By Drew Olson Special to Published Feb 17, 2007 at 5:46 AM Photography: Allen Fredrickson

The easy thing to do these days is scream from the rooftop and implore the Bucks to fire coach Terry Stotts.

Many people are calling for general manager Larry Harris to do that, especially after a somewhat humiliating loss Wednesday night in Boston, but it appears that Stotts is going to survive the all-star break and be on the bench when the season resumes Tuesday night at the Bradley Center.

Considering the situation, that's not a major surprise.

Most of the people who follow the Bucks have come to believe that Harris did not hire Stotts and doesn't have the authority to fire him. That power rests with the team's owner, Sen. Herb Kohl. Although he cuts a shadowy figure who doesn't seek the spotlight like Dallas icons Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban, Kohl exerts as much influence over the proceedings as any other owner in pro sports.

Though he's surely frustrated by Kohl's approach at times, Harris knows how the system works. He watched his father coach in the organization and learned all the ins and outs as he worked his way from the video room to the big office. Once inside, his "Moneyball" skills for identifying and cultivating underappreciated talent helped speed the franchise's rebuilding process to a point where this team could simultaneously be on the brink of the draft lottery and be just two years away from being championship-caliber.

But, that's a small consolation when you've lost 19 of 22 and the wolves are howling outside your office.

As he basks in the glamorous excess of the All-Star festivities this weekend in Las Vegas, Harris can console himself that things are going to get better soon. Michael Redd, whose knee injury was a major catalyst in the team's dreadful run, is slated to return on Tuesday. It will be amazing to see how much smarter Stotts looks with his best player back on the court instead of modeling suits on the bench.

Now, if Redd gets back to full strength and the losing continues, Kohl may decide that it's time to make a change. If that time comes, it should be for one reason and one reason only.

It should not be to "send a message to fans." That's crap. Firing Stotts and installing an interim coach will generate headlines for two days but it won't sell any additional tickets.

It should not be to "wake up the team." When Michael Redd comes back and starts scoring 27 points a game, the team will look livelier than it has in recent weeks. Trust me on that one.

The only reason to fire Stotts before the end of this season is if the Bucks want to consider hiring Larry Krystkowiak as his replacement. If Krystkowiak is going to get a chance, it would make sense to let him take over the team now and see how he runs the team, organizes practice, handles in-game adjustments, etc.

When you consider the injuries that this team has endured and the fact that a handful of key players are in their "walk" years and need to put up numbers to earn more lucrative deals for next season, it's unlikely that Red Auerbach, Larry Costello, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson or any other coach could charge up the paddles and rescue this season.

The Bucks are playing for the future. And, they have 29 games to decide whether Stotts is the man they want guiding them into it. Stotts took the team to the playoffs last season. He kept the team together and playing reasonably hard through several injury-plagued months. He's earned the right to finish this year and see if he can cure this somewhat selfish group of its defensive allergies and month-long malaise.

Most important, Stotts deserves a chance to determine, once and for all, whether Andrew Bogut is a cornerstone player or a coach-killer. When the Bucks find out the answer to that question, the other ones facing the franchise might not seem as difficult as they do today.

Here are some other points to ponder on this Saturday:

This is shaping up to be a special spring for basketball fans at Wisconsin and Marquette, but there is one thing that should worry supporters of both teams: free throw shooting. The Badgers are shooting 69 percent from the line and the Golden Eagles are at 64. The tone is set by the stars; Wisconsin's Alando Tucker is shooting 65 percent, while Marquette's Dominic James is shooting 64 percent.

A rumor floated in the St. Paul Pioneer Press states that Marquette coach Tom Crean could be a candidate to replace Pat Riley as coach of the Heat, which would reunite him with former Golden Eagles star Dwyane Wade. Of all the Crean rumors that have spread over the past few years, this one seems to be the most plausible. But, I still doubt that it's going to happen.

You can tell that Brewers manager Ned Yost is itching to get the season started. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training today and will undergo physicals and have their first workout on Sunday, which means that Ned and the gang will be on the field during the Daytona 500.

Outside of the NCAA Tournament, the NASCAR pool / fantasy leagues are one of the bigger diversions in the Brewers clubhouse during spring training.

Brewers lefty Chris Capuano joined Dodgers outfielder Marlon Anderson and Rockies pitcher La Troy Hawkins earlier this week in New Orleans, where they presented a $1 million check from the Major League Baseball Players Trust to the Volunteers of America, which will use the money for the Gulf Rental Housing Development Fund. They're trying to create more than 1,000 affordable housing units for working families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

It must be baseball season: Kerry Wood is hurt. The Cubs bad-luck right-hander is out for a few days because - we're not making this up - he hurt himself when he slipped and fell while exiting the hot tub of his home in Paradise Valley, Ariz.

We don't know whether he was being gracious or stupid, but it sure was strange that Keith Foulke decided to retire from the Cleveland Indians camp on Friday. Foulke, 34, said that his arm wasn't responding and that he wouldn't be able to perform up to the club's expectations. Had Foulke entered camp and claimed that his arm was hurt, he could have collected a $5 million salary. Instead, he let the Indians keep their money and see if Joe Borowski can close games. If Scott Boras was dead, he'd be turning over in his grave.

We're not sure if all these rules violations are good or bad for the sport. But, they're creating some interest. If Matt Kenseth loses the title by 50 points this year, people will remember that illegal hole in the wheel well. A lot of people are wondering about the size of the fines and the fact that it's the crew chiefs and not the drivers who are suspended. That kind of drives home the fact that the drivers are the stars.

Former NBA star Scottie Pippen is talking about making a comeback at age 41. You wonder what he misses most: the practice, the games, the Ritz-Carltons or being interviewed by Ahmad Rashad. Maybe Brett Favre should talk to him the next time he's debating whether to come back for another season.

It was a nice gesture by Wauwatosa East to retire the jerseys of former stars Tony Smith (34) and Devin Harris (20). It was also nice that Mavericks coach Avery Johnson attended the ceremony. The Red Raiders may honor Jerry Smith, who will play for Louisville tonight against Marquette, in a future ceremony. Smith also wore No. 34 at East.

Fans of the Admirals should be thrilled that parent club Nashville acquired Peter Forsberg from Philadelphia. If Forsberg remains healthy and performs, the Predators will be tough to beat in the Western Conference.

"I thought they were the best team already," ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose told the Nashville Tennessean. "For some reason, the Ducks have fallen off their game. Buffalo is beat up right now. Detroit is playing very well. But Nashville doesn't have any weaknesses.

"They've got great special teams, they've got depth, they've got good defense, they've got two good goaltenders and now you add the best two-way hockey player in the world. Definitely they're the favorite. Without a doubt they're the lead dog now."


Drew Olson Special to

Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.