Ukraine and The Czar

We have concluded our first week of training camp in Yuzhny. Last year we came to the camp with 16-17 players. But this year we have 23 guys who were competing for 15 spots on the Ukraine National Team.

Since there are a lot of new faces we haven’t seen before, we’ve done much more playing than teaching during our practices because we need to get a feel for these guys and see what they can do. We will have to make some cuts because we can’t get as much accomplished in training camp with such a large group.

Our first friendly tournament will get underway this week. We face Romania on Tuesday, followed by Belarus on Wednesday and Israel on Thursday in the AeroSvit Cup 2012. Unfortunately five of our players will be out at the start of the tournament, including three starters.

Hopefully we will be competitive, but I’m not as concerned about winning as I am about determining who are in fact the best players to keep on the roster for the qualifying tournament in August. It will be good to compete against some new opponents in these exhibition games.

Photos courtesy of Anatolii Riabukha.

Ukraine and The Czar

I have returned to Kiev this summer to coach the Ukraine National Team in the qualification tournament for the 2013 FIBA European Basketball Championship, which will be held in Slovenia next year. The only other returning staff member from the States is veteran strength and conditioning coach Rich Dalatri, who was the first such specialist to work in the NBA when the Nets hired him back in 1987.

Former NBA coach Bob Hill, who has been coaching in China for the past couple years, will join our staff along with Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Joe Wolf, D-League Erie BayHawks head coach Jay Larranaga, and Boston Celtics scout Jack Nolan. Former Spurs videographer Zach Guthrie will also come on board before heading to the New Orleans Hornets in the upcoming season. And Ukrainian team coordinator Andrey Khomenko will be back in action to handle logistics.

I look forward to working with the promising, young Ukrainian players again. It would be a great honor to qualify for EuroBasket 2013, which in turn gives us a chance to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. Though it will be a tremendous challenge to qualify for the Olympics, this is what we’re setting out to do. This summer’s qualifying tournament is where our mission begins.

Our staff gathered in Kiev last weekend and then flew to our training site in Yuzhny, a port city on the Black Sea located about 45 minutes from the beautiful seaside resort city Odessa. Though Yuzhne is somewhat isolated, we have access to a great practice facility.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos courtesy of Jack Nolan.

Fired Up: Free Agency

Perhaps it would make more sense for the NBA’s free-agency period to come before the draft.

When you go after a free agent to fill a need for your team you know that player is a solid bet because you’ve seen him compete in the league for a number of years, as opposed to draft candidates who are still unproven at the NBA level.

If the signing period for free agents came prior to the draft, you could pursue the pros you know will help your team and then fill out the rest of your roster at draft time accordingly.

For example, if the Nets had already signed Deron Williams, would they have made a draft-night trade with Portland for Tyshawn Taylor? Brooklyn may still have selected the promising young PG to groom him for a bigger role down the road, but they might have played their cards differently if they had locked in their All-Star point guard before the draft.

Around the League


Around the League