The revamped Milwaukee Bucks and new head coach Larry Drew concluded the first week of camp this week with the Bucks annual Fun Fest on Saturday. The open practice featured scrimmages, drills, fan interaction, and much more for the over 1,000 that filled the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The day was also the first time fans got to see the new MECCA floor-inspired court played on since it was debuted last month.
Drew was pleased with his new team heading into Saturday’s event. Following a week of practice including private scrimmages on Thursday and a defensive focus on Friday, the head coach told reporters he was excited about the prospects this season. Point guard Brandon Knight echoed those thoughts, though he admitted that there were still kinks to work out for the relatively unfamiliar 19 faces in camp this year.
Larry Sanders was one of just four players on the court at Fan Fest who wore a Bucks jersey last season. He and Knight teamed up with O.J. Mayo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Caron Butler for two 12-minute scrimmages against Gary Neal, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Olek Czyk, Luke Ridnour, and John Henson to highlight the day. The ten were supported by a bench featuring the likes of Nate Wolters and Marquette’s Junior Cadougan.
Dubbed the black team, Sanders and his teammates for the day are expected to be one of the starting-line options for Drew this season. The five lost a scrimmage on Thursday to Neal’s and Antetokounmpo’s second-line, though redeemed themselves in-front of the home crowd with a 41-29 win. Knight led the game with nine points, followed by Sanders with eight.
First round draft pick Antetokounmpo put-up seven points for the white team in their unsuccessful effort against the starters. Fellow rookie Wolters led the bench with five. The pair took a break from the action to join fans in a free-throw contest during a timeout. Shooting with a teammate from the audience, the rookies kept the competition close, though Antetokounmpo and his partner narrowly won by a margin of 13-to-12.
Notable absences from Saturday’s Fan Fest included returning power forward Epke Udoh, Carlos Delfino, and Zaza Pachulia. Udoh was the only unconfirmed omission prior to Saturday, as Delfino and Pachulia were both sidelined earlier in the week. Staff for the team could only reveal that Udoh complained of soreness that morning. Former Piston forward Khris Middleton was the bright spot on the injury report Saturday, returning to participate fully despite spraining an ankle on Wednesday.