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Original Issue


On the afternoon of March 1, with 26 games remaining in the
1994-95 season, the future of the Milwaukee Bucks was literally
up in the air. Glenn Robinson and Vin Baker climbed into a
two-passenger, single-engine plane and took off for West
Lafayette, Ind., where Robinson was to be presented with his
college jersey during a halftime ceremony at Purdue, his alma
mater. "I thought it was kind of interesting that there we were,
just the two of us up there," Baker says. "We were thinking,
We're trying to rebuild our team. If anything were to happen,
they'd have to start all over."

Interesting may not be the word Buck coach and vice president of
basketball operations Mike Dunleavy would use to describe the
prospect of losing his starting forwards. Dunleavy, who is
entering the fourth season of an eight-year, $8 million
contract, has already revamped the Bucks--no one from the '91-92
team is still on the roster. And for the first time since
1990-91 the Bucks, who were 34-48 last season, should make the
playoffs. "We're looking to go .500," Robinson says. "If we win
some more close games, it's a done deal."

The Bucks were one of three teams that had 37 games decided by
six points or less last year. They were 20-17 in those contests,
not bad for a club whose primary starting lineup of Robinson and
Baker at forward, Todd Day and Lee Mayberry at guard and Eric
Mobley at center averaged 23 years of age at the beginning of
the season.

Dunleavy should be given credit for maintaining a positive
dynamic on a team that could easily have been distracted by the
publicity, much of it negative, surrounding Robinson, last
year's No. 1 overall draft pick, who held out and asked for a
$100 million contract. Dunleavy maintained harmony by offering
to renegotiate with Baker, who he thought was just as important
to the franchise as Robinson. Before the start of last
season--and prior to Robinson's signing--Dunleavy added more than
$2 million in easily attainable incentive clauses to Baker's
$1.2 million base salary. And after Robinson ended his holdout
and signed a 10-year, $68 million contract two days into the
season, he and Baker became fast friends, just as Dunleavy had

Baker and Robinson emerged as the team's leaders, with Dunleavy
summoning them to his office every couple of weeks during the
season. "A few times he told us he wanted us to be intense in
practice and get everyone going, and we did it," Baker says. "It
felt good. It's like we were assuming the role of veterans."

Baker blossomed into an All-Star, producing double figures in
points and rebounds 49 times. Robinson, who led the league in
turnovers (313), got stronger as the season progressed. In April
he averaged 27.4 points and 7.0 rebounds as the Bucks won seven
of their last 11 and missed the playoffs by just one game.

Baker and Robinson will have to be the linchpins this season
because the situation at guard is once again unsettled. Neither
Eric Murdock, who started 32 games, nor Mayberry, who played
fewer minutes than Murdock despite starting 50 times, was the
answer at the point last year. And Day, the streaky shooting
guard (42.4% from the field), isn't happy with the prospect of
sharing time with 6'1" rookie Shawn Respert, a pure shooter.
"Shawn is a great player, but I see him more as a point guard
because of his size," Day says of Respert. "The 2-guard spot is
locked up."

The Bucks' biggest difficulty in '94-95 was defending the
perimeter; their opponents shot 39.5% from three-point range, a
league best. With the 6'11" Mobley likely to get most of the
minutes at center, the Buck guards will again be forced to
double-down in the low post against most teams, leaving them
vulnerable from the outside. Marty Conlon, a 6'11"
forward-center who was signed as a free agent last season,
played well coming off the bench (9.9 points and 5.2 rebounds in
25 minutes), but the Bucks still don't have a true center.

At 41, Dunleavy is only five years removed from his Buck playing
days. After practices last season, he frequently challenged and
beat Robinson at H-O-R-S-E. "I think Mike looks at it like he's
a young coach and we're young players, and he figures we're all
growing together," says Baker. As long as Baker and Robinson
keep focused--and keep their feet on the ground--the Bucks' future
will no longer be up in the air.


COLOR PHOTO: VICTOR BALDIZON/NBA PHOTOS Robinson, who became a force last year, has high hopes for the young Bucks. [Glenn Robinson]



PPG (Rank) FG% (Rank)
OFFENSE 99.3 (17) .459 (19)
DEFENSE 103.7 (18) .493 (26)


The 10-year contract to which the Bucks signed Vin Baker in 1993
has certainly not compromised his work ethic. After appearing
in all 82 regular-season games as a rookie in '93-94, Baker was
one of 14 players to start every game last season and was one of
only two men to average more than 40 minutes per game. In fact,
his average of 41 minutes per game last year was the highest in
the NBA.

1994-95 Minutes-per-Game Leaders

G Mins. Avg.
Vin Baker, Bucks 82 3,361 41.0
Dana Barros, 76ers 82 3,318 40.5
Larry Johnson, Hornets 81 3,234 39.9
Hakeem Olajuwon, Rockets 72 2,853 39.6
Clarence Weatherspoon, 76ers 76 2,991 39.4



Although no one is sure just how tall rookie guard Shawn Respert
is, the Bucks think he may be the answer to the constant
double-teaming of forwards Glenn Robinson and Vin Baker.
Respert, the 1995 Big Ten Player of the Year (and runner-up for
both the Naismith and Wooden awards) who hit 47.4% of his
three-point shots, was acquired in a draft-day trade with
Portland and signed to a three-year, $4.25 million contract. The
Detroit native's height has been listed anywhere from 6'1" (at
an NBA predraft camp) to 6'3" (at Michigan State). Either way,
Respert would be small for an NBA shooting guard. But his
scoring totals are highly impressive: Last season he averaged
25.6 points for the Spartans. And after trying him at the point
during the Bucks' preseason workouts in September, coach Mike
Dunleavy isn't concerned about which position Respert plays as
long as he can get his new long-range shooter in the game. "When
he's on the floor, somebody has to guard him," Dunleavy says.
"He's a threat we haven't had before."


STARTERS 1994-95 Key Statistics

SF Glenn Robinson 21.9 ppg 6.4 rpg 1.44 spg
PF Vin Baker 17.7 ppg 10.3 rpg 1.41 bpg
C Eric Mobley 3.9 ppg 3.3 rpg 59.1 FG%
PG Eric Murdock 13.0 ppg 6.4 apg 1.51 spg
SG Todd Day 16.0 ppg 3.9 rpg 39.0 3FG%


G Shawn Respert Rookie; 8th overall pick, from Michigan State
F-C Marty Conlon 9.9 ppg 5.2 rpg 53.2 FG%
G Lee Mayberry 5.8 ppg 3.4 apg 40.7 3FG%