Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Dealing with Daunting Nostalgia"

Angela Davidson deemed the top female Skill Development Trainer in the Dallas/Metroplex and among the nation's best at the conclusion of 2010. Angela is the CEO/Founder of Non/for profit organizations Kingdom Building Basketball and Universal Basketball Solutions in affiliation with her responisibilities as the Director of Player Development for the Mark Cuban Dallas Heroes Basketball Academy. As a former professional player, Davidson specialized in female Player Development  in addition to creating quality exposure and experiences for academy members through effective mentor programs and professional outlets such as parent organizations in the Dallas Mavericks and Texas Legends.

by Angela Davidson

The idea of playing professional basketball in an overseas venue is one that captures the mind of many athletes, but the reality of nostalgia that can spread like that of influenza in players not poised and prepared to experience international basketball in a world away from home is not.  In other words, this "clause of nostalgia" is not identified nor will it be found within a Player Agreement  or Federal National Letter of Intent although it is the imminent sickness that discourages players, breeches contracts, and ends careers altogether when not calculated. 
According to an explanatory study provided by Holak and Halvena (1992), of the Themes and Emotions in the Nostalgia Experience,  "'nostalgia proneness' has been hypothesized to peak as individuals move into middle age".   This proves that athletes should prepare in preseason and be made aware at all cost to execute efforts to control, prevent, or avoid nostalgia. 

Initially, understanding what nostalgia is according to one's individual experience, temperament should be taken into account. By definition listed in Dictionary.com the term nostalgia is a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, homeland, or to one's family and friends.  For some athletes on a preliminary phase this means that the ideation of getting sick can merely be equated to getting past the airport gate waiving goodbye or something as typical as "traveler's diarrhea".
The importance is that at this point that there is not a dismissal of any possible detriment to a player's well being. In the event that not every player will experience these changes in their digestive tract there are still yet other ailments that can effect a player's physiological equilibrium that can create the onset of the impairment. Discouraging situations by association of recollection of old success or even failures in former systems can derive within the season and defer attention and effort and exhaust a player's mental capacity to fulfill their job description as well.  While discouragements come through on court development elements of chemistry and establishing a common communication factor among foreign teammates often plague a player's performance and distress escalates.  Before a player even recognizes it obscure issues or unfinished business on the home front ranging from familial issues, long distance relationships to what become unavoidable responsibilities, inevitable breeches result that are consequential in worst case scenarios that are career ending situations.  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Being a champion is about details, hard work and consistency" Chris Paul says. Amazing interview by Coach Alan Stein to the New Orleans Hornets superstar: "Many of the top players are just so athletic and talented but they don't really know how to play and think the game"

This is a guest blog from Alan Stein, the owner of Stronger Team and the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for the nationally renowned Nike Elite DeMatha Catholic High School boys basketball program. He spent 7 years serving a similar position with the Montrose Christian basketball program. Alan brings a wealth of valuable experience to his training arsenal after years of extensive work with elite high school, college and NBA players.
Alan Stein worked the Annual Chris Paul Elite Guard Camp and had the opportunity to interview the New Orleans Hornets PG. Chris Paul (6'0", born May 6, 1985, college: Wake Forest) born and raised in North Carolina. Since being selected 4th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft by New Orleans, Paul has been a NBA Rookie of the Year (2006), a three-time All Star, and an All-NBA and All-Defensive Team honoree. He has also won an Olympic Gold Medal with the USA National basketball team.

by Alan Stein

I was fortunate enough to work the 2nd Annual Chris Paul Elite Guard Camp. I sat down with Chris Paul on the final morning of camp to ask him questions about his training. Please note, I have paraphrased his answers, these are not verbatim. I didn't use a recorder, I merely scribbled notes as fast I could when writing down his answers!

At what age (or grade) did you first start lifting weights?

I didn't start to lift weights until I got to Wake Forest. Coach Prosser was a big advocate of it. I needed to get stronger to compete at that level.

How do you feel like it helped your game?

Getting bigger and stronger helped me compete with the big time players in the ACC. It made me stronger with the ball and on defense. I only weighed 155 lbs in high school! I got up to about 175 in college, and although I am currently listed at 175 lbs, I am actually right around 190 lbs. I have worked hard to get stronger and put on some muscle to help me survive the rigorous NBA season. I feel so much more powerful now.

Why do you think strength & conditioning for basketball players is important?

Strength and conditioning is not just about lifting weights and running sprints. While that is certainly part of it; so is stability training (for balance) and flexibility. All of these components help you move better on the court. Going from high school to college the game gets so much more physical. You go from playing with boys to playing with men. You need the extra strength.

What does your off season training program consist of now?

Since this was my first summer off in a couple of years (because of the Olympics in 2008) I took more time off than normal after the season (about a month). My body and mind needed a rest. But now I am back in full force. If I am not working with my private trainer I follow the program set up by the Hornets strength & conditioning coach. My main focus is getting stronger (especially in my core), improving my flexibility (I used to not be able to touch my toes!), and maintaining my new bodyweight (+10 lbs). I usually get up around 7am and eat breakfast, then do my dynamic flexibility and my strength work, then I take a few hours off, and then come back and do my court work (ball handling, shooting, etc.). At night I spend about an hour stretching. That has helped me more than you know.

What is the biggest difference between playing in college and in the NBA?

The speed of the game is certainly faster, but the biggest adjustment for me, since I play so many minutes every night, is how long the season is. 82 games plus pre-season plus playoffs is a grind! Your mind and your body have to be strong and durable.

What did you learn from your Olympic experience?

I learned what it takes to be a true champion. I never won a state title in high school. I never won a national title in college. I haven't won a national championship in the League yet. So this was my first time being a real champion. Luckily I got to do it on the biggest stage in the world! Being a champion is about details, hard work, and consistency. People forget we prepared for over 3 years to win that gold medal!

What do high school and college players need to improve on the most?

They need to learn how to really play the game. They need to learn how to think the game. Many of the top players are just so athletic and talented; they never learn how how to really play. They also rely too much on their athletic ability and not enough on proper fundamentals and footwork. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Exclusive interview with PG Will Blalock of the Townsville Crocs (Australian NBL). "Being drafted by the Pistons was definitely a dream come true. Words couldn't describe how happy me and family were at that very moment"

Will Blalock (6-1, born September 8, 1983, in Boston, Massachusetts) attended Iowa State University (2003-2006) and was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the second round with the last pick (60th overall) in the 2006 NBA Draft. He played in Israel (Hapoel Jerusalem), in the D-League (Anaheim Arsenal) and in Germany (Artland Dragons). Blalock is now playing for the Townsville Crocs in the Australian NBL. Will talked to Basketball Telegraph columnist Dr FingerRoll about his love for the game, the dream came true of playing in the NBA, the dramatic eposide that forced him to sit out and put his life in danger, and his professional rebirth.

Will, let's start from the very beginning. Can you go back to your childhood years and tell our readers your very first memory related to basketball?

 My very memory with basketball was around 6 years old and I was always playing ball in the house and my mother would always tell to never bounce the ball in the house.

Who was your basketball role model growing up?

Growing up I loved Magic Johnson and I also thought I would grow to be 6'9 and be able to play point guard but also do the tip-off as a 5 man.

Was there an episode that you can recall that made you think that you were more than just an average baller and that basketball could become your job?

When I played AAU (which is juniors in high school) I had a lot of interest from Div 1 schools from around the country and they started comparing me to some of the top PG's in my class, like Chris Paul for example.

From Boston you moved to Iowa to study and play for the Cyclones. Was it the first time away from home and what are your memories of the college years?

Going to ISU was my first time being away from home for that long of a period of time. I enjoyed every moment of my college experience and I actually think about it at least once a day because it was a time in my life when I felt free and on my own so to speak, so naturally being away from home was tough at first but it was for the better.

After 3 fruitful seasons you declared for the Draft and got selected by the Pistons. Your childhood dream was becoming true...how did it feel?

Being drafted was definitely a dream come true; words couldn't describe how happy me and my close friends and family were at that very moment.

For those who have yet to see you play, what type of player is Will Blalock on the court?

Will Blalock is an unselfish play-maker with the ability to also score but prides himself on Defense and getting teammates open shots.

Will, something happened in the summer of 2008. Something that could have put an end not only to your career but to your life. Can you tell us what happened and how did that episode change, if it did, your priorities in life?

 The summer of 2008 was definitely a life changing event. It was definitely a wake up call from God, I was waiting to board a flight headed to Seattle to workout for the Sonics and I began to lose feeling in my arms legs and feet, I was rushed to the hospital and after many test and scans they said I had experienced a minor stroke.

After some months where you were forced to sit out, a call from Europe came. Your career wasn't over...

The second phase of my career started in Germany when a coach gave me a chance and I played for the Artland Dragons in Germany's top league. That experience was great and gave me the confidence and overall strength to say to myself that I could do this at a high level still, I just needed the opportunity to showcase it.

Who's Will Blalock off the court, tell our readers something about the man Will Blalock.

Will Blalock off the court is a proud father of a son (Nisaiah 4 yrs old) and soon to be born in Feb 2011 daughter (Shyla) and I value my family more than anything and after that I'm a bball junkie if I'm not playing bball video games I'm watching euro league DVDs or live NBA games.

Thank you Will, and best of luck for your season with the Crocs in Australia!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Exclusive Q&A with veteran PG Eddie Shannon. Size of the heart and passion for the game. And now a new challenge: "A Foundation to keep the kids off the streets"

Former Gator Eddie Shannon, the  5-11 point-guard from Riviera Beach, Florida, talked to Basketball Telegraph columnist Dr FingerRoll about his long and successful career overseas and about the accident that could have changed his life and his professional career, but simply couldn’t. Why? Too big his heart, too deep his love for the game.

Eddie, you were born and raised in Florida, where football is probably the most popular sport. Have you always been a bball guy or were there other sports attracting you?

Growing up I played basketball, baseball, and football. Many people from my community think that I was better at baseball and football when I was young. I stop playing baseball and football at the age of 16. But I follow them closely! I have a huge love for football.

How did you fall in love with the game? Any childhood memories related to basketball that you want to share with our readers?

I started trying to play at the age of 6. I'm not sure how I fell in love, maybe because I was always more talented than the kids my age but I was also the smallest most of the time. But I was a sports fanatic and I was very good at basketball, baseball, and football. There was something about bball that interested me a little more than the others.

When you were a teenager something happened to you that could have changed your life dramatically. Can you tell us that episode please and how did you react and fought through it to become a pro basketball player?

Well, in a freak accident playing with friends, I was hit in the eye with a rock at the age of 13 (nothing dramatic). It happened during the morning before school. Later that evening I played in a youth football league game. After the game my eye began to bother and was very red. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed as having a bloodclot and it had to be surgically removed. My family wasn't rich so we went to a doctor that we could afford, so apparently the doctor didn't clean out all of the blood from my eye. My eye got infected and within 6 months I needed another surgery because the infection caused me to develop a cataract in the eye. This took more time away from sports. The cataract was removed but my vision never became clear again. I never complained because I didn't want to miss anymore time from playing sports. Basically, after that football game that night I could never see 100% out of my right eye. Eventually I lost all vision before my senior year in college.

After a brilliant career at University of Florida (as a serion you led a young Gator team to the Sweet Sixteen) were you expecting a call from the NBA or playing overseas was your first choice?

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect. I knew teams would be concerned about my eye. But if they knew the size of my heart and my passion for bball they wouldn't worry about it. I played very well in the pre-draft camps and I had great workouts for Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, and Golden State Warriors. But no one drafted me. I was a bit disappointed. I was drafted 2nd in the ABA, which no longer exists and I never went there.

You played in Sweden, Russia, Italy, Greece, France, Croatia, Latvia and you just signed for Australian League’s Adelaide 36ers. Is it difficult to adjust lifestyle and adapt to places that are so different from home and so different one year to the next?

It's tough but it's my job. I'm very easy to get along with, so I've never really had a problem with new teammates. I've actually had a lot of fun learning new cultures and seeing new places. The toughest part is being away from family for extended periods of time.

Eddie, in all the teams you played you left nice memories and the local fans are always happy to see you play even if you wear a different jersey. Why is that according to you?

I think so because I'm a good person. I'm very humble and I treat everyone with respect whether they are 5 or 65. People respect that because some sportsmen are arrogant and disrespectful.

You're 33 and your career is far from over, but are you already thinking about the future and what you're going to do after the pro years will be over?

I'm not exactly sure but it will certainly be involved with basketball. I wanna coach. Maybe volunteer at a high school. I really want to work with my oldest son because he loves sports and I don't get to spend enough time playing with him.

Can you tell us something about the Camp you started out in Florida last summer?

It was a camp that I did in my hometown for kids 5-17. It's something that I will continue to do each year. I started it because my community did so much for me when I was growing up and I want to give back. Share some of my knowledge and experiences with the kids, so they can see that they can make it from where we come from. Because it's not easy! Me and my best friend have a foundation called UBBL (Using Basketball To Better Lives). We provide programs and activities to keep the kids off the streets.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Exclusive interview with Japanese-American forward Michael Takahashi Dorsey: "I have always the same intense desire to win"

Michael Takahashi Dorsey (6-6, forward, 1974) was born in Japan from a Japanese mother and an American father. The family moved to California when he was 2 and in California he learned how to play basketball, dreaming of Magic, Kareem and Worthy. He attended and played college basketball at California State at Northridge before crossing the Ocean to play professional basketball in Japan, where he joined the National Team and where he has been one of the most consistent and respected players for more than a decade. Michael talked to BT columnist Dr FingerRoll about his career thus far.

Michael, you were born in Japan but moved to the States when you were a two years old little baby. How did you first fall in love with the game of basketball and do you have any childhood memories that are basketball-related?

My first real memories of basketball were growing up in Los Angeles and watching the Lakers in the 80's win  championships. I remember watching Magic, Kareem, and Worthy compete with a intense will to win. I can recall watching playoff games as a kid and getting so nervous during crunch time that I would have to leave or cover my eyes because I just couldn't watch. After the game was over I would go outside and practice moves on the street signs and on the trees faking like they were baskets. Great memories!!

You had a very good college career. Was the NBA in your dreams during the college years and have you ever had a opportunity to play in the League?

I started playing organized basketball at a pretty late age, not till I got to high school did I have access to a gym and coaching. As a result I was a late bloomer. Everybody dreams of playing in the NBA but my skills were very limited in college. I was really athletic but pretty much played the power forward position at 6-6. Not really the ideal height for an NBA PF. When I got to Japan I really tried to develop my skills and starting playing the small forward position but I was in a great place and loved what I was doing so I didn't pursue the NBA as hard as I probably should have.

Like you said, after college you went to play in Japan. We're talking about 15 years ago. How was basketball in Japan in those days? And can you briefly tell our readers how did the game develop through the years?

Throughout my career in Japan I've seen basketball have its high time and lows. I think the development of the Japanese players has increased. More players are trying to go overseas and play in the NBA summer league which you didn't really see when I first got to Japan. This can only help their development. When I first came to Japan we were on the verge of participating in some major international championships. We almost made the Olympics which would've been great for our sports growth but since it didn't happen basketball took a back seat to some of the other sports that were doing well in international competition. I feel now with our National Team improving and the players gaining experience, it will help the growth of the sport.

You played for the Japanese NT at the World Cup in 1998 and in other main international events. Tell us something about the experience with the NT and playing against the world's best.

Playing for the NT has been one of the most rewarding parts of playing basketball for me. I was able to travel the world and experience many different cultures which I believe help me grow as a person. Being able to compete against the world's best was fulfilling because I got a chance to test my skills and see how I measured up. It also opened my eyes to all the talent the world has to offer. There are so many good basketball players not playing in the NBA that many people may not have heard of. It's definitely an experience I would trade for nothing.

For those that haven't seen you play, could you describe the player Michael Takahashi Dorsey on the court?

Me as a player now is very different than me as a player 15 years ago. At the core I'm the same player, I have the same intense desire to win. I will do anything I can to help my team win. Gone are the dynamic dunks replaced by old veteran moves. Individual accomplishments and awards mean nothing to me if team success is not accomplished. I love to compete!! That's why I still play. To have the chance to bring my team on the court against yours and see who's better prepared and who will execute their game plan. That's why I play.

And who's Michael Takahashi off the court as a person?

My life now is my family! I have a beautiful wife and two young kids. Everything I do now is for them. I try to set a good example for my kids to see and try to be the best husband and father I can be. I'm just trying to be a good man!

You're 36 and approaching the end of your career. What are your plans for the future?

After I finish playing I would love to be able to do something with my basketball experience. Coaching or clinics, working with kids trying to teach them the things I've learned over my career. Honestly though my future changes all the time. The possibilities are endless! I'm excited and nervous about what life after basketball is going to be like. I've been a basketball player for a very long time. I feel very blessed!!

Thank you  for talking to us and best of luck for your season with Toyota Alvark.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Exclusive Q&A with Nigerian forward-center Julius Nwosu. "My best time was when I played in Russia for CSKA Moscow. Had lot of fun and we never lost a game at home in the entire season"

Julius Nwosu embodies perfectly the philosophy of Basketball Telegraph. He was born (May 1, 1971) and raised in Nigeria, played college ball at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, then played in the NBA (San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics) before travelling all over the world to do what he liked best. In his pro career the Nigerian forward (6-8, 255 lbs) played in almost 20 different Countries and more than 20 different Leagues: he won the Russian League in 1996 with CSKA Moscow and the French League in 2001 with Pau-Orthez and played with european powerhouses Panathinaikos Athens (Greece) and Galatasaray (Turkey). Julius talked to BT analyst Dr FingerRoll about growing up in Nigeria, falling in love with the game as a teenager and about his best pro season of his long career.
Julius, you were born and raised in Nigeria. Can you tell us how you fell in love with the game of basketball?

Growing up in Nigeria was a great experience, if not the best. Being a kid in Nigeria, we knew so much and heard so much about the Western Countries and USA was considered the best.  So often people described USA as a unimaginable place, and it seemed like they were the best in everything, when we used to see them in the Olympics they would blow everyone out, they looked cool. The blacks were more interesting to us, even though the whites were more respected. As youngsters, we played every sports we could as long as it was available to us, but in basketball seemed like everyone had some kind of tie to USA, they were so cool, the style of the game was pure chemistry and graceful. It was the most exciting thing I have ever seen as a kid.
Then the stories that came with the game, the way people told them, stories about Dr J, Micheal Jordan for instance, then we had the chance to watch a few NCAA games that a guy brought back from USA and we saw our very own Akeem Olajuwon, Houston vs Georgetown, and that sealed the deal for me that I must go to the States, and play in college there.

After attending HS in Nigeria, you crossed the Ocean to study and play at Liberty University. How did it happen that you went to the US? And was it difficult to adapt to a new life both on and off the court?

I came to USA through a missionary from my church, that was why I landed at the world most exciting christian University, the Liberty University.
The adaptation was easy, I was finally in the USA doing what I loved. On the court I quickly realized that I was too far behind basketball skill-wise, whereas athletically I was right on point and maybe ahead of almost everyone, so when I made a mistake on one side of the court,  I would make it up on the other side because I was so athletic.
Life was good, I was in a christian school,  so it was a controlled life with lots of rules and regulation, that helped keep us grounded.

Like we said before, you played in so many different places, from Europe to Asia, North and South America, Middle East and, of course, Africa with your NT. If you had the chance to travel back in time for a season, where would you go and play.

My best time was when I played in Russia for CSKA. It was fun - although it was very cold! - because my team was so good we could have given NBA teams a good run for their money: we were so good we spent time playing soccer, not even practicing basketball. We were undefeated in Russian League, and undefeated in European League's home games. We never lost a game in Moscow in the entire season!

Julius, you will turn 40 next year. What are the plans for your future?

Yes, you are right. I am gonna be 40 soon. Well, maybe I have to take a shot of vodka or whisky, a glass of beer, some kind of alcohol for the first time in my life. To tell you the truth, I have not thought of much to do.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Searching for Redemption: The Kermit Washington Story"

On December 9, 1977, during an NBA game between the Lakers and the Houston Rockets, a scuffle broke out between several players at midcourt. Kermit Washington (born September 17, 1951 in Washington, D.C.) punched and nearly killed Rudy Tomjanovich, and resulted in in severe medical problems that ultimately ended his playing career. The episode changed the lives and careers of the two players and changed the NBA rules regarding on-court fights. During Washington's playing career - he was drafted fifth overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1973 NBA Draft and played for the Lakers, Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors - and after his retirement, he has struggled with the negative perception of him that resulted from that punch.
NBA TV examined Washington's life in the one-hour special "Searching for Redemption: The Kermit Washington Story". Narrated by actor/director Forrest Whitaker, "Searching for Redemption" follows Washington from the playgrounds of Washington, D.C. to the slums of Nairobi, Kenya where he currently works to rebuild lives.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Exclusive interview with Maine Red Claws (NBA D-League) Assistant Coach Hernando Planells: creativity, stats and movies in an intriguing coaching path career!

Hernando Planells is currently the assistant coach for the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League.  The Red Claws are the official minor league team for the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats.  For the past 12 years Coach Hernando has coached at every level. His experiences have also allowed him to choreograph, coordinate and consult on sports action in movies, commercials and print-ads.
Some of his work includes the basketball scenes and the training of the actors on movies such as “Coach Carter” starring Samuel L. Jackson, “The Longest Yard” starring Adam Sandler, “Rebound” starring Martin Lawrence and "Spider-Man 3" starring Tobey Mcguire and others. His production work has also led him to train the athletes of “Extreme Dodgeball”, the highest rated show on the Game Show Network.
Coach “H” has also appeared on on SPIKE TV’s smash hit SLAMBALL as the head coach for the Bouncers . His three year run with the Bouncers saw them qualify for the playoffs while leading the league in scoring.
Besides his work in sports production Coach Hernando works with former NBA Head Coach Don Casey on basketball related projects including the extremely popular blog  The Temple of  Zones.
In 2008 Coach Hernando returned to the United States after serving as Head Coach of the Ryukyu Golden Kings an expansion team that is a part of the BJ League (Basketball Japan). Coach Hernando was responsible for a roster that was the youngest in the league and spent everyday building and instilling a championship attitude and work ethic.
For the 2006/2007 Coach Hernando served as the Head Basketball Coach for The Hollywood Fame, a team that participated in the American Basketball Association. (ABA) Coach Hernando started the season as the assistant coach and Director of Player personnel to former NBA head coach Don Casey. Coach Casey left the Fame in January and Hernando took over leading them to a second place finish in their division and making it to the second round of the playoffs.
During the last three years Coach Hernando has served as a scout for Marty Blake who is the Director of Scouting for the National Basketball Association (NBA). Since 1971, Marty Blake and Associates have provided professional basketball scouting and consulting to the NBA and to clients around the globe. In his role as a scout Coach Hernando puts together scouting reports evaluating NBA prospects which are circulated to every NBA GM and player personnel director. During his time in Japan, Coach Hernando will continue to serve as a scout for Marty Blake, specializing in scouting the Asian countries.
In 2005 Hernando Planells Jr. was named the first Vice President of Basketball Operations/Head Coach in Wyoming Golden Eagle history. At that time 28 year old Hernando Planells was the youngest professional basketball coach in the country.
Prior to scouting, Hernando founded ELITE athlete training which specialized in personal training and consulting services for athletes. Through his work with ELITE, Hernando trained and assisted over a hundred athletes reach their goal of gaining a college scholarship or playing professionally.
From 2003 to 2005 Hernando served as assistant coach in charge of offense for Citrus College, one of the top Community Colleges in the State of California. While at Citrus he assisted the Owls in winning consecutive Tournament titles, post back-to-back winning season in 20 years, guided Citrus to its highest State ranking in school history (6th), established highest single season scoring average at 86ppg and defeated the regular season No. 1 rankedLos Angeles City College and California State Champions, Compton College.
Other coaching stops include the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Head Varsity Coach at Los Angeles High School and Immaculate Heart High School in Tucson, Arizona and as an assistant at Monrovia High School.

Hernando, when did you first know what you wanted to do for a career?

I played all the sports growing up and as I got older coaching become something I was very interested in.  I always wanted to stay involved with basketball and coaching gave me an outlet to stay involved.  No one in my family was a coach but I take the qualities of my parents and from coaches I have met around the world and have been able to learn how to coach, motivate and develop players.  As time goes on I wanted to give myself some coaching goals such as coaching professionally, coaching overseas, coaching a countries National Team – goals have really allowed me to keep my focus…Ive accomplished a few already but have many more to go!
You are young but you have had great experiences so far: high school and college basketball, you have been in Japan... Can you tell our readers a little bit of you and your resume?

I appreciate you telling me im still young!  Coaching can make you feel real old very quickly!  Im 34 now and have been coaching since I was 21.  I ‘ve coached at every level, High School, College and professionally.  I had the distinct pleasure in working with former NBA head coach Don Casey; I was his assistant with the Hollywood Fame in the ABA before he resigned and currently work with him on coaching materials for coaches all over the world.  We run a fairly popular blog The Temple of Zones.
One of my coaching goals was to coach overseas and had a great opportunity to coach in Japan and it was an unbelievable experience.  Coaching in another country is such a unique experience, building a team with Americans and Japanese players was challenging yet enjoyable.  I learned so much while dealing with players and management.  Being half Filipino I had a great honor in helping with the National Team from the Philippines a few years back and that was a great experience personally.
Basketball has opened the doors to other opportunities, I have also coached on the TV sport SLAMBALL

and I also have done the basketball choreography on movies such as Coach Carter, The Longest Yard, Spider-Man 3 and others.  Ive also been able to do numerous commercials and work with some great actors.
I’m now the assistant with the Maine Red Claws in the NBA Development League – we are the official minor league team for the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats.  Austin Ainge who is the son of Celtics GM Danny Ainge is our head coach and former Celtics assistant Jon Jennings is the GM – both are quality people and have really made the organization one of the top 2-3 in the league.

Now you are the assistant coach of the Maine Red Claws in the D-League. You've been here for a few weeks, what are your impressions of the team and the guys who are here and are coming?

In my shot time here in Maine I have seen how great our ownership, GM, Head Coach and staff members are.  This is an amazing organization with people who know and understand what it takes to be a great franchise.  We have a very talented and hungry group of players this year – we are young with 7 rookies on the team but the talent is there to win right away.  We have two very good big men in Magnum Rolle and Keith “Tiny” Gallon – both were drafted in the 2010 NBA draft.  Both bring a unique skills set to our team; Magnum is a very good mid-range shooter and knows how to play the game, his basketball IQ is very good for someone who started playing basketball at 16.  Tiny Gallon is young at 19 but is strong and has very good footwork in the post.  On the perimeter, Jamar Smith and Champ Oguchi are two of the better shooters in the league and Mario West (who has played with the Atlanta Hawks) and Paul Harris are two very strong and athletic wings.  Our point guards are Kenny Hayes from Miami of Ohio and Lawrence Westbrook from Minnesota – both are also rookies but are learning quickly.

Speaking of this new group, what do you see as some of their strengths, some of their potential?

The great thing about having a young team is that they are hungry, everyday they come to practice wanting to get better and learn how to be a professional.  Potentially we have the pieces to do very well this year but as with any young team it all depends on how quickly they pick up the information and apply it to the games.

You know international basketball. How do you hope to translate your experiences to Maine?

I’ve been very fortunate to have coached internationally and there are some good coaches in this league who also has international experience, Chris Finch who is the head coach at Rio Grande Valley coached in Europe for years and is now the Great Britain National Team coach.  Nick Nurse also coached in Europe for several years as did Will Voight in Bakersfield .  Those experiences have helped these coaches find success in this league. Although I have had head coaching experience overseas you can never stop learning; and im very fortunate to be working for Austin Ainge, he is an outstanding coach – he grew up around the NBA game and has an understanding of it that very few people have.  My experiences in Japan and in the US and working with athletes have helped me become a more complete coach – overseas or in the other minor leagues in the US you don’t have the resources and you have to find ways to get your players better without video, weight rooms, athletic trainers etc…  I think I have had a very different coaching career path but every opportunity has given me learning experiences that I try to apply everyday!

Switching to off the court, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I don’t get a lot of time off the court but when I do I enjoy spending time with my family… My wife and 2 kids keep me very busy… I enjoy reading and try to read books on leadership and how to bring the best out of people.

Thank you coach for the interview. We just want to know what's your challenge for the future?

You never know what the future can bring, 10 years ago I never imagined having a journey like the one I have had so far - Right now im focused on helping Maine win a D-League Championship and helping our players get better everyday!
Ive been very blessed to have coached and worked with people all over the world – Like any coach you want to continue to move up and make yourself better – I enjoy challenges and im open to any and all of them… 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"If winning isn't everything... Why do they keep score?" Vince Lombardi

“If winning isn’t everything...Why do they keep score?” Inspired by this famous Vince Lombardi’s quote, Basketball Telegraph insider Donte Mathis writes about dealing with winning and losing as a professional player.

One of the best quotes I can remember, dealing with the premise of why we compete was stated by legendary former NFL coach Vince Lombardi.  Lombardi summed it up in a humorous way the motivation that has led to the obsession with winning.  People tend to forget professional sports are a business that operates through investors who have invested in potential outcomes of achievement.  These investments and the responsibilities that come with them trickle down from owners to management, management to staff and staff to players. 

As a professional athlete, years and years of training, visualization and competing are done as way of giving us the best possible opportunity to achieve success.  The higher you move up the scale of competition, the more winning matters.  As a kid we played the game for fun as a way to pass time and as our passion grew, the game became more personal, more emotional with its results being sort of a report card of our dedication and what we put into it.  Some may be more talented than others but you reach a point where everybody peaks in that aspect and decision making separates the winners and the losers. 
Winning makes injuries not hurt so bad, it makes the trip home not so long, as well as the following week very short and bearable.  Losing on the other hand, works at you for all that you could have done but didn’t. Of course you will lose a few before understanding and appreciating the importance of what it takes to win, but one thing is for sure.... you will never get a loss back, it’s yours, chalk it up.  I tend to do things a little differently following a loss.... I try to tweak and work on things differently as a way of flushing it out of my system.  Winning on the other hand, causes me to rethink all the things that may have contributed to my success, things that helped me concentrate and perform at that level that led to the win.  I know a few people can/will say, “What if I played great and we lost,” or “If I played bad and we won”.... all I can say is winning will help you deal with not playing well, you will personally regroup and get it going.... I’ll take the win any day.

Everyone has had their moment on a team where things didn’t go their way or they hit a bad stretch of games where they just couldn’t get it done.  A way to get back on the right track is to rid yourself of any negativity or excuses and take some extra time to work on your game.  If you can commit, concentrate and personally make an effort to make the guy next to you better, it’s a step that will put you in the right direction collectively.  Little details often have the ability to be overlooked and they can be a huge deciding factor in winning versus losing. 
We all may not have the opportunity to be in anybody’s hall of fame, but we will for sure remember the successes and losses that add up over time.  We chase winning because it creates a personal legacy within ourselves.....it makes us feel good.... as well as serving as an opportunity to see the fruits of our labor.  Losing humbles us.... it forces us to evaluate commitment, within ourselves and those around us, and should be used as a tool to seek a better opportunity to win.  In competition.....Winning cures all.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Exclusive Q&A with coach Eric Musselman: from the NBA to the Dominican Republic NT, now in the D-League with the Reno Bighorns! "In 7th grade, I knew I wanted to be a basketball coach"

Eric Musselman (born November 19, 1964 in Ashland, Ohio) is the head coach of the Reno Bighorns in the NBA Development League. The son of legendary coach Bill Musselman, Eric is the former head coach of the NBA's Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors. He was a head coach in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) before becoming an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies. At the 2010 Men's Centro Basketball Championship in July 2010, FIBA America's top regional tournament, Musselman guided the Dominican Republic team to the Gold Medal game, losing to Puerto Rico 89-80. By finishing second, the Dominican Republic qualifies for the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship, a qualifying tournament for the FIBA World Championships and the Olympic Games.

Coach, when did you first know what you wanted to do for a career? You grew up in a basketball family, so how much was your Dad Bill influential and important in your decision?

In 7th grade, I knew I wanted to be a basketball coach. I always idolized my dad growing up I would travel with him on road trips and when most kids were watching cartoons and eating cereal I was watching game tape with my dad.

You are young but you have had great experiences in the NBA as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings and now you are coaching the Reno Bighorns in the NBA Development League. But you also know very well the international basketball being the head coach of the Dominican Republic National team. Can you tell our readers what are the musts for such a successful career?

I’ve been very lucky at a young age to be getting different coaching opportunities. As a coach you always try to get better and improve and learn from your past mistakes. With each year experience you should become a better coach.

You've been here with the Reno Bighorns for a few weeks, what are your impressions of the team and the level of the League?

We love our team and our coaching staff. The coaching staff here at Reno is as good as any NBA staff I’ve been with. As far as the players go, the attitude, energy, effort and enthusiasm they bring on a daily basis has been a real pleasure to coach. The level of talent in the D-League is the 2nd best in the world outside the NBA.

Speaking of this new group, what do you see as some of their strengths, some of their potential?

Our starting 5 has great length and size, we need to continue to develop as individual players and as a team. We feel like we have 4 to 5 players that have the potential to get called up this year and another 3 players with experience at some point should be in the NBA at some point in their career.

You know international basketball. How do you hope to translate your experiences to the squad?

Number one the new goaltending rule has helped us as we have used it in practice. Something we also did with the Dominican Republic national team.

Eric, in the NBA there are more and more non-American players and some of them are big-time players. Do you think American coaches can learn from the top European colleagues?

American coaches can learn a lot from some of their top European colleagues. For instance when I was in the Dominican Republic, a lot of Dominican Republic coaches helped implement things for our system. I have great respect for the professional coaches coaching outside the NBA.

Switching to off the court, what do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I like to spend time with my family with my two sons Michael and Matt, daughter Mariah, and my wife Danyelle. The last few years I have been able to coach and work with my sons individually and I loved being able to do that.

Coach, we just want to know what's your challenge for the future? NBA or a Euroleague organization?

I’m very happy coaching in the NBDL. I have always had interest in coaching in Europe and maybe if the right opportunity will present itself in the future. In the NBA, they are the hardest jobs to come by and the NBA is where everybody in the NBDL strives to get to whether it is players, coaches and referees.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Q&A with Kapfenberg Bulls swingman LeVonn Jordan: pushing my game to the next level

LeVonn Jordan is a 6-5 athletic forward/guard with an incredible wingspan and many skills and abilities. He led Elon University his senior year (2006/2007) in virtually every category and now, after a couple of seasons in Spain and Japan, is a valuable piece of Austrian powerhouse Kapfenberg Bulls' roster (ABL Austrian Bundesliga). LeVonn talked to Basketball Telegraph columnist Dr FingerRoll about his career so far and the future.

LeVonn, you were born and raised in a State, North Carolina, where your family name has a special meaning. Was MJ your basketball role model while growing up? And who were the other players you looked up to back in the days?

Yeah I was very big MJ fan during the Bulls 1st 3peat, but after he retired for the 1st time I didn’t fully understand the circumstances around his retirement so I fell out of favor with him, I became a fan of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. But as I got older Jordan still remained my favorite player.

Speaking about your early years as a baller, tell our readers how and when you fell in love with the game.

My mom tells me I’ve always had a love for basketball, which probably came from her because she played in High School and College before having to stop due to reoccurring knee injuries. As a little kid I always had baskets in the house both upstairs and downstairs, I would always watch games and try to do what I saw on tv.

When did you first realize that basketball was going to be more than just a game for you?

I would say leaving middle school and entering high school, it was just something about the game of basketball I couldn’t resist and I wanted to take it further than anybody expected me to.

After Elon University in NC what were your expectations? And can you tell us how did you end up playing in Spain for La Rioja, your first experience overseas? Was it a tough decision to make? Were there other opportunities and what made you decide for Spain?

Of course most players that play on the collegiate level have ambitions of playing in the NBA, myself included, but I always knew if I wasn’t able to make it to the League I’d play overseas. I made the transition from Elon to Spain with the help of an agent, who I signed with after I graduated from college. The decision to go to Spain wasn’t tough, but the experience of being that far from home was tough. The 1st offer I received was from a Spanish club and I didn’t hesitate in accepting.

Was it difficult to adapt from College ball to European style of play and can you tell us the aspects, both on and off the court, that you had to adapt to?

Yes it was a struggle adapting to the European style of play and culture. Looking back I wasn’t as prepared as I needed to be, with that said I struggled on and off the court. It was very hard to focus on basketball because I spent so much time and energy missing home.

After the year in Spain you played in Japan in the BJ-League and this year you're playing in Austria. It's like two different worlds. Again, can you make a comparison between Japanese basketball and European one and which is the one that fits your style of play the most and why?

Yeah two very different styles of play, in Japan its more of a up and down game, as opposed to here in Europe where you see more half court offense. I’ve always been a good player in the open court so the Japanese style of play suited me, but as I’ve gotten older my game has grown and I’m becoming a more well rounded player. So my 1st year out in Spain I really struggled because I rarely got out in transition and wasn’t able to be effective in the half court.

At 25 you are still learning the game or do you feel you're ready to take your game to the next level?

I think I’m very close to showing a lot people how well I can play, I actually sat out all last year. That was a good and bad thing because I hated not playing but I had a year to prepare myself to comeback stronger than ever. But I think within the next couple of years I’ll be playing at a very high level.

Tell us a bit about yourself, who's LeVonn Jordan off the court? What do you do during the season in places like Japan or Austria and how's your summer like when you're at home.

I’m pretty low key off the court, while im overseas I usually just play xbox, watch movies, and talk too family and friends on skype. When we have off days I usually try to get out and explore, just viewing the culture and scenery. Summers are usually hectic because you're gone for so long you wanna get as much as possible done before it's time to head back cross the water. So I try to spend time with my mom and grandmother and just enjoying being home.

Thank you so much, LeVonn and best of luck for you and your season with the Bulls!

Monday, November 22, 2010

University of Dayton Head Coach Brian Gregory is the rising star in the NCAA. He has a motto: "What does not kill me, makes me stronger!"

Brian Gregory (born December 15, 1966 in Mount Prospect, Illinois) is the Head coach of the University of Dayton. He was an assistant at Michigan State before coaching the Dayton Flyers. He capped off the 2009-2010 season by leading the Flyers to the NIT Trophy over North Carolina 79-68 at Madison Square Garden. The University of Dayton took home their first title in 42 years. Gregory is the rising coach in the NCAA and his system is pretty energetic and needs great athletes. They are furious and intense.

Coach Brian Gregory: "There is no ceiling"

University of Dayton: Lab for Ironmen

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ricky Rubio: is the Spanish sensation the new Pete "Pistol" Maravich? The Minnesota Timberwolves are waiting for his coming...

Tom Farrey reports for ESPN's Outside The Lines on Ricky Rubio, the #5 pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2009 NBA Draft at age 18. Now at age 20, he has not played an NBA game, raising questions as to whether he really is a future NBA star.
Seeing the court like the great ones Rubio's ability to process thousands of data points make him basketball "genius".
... but... Ricky Rubio can't jump high, doesn't move fast and isn't especially tall. His shot is mechanical, and his scoring stats remain underwhelming - usually just a few points a game for his Spanish professional and National teams. But he possesses one talent in abundance that gives him a chance to one day make a splash, and perhaps star, in the NBA. Then? Next Maravich or just an average overrated pick of the Draft by the Timberwolves?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Exclusive interview with Serbian forward Milan Vucicevic, first european ever to play for The Philippines National team in the 2010 FIBA Asia Champions Cup!

Milan Vucicevic is a 25 years old power forward.
The 6-10 serbian native grew up in the famous basketball school of Kraljevo (the same youth program of Vlade Divac) and was teammate with the NBA center Nenad Krstic. Milan has collected dozens of caps for the Serbia Cadet and Junior National teams. Vucicevic has played in Poland (Unia Tarnow), Ukraine (BC Budivelnik Kiev) and Greece (Age Halkidas) in Europe, in Cyprus (AEK Larnaca) before being a legit pioneer in the Middle East and Asia: Lebanon, Iran (Bond Shiraz), Oman (Al Nizwa), Qatar (Al Sadd) some of the countries where Milan signed before the last stop in Syria with Al Karameh team.
In 2010 he also played first european ever with Smart Gilas, the National team of Philippines in the 21st FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Doha, Qatar.

Hey Milan, your story is pretty interesting. As a product of the serbian basketball school you decided early to play abroad. Tell us a little bit about you and your career so far. We are very curious about your experiences: maybe you are the only european ever who played for an asian National team (the Philippines).

As a young player I had a chance to go and play abroad. I love challenges so I took the opportunity and left Serbia very early. After Serbia I played in Poland, Greece, Ukraine... after few years in Europe I was offered to play in Asia. It was an intriguing chance for me to discover new basketball world and start to write the second chapter of my basketball story. From my first contact with Middle East and Asian I was fascinated with different lifestyle, culture, people and history so I never regretted that decision. I played on Arabic Club Championship in Beirut, Lebanon so that was my first and successful exposure in Middle East. Next year I went to Iran and played Iranian Superleague which is one of the strongest in Asia. After Iran I had many offers so I continued in Qatar. I got a call last spring from Rajko Toroman, the head coach of Smart Gilas, the development National team of Philippines to play the 21st Fiba Asia Champions Cup in May 2010 in Doha, Qatar. It was a great honor to be the first European ever to make the team and represent such an important Asian country in the strongest competition in Asia. Playing for Philippines and working with coach Rajko Toroman was an unbelievable experience for me. Currently I am in Syria and I'm really excited to play this league.

You have played in so many countries, from Eastern Europe to Asia. We can say you are like a pioneer. What are the main differences of the game from these different areas? And we all know the serbian fans are crazy for basketball, what about the Middle-East and asian fans in general?

Playing basketball in all those countries and experienced different basketball and cultures made me the person I am today. I really think I am a better person and a player. I feel very  blessed and thankful for my basketball experiences. Lot of people lately are telling me the same thing like you that I am pioneer but I really don’t think about that so much. I’m focused on working hard, make fans happy and enjoy basketball. I'm a basketball player who's trying to get better and better, this is my challenge and my job. About your question and the differences between basketball here in Asia and Europe, we can say that the game here is more of motion offense kind of play, not so organized in a system like the euopean game. People here love and watch NBA games more than Euroleague basketball so coaches and teams prefer to play uptempo basketball, the game is very fast, more attractive. Maybe it's a bit more of  individual talents play and individual skills and athleticism of the players. I really love it. Basketball is growing fast in Asia, media are covering the games, so popularity is huge and fans are great. Fans are different than Europe but they support their team with big passion and what it's very nice is that you can see whole families come to the gyms. In the Phillipines basketball is like a religion, fans are fantastic like nowhere else in the world.

We can imagine you had to be flexible adjusting your lifestyle to the local cultures. Do you have funny stories about that?

Having my career brought me in so many countries, experiencing cultures and different mentalities and stuff attracted me since always so I look at it as a privilege to learn more about the world we live in. Adjusting is not always easy of course and there is lot of funny situations happening every time. People in Middle East and Asia are not as tall as in Europe so it’s always funny walking along the streets every day and you can just meet people asking you to take a picture with you and talk: it's amazing. Basketball players get lot of attention here and people are friendly and nice. Sometimes it’s funny when they keep on talking to you in foreign language even if you can’t understand them. There is always to adjuste your habits with food so when I go somewhere for the first time I stick to chicken and rice until I get to know food of that country. Culture and lifestyle in Middle East are different so it’s always good to do little research before you go to some of Arabic countries. If all people start to look at you in a weird way in the street or yell loud it’s a sign you are making fool of yourself or doing something wrong: so it's better stop it because you might finish in prison! You have to respect and know each culture, no doubt. Driving in Middle East is always ‘fun’ but I leave it to professionals because for people who are not from here it’s more of an extreme sport.

Switching to off the court, have a favourite music artist, group? Who is Milan Vucicevic in the everyday life?

In everyday life beside basketball I have interest in many different subjects. As my friends sometimes say I am a technology addict, I mean... I like to know what is happening in the world so I follow politics, economy, even the stocks market. I like to read about history but I can say music is my big passion. I grew up on my fathers LP’s of Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Who…so I got infected by guitar heors of the 70's hard rock. I can listen to different music but metal is my love and my favourite artists are Tool, In Flames, Slayer, Type O Negative just to name few. In the summer I travel alla around Europe for Music Festivals or see concerts of my favorite bands. Basketball is my life but off the court I think it’s good to have some hobbies and different interests... learn, read, meet people who are not involved in the basketball business. It helps me relax and keep focus and motivation for basketball court.

What's your next challenge as a player? Is Europe still an option?

I wanna win championship with my team in Syria, just push my team as far as we can go and lift our game to the next level. I’m oly 25 years old, I’m hungry for basketball and want to win every game. I wanna play as long as have fun and I like challenges. I’m pretty happy where I’m right now but Europe is always the option. I'm definitely open to come back, stronger than ever.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Legendary Coach K outstanding Clinic: Attacking the Zone defense

Mike Krzyzewski is the men's college basketball coach of the Duke Blue Devils. He is also the head coach of the United States men's National basketball team, whom he led to a Gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
Nicknamed "Coach K", Krzyzewski has led the Blue Devils to 4 NCAA Championships, 11 Final Fours and several Conference titles. He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame following the 2001 season.

Coach K teaches in this clip with unmatchable evidence the principles how to attack the Zone defense. Great tips.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Q&A with emerging Finnish coach Pieti Poikola (Pyrinto Tampere): Rannikko, Koponen and the next talents for the NBA Lottery!

Pieti Poikola is the head coach of Finnish team Pyrinto Tampere and the assistant coach of the U18 National Team. At 33, Pieti has already won a Korisliiga title and has a bright future ahead. Pieti was very kind to talk to Basketball Telegraph columnist Fulvio Floreani about his career thus far and Finnish basketball.

Coach, first off congratulations for the Korisliiga title last year! Tell our readers a bit about yourself, you're only 33 but already a successful coach. How did you fall in love with the game and how did your career as a coach start and develop so brightly and so quickly?

Thanks a lot. I used to play until I was 20 and in the meantime I started coaching in the youth programs. I was quite a successful junior coach and got an opportunity to coach women's and men's team in Second division pretty quickly. Of course I've been really lucky to have had chance to coach good players because without top level players you can’t achieve any goals, no matter how good as a coach you are. That time talented players and above all veterans helped me a lot to improve as a coach. Besides that, one of the main reasons for my professional success is that I've always worked hard without any time limits.

Generally, when people think about Finland top sports, ice-hockey and racing come to mind. Looking closely, however, basketball has produced big-time talents (Hanno Möttölä made the team in the NBA, Teemu Rannikko is a European Leagues veteran, Petteri Koponen and Gerald Lee have a bright future ahead, just to name a few). How's basketball going in Finland and what do you expect for the future?

The level of Finnish basketball is increasing slowly. We have some great coaches like Henrik Dettman and Ari Tammivaara who have taught younger coaches and players the work ethic. Möttölä's achievements (NBA, Euroleague) prove that a Finnish player can play and have a great career in the biggest leagues. Now we have very good U18 National team program and we all are very proud for the successes of our National team who has been able to win against Serbia, Italy, Israel, France. I like to tell all of you that even before Möttölä other players played abroad. Kari Liimo, for instance, was drafted by an NBA franchise in the early 70's. We have some interesting youngsters like Sasu Salin who's 19 and playing in Slovenia with powerhouse Olympia Ljubljana, and many others: I do believe we have the next Koponen and Rannikko.

As for the Korisliiga, your team has 3 American born players in its roster, the other players are Finnish and they have a lot of playing time and chances to grow.

I think 3 Americans is a good number because it's the right balance to have a good level in the League but the Finnish players can take the lights and responsibility on their teams. There are some excellent American players in our League. For example, on our roster there is the Italy 4th best scorer in 2006 and also the Brazil 4th best in 2008. Moreover, half of the National team players are playing in the league and having only three imports even kids can have lot of playing-time.

You are member of the U18 National team coaching staff. What are the expectations of the Finnish Basketball Federation and yours from this team.
There are many talented guys on our U18 team. We have some tall big-guards who can play at any level of competition. The biggest talent though is maybe Joonas Caven, a 6-10 who's been grinding in the last couple of  years. This is the first time that a Finnish junior team joined the A-group of the FIBA competitions: the goal is to keep staying with the best European National teams. It's a pretty big success for us. Hopefully new generations will be even better. As a coach,  it's a great honor to be part of Gordon Herbert's staff: he is really a great coach. I have learnt a lot by his methods.

Coach, let's talk a bit of Korisliiga, the Finnish professional league. How are the fans over there? There are many other aspects we want to know: the arenas, the media coverage, how's the league working with marketing?

Basketball is still a minor sport compared to ice hockey and football in Finland. We register about one thousand people in the gym but the numbers are going up. Gyms are relatively small, we don't have great arenas and this is maybe good, because they are packed and the atmposhere is great. Last season the finals were sold-out, and for great games and for playoffs some teams opt to play in the ice hockey arenas where the capacities are up to 5,000.

Pieti, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Still in Finland or maybe you would like to try and experience coaching basketball in top leagues?

I really never thought this play. I don't have a plan for my career. I just want to do my job in the best way possible, trying to help my team and players win and improve as individuals. It'd be great to have such a chance to coach abroad maybe being hired as an assistant first. But it's impossible to guess where I'll be in 5 years. We will see what it will come to happen.

Coach, thank you for your time and best of luck for your career and this year's campaign with Pyrinto Tampere!

Thank you. Thank you very much for your interest to our League!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Exclusive Q&A with Kuwait National team Head coach, Faisal Buressli. A true legend in his country

Faisal Buressli, 49, is the Head Coach of Kuwait and even Director of Youth national teams. Faisal has been a legendary player in his country and not only: in 1980 he received offers of scholarships from many schools of the NCAA. In Kuwait and at international level in whole Gulf area leagues, Buressli wrote the history of basketball as an unguardable player. When he retired after playing professional 22 years, he decided  immediately to begin his new career as a coach. In 2008/2009 he won the Gulf championships with the Kuwaity youth teams and he is building a great project for basketball in Kuwait.

Coach, tell us a little bit about you. We know you have been a great player in your country and you had the chance to play in the NCAA.

I started playing when I was eight years old. My first senior and professional team was Qadsiya. I became a starter in 1976 while I retired in 1998, it was a pretty long and successful career. I played 29 international tournaments as a player, I received the Most Valuable Player and leading scorer champion awards in Kuwait and in the Gulf leagues several times. I am also proud to be named twice as one of the best twelve players in Asia and I received six offers for scholarships from American colleges to play in the NCAA in 1980 but, unfortunately for family reasons, I kept playing in Kuwait. I am the only player from Kuwait that I could have played in the NCAA.

When did you decide to become a coach?

I started coaching when I retired as a player. I began teaching basketball to kids in the youth programs. I won the league championship and the cup in the first years coaching Al Arabi and, after those seuccess our Basketball Federation asked me to become the assistant coach for Kuwaity National teams. I kept coaching some clubs and I've been successful with Aljahra: we missed to win the title in the finals but I still remember that season. The Federation after these good results named me head coach of Kuwait youth national teams and they awarded me 2 times as best coach of the year in my country.

Most of Basketball Telegraph readers have never seen your team play. Could you tell us about your coaching style and phylosophies?

Like every coach has his own phylosophy, I have mine. I was a player so I understand the mentality of the ballers. I graduated in psycholagy so I think I'm good in managing the different personalities of each player and how to relate with youngsters. I really love to feel myself  very close to the players psychologically, and sometimes you can say I'm behaving like an elder brother for them. About my basketball philosophy, I really like to change and experiement different styles, even during the same season. But uptempo basketball is my favourite, as well as switching defenses to surprise the opposing teams.

We are very interested to know more about the game in your leagues. How is basketball in the Gulf area, how many countries are involved and how is the league structured. Do you have american players or any import per team?

Basketball in Kuwait is ok but unfortunately we don't have many bigmen, tall guys. Our domestic players are pretty skilled, but you can find many guards and forwards, not true inside players. So teams need to sign import players, especially 5-men. Each team in Kuwait can sign two imports, the majority are Americans. The rules allow teams to let one player on the court though, so it means when one is in the other is out. Our domestic players are not professional, who knows maybe in the future we will develop a professional league: that is my hope. Regarding the countries of the region, in the Gulf area teams are from Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia. All the teams are very competitive and on the same level, maybe just the teams from Oman are a bit weaker.  I want to tell you that one important event is the Gulf championship that it takes place every two years. The best two teams gain the right to play the Asian Camphionships.

Speaking of the next few years, what do you have for goals for the coming seasons as a coach?

I try to read as much as I can about basketball and I watch and attend lots of  games. And I want to be updated about basketball news, being in touch with colleagues and trying to steal  from legendary coaches. You can always learn and improve as a coach. I have many goals in my mind and I would like to make a big change in my future. Just I need time to make it. I hope my country can raise in basketball. Hopefully to make it as the head coach of the National teams and with the great help of the Kuwaity Basketball Federation. That's my dream.