Team Focus 2012-13: Zalgiris Kaunas

Sep 14, 2012 by Euroleague.net Print
Team Focus 2012-13: Zalgiris Kaunas
ROSTER
4
DARDEN, TREMMELL
F
1.94
6
POPOVIC, MARKO
G
1.85
7
LAVRINOVIC, DARJUS
C
2.12
8
JUSKEVICIUS, ADAS
G
1.94
9
KALNIETIS, MANTAS
G
1.95
10
LIPKEVICIUS, VYTENIS
F
1.95
12
KLIMAVICIUS, TADAS
F
2.04
13
JANKUNAS, PAULIUS
F
2.03
15
JAVTOKAS, ROBERTAS
C
2.10
17
DELAS, MARIO
F
2.07
19
KUZMINSKAS, MINDAUGAS
F
2.05
20
LAFAYETTE, OLIVER
G
1.88
21
KAUKENAS, RIMANTAS
G
1.92
31
FOOTE, JEFF
C
2.13
33
LAVRINOVIC, KSISTOF
C
2.09
Head Coach: PLAZA, JOAN

2011-12 Results
Euroleague:
Regular Season
4-6
Top 16
0-6
Baltic B. League:
Champion
Lithuanian League:
Champion
Lithuanian Cup trophy:
Champion


HISTORIC RESULTS

2011-12: 4-12, Top 16
2010-11: 6-10, Top 16
2009-10: 5-11, Top 16
2008-09: 2-8, Regular Season
2007-08: 9-11, Top 16
2006-07: 2-12, Regular Season
2005-06: 9-11, Top 16
2004-05: 8-12, Top 16
2003-04: 9-11, Top 16
2002-03: 5-9, Regular Season
2001-02: 5-9, Regular Season
2000-01: 6-6, Playoffs



WHAT'S NEW
The Lithuanian powerhouse enters the season with a new coach in Joan Plaza, who returns to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague after three years, and a revamped team that features seven new players. Zalgiris loaded its roster with experience by bringing in veterans in guard Rimantas Kaukenas and twin brother big men Darjus and Ksistof Lavrinovic. In addition, Zalgiris added point guard Oliver Lafayette, swingmen Tremmell Darden and Adas Juskevicius and center Jeff Foote, who replaces the injured Robertas Javtokas.

Zalgiris Kaunas 2012-13 (photo zalgiris.lt)

THE BACKCOURT
Marko Popovic and Mantas Kalnietis return from last season to find many new faces. Both Popovic and Kalnietis can play and produce at either guard positions, though Popovic is more a scorer, while Kalnietis is lethal leading his team in transition. They should gel instantly with both Lafayette and Kaukenas. Lafayette is known for his great on-the-ball defense and penetrations skills, while Kaukenas is a quiet leader and an often unstoppable scorer. Another difference maker is Darden, whose uncanny athleticism allows him to impact the game at both ends of the floor.

THE FRONTCOURT
The Lavrinovic twins are reunited for the first time in five seasons and should feel at home alongside players they know from the Lithuanian national teams. Team captain Paulius Jankunas joins the twins to form a versatile trio that combines skill in the paint with excellent three-point shooting. Foote provides Zalgiris with size and scoring touch in the paint. Like the projected starters, reserves Tadas Klimavicius and Mindaugas Kuzminskas can rebound and shoot from outside – two things that figure to be hallmarks of the team. Defensive specialist Vytenis Lipkevicius and Mario Delas will fight for minutes in the stacked frontcourt.

OUTLOOK
There is a lot of optimism around this club. The roster is full of experience, talent, and players who seem to complement each other well. Coach Plaza also has the luxury to look deep into his bench on any given night. Three years in a row Zalgiris has made it to the Top 16, but in their last six Top 16 appearances they have won only four games. This season, though, Zalgiris looks to have all the necessary pieces and is hungry to reach the playoffs at the minimum.


Rimantas Kaukenas - Zalgiris (photo zalgiris.lt)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Rimantas Kaukenas
One of the most reliable shooters in the game, Kaukenas is capable of scoring in bunches over and over again. He also brings true veteran leadership that will help his new coach on the floor. With some extra motivation, this being only his second professional season in his native country, late in his career Kaukenas is ready and capable of leaving his mark with Zalgiris.