| He came out of nowhere last season to lead his team to the Final Four, become first-team All-Euroleague point guard and hit the most three-pointers in the competition all decade. Now, Terrell McIntyre and Montepaschi Siena are at it again. Montepaschi is already one of the first two qualifiers to the Top 16 and McIntyre is running the show with even more confidence - if that were possible. His numbers are steady as always, with double-digit scoring, solid assists and great shooting percentages. But McIntyre won't measure himself with numbers, unless they are victories. "Our long-term goals are getting to the Final Four again, and then going further, putting ourselves in a position to win the Euroleague," McIntyre told Euroleague.net in an interview. "Now, though, we are really working on the short-term goals, and that's all about finishing at the top of our regular season group."
Terrell, congratulations on helping to getting Montepaschi to the Top 16 so quickly. With that accomplishment and the undefeated start in the Italian League, do you guys consider yourselves on schedule with the goals you set for this season?
"So far, so good, yeah. We know that we reached the Top 16, which is good, but we want to finish at the top of our group. That's the real goal, and there's still a lot of work left in the regular season because of that. The key for us was to win on the road in Poland last week. We looked at that as our biggest game of the season so. We knew that if we could win that, we could keep fighting with Panathinaikos and Barcelona for first place. Winning on the road is very important in this league."
Since you arrived to Siena to start the 2006-07 season, the team's dominance in Italy has been almost absolute. How has that been possible?
"It's not easy. If you look at our games, there really are a lot of close ones. That first year, it was really unexpected. No one thought Montepaschi would do so well, not even us. We set our goals at the beginning of the season, but we surprised ourselves, too, dominating as we did. Last year, we came in a lot more confident, everybody on the team knew each other, and we wanted to prove the first season was no fluke. And we proved it, not only in Italy but in the Euroleague, as well. This year, it's more of the same. We're a unit, we play together and we want to prove that we deserve to be mentioned among the top teams in Europe."
How much of a help is Montepaschi's roster stability - with you, Romain Sato, Ben Eze, Rimas Kaukenas and Shaun Stonerook being there all three years - to your duties as a point guard?
"It helps a lot. I know those guys, know their games, know where they like the ball. And they know me as well. With us being together so long - along with Marco Carraretto, plus Ksistof Lavrinovic and Tomas Ress the last two - it's not only easier for us, but it's easier on new players coming in. When they get here and see how we all play in the system, it makes it easier to adjust for them, easier to integrate two players than if we changed five or six every year."
How has head coach Simone Pianigiani made roster stability to make Montepaschi such a consistent winner?
"He's a coach, number one, but Simone also looks at his players and understands players. He's willing to make adjustments throughout the course of a season, depending on his players. This year we added Henry Domercant and Morris Finley, so he adjusted things offensively to implement the skills and qualities they bring to the game. The defense is always the same, always demanding, because he and we know that defense is always the key to our success. So that stays the same. But offensively, Simone is willing to make adjustments, and that's a great thing."
Reaching the Final Four last season was a success in itself. Did finishing third in Madrid disappoint you or inspire you for the future?
"We were excited to be there and happy once we got there. After we lost in the semifinal against Maccabi, though, the excitement went away. I was disappointed. We felt that it was a game we should have won, being as we were up most of the game until the third quarter. It was a game we felt we could win, but Maccabi showed more experience and took it. Now, we look upon it as something to build on for us. This season, we know that when an experienced team gets leads like that, they don't lose them, and they also pull out close games. That's what we're trying to do."
You were also voted to the All-Euroleague first team during the Final Four. After working your way up over so many years and countries and teams, what did that recognition mean to you?
"It felt good to be recognized for what you did, but as a player I know that if we don't win as a team, none of that is possible for me, or for Ksistof or for Bootsy, who were also honored. If you don't win first and get to the Final Four, maybe none of that is possible, because Europe is full of great players who all want to be winners. But for me, I have never looked for individual honors. I just want to win. Winning is what I care about most."
Did you know that you made more three-pointers total last season, 71, than any Euroleague player all decade?
"That's the first time I heard that, so it's news to me. It's just the way our offense runs and one of the qualities I bring to the team, three-point shooting. Everyone knows that has been something I do. I try to play to my strength, and teams try to take it away, of course, but our offense works to give everybody good shots."
How do balance you responsibilities of leadership, scoring and getting your teammates involved?
"The number one goal for me is to get my teammates involved. Sometime when I see the offense is struggling, I can be more aggressive, but my number one goal is to make sure my teammates are happy out there. I feel that if everyone gets the ball some and gets in a good rhythm, they are more into the game and also play better defense. Obviously, it feels good to touch the ball and score, for me too. But the key in my job is to keep guys happy playing offense so they turn around and play good defense, too."
You seem completely calm on the court, even at the ends of game. Did you develop that trait or does it come naturally?
"It's something I have built over the years. In college, I used to look forward to the ends of games. I do now, too. I like taking clutch shots that matter. As for taking the final shot, that's just something about me that I like to do: I love to do. It happened over time and now I understand well that if I put the work in already, I am ready to take it. I can't control completely whether the shot goes in: some are off and some are on, that's part of life. I just know that I stick to what I have to do, I'll have the confidence to try. And even if I miss, I'll know I shot with confidence."
Siena has been to three Final Fours since 2003. How much of this team's goal goes beyond that now, to where only a Euroleague title will do?
"You definitely set higher goals as you go along. Once you set the goals at the beginning of the season, you come back and assess where you stand, you put them higher. Of course, our long-term goals are getting to the Final Four again, and then going further, putting ourselves in a position to win the Euroleague. Now, though, we are really working on the short-term goals, and that's all about finishing at the top of our regular season group."