Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Herd prepare for fresh start

Katie Pulvermacher/ Advance-Titan – Wisconsin Herd forward Glenn Robinson III speaks at media day at the Oshkosh Arena Nov. 7.

With a new general manager and head coach, the Wisconsin Herd of the NBA G League will look to compete for the Eastern Conference title when the 2023-24 season kicks off for the Herd against the Cleveland Charge on Nov. 10.

The Herd, the G League affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks, hired Beno Udrih to be the fourth head coach in team history Aug. 15, replacing Chaisson Allen at the helm of the team. In two seasons with the Herd, Allen had a 19-45 record and his winning percentage of .297 was the lowest in team history. Allen led the team to a 13th-place finish in the Eastern Conference during the 2021-22 season before guiding the Herd to a 14th-place finish in the 2022-23 campaign.

Udrih said the first few days with the team during training camp have been great.

“It is great to be home,” he said. “It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve been up here. (We have been) trying to figure things out while being in the Bucks’ training facility during most of camp, but being back (in Oshkosh) guys are super excited to be here. We had the first practice here yesterday and it went really well so I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season.”

Wisconsin named Arte Culver general manager of the team on Sept. 21, replacing Tony Bollier as the third general manager in franchise history. Culver started with the organization back in 2019 as the director of basketball operations before being promoted to assistant general manager in 2021. Prior to joining the Herd, Culver was the Director of recruiting and player personnel for Vanderbilt University from 2017-2019 and was the head coach of the Covenant College (Georgia) men’s basketball team during the 2016-17 season.

“Arte’s dedication and hard work over the past four years with the Herd make him the ideal choice to become the team’s General Manager,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said. “We want to congratulate Arte on his promotion and look forward to another exciting season in Oshkosh.”

Culver said he was really excited to be named the general manager of the Herd in his fifth season with the franchise.

“There will be some overlap in previous responsibilities but there are a lot of new challenges and a lot of new ways for me to grow,” Culver said. “I think one of the unique things about me being in this position is that both my predecessors are still active around the league. There’s still a high level of comfort for me to be able to lean on those two for advice and I think we do a great job in the Bucks organization of doing everything together.”

Udrih, a former Bucks guard from 2011-13, joins the Herd after serving as a professional NBA scout for the Atlanta Hawks last season. Udrih, from Slovenia, played 16 seasons in the NBA and won two titles with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005 and 2007. After retiring from professional basketball in 2018, Udrih became an assistant coach in the G League with the Westchester Knicks in 2020 and later became a player development coach for the New Orleans Pelicans for two seasons.

“Beno (Udrih) brings a wealth of basketball knowledge from his playing career in the NBA and internationally as well as coaching experience at the NBA and NBA G League levels,” Horst said. “Beno’s collaborative approach and passion for teaching the nuances of the game will make him a great fit for this position.”

Udrih said the main goal for the Herd is to develop players but he also wants to focus on winning games.

“I have been in this situation myself when I was a younger player and I preferred to go to the gym when we were winning,” Udrih said. “I know that if we help these guys understand that winning is important as well, not just developing, I do believe that players will come to the gym much happier and more ready to work and grow.”

Udrih and Culver will hope to help the Herd bounce back from a disappointing 2022-23 campaign where Wisconsin finished with one of the worst records in the G League, finishing 13th in the Eastern Conference with an 11-21 record.

Last season still had some high points for the Herd, with three Wisconsin players earning call-ups to the NBA. Center Ibou Badji, who returns to the Herd this season, earned a two-way contract with the Portland Trail Blazers while forward Joe Wieskamp signed a standard contract with the Toronto Raptors. Guard Lindell Wigginton, who also returns to the Herd this year, earned a two-way contract with the Bucks at the end of the 2022-23 campaign.

Culver said the constant roster changes in the G League is a challenge but it’s all about being as prepared as possible.

“We know that in the G League, change is constant,” Culver said. “I think for us, just always keeping an eye on what’s going on across both the NBA and the G league and preparing our players for that is what we need to do. I think sometimes change is internal, sometimes we’re going to have two-way players and assignments, but sometimes we’re not. I think there’s a healthy mix of staff that have been in and around the G League and I think collectively we’ll be able to lean on each other to be able to help with some of that change. It’s always tough when those roster moves happen and I think we’ll be in good shape to navigate those things.”

The two biggest additions to the Herd roster this season are forwards Glenn Robinson III and Drew Timme. Robinson III, son of former Bucks No.1 overall pick Glenn Robinson, comes to the Herd after taking nearly two years off from professional basketball. 

Robinson III, the 2017 NBA Slam Dunk Champion, was drafted 40th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2014 and has played for six different NBA franchises over a seven-year career in the league. In his last season with the Sacramento Kings in 2021, he averaged 5.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game in 23 games played.

Robinson III said his first few practices with the Herd have been great.

“Stepping back into basketball after being gone for two seasons, I knew I kind of had to up the intensity of conditioning myself to get back to this point,” he said. “If you look at my dad, he’s still like super swole, so I kind of think it’s in my blood to not lose or get completely out of shape. But just playing the game at a high speed is so different that really this preseason I’ve just been trying to find myself again in the game.”

Robinson III said the love of the game drew him back to the court.

“I felt like I wasn’t done with basketball,” he said. “I ended the 2021 season with the Kings and I really felt like I wasn’t done. With the COVID-19 year, and everything that was going on and stepping away. Coming back, I knew there was still something for me. I’m taking it day by day and I’m glad to be here with the Herd and I’m thankful for coach for giving me the opportunity. I’m loving just being back around the game because this is what I’ve been doing for my whole life.”

Timme, a consensus first team All-American in 2023, joins the Herd after going undrafted in the 2023 NBA Draft. Timme played four seasons for Gonzaga University (Washington), helping the Zags win the West Coast Conference (WCC) title every year from 2020-23. 

Timme said he’s thrilled to be a part of the Herd.

“It’s a great organization and to play for a guy like Beno (Udrih), who has been in the league and who has been through the ups and downs of everything, is awesome,” Timme said. “Beno is always pushing us in practice. It’s great to be getting coached by him but also get to talk to him and get to know his experiences that he’s been through.”

A two-time WCC Player of the Year, Timme led Gonzaga to three straight Sweet 16 appearances in the NCAA tournament from 2021-23 and helped the Zags reach the Final Four in 2021, where the Zags fell to Baylor University (Texas) in the championship game. 

Timme won the Karl Malone Award (given to the top collegiate power forward) in 2021 and is the all-time leading scorer in Gonzaga history with 2,307 points scored. In his senior season with the Zags, Timme averaged a career-high 21.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in 37 games played.

Timme said he’s constantly reminded of the ultimate goal to get an NBA call-up every day during practice.

“Seeing the banner on the wall with all the guys that have been called up to the NBA, is definitely cool to look up there and realize you can get there if you work hard enough,” he said.

Aside from Badji and Wigginton, the Herd will have four other returning players this season. Forward Alex Antetokounmpo, the younger brother of Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, returns for his second season with the Herd after averaging 5.8 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game during the 2022-23 campaign.

Forward Wenyen Gabriel comes back to the Herd for a second season hot off an appearance in the NBA Western Conference Finals last season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Gabriel earned a call-up to the Lakers during the 2021-22 season and remained with the team all of last season, helping the team to a conference finals appearance before ultimately being swept by the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets. Last year with L.A., Gabriel averaged 5.5 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game in 68 games played.

Guards Elijah Hughes and Iverson Molinar also return for their second season with the Herd after becoming key players for Wisconsin at the end of last season. In 25 games with the team last year, Hughes averaged 16.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while Molinar averaged 10.5 points and 2.5 assists per game in 22 games played.

The Herd will kick off the G League season on the road against the Cleveland Charge on Nov. 10 at the Wolstein Center at 6 p.m. Wisconsin’s home-opener is on Nov. 16 when the Herd take on the Iowa Wolves at the Oshkosh Arena at 6 p.m.

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