Who is the best coach of the #BasketballCL? Vote now!
ZAGREB (Croatia) - With all the individual talents, the upcoming youngsters and dramatic games we are having, sometimes it feels like the coaches of the Basketball Champions League are more neglected than an average defensive midfielder of your Sunday League's local team.
But being a huge fan of X's and O's, and an even bigger fan of Diccon Lloyd-Smeath's Champions League Insider column, I feel like we should change the way we talk about our coaches. Okay, let's have them as defensive midfielders, but instead of your average is-he-even-playing DM, let's give them the roles of Andrea Pirlo or Ivan Rakitic or Cesc Fabregas or Ante Palaversa. Don't worry, you'll hear more about him. Soon.
The point is, the coaches too can get creative, despite most of them shouting just "we need two good stops," or "get back as fast as you can," or "control the defensive glass," or "we are not in penalty, use the fouls wisely" during the timeouts. And while I'm watching six games at a time, if somebody draws up something that catches my eye immediately, then you know that coach was onto something beautiful on his Basketball Champions League coaching board.
That's exactly what happened with Telenet Giants Antwerp this week. In case you failed to notice over the past renditions of the Help-Side Column, I tend to get overexcited about details, and this play got me jumping up and down like that time when Ante Palaversa scored a screamer for Hajduk against Inter Zapresic in the Croatian Soccer League.
Generally, Antwerp have beautiful play-sets, full of pretty little tricks and treats, like turning the cutter into a screener for the guy who screened him just a moment ago, and this one has Roel Moors' handwriting on it, too. A lot of teams are using the similar kind of Brad Stevens' UCLA series setup, and usually, the point guard gets to the baseline, then sets a screen off ball or comes up to the top to get the ball back.
But here, Paris Lee - all 1.83m/6'0'' of him - turns into a ball screener and just like that, his defender ends up outmuscled in a mismatch with Jae'Sean Tate. Such a simple tweak to the play, and it shows a lot of talent of Antwerp, not just on the court, but also on the bench.
But where does Moors rank among the 32 coaches? Could you really say that he is better than the coach of their domestic rival Oostende, Dario Gjergja?
Watch the play again. Gjergja follows it from the sideline and recognizes the play, says something to Nemanja Djurisic - probably "Nemanja, majstore, go block that pls, thx" - and the Montenegrin forward gets there in time to protect his rim.
And if Moors and Gjergja are way up there with their renaissance of Belgian club basketball, how do they compare to Javier Juarez, the coach of the only team with 11 wins in the Basketball Champions League this season, the coach who set up this elevator gem:
But over here, at the Help-Side Column, sometimes you don't even have to waste your pen or marker or what-not to get recognition. Sometimes, you don't need to pull a Moors or a Gjergja or a Juarez to get the love, sometimes you just need to coach the same team for 32 years, and the flow, ball movement and player spacing come naturally. That's what's going on in the next clip, as we celebrate the fact that Pascal Donnadieu took over at Nanterre in 1987 and is still at the helm of the team - the best three-point shooting team in all of Europe for the past three seasons. Probably.
Or, you could focus your entire attention to the defensive end of the floor, with the magnificent zone-press that Makis Giatras runs for Promitheas Patras. No need to get fancy with the offense then, just draw it up for Rion Brown, who's such a threat on the catch-and-shoot, that the first screen is basically a decoy, to force the defense to fight the screen upwards...which then leaves them in a vulnerable position for the next screen and the Promitheas trademark backdoor alley-oop dunk.
See, the coaching is unreal. And don't forget about Anwil's Igor Milicic, or Bayreuth's Raoul Korner, or last season's winner, Ludwigsburg's John Patrick, or Avellino's Nenad Vucinic and Besiktas' Dusko Ivanovic - they are all doing outstandingly well, and it's a shame that I decided to cut the poll to 12 names, because they certainly deserve to be in the Coach of the Season Award talks.
Maybe they still make the cut when the actual OFFICIAL award makes the news here, but for now, I want to hear your voices. Again. I've asked you about the Final Four contenders and the MVP candidates - and Anwil fans won both of those battles - now it's time for you to vote on the coaching part.
Please note that this is in no way an official vote. But it can help the coaches get some love that the ordinary defensive midfielder never gets to feel. Unlike Ante Palaversa. He's a monster and we love him oh-so-much back here in Croatia.
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