By Emmett Prosser Special to Published Oct 31, 2009 at 5:15 AM

Yes, I understand that Wisconsin sports fanatics can't wait until Sunday.

I get that more than a few of you would rather put the Halloween candy in a giant Brett Favre purple piñata and tell the kids to swing away at No. 4!

But, what about the day before the anti-Favre game begins? What about the many calendar dates after?

Did anybody notice that basketball season started last night?

After five straight last-place finishes, it's slightly understandable if some of you have lost interest in the Bucks. But in case you didn't bother to notice, general manager John Hammond turned over more than half of the roster. He's trying to give local hoops fans some hope.

The Bucks' home opener is tonight against the Detroit Pistons, Here are five reasons to keep an eye on Scott Skiles' bunch this season:

Pointing in a new direction

He's almost as diminutive as his idol, Allen Iverson, but rookie point guard Brandon Jennings also carries a similar confidence when he takes the floor. The Bucks sorely need a player with that kind of bounce and swagger to win back the local pro basketball fan and Jennings has the roadrunner quickness and flashy skill set that fans will pay to see.

Jennings skipped college hoops and played a year of pro ball in Italy before being drafted in the first round by the Bucks in June. He'll go through obvious growing pains at both ends of the floor and his perimeter shot needs some work, but he has the tools needed to succeed at the most critical position on the floor. All he did in his NBA debut was score 17 points, grab nine rebounds and dish out nine assists. Assuming Jennings stays healthy, he's going to make a number of offensive possessions a lot more fun to watch.

The Return of Redd

After missing the majority of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Michael Redd returns to anchor an offense that averaged just 99.3 points a game last year.

With seven new players and three new starters, Redd will probably have to make some adjustments and move without the ball more, but with a healthy Andrew Bogut and a rookie point guard looking to turn heads in a hurry, Redd's ability as a pure scorer won't suffer. Expect at least 20-plus points per game from the veteran shooting guard.

A Better Bench

Sixth man Hakim Warrick should become a crowd favorite in a hurry. Warrick runs the floor, blocks shots and has the ability to play the game above the rim. His 104 dunks last season are 53 more than any player on the 2008-09 Bucks.

His skill-set is similar to former Bucks favorite Desmond Mason and he'll be counted on to play a similar role. The Bucks need Warrick to contest shots, rebound and get easy baskets when Jennings pushes the ball in transition.

Most Bucks fans probably aren't familiar with long-distance specialist Carlos Delfino. The Argentinean sharpshooter made 15 of 38 three-point attempts in the preseason and has shot better than 35% from the arc during his career.

Delfino is one of seven international players on the Bucks' current roster...another is Ersan Illyasova, who returns after two years in Spain to provide additional perimeter scoring.

More Double-Doubles

If the Bucks are going to rise up from the basement in the Central Division, Skiles needs a full season out of center Andrew Bogut. Though he shot 57.7 percent from the floor and averaged a double-double in points and rebounds last season, Bogut missed 46 games.

Assuming Bogut can stay healthy, he'll provide the consistent front court presence needed to win close games.

Fifteen-year veteran Kurt Thomas adds some physicality and needed leadership on a young team. The versatility and athleticism of Warrick should also help take some of the scoring load off of the Bucks' backcourt.

A New Look

Only four NBA teams have more new players than the Bucks. The Bucks haven't made the playoffs in a while, so a shakeup is welcomed by all. General Manager John Hammond has seven new faces on the 2009-'10 roster, in part because he's attempting to clear salary cap space for the future. Considering the club has finished last in its division for five straight seasons, how can change not be good?


Emmett Prosser Special to

Emmett Prosser is a former sports producer at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online and has covered the Brewers, Bucks and Marquette basketball in many capacities for 13 years.

Prosser also signed a year's worth of 10-day contracts with the Cleveland Cavaliers' media relations department after graduating from Xavier University so he could get three-point shooting tips from NBA great Mark Price. The son of an English teacher and former basketball coach, Prosser attended Marquette high school.

In his spare time, Prosser enjoys live music and fooling people into making them believe he can play the drums. He also serves on the board of directiors for United Cerebral Palsy.