Team Focus: Montepaschi Siena

Oct 14, 2008 by Print
Simone Pianigiani, Head Coach
Simone Pianigiani - Montepaschi Siena
Coach, tell us about your team's roster for the next Euroleague season, what changes you made and what improvements you expect to gain from those decisions?
"We decided to keep the core of players that had two fantastic seasons with Montepaschi Siena in order to maintain a technical consistency, as well as keeping our working guidelines. That has been our way of life in the last couple of seasons. That was the plan and keeping the core of our team was an important step. As for the new arrivals, we were looking for a player with the motivation to step up to a higher level and found it in Morris Finley. We hope he will step up to become a better player, like many others did in this team in the last two years. He can add freshness and give us an extra boost. From a technical point of view, we were looking for a dangerous three-point shooter similar to McIntyre who could also read the pick-and-roll well. That allows us to keep one or the other on court for the entire game. Our system is quote interchangeable and Vlado Ilievski gave us something different, but was less dangerous in many situations, in pick and roll or transition. We had to change our playing style when McIntyre went to the bench. Our idea was to improve that. On the other hand, Domercant is a versatile player that can adapt to various lineups. He is not as well defined as Bootsy Thronton, who knew how to do certain things, playing reading the game without the ball or in the low post, attacking the baseline, but Domercant is able to be more creative with the ball in his hands. He can also fill in as playmaker, something we already experimented when Finley was injured."
How much can you learn from the preseason about your team? What signs do you look for now that will help when the Euroleague starts?
"Our playing style, of course, will have to evolve. Obviously, we will have to start from basic things that are familiar to many of the players, it would be foolish not to do so. That working base must be the same for the new arrivals, too. As soon as we get to understand certain things we have been working on for the last two years, then I am sure will be able to evolve our game and our playing style. That's also because there are new players that read the game in a different way. Even when we had a winning season, the problems we had led us to think about how we could improve our team. That is our goal this season."
What are your goals going into the new Euroleague season?
"I don't know if we will be able to win something again because it gets harder every year. We have seen that other teams got much stronger, not only in Europe but also in Italy. What I can guarantee is that Montepaschi Siena will always give 110%, just as it did in the last few years. Not only on court, but during the games and in practices. I can promise that. All the staff and players will do their best in order to have another season at the highest level. Many factors are involved to get a winning team, but our fans can stay proud about Montepaschi."
Montepaschi SienaMontepaschi Siena is the new juggernaut of Italian basketball. Already one of the best teams in its country since the turn of the century with three Italian League titles and three Euroleague Final Four appearances since 2003, last season the club set a new standard for excellence. Under homegrown head coach Simone Pianigiani, one of the brightest young coaches in the game, and thanks to the work of Euroleague Basketball’s 2007-08 Best Executive Award winner Ferdinando Minucci, Montepaschi cruised to another Italian League crown and finished third in the Euroleague. The club hopes to build on that success now that it has kept the core of that team, while making a few key additions. All-Euroleague playmaker Terrell McIntyre, All-Euroleague second team selection Ksistof Lavrinovic, Shaun Stonerook, Romain Sato, Benjamin Eze and Rimas Kaukenas are all back, while scoring ace and reigning ULEB Cup MVP Henry Domercant and point guard Morris Finley have both come aboard. Together Montepaschi will try to battle for what would be the first Euroleague title for an Italian team since 2001.

Morris Finley
Terrell Mc Intyre
Benjamin Eze
Marco Carraretto
Romain Sato
Ksistof Lavrinovic
Rimantas Kaukenas
Tomas Ress
Shaun Stonerook
Luca Lechthaler
Henry Domercant
Head Coach: Simone Pianigiani
McIntyre is back after an outstanding Euroleague season. His court vision, leadership, shooting range and quickness turn him into one of the best floor generals in the competition. He ranked second in steals and assists in the Euroleague last season. McIntyre will share the point guard duties with Finley, a Euroleague newcomer who was second in the Italian League in scoring last season. Finley is set to give Montepaschi more intensity and firepower. Kaukenas was a key piece for Montepaschi before injuries shortened his season. He is an all-around scorer with outstanding driving skills and is deadly in the transition game that coach Pianigiani likes to play. Domercant is an outstanding shooter with deep range and determination. He will need to change his role to become another piece of the puzzle, just like Domercant was in that past at Efes Pilsen and Olympiacos. Sato offers athleticism and power at small forward while Marco Carrareto provides intensity and defense off the bench.

Lavrinovic proved his value last season, leading the Euroleague in three-point percentage while becoming a dominant force in the low post, too. Romain Sato - Montepaschi SienaHe figures to be Montepaschi's silent leader this season. Meanwhile, Stonerook led the Euroleague in steals last season and is a critical player for Pianigiani. Whether it’s is a three-pointer in crunch time, a key steal or a decisive offensive rebound, Stonerook is there to win games. Both Stonerook and Lavrinovic are great pick-and-roll players that also excel in the high post. Eze is back to offer athleticism, rebounding, defense and an improved mid-range shot that make him more dangerous on offense. Tomas Ress comes of the bench to help on the boards and with his outside shooting, while youngs Luca Lechthaler comes back after a season on loan at Premiata Montegranaro. He may find playing time due to his rebounding skills and determination.

Montepaschi returned to the Euroleague last season after a year in the ULEB Cup and went all the way to the Final Four, losing a 18-point lead in the semifinal against Maccabi Tel Aviv. Most of its main players are back in the lineup with a very valuable year of experience together. Domercant is a safe bet, a proven scorer that belongs to the European basketball elite. If Finley can also adjust his game to a new role, Montepaschi may once again return to the Final Four - and even go further.