2010-11 Team Focus: CSKA Moscow

Oct 12, 2010 by Euroleague.net Print
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CSKA Moscow video
Nikita Kurbanov
Sergey Bykov
Matjaz Smodis
Ramunas Siskauskas
J.R. Holden
Artem Zabelin
Andrey Vorontsevich
Trajan Langdon
Boban Marjanovic
Alexey Shved
Sasha Kaun
Dmitry Sokolov
Viktor Khryapa
Jamont Gordon
Head Coach: Dusko Vujosevic
Coach Talk with Dusko Vujosevic
Two of European basketball's greatest success stories of the last decade come together this season as mighty CSKA Moscow goes under the orders of new head coach Dusko Vujosevic, last season's Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year Trophy winner. CSKA is riding a record streak of eight consecutive Final Four appearances and looks to start a new decade with the same dominance. Vujosevic arrives after nine seasons with Partizan Belgrade, during which he won every possible domestic title numerous times and led Partizan on remarkable Euroleague runs, including last season’s Final Four. Vujosevic inherits the core of the CSKA team that shined again last year. That includes Viktor Khryapa, All-Euroleague First Team forward and Best Defender Trophy winner; a trio of All-Decade selections in Ramunas Siskauskas, Trajan Langdon and J.R. Holden; former All-Euroleague player Matjaz Smodis; and breakthrough young big men Sasha Kaun and Andrey Vorontsevich. CSKA reenforced that core with electric scorer Jamont Gordon, savvy playmaker Sergey Bykov and 2.22-meter center Boban Marjanovic. CSKA’s combination of talent, depth and experience and a new coaching master on the sidelines makes it an instant favorite for another excellent season and a spot in Barcelona, where its marvelous Final Four streak began in 2003.

Ramunas Siskauskas - CSKA Moscow - Final Four Paris 2010_26761

No player represents CSKA’s modern golden era more than Holden, the veteran point guard who has guided the team into those eight straight Final Fours. Holden has excelled at every challenge handed to him over the years, whether to be a go-to scorer, a playmaker or a shut-down defender. Although health problems cost him the preseason, Holden is expected to be ready to resume his main role - team leader - soon enough. Bykov arrives from CSKA's cross-town rival, Dynamo, where he emerged as a superb scorer, playmaker and defender. He could follow in Holden's footsteps as the team’s next star combo-guard. Alexey Shved returns, after half of a season on loan, eager to prove himself as an elite playmaker. Langdon is among the greatest shooters in Euroleague history and one with an incredible basketball IQ. No player could complement him better than Siskauskas. Their smarts and teamwork are a nightmare for opposing defenders and create opportunities for the rest of the team to shine. Gordon, fresh off a strong Euroleague debut with Cibona, brings a athleticism and even more talent to the backcourt. Able to play all three perimeter positions, he could connect with Langdon and Siskauskas to bring the CSKA attack to new heights.

Khryapa switched from small forward to power forward due to Smodis’s injury last season and immediately became a star, doing it all at both ends of the floor. Though he will miss the start of the season, his impact will certainly be great when he returns. The return of Smodis upgrades the entire CSKA frontline. He can score inside and out and adds a mix of toughness and experience that can fuel the rest of the squad, especially the younger members of the frontcourt. Also at the power spot, Vorontsevich has been on a tremendous upswing since the middle of last season. Now, with a legend at developing young talents on the sidelines, this could be the season Vorontsevich breaks through to stardom. Nikita Kurbanov adds mobility and good experience for a 23-year-old to the mix, and can play either forward spot. The foursome of Kaun, Marjanovic, Dmitry Sokolov and Arterm Zabelin give Vujosevic nearly nine meters worth of young, strong centers. Kaun's game has leapt forward in each of his two seasons at CSKA as he has shown himself to be clever with the bal, a fearless rebounder and a strong finisher around the basket. Marjanovic will make his Euroleague debut as an impact player due to his size alone, but as a hand-picked choice of Vujosevic, the sky is the limit for him. After a rough first Euroleague season last year, Sokolov has shown glimpses of what CSKA first saw in him. Zabelin could at times play some power forward, giving CSKA a true twin towers set up. With multiple lineup formations, experienced and intelligent players, and a team that is always hungry, it is safe to expect CSKA to challenge for the Final Four and more again this season.
Boban Marjanovic - CSKA Moscow (Photo: cskabasket.com)
One of the most intriguing center prospects in Europe, Boban Marjanovic arrives to CSKA eager to make his Euroleague debut and to develop from an up-and-down contributor into a consistent force. Naturally, the thing that stands out the most about Marjanovic is his size, but the 2.22-meter center is more than just a tall player. A tireless worker and a student of the game, Marjanovic is constantly developing new moves and improving his skills and conditioning. The fact that he will play under the tutelage of head coach Dusko Vujosevic, the man who helped develop some of the game’s top centers over the past three decades, only fuels the hope that Marjanovic will bust out this season.

Already in the past few years with his boyhood club, Hemofarm Stada, Marjanovic developed into an impact player, helping the team reach the Eurocup semifinals two seasons ago. He has already made his debut with the Serbian senior national team after winning gold medals at the 2007 World under-19 Championships and the 2008 European U-20 Championships. What separates Marjanovic from other players his size is his quickness. By no means speedy, Marjanovic has developed enough speed that other centers cannot elude him so easily. But while keeping pace with them, he typically has a 10-centimeter advantage over them - or more - allowing him to intimidate most and block many shots in the paint. Likewise on offense, few can stand up to Marjanovic when he gets the ball in the paint.

At CSKA, Marjanovic will face the challenge of needing to earn minutes in a stacked frontcourt that features six big men who tasted the Final Four last season. Though minutes won’t be easy to come by, it is entirely possible that once he earns Vujosevic’s trust and becomes a regular rotation player for CSKA, there won’t be anyone else left to stop him and the big man will be on his way to Euroleague stardom.