Credit: Stopkadras
Credit Stopkadras

On Monday morning, Slovenian Jure Zdovc visited the Zalgiris Arena for the first time as the new Zalgiris head coach. The 54-year-old specialist, who signed a contract until the end of the season, officially replaced the previous bench boss, Martin Schiller.

Free throws this season

Points made: 12,0
Accuracy: 66,7%
Place in standings: 8
Record max: 18
Record min: 6
Most made FTs: Janis Strelnieks

Before getting to work with his new colleagues at the coaching staff and getting to know the people of Zalgiris, Zdovc sat down with Rytis Kazlauskas of Zalgiris Insider.

"At the end of the day, it's Zalgiris. A big team. Zalgiris followed me all my life. Kaunas club, just like Ljubljana Olimpija, had ups and downs, but Zalgiris made it to the top level. Olimpija did not succeed to follow," said Zdovc at the start of the interview.

How would you call the whole negotiations process with Zalgiris?

I never complicate. I don't ask some crazy things, I don't make some politics. I mean, Zalgiris were interested, what to think more?

It's EuroLeague. Earlier I had 2-3 EuroLeague offers, but I declined because I had a job already. It is a big chance for me. No matter what, Zalgiris must win every game. I am very excited to be here and also honored.

You are coming to a situation when you need to jump in the season. You were in such a position before, so what's the hardest thing?

It is not easy when you jump alone. I come alone without my assistants, who know my philosophy. Okay, I know some players, but it's difficult, especially, because we don't have time for practice. I mean, Zalgiris played yesterday, tomorrow we will leave for Belgrade. We don't have a lot of time. It will be a little bit different experience from the previous situation when I immediately had to change everything.

I will try to feel the atmosphere, to feel the situation, the players, the assistants. All together, we can make something good.

How much information did you gather about this Zalgiris?

I used these two traveling days to watch the games. Zalgiris coaches sent me scouting reports about the players, about the systems. I tried to put all this into my head to make one picture of the team.

When I meet the coaches, we will go again through everything. Now it's a double week, we will not have time for serious practice, maybe for some video or some discussions. I am sure we will find the way pretty quickly.

Do you already have ideas about changing some roles of the players and so on?

Yes, for sure. I see some players aren't happy. It is not easy to play for Zalgiris due to the big pressure. You could not know that the player cannot adjust to the team, to the atmosphere before signing him. We will try to help them. Team also has a psychologist which is great.

Together with assistants, we will try to use players for my philosophy. I do not like the stamps when somebody says this or that. For sure, they are all good players otherwise, they will not be here.

How would you describe your basketball philosophy?

Basketball can be very simple if you understand. I like defense, but I believe all coaches like to play good defense, and they like to score a lot of points (laughs). Definitely, I will try to improve the defense that they already play. I like team basketball, I don't like selfish players, I don't like the shots to be forced.

We must be aggressive and find the extra pass to the open man. This is what I am missing right now, what I have seen in the games so far. I don't see extra passes, I don't see passes that go from one side to another. I believe we should improve this. It is also a part of my philosophy.

We need to play fast, organized but we must execute offense to find the open man. Be aggressive, find the open man, no extra dribbling, team defense, helping each other, never give up. Sometimes I say to the players, "don't rest in the defense, rest in the offensive end."

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