Originally written May 14, 2013 on Fox Sports Wisconsin:
ST. FRANCIS, Wis. -- Playing scared, with one eye constantly on the coach wondering if that last miss would be a ticket to the bench is no way to play basketball at a high level. Ersan Ilyasova learned that the hard way at the beginning of last season. It's no secret the Turkish forward didn't see eye-to-eye with former Bucks coach Scott Skiles, as Ilyasova just didn't respond well to Skiles' style of coaching. Nobody benefited from the coaching change more than Ilyasova, as Jim Boylan not only immediately inserted him back into the starting lineup, but more importantly played Ilyasova extended minutes throughout the course of the rest of the season. As he was able to calm his worries about minutes, Ilyasova, who will turn 26 on Wednesday, became the player the Bucks rewarded with a five-year contract after a breakout season in 2011-12. "At the beginning of the season I was not in a rhythm," Ilyasova said. "The coach changed, and I kind of found myself. It was always tough for me to make the transition." After averaging career highs with 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in 2011-12, Ilyasova was at 6.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in late November. His shooting numbers were abysmal 31.3 percent from the floor and 25.0 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. By the end of the season, Ilyasova averaged a new career-high in points at 13.2 and raised his rebounding average to 7.1 per game. He went from not being able to hit a shot at the beginning of the season to finishing in a tie with Golden State's Stephen Curry for second in 3-point field goal percentage at 45.5 percent. More importantly, Ilyasova became one of the team's leaders and cemented his place as one of Milwaukee's core players moving forward. Not one who's afraid to speak his mind, Ilyasova was clearly disappointed with how last season ended for the Bucks. Not so much with how the playoffs went, as he understood the long odds of having to face Miami in the first round, but there was frustration with how Milwaukee finished the regular season and sealed its first round date with the defending champions. The Bucks lost 15 of their last 21 games when the opportunity was there to jump out of the eighth spot in the standings. "I will say it's also about the team chemistry," Ilyasova said as to what happened at the end of the season. "We kind of started more pointing to each other. We couldn't come up together as a team and we kind of started (coming) apart a little bit. It's really frustrating because when you look at it, it's a long season and everybody tried to reach our goal as an NBA playoff team and we secured that spot and everybody started thinking about what we were going to do in the playoffs. At that time we had 10 games left and you just have to play. If we win a couple of those close games we can be in the seventh spot." Ilyasova admitted with so many free agents, the makeup of Milwaukee's roster was conducive to having struggles down the stretch and could be why the Bucks had so many games slip away late in the fourth quarter. "Sometimes when you look at our roster I know we've got a lot of free agents, maybe seven or six guys, it's a real tough spot," Ilyasova said. "You kind of always thinking about yourself than thinking about your teammates and the team and winning. You're trying to perform as best you can. It's a lot on your mind all the time and it can affect your judgment in the game. I won't say anybody (didn't do) a good job of staying focused and gave 100 percent each night." With the season behind him, Ilyasova plans to take a month off from basketball before getting going with summer workouts in Milwaukee. He'll play in the FIBA European Basketball Championships in September, joining forces with Rockets center Omer Asik and former NBA player Semih Erdan to try and help Turkey advance. "For us it's really important," Ilyasova said. "We have to qualify for the World Championship. We are looking for a new coach right now. We have a good team. It's going to be a really important tournament for us. We've kind of always come close to being in the final. We've kind of always let it slip away." There will be another big challenge facing Ilyasova when training camp hits next fall, as he'll have to adapt to yet another head coach. This time around, he's more confident to face the challenge head on. "Every year I kind of go through the same thing," Ilyasova said. "Even last year at the beginning of the year I didn't play much. I tried to do my best, and I think I did a good job this season." Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter.

Tom Brady defends not congratulating Garoppolo on TD

Ohio State student who ran on field loses full scholarship

Report: Carson Palmer's nerve injury 'still lingering'

Adam Dunn to retire after 14-year MLB career

Ryan Lochte: Phelps made dumb decision, will learn from it

Tiger Woods to open restaurant in Florida next year


Royals beat A's in extras, win first playoff game since '85

Mark Davis: Raiders head coaching job will be 'enticing'

Fan on Craigslist offers Nats playoff tickets for threesome

Brady snubs rookie Garoppolo after touchdown pass

Cung Le suspended for failed HGH test

FCC Chairman: Washington nickname 'inappropriate today'

The best games on the NFL slate in Week 5

Aaron Rodgers says smoking gesture a tribute to Jay Cutler

What will the A’s look like in 2015?

Major League Baseball's 2014 All-Disappointment Team

Jeter introduces 'The Players Tribune,' 'The Voice of the Game'

Grading each NFL's team's play at quarter-season mark

MLB.com posts wrong story saying A's won game

WATCH: Brett Favre in new nose hair trimmer commercial

WATCH: Michigan students protest, call for AD to be fired

Marlins president: We're not trading Giancarlo Stanton

Heckling Knicks fan suing team over ejection

This weekend in NFL stupid

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

What will the A’s look like in 2015?

All-Disappointment Team in MLB

Ryan Lochte: Phelps made dumb decision

WATCH: Brett Favre in new commercial

Brady snubs rookie after TD pass

FCC: Washington nickname 'inappropriate today'

Could Jon Gruden return to Oakland?

Marlins: We're not trading Stanton

Study: 76 of 79 deceased NFL players had CTE

Heckling fan sues Knicks over ejection

Sparano to step in as Raiders head coach

This weekend in NFL stupid

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.