One can only imagine what could have happened if the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t wait so long to change head coaches.
After four mostly underachieving and problematic seasons in which internal strife reigned, the Bucks finally jettisoned Scott Skiles two weeks ago.
Since then, the Bucks, under new coach Jim Boylan, have flourished. They have gone 5-2 and are coming off a rare successful trip in which they won three games. That hasn’t occurred since 2001 when the Bucks barely missed advancing to the NBA Finals. That recent trip also included a long-overdue victory over the Suns in Phoenix, something that hadn’t been done since Feb. 21, 1987.
Not only are the Bucks winning under Boylan, they’re winning with a flair. In the seven games with Boylan at the helm, the Bucks averaged 100 points. They scored 104 or more points on four occasions.
Winning has already cured a lot of the Bucks’ ailments, not the least of which was a dour locker room.
“He’s done a really good job,” Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova said of Boylan. “When you look at our record from the point when he became head coach, we play more together, we share the ball well. ... We’re finally finding our rhythm.”
You can’t change a tiger’s stripes
Some people got a good handle on the real Lance Armstrong a long time ago as the following snippet from the Colorado Springs (Colo.) Gazette shows:
In the late 1980s, when Lance Armstrong was 17 years old, he happened to stop in at Criterium Bicycles in Colorado Springs. Brian Gravestock was a mechanic at the shop at the time, and he’ll never forget meeting Armstrong.
“In 30 years as a bike mechanic, I’ve never met anyone as rude as him,” said Gravestock, now in his 50s. “When he became famous, I thought, ‘I met that guy, and he’s a real jerk-off.’ “
Erin Mirabella, a two-time Olympic cyclist from Racine, was also quoted in the Gazette article, saying, “Cycling is a very dirty sport. There’s a reason I’m not going to encourage my three kids to go into cycling.”
Armstrong finally fessed up last week to being a long-time doper. While Armstrong was apologetic, that hardly exonerated him in the court of public opinion.
Said Mirabella in the same Gazette article: “He defrauded everybody. I don’t think a slap on the wrist is enough.”
And the Packers select ...
... Center Travis Frederick of the University of Wisconsin. At least that’s who Gil Brandt, a senior analyst for NFL.com and former architect of the great Dallas Cowboys teams of the ‘60s and ’70s, predicts the Packers will choose with the 26th overall pick in the April 25 NFL draft.
Brandt’s prediction makes sense as the behemoth Frederick — he’s 6-foot-4 and weighs 338 pounds — would fill a glaring void on the offensive line.
Brandt, by the way, has the Chicago Bears taking tight end Zach Ertz of Stanford with the 20th pick. Again, the pick makes all the sense in the world, meaning the Bears won’t take him.
Some kind of speech
Wisconsin came up short in the Rose Bowl against Stanford, but there’s no doubt interim coach Barry Alvarez had his minions ready to play.
When asked about Alvarez’s pre-game speech, Michael Trotter, a UW reserve safety from Wind Point, said, “Oh, my god, it was unbelievable. He was screaming for like two minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was amazing.”
Gery Woelfel is a sports reporter for The Journal Times. Gery can be reached by calling (262) 631-1713 or by email at email@example.com