Credit: BNS
Credit BNS

Jure Zdovc held his first official press conference as the new head coach of Zalgiris Kaunas.

Free throws this season

67%
12,0
Points made: 12,0
Accuracy: 66,7%
Place in standings: 8
Record max: 18
Record min: 6
Most made FTs: Janis Strelnieks

Zdovc is coming to Kaunas, where his native Slovenia beat the hosts Lithuania a couple of months ago and qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

As expected, Luka Doncic was spectacular, putting on a show for the fans and carrying his team to historic heights. Asked whether Zalgiris fans could expect Jure’s magic in Kaunas, the new Zalgiris coach smiled but talked realistically.

“Look, players play basketball,” Zdovc answered. “Coaches are here to correct and help them. Without players, there’s no basketball. I’ll try my best.”

“I know that the first press conference is always the nicest, but after that, the real life comes. I’ll try my best, I’ll try to be open. For sure, I’ll make some mistakes, it’s part of the game. But yeah, Luka is really magical,” Zdovc added with a smile on his face.

The Slovenian head coach won’t have much time to work on the team because Zalgiris will play tomorrow in Belgrade against Crvena Zvezda for the third round of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. 

The first question for coach Zdovc was about the changes that he wants to make with the team.

“First of all, we have an issue with Lauvergne, so we need to find a replacement that can cover his absence,” coach Zdovc started. “That’s the main priority right now, then I’ll try to adjust the team to my philosophy slowly. I think that after the first game, I’ll already have some material to show the players and then start asking for some changes.”

When asked about what type of player Zalgiris is looking for to replace Lauvergne, coach Zdovc said that physicality and athleticism are two skills that will be considered.

“This is a question that you also have to ask the GM, but we need athleticism, I like to have a big man who has good physicality and athleticism. But of course, the most important thing is to get a good player. He needs to have some offensive skills, but he also needs to provide good defense,” Zdovc explained. 

Many cameras and televisions were present at the press conference, but, according to Zdovc, that won’t add extra pressure.

“I don’t think this is more pressure for me. I’m very happy to see so many people here, and it makes me understand how important basketball is here.

My biggest problem is that, often, I put too much pressure on myself because I always want to win everything, and sometimes it doesn’t make me very realistic, but that’s how I am,” the new Zalgiris coach explained.

When asked about some clips on YouTube in which he shouts to players, Zdovc didn’t hide from the fact that he needs to control himself better at times.

“Well, for sure, I’m working on myself. I think that last season you can see I never had that kind of episode.

I can yell at players, but I never disrespect them, and I don’t have any problems if players shout at me because we’re all in to achieve something important here. But things change, there’s a new generation now, and we need to adapt our methods and our attitude towards the players,” Zdovc said. 

Zdovc also confirmed that he is not going to add additional members to the current coaching staff of Zalgiris.

“I don’t see a reason to add other coaches. I have already met the coaching staff, they’re good people, they know the team, and in terms of EuroLeague, they have more experience than me recently. I completely trust in them, so I’m not going to make any changes,” he said.

“It’s too early to say what I like and what I don’t like,” coach Zdovc answered when asked about the status of the team. “Judging from outside, it’s really easy, but from the inside, it’s a completely different thing.”

“I already had some conversations with the veteran players, and I want to have a good relationship with them because they’re local players, and they have influence in the locker room, “he added.

Zalgiris have several veteran players, and that experience will help, according to coach Zdovc, but at the same time, the team will need some energy and athleticism too.

“On one hand, it’s good to have many veteran players, because they have a lot of experience and they don’t need too much time to learn new things but at the same time we’re gonna need energy and freshness too, so we need to combine these two elements,” Zdovc said.

Getting a call so early in the season was a surprise also for coach Zdovc, who confirmed that he didn’t expect this opportunity so early.

“Yes, I was surprised when I received the call from Zalgiris,” he said. “Actually, I wasn’t ready, but when I got the offer, I didn’t think too much. Zalgiris is an important club and has big goals. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m also a very ambitious person,” Slovenian explained.

Zdovc also talked about Emmanuel Mudiay and the role he’s going to have for the team. Slovenian admitted that he will expect Mudiay’s more significant impact on the defensive end.

‘I don’t want to judge the players right now because, as I said before, it’s too early. But of course, Mudiay is an important player who must give more to the team, and I think he knows that very well.

I hope it’s just a matter of time before he can express himself at the best of his qualities, but I also know that we don’t have much time because every game here matters,” Zdovc finished. 

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