After the Nike Hoop Summit has ended and the Jordan Brand Classic is just ahead, we go for a quick interview that has been done by our Polish friend Rafal Juc from PolskiKosz.pl with Aleksander “Olek” Czyz. The athletic wing from the Nevada Wolf Pack is another promising player for a country that is on its way back to glory and developing quality players nearly every generation now.
You have already finished your season 2010/11. How would you summarize it? Nevada recorded a 13-19 record and dropped out in the second round of the conference championship. Are you satisfied with this result?
I’m not happy with this season, it could have been much better. All of my teammates and coaching staff have the same opinion. We lacked a bit of luck – we lost 11 games by an average difference of 4 points. It’s very painful, but the motivation is there to work even harder before the next games. Especially since the 2011/12 season will be my last in College Basketball.
The current season started with a 1-7 record but with time you played better and better. Probably all of the Starting Five players will be there for another year in the Wolf Pack. So what is the forecast for the next season?
After a week off, we have already returned to practice. Each of us knows that we have to work hard in this period of preparation for later success. We should be better than this year, especially because the composition and the coaching staff will be more or less the same.
Your coach, David Carter is quite young and still learning. How do you cooperate with this coach?
He is a young coach who has got his own ideas how to conduct trainings, as well as a team during games. I worked with coach Carter this season fairly well, although many people criticized him. But I think that this season has brought us a lot both good and bad things. It’s great material to draw conclusions for the future.
With averages of 12.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, you were one of the best players for the Wolf Pack. Are you satisfied with your game personally?
Unfortunately not, frankly I had far greater ambitions for the last season. I missed my stability, my form was not regular. Once I played great games, and then very bad. In the next games, I want to play always at the highest level as soon as I stay on the floor.
Before your first game in a new team, you had to pause for a full year. With what did you have the biggest problems when you returned to the game?
The most of the problems I had were with the mentality – I had to get used to that in Nevada because my role is quite different than at Duke, and the fans and coaches expect me to do something else. I had to acclimate to the team, get to know my colleagues. In addition, our game system is significantly different from the one I played under coach Mike Krzyżewski. Only after several games, I got used to match the rhythm and found my role on the team. But I have to be more aggressive – I think that I too often decided to pass the ball to my teammates. I should finish actions more often by myself.
Duke decided to use you as a peripheral player, while in Nevada you played closer to the basket. Where are you playing better? Which position do you like more?
In Nevada, I played both on the perimeter and under the basket. Everything depended on the coach. In both positions I feel good – I always try to use my speed and strength, so that I often have an advantage over the defender. Training and playing as a peripheral at Duke helped me a lot, because it allows me to be a much more versatile player.
After 2 years, you came back to Reno, where you are treated by the fans and the press as a hero. You led two times your high school team to state championship. How does it feel?
It’s a very nice feeling. We can not forget that, because everyone expects me to play at a high level. Returning to Nevada has set the bar really high. But I must admit that such an atmosphere works very well for me.
From a very strong conference, the ACC, you moved to the WAC conference. Did you notice a big difference in levels?
Differences can be seen with the naked eye. Some teams in our conference are weaker than the worst team in the ACC. However, I believe that the four top teams in the WAC present a really good level and could play in the ACC. In both conferences you see many talented players who have the potential to play in the future in professional leagues.
Finally, after years of only training, you started to get many minutes on the floor. In the 2010/11 season, you played more than 30 minutes per game. Did you learn a lot?
Yes, it was an exceptional season for me, since all my life I am practicing for the game. This season was very helpful to me, mainly because of my personal development and gaining the necessary experience, which I did not really have on this level. This year I have gained a lot of experience, but I still have a lot to achieve.
What are some elements that you still need to work on? What are you going to improve in your game?
There are some elements of offensive and defensive for which I have more work ahead. First of all, I must improve my game with the right hand to become more comfortable using it during the game. For sure I must focus during summer practices on my shoot from 5-6 m as well as from free throw line. I will try to improve my speed on defense and in the fight for the rebounds.
What are your plans for the holidays? NCAA players have strict limitations in terms of training during the break between the seasons. Do you plan to visit Poland?
First of all I have to take care of my health and treat minor injuries that plagued me. For sure I will go into several camps, and I will work individually with our coaches on my weaknesses. It seems that I will not have too much free time to visit Poland, but I do not exclude it.
In September, the Polish national team will play in the European Championships. Your name appears in the context of additions to the team. Do you count on one of the spots in the squad?
It would be a great honor for me! Nothing is more important than playing for the national team of your own country. But I can not forget that I have clear goals for the season 2011/12. So far I did not get an invitation. The most important thing for this summer, however, is to prepare for the next season which will be my last in the NCAA. I would like to finish in style.