking the basket for an and-one, and a post up, spin, and successful shot over Williams.
- As noted in the Yi recap, Bogut set the tone early, attacking the basket with authority. He led all scorers with 24 points in the game. He looked and played like the most focused guy in the building. Aside from picking up an offensive foul after attempting to run the point on a fast break in the third quarter, he couldn’t do much wrong. In fitting fashion, Bogut emphatically rejected a shot from Yi at the buzzer to conclude his authoritative game.
- Williams and Bell started as opposing point guards, and while Ivey started at the two alongside Williams, he also got some run at the point. Ivey only scored five points, but looked composed with the ball in his hands, delivering mostly on-point passes. His active hands defensively also stood out on a team that still appears more offensively-focused. Sessions also got minutes at the point and appeared a little more hesitant than Ivey at times, getting caught up in the air and turning the ball over at one point. But he showed quickness with the ball and an impressive jolt of athleticism in throwing down a nice dunk in the second quarter.
- Villanueva certainly didn’t overly impress, causing a little reason for concern considering he’s one of the big boys coming off an injury. He didn’t distinguish himself at all in an out-of-sync first half. Like Yi, he looked a little more comfortable in the second half but finished with just seven points. On the other hand, Gadzuric was pretty active for his standards, notching nine points. Simmons neither stood out nor disappointed.
- Redd (17 points), Mason (14 points), and Williams (13 points) played as well you'd expect. Mason didn't take long to remind Milwaukeeans of his open-court prowess and Redd's first-minute three-pointer also reinforced his best attribute. Bell, while not getting Yi-level attention, remains a fan favorite, at least based on the player introductions. And that is a good sign that the eventful/ridiculous offseason is behind us and the real season in front of us.