|It comes as no surprise that one of the Euroleague's signature coaches of the new century, Dusko Ivanovic of Tau Ceramica, has attracted plenty of questions from others in his profession during a week-long turn as Fan Mail guest on Euroleague.net. From training methods to philosophy, fellow coaches young and old sought advice among the many fan questions that Coach Ivanovic received. As he and Tau await a the crucial Top 16 game they have left on Thursday against their Group E co-leaders, Olympiacos, to settle first place between them, Coach Ivanovic was more than generous with his answers. "Every coach has his way of seeing and thinking about basketball," Ivanovic said in one of his answers. "You decide on your systems of defense and attack. But we depend a lot on the players we have, too. I have some players here and had some in my first stint here at Tau with great qualities: good passers with good court vision and good shots. Consequentially, with them it was easy to play as we are now. With good fundamentals, hard work and clear ideas, you can play any way you choose."
Mister Ivanovic, you were a great player and now you are a great coach! Who were your favorite players when you were a child? Best regards and I hope that you become coach of the Montenegran national team.
Predrag Dabetic - Podgorica
"As a you boy, like most people of my generation where I lived, we watched a lot of the ex-Yugoslav League on TV and we saw all sorts of great players. And then we went out and worked on what we saw them do, alone, copying the way one guy dribbled or another faked. Lots of us when out in the street - there were no covered gyms for us back then - and worked by ourselves to assimilate what we saw. Like I said, there were a lot of great players at the time, but if I had to choose one, I'd say Ljubodrag Simonovic, who was a tall perimeter player for his time, 2.02 meters or so. I liked watching him a lot among many great players at that time. As for the Montenegran national team, they have a great coach now. About the future, you never know."
Hello Mr Ivanovic. Do you think that Sergi Vidal could be part of the Spanish national team for next European championships? Best regards,
Riccardo Bassi - Italy
"I think that Sergi is playing at a very high level right now. He is also a player with experience and he's taking advantage of that experience on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Of course, he's one of a long list of players who would be considered for the Spanish national team. Who will decide? The national coach, and I would not presume to enter into it. But yes, of course, I think he belongs on a list of candidates and he has the quality to play at that level."
Dusko, throughout your career you have been known for extremely good physical preparedness, not only yours as a player, but that of your teams as a coach. Is the game of European basketball becoming ever more physical, even more than the NBA? Also, how do you think some of the great basketball "artists" that played only a decade ago - like Kukoc, Paspalj and Djordjevic - would cope with today's style of play? Kindest regards,
Slaven Popovic - Serbian
"I think that for sure the physical aspect of European basketball has gone way up by now. That was always the main difference before between European basketball and the NBA. Now, it's almost equal, although the NBA still has a litte more - I wouldn't say intensity - but more physical players. With time, I am sure we'll reach and pass the NBA players in this aspect. How would those former players do now? Surely, with the physical preparation they had then, they could not play now. But if they were on a European team now, they would work a lot more, and with the talent they had, they would play just as well. They would have to train more now than before and would need better physical preparation, but their talent would still stick out."
Hi Dusko! Congratulations on the Copa del Rey and on making it for the Euroleague quarterfinals for the fifth straight year. It’s a huge achievement for the club and a city like Vitoria, indeed, and a pleasure for us fans to see high-level basketball one more year. How do you feel your style has changed as a coach compared to your first stage in Tau? Thanks a lot and good luck for the rest of the season!
Gorka Lobo - Vitoria-Gasteiz
"Yes, I think it has a bit, but I can't say exactly how. With time, everything changes. And I try after each game and after each practice to think about whether I need to change something to make my team better and to be a better coach. In that sense, then, yes I have changed. On the other hand, my way of thinking and my working habits haven't changed at all." .
Dear Coach. I am Barça fan. I'd like to thank you for your work for our team. I enjoyed with your basket, having the best Navarro ever and always being in the finals. Which rival do you prefer for the quarterfinals, Madrid or Barça? Both options would be very emotional. Thanks a lot,
Carles Rofes - Barcelona
"The truth is, I don't know which I would prefer. Until now, I was hoping it could be Maccabi, which would be a better situation for us. Madrid and Barcelona are both great teams. Either one is going to be really, really tough. In either case, they will be emotional series, as well. I expect that no matter who we face it will be extremely hard and that the series can easily reach five games."
Greetings Mr. Ivanovic, i want to ask you about your opinion of Novica Velickovic, and Partizan Belgrade, and at the end what is your impression of fans at Belgrade arena in the match between Partizan and PAO? All the best,
Miksa Ivan , Kovin ,Vojvodina, Serbia
"I think that Partizan is surprising people, but only those people who don't know the team and don't know the type of players they have in Serbia and ex-Yugoslavia. It has been demonstrated going back many years, to the teams of Jugoplastica, to the shot by Djordjevic to win the Euroleague for Partizan in 1992, that there are a lot of unknown but great talents from that area. With great coaches and the character of winners, it only takes the crowds to get the maximum out Partizan's team. So for me, it's not as surprising as it is for others. It's a normal consequence of quality, hard work and great coaches. I always said that the crowds in Belgrade were the best I have seen. The fans never never stop supporting, and are always behind their teams. There are no fans who help like they do. The Tau fans are excellent, of course, but in a different way. What we saw in Belgrade last week is a record that I think will be around for many years."
Hello, Dusko. The sensation I have watching the games is that you are very active on the bench, and that at times is good because it transmits intensity to your team. Do you think also that somethime, depending on the game, it can transmit nervousness to the players? Many thanks,
Rafa - Barcelona
"It could be true, yes. When we lose sometimes, that crosses my mind. But I am working with players who have to know me and know themselves. That's my way of coaching in a game, and they have to learn to use it positively at all times. If a player doesn't adapt, it can be difficult, yes. I think a player could become nervous like you say, but just one and only now and then. It's not something that I think can affect the team nor something that I have to change."
Hello, I am 27 years old and I am planning to become a basketball coach. Is it not too late to start? What advice would you give me at my stage? Thank you,
Piotr - Poland
"It depends. Everything is relative. I began coaching when I was 39. Age is not important so much as your ambition and your work ethic. The years are never a barrier."
Hello Dusko, thanks for returning to Vitoria. We are enjoying your basketball very much this year and it is an honor to have you with us. My question is technical, not a criticism but something I wonder: Why don’t you like using zone defenses as a valid alternative to change game dynamics and to be less predictable for opponents? Thanks Dusko, and stay in Gasteiz for many years!
Javier Alvarez - Vitoria-Gasteiz
"It's true that I haven't played much zone at all lately, but I have coached other teams, like Fribourg in Switzerland, were we played a zone for all 40 minutes with the same five players. I remember my first year with Tau, thanks to a zone we came back from 18 points behind to beat Olympiacos in the playoffs. Here in Spain, sometimes we have won games playing zone, too. So sure, it's possible to change the rhythm of a game with a zone defense. I prefer man-to-man defense because it gives a team confidence and makes you more aggressive. Also, with a good man-to-man defense, you don't give up open shots, whereas with a zone there can always be an open shot. That's why I prefer man-to-man, because then the game depends on my defense and not on whether a player on the other team is having a good day or not shooting."
Dear Mr. Ivanovic. First of all, true congratulations for the wonderful season you are having with Tau Vitoria. I'm an Italian coach and an AJ Milano supporter, and after watching both recent matches you won against my team: I was very impressed by the perfect athletic form of most of your players, especially at such a stressful point of the season. I'd like to know: how does the team train in a normal week to achieve such form and how much do you cooperate with the trainer, Mr. Bilbao, for this athletic preparation? Best wishes,
Ivan Bergamo - Italy
"I always run a very strong preseason training camp. I like to hold preseason in the mountains and have the players run a lot to get a base for the work they will do all season long. Once we are on the court with the basketball in our hands, almost every day we do some physical preparation at the beginning of practice. Some days it's geared more toward resistance or more toward explosiveness, depending on the situation the team is in at that moment. When you play lots of games, you lose resistance, and you need to maintain resistance in order to have the explosiveness you want on the court."
Hi, TAU has its own basketball style for years, based on lot of passes and sharp shooting, fast and organized. We, the basketball fans, really do enjoy it. You started this style. How did you discover it and decide to use it? Regards,
Tugsan - Turkey
"Every coach has his way of seeing and thinking about basketball. You decide on your systems of defense and attack. But we depend a lot on the players we have, too. I have some players here and had some in my first stint here with great qualities: good passers with good court vision and good shots. Consequentially, with them it was easy to play as we are now. With good fundamentals, hard work and clear ideas, you can play any way you choose."