Originally written October 16, 2012 on Fox Sports Wisconsin:
ST. FRANCIS, Wis. The Milwaukee Bucks new-and-improved frontcourt has made it clear on more than one occasion whattheir goal is this season: Protect the rim at all costs. "We're going to start a block party," new center Sam Dalembert said last week, grinning. "That's my vision for the team," Larry Sanders said Monday. "No matter what combination of bigs, we'd be able to protect that rim." And last Saturday against the Pistons, the Bucks looked like they were well on their way to that goal. With 14 blocks to their name in Saturday's game, Milwaukee held Detroit to shooting just 41 percent from inside the arc, especially locking down the paint to anyone not named Andre Drummond. Sanders had five blocks. Dalembert and rookie John Henson had four. Even Marquis Daniels added one from the backcourt. It was a much-improved performance from the team's eight-block total in its preseason opener a good start to "the block party". But blocks weren't the only encouraging statistic on the defensive end. Milwaukee also forced 20 turnovers it forced 22 against the Cavaliers as well last Tuesday adding credence to the idea that the Bucks' defensive prowess may have indeed improved. That kind of significant increase in turnovers and blocks often means that the team is taking more risks on the defensive end. But coach Scott Skiles says that hasn't been the case so far. "We haven't (gambled too much) yet," Skiles said. "That's something we have to make sure we don't get suckered into being soft on the perimeter because we have bigs or gambling on the perimeter because we have better bigs. We've been pretty solid. Like I said, we're going to be tested a little bit more (on Tuesday)." For Skiles, the improvement on the defensive end, even in just two preseason games, has been a very pleasant surprise so far. And although blocks and turnovers may have been the most obvious increases on Tuesday, it was a different stat an arguably more important one that stood out the most. NBA teams often average around 25 deflections per game measuring any time a player deflects or gets his hand on the ball. Against the Pistons on Tuesday, the Bucks tallied a total much higher than the average. "We had 38 deflections the other night, and that's a lot in an NBA game," Skiles said. "That's an awful lot. So we're getting hands on balls, things like that. All those are good signs. Thirty eight is very, very high." A bigger challenge: Skiles didn't mince any words when talking about his team's Tuesday matchup in Chicago with last season's No. 1 defense. "Nothing against the two teams we've played already," Skiles said, "but the Bulls are a little different animal." Both the Cavaliers and the Pistons ranked in the bottom half of the NBA last season in most defensive categories. Chicago, on the other hand, was first in points allowed, second in opponent's field goal percentage, and first in points per game differential. Even without point guard Derrick Rose, the Bulls are a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end. It's a matchup that could certainly serve as an early measuring stick for an offense that is still developing chemistry-wise. But for forward Ersan Ilyasova, it's a matchup that the Bucks are looking forward to. "Chicago has great defense, and they're an intelligent team," Ilyasova said. "We're kind of ready for it in a way. It doesn't matter what team we play against, if we stick with the same mentality we're going to be in good shape." No roster cuts yet: For now, the training camp add-ons will remain on the roster for another game, Skiles said Monday. Although Eddie Gill, Mustapha Farrakhan, Orien Greene, and Alando Tucker haven't seen much action in the preseason so far, injuries have and may continue to give them an opportunity to remain with the roster for at least a little while longer. "We're not going to do anything yet," Skiles said. "With Doron (Lamb) still out and Luc (Mbah a Moute) out and Ekpe (Udoh) out, we feel like we need to keep as many as we can right now to be able to practice." Follow Ryan Kartje on Twitter.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Eli on Geno Smith: If fans yell at you, you probably deserve it

49ers players come out in support of Jim Harbaugh

Raiders reportedly expected to make a run at Jon Gruden

FCC unanimously ends sports blackout rule

Michael Phelps arrested for DUI

Is hiring Mack Brown a real possibility for SMU Mustangs?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

NFL: Abdullah should not have been penalized for praying

Belichick: Pats 'didn't play well enough at all' against Chiefs

Astros new manager A.J. Hinch: ‘Goal is to win championships’

Oakland Raiders fire Dennis Allen after 0-4 start

Did Roger Goodell’s bodyguard assault a photographer?

Kobe Bryant, Deron Williams engage in war of words

This weekend in NFL stupid

Kobe: Iggy Azalea has had better career than Swaggy P

College football's post-Week 5 playoff projection

Oregon to don pink-themed unis for breast cancer awareness

Is DeMarco Murray the best RB in the NFL?

WATCH: TBS sends up 'Boom Goes the Dynamite' with promo

Ilya Bryzgalov takes photos with fans while on the bench

NFL Awards: Week 4 edition

The best and worst MLB players in September

Tracking demanding career paths of all Top 25 head coaches

NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

Strahan to make cameo as stripper in 'Magic Mike' sequel

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!

This weekend in NFL stupid

Kobe chooses Iggy over Swaggy P

Raiders to make a run at Jon Gruden?

Is DeMarco Murray the NFL's best RB?

Ilya Bryzgalov takes photos with fans while on the bench

NFL Awards: Week 4 edition

Michael Phelps arrested for DUI

NFL admits error on Abdullah penalty

Best, worst MLB players in Sept.

College FB coaches, tough career paths

NFL Power Rankings: Week 4

Raiders fire Dennis Allen after 0-4 start

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

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

Company Info
Help
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.