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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Milano is Fashion, Cantu is Devotion

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“Desio is really crazy. It’s difficult not to believe that anything is possible there. A group of players where some seemed like they were close to retirement at first glance, did some incredible things out there — and had Basile’s shot fallen in, maybe they would be going to Istanbul.

It is not easy to understand Cantu’s roadmap. You can easily see how Galatasaray built the sub-parts of their structure in their philosophy but it is not that easy for Cantu. They can come up with different things each game, putting new cards on the table. This way, they did not allow any of their opponents to play their desired game and showed a new way of winning by taking them down to their own level. They had high standards on the fundamental subjects such as spacing, help defense, ball movement but these are still not enough to explain their success. I think Cantu has an awareness that we have not seen in the Euroleague for years. Everybody is aware of what’s going on on the court. They have players who know how to find an open shot in a difficult situation, how to get into good position immediately and who can kill the psychology of their opponents in a way the defense did not see it coming. Also, the system on the court looks very complicated but in a season with several newcomers, late arrivals can act like they have been there for years as soon as they arrive. Shermadini, for instance, who was not found strong enough by Obradovic at Panathinaikos, caused troubles for everyone with his big body. What’s more, it is usually expected for a coach to interfere frequently, but a simple signal from Trinchieri is enough to make the type of necessary transition that would be considered a very radical change for other teams. Maybe even this anecdote explains how ready they are for different situations. Even if the Lele Molin factor explains some things, reminding an Ettore Messina style which makes difference with optimization of the every corner of the system; it is still not enough to explain brilliantly designed and applied plays in critical moments. Cantu was quite different than a profile which gives hard times to the elite teams by battling hard. I can’t think of another team who deserves the underdog term as much as them for a long time in European basketball.” (Link)

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Written by CT

February 22nd, 2013 at 6:43 pm

The big interview: Joan Plaza on why Žalgiris is back in business, recruiting methods and dealing with goals & pressure

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Çağrı Turhan, who conducted interviews with Emir Alkaş and Oktay Mahmuti in past months, sat down for an exclusive with Žalgiris’ man of the moment Joan Plaza before last week’s top clash versus Anadolu Efes in Istanbul.

This season in the Euroleague, it is very difficult not to talk about the dramatic change Žalgiris has gone through since you took over. What is the most important aspect you changed in Kaunas: The “mentality”, as you mentioned several times?

We changed mentally. Players used to be troubled a lot by what had happened in the previous season. They always thought they were going to lose – against Efes, Olympiacos or anybody… It is something I do not allow, wherever I am. When I coached in Spain – Joventut Badalona, Real Madrid or Sevilla – our goal even when on the road was always trying to get the win. So at a team as legendary as Žalgiris, we work a lot on our mindset, to improve our chances of winning on the road and also at home. We work on a lot of things, but that in particular.

When you signed with Žalgiris this summer, a lot of people, including myself, were shocked. A lot of people wondered how you were convinced to work for Žalgiris because everybody knows that you are strongly committed to your principles. And Žalgiris is not famous to comply with that recently.

Everybody told me I am crazy to take this challenge, true. I talked to two or three top level coaches, whom I consider the best in Europe. I also talked to a person of the Euroleague organization. Everybody told me not to go to Žalgiris. It is a big challenge for me.

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Written by CT

November 15th, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Dusan Ivkovic’s end-of-season musings

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(rodhig) Dusan Ivkovic is not only a great coach.

He is also a great man to interview.

A few days ago, the Serbian legend sat down with Greek newspaper Goal News and talked in his own unique style about a wide range of topics: his relationship with Zeljko Obradovic (‘He is like my brother’); the progress of Kostas Papanikolaou (‘at the beginning of the season he was so nervous I thought he was going to develop a convulsion…he is not Toni Kukoc, but there is room for improvement’); how he dealt with lack of effort early in the season (‘I told my players I was going to make them spit out the milk that their mother breastfed them’ – that’s a Greek expression, but you get the picture); Dejan Bodiroga and how he nearly signed with Olympiacos back in 1998; and his own negotiations with the Denver Nuggets in 2002, when he could have been the first European to coach an NBA team (‘Kiki Vandeweghe, Bill Duffy and myself reached an agreement. Vandeweghe said that he would call me, but by the time he did I had already signed with CSKA’). But he mainly talked about the game of basketball. Here are the most important parts of his interview:

On Olympiacos’ goals at the beginning of the season: ‘I had said that we didn’t have a specific objective. I didn’t want to burden the team with the pressure that was created by the previous 15 years. I told my players from the start that we must work hard and we’ll see what we can accomplish. They responded to this challenge and I have to say with all honesty that this season Olympiacos played the most modern basketball in Europe.’

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Written by Rod Higgins

June 7th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Loyalty to the Principles

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Çağrı Turhan sat down with Galatasaray assistant coach Emir Alkaş to discuss work as a Euroleague assistant, the different styles that have dominated the past decade of European basketball, coaching figures that have shaped his approach to the game of basketball, and much, much more …

He graduated from the computer engineering department of an Ivy League school with an honor degree, he is the managing partner of a company which was awarded an “Entrepreneur of the Year”-Award and he is continuing a family tradition of raising race horses. And it doesn’t stop here. Emir Alkaş’ profile is an unusual one on the top European basketball platform.

How does such a character end up coaching basketball? The answer is simple: it is the love for the game. As a writer, his basketball articles were so convincing that decision makers in the basketball business found that he shouldn’t waste his time with writing anymore, but start coaching. Some of his works were among the best I have ever read. They had a major influence on my decision to start writing myself, leading me to express my own views on the game of basketball. You may have witnessed Galatasaray’s assistant coach feeling disappointed after Lakovic’s meaningless foul on Teodosic at the end of the game or jumping with joy on the final buzzer, while his side was ending CSKA’s much-hyped undefeated Euroleague run. What did we say? Love for the game!

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Written by sJacas

February 12th, 2012 at 5:54 pm

“It’s all in the mindset”

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Tomas van den Spiegel has many interesting stories to tell. The 33-year-old is a top 20 career (per minute) shotblocker in the Euroleague. His interior defense and dirty work, most of which you won’t find in a boxscore, has earned him four Euroleague Final Four appearances and two Euroleague titles. Now he’s back in Belgium, where he is, though currently injured, trying to help second-placed BC Oostende to win a championship again.

Read his excellent column over at beyond the beat.

Here’s him on embracing a role vs. playing for your own stats, Ettore Messina, the importance of player personality and the use of statistics in professional basketball.

SJ: Tomas, would you disagree if someone were to call you, regarding your years with CSKA, a “defensive role player”, or is that an accurate description of the role you played there?

Van den Spiegel: I am perfectly fine with that description. CSKA was a very tall and long team and it was mainly my job to cover a lot of defensive space in order to protect our basket and to bring defensive energy and agressiveness off the bench. I would like to add that most of my minutes did come with Theo Papaloukas on the floor because we had a very good offensive pick and roll connection as well. Running the floor, offensive rebounding and playing agressive pick and rolls were my offensive tasks.

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Written by sJacas

January 14th, 2012 at 2:26 pm