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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Badger Duo Wraps Up Summer League

In each of the past two seasons, a fifth-year senior has finished off a remarkable career in a Wisconsin uniform and embarked on a journey to the NBA. One was drafted in the first round and one was not drafted at all. Yet both Alando Tucker and Brian Butch have faced similar scrutiny regarding their skills and potential to contribute on the next level after college.

In both cases, the road began in the NBA's Summer League, where both players have suited up again this year. By Sunday night, the final games were in the books for each team.

Although he has been away from the fold for over a year now, Tucker is still trying to claim a foothold in the NBA. Sent back and forth between "the association" and the D-League more times than a utility infielder in baseball, Tucker flashed scoring ability in spades against lower levels of competition, but never crack the talented Phoenix lineup with the stingy Mike D'antoni at the helm. Who knows what the Suns can expect with Terry Porter now coaching, but some hope for 'Do to finally get his break.

The summer league numbers were, once again, promising. Tucker led the Suns in scoring four out of five games, including an impressive 24 points in less than 20 minutes of playing time in a win versus the Spurs.

He is obviously not passing the ball a lot (or well enough to get assists, that is) but his shooting percentages on 3-pointers (44%) and free throws (80%) jump off the page at you, earning him the label "Mr. Efficiency" from TrueHoop. Clearly, Tucker has enhanced his already considerable drive to improve himself. He will need that drive to prove he is not a one-dimensional player.

Meanwhile, Butch faces much steeper odds this time of year after going undrafted. The silver lining, of course is that Butch can workout for multiple teams that may see a need for the big man's shooting touch. First came summer ball with "O.J. Mayo's Team" (Memphis) in Las Vegas, where Butch posted meager numbers with two DNPs sprinkled in between. After five games and just over 28 total minutes played, Butch is still looking for his first 3-point bucket.

Because Butch played for Memphis, he appears to have relinquished his spot with Atlanta in the Rocky Mountain Revue league which just started over the weekend. Butch is not on a roster for that six-day league hosted by Utah.

Other players of note in the official NBA Summer League include Kyle Weaver (Charlotte), Jonte Flowers (Detroit), former UW-Milwaukee star Clay Tucker (Cleveland), and the newest members of the Milwaukee Bucks, Joe Alexander and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

The "other" Tucker was solid for the Cavs though they lost all five games, but Flowers hardly saw the floor. Weaver's most impressive play and extended playing time came in his team's three losses.

As for Alexander, a modest start is a safe way to label his summer play so far. He showed a diversified skill set, but also suffered through a couple of tough shooting nights. It is too soon to judge him. Same goes for Mbah a Moute, whom I will refer to as LRMaM from now on. LrMaM put up some nice rebounding stats and chipped in some points as well. I hope I am wrong about that pick, especially in light of the latest "upgrades" to the Bucks roster. Who gets traded first: Mo Williams or Charlie Villanueva?

Free agent Matt Freije of Vanderbilt fame lit it up off the bench for Milwaukee's summer squad. With a glaring hole at PF for the Bucks, it's too bad the 6'10" Freije only weighs 240 and is allergic to rebounding.

: : :

- Sadly, Joe Krabbenhoft reaffirms his love of Minnesota sports [video]
- With Wisconsin scholarships full through 2010, 2011 will likely be the next big recruiting class for the Badgers. One region that is already loaded with top freshmen is Indiana. Both The Hoosier Scoop and Jody Demling comment on the rising stars, Marquis Teague in particular. Bo Ryan probably won't go into such hostile Big Ten territory, but with so many good players, he shouldn't rule it out.

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