Slovenian Coach Luka Bassin continues with his series on the Slovenian prospects. Today, he will analyze the game of the two 1993 born Point Guards Matej Rojc and Luka Rupnik and compares their forces and weaknesses.
(Luka Bassin) – Matej Rojc and Luka Rupnik are the top Slovenian prospects in ’93 generation. Rojc is member of Krka Novo Mesto where he came from KOŠ Koper team this summer. Rupnik is member of Geoplin Slovan for three years where he came from Idrija. Both were representatives of Slovenia on many international camps such as NBA Basketball without Borders or the Jordan Brand Classic international camp. Luka Rupnik was also the best scorer with 27 points at the 2009 International All-star U17 game at the JBC in New York.
They are indispensable in the Slovenian Youth national teams. They played two U16 EC of Division B and played at this summer the U18 EC in Lithuania. They are both point guards but Rojc can play shooting guard when they are together on the floor.
Matej Rojc’s stats from EC U18 2010: 7.1ppg, 1.4rpg, 2.0apg, 2.3TOs and 0.8spg in 26.6 minutes on court.
Luka Rupnik’s stats were: 10.3ppg, 1.0rpg, 4.0apg, 2.5TOs and 2.0spg in almost 20 minutes on the court.
Currently they are both playing on senior level. Rojc is playing higher level of competition (Adriatic basketball league and Eurochallenge Cup), while Rupnik has more minutes at the lower level Slovenian league.
Rojc is averaging 0.7ppg and 0.3rpg in only 4 minutes in ABA and 1.0ppg, 1.5rpg and 0.5apg in 8 minutes in Eurochallenge Cup. Rupnik is averaging 6.8ppg, 1.8rpg and 2.8apg in 23 minutes on the floor in Slovenian division 1. Rupnik is also go-to guy of his junior team while Rojc didn’t play junior games this season yet.
They met each other on many U16 and U18 games in past years and it was always a great match-up between them. Here you can watch last seconds of U16 2009 Slovenian F4, when Rupnik missed crucial free-throw while Rojc scored unbelievable three-pointer for the win.
They do have many things in common from character point of view:
- they are natural born winners and have great character and will to win
- they are both intelligent, smart, hard working players with only one goal: to become the best
- they both left home early
- they are clutch players and are not afraid to get the last ball and decide the game
- maybe Rupnik is a little more daring (when we talk basketball) than Rojc
- Other than that they are very good tactically and are quick and fast.
Now let’s focus on some other things from physically and basketball point of view and compere them:
Rojc has very good height (198 cm), wing-span and body for PG position, while Rupnik is only 183 cm and this could be problem in his future. Nevertheless, Rupnik is using his other skills to overcome that deficit very good and we all know that there are good players with same height even in NBA. They both need to build up more muscles.
Technically, Rupnik is a better ball handler and shooter, while both are very good passers.
Fast-break and transition game:
They both like to play fast-paced basketball. They both have a good sense for finding the way to finish it (lay-up or 2-point shot) with nice change of pace or making a good pass when they are ball handler. Rupnik’s advantage is better ball handling, playing Pick’n'Rroll in transition and finishing with 3-pointer, while Rojc’s advantage is that he can play also as a wing-man.
Rupnik and Rojc use their quick first step and good body fakes for penetrating a lot. They can easily go left or right (Rojc rather penetrates baseline) and they can finish in »Navarro style«. Rupnik has some problems to finish close to the basket because of his height, while Rojc is too soft sometimes and he does not like the contact. Rupnik likes to use cross-over and between the legs dribbling, while Rojc is more of a change of pace and body fakes. Other than that they can both dish nice assist and are very inventive in the paint.
Rupnik is definitely the better shooter. He can shoot from spot-up, from Pick’n'Roll situations, from the dribble (mostly when he is going left) and from behind the arc. He developed his technique, so he has quick release and nice step-back that he can shoot even in contact. They both use screens very good. Rojc has some problems with spot-up shots (especially from 3-point land) but his shot is better than it was couple of years ago. Nevertheless he is not natural born shooter.
This is Rojc’s big advantage since he finds himself in miss-match positions often and he should use it more. This is definitely the thing he must work on and use it in the future.
Rupnik is more dangerous just because he can use the situation for shot better than Rojc. Rupnik can shot 3-pointer and he punishes defense when it is not aggressive and goes under. They can both »read« defense very well (so they punish switching very smart), they are both dangerous and they can both find the roll-man or teammates on perimeter positions. Anyway, Rupnik is better passer when it comes to outside passes.
Since they have great sense for basketball, they can also find good space and open passing lanes. Rojc is also very good when it comes to cutting and going to empty space in the paint.
Creating opportunities for others:
Rojc and Rupnik are good passers no matter what situation we are talking about. They can easily find teammates under the basket or at the perimeter. Both find themselves in positions (after beating opponents 1:1) when there are defenders helping and rotating, and both punish it very good. Rupnik’s advantage is the no-look pass while Rojc is more certain and makes less turnovers.
Rojc could use his height for making some rebounds but the main goal for both is defending the opponent’s fastbreak and transition, so they are not many times in offensive rebound situations. When we talk about defensive transition Rojc is definitely more secure, while Rupnik often goes for steals at the center line and he is easily out of defensive transition.
Rojc and Rupnik can box-out pretty good but both have minor problems. Rojc lacks aggressiveness and boxes-out a little bit too soft, while Rupnik has some problems because of his height and has problems boxing-out taller and stronger opponents.
Defense vs back-to-the-basket moves:
For the same reason as mentioned above, they both could have some problems guarding aggressive and strong players under the rim.
They can play aggressive full-court defense and make pressure on ball-handlers because of their quick legs. From time to time, Rupnik can be even too aggressive trying to steal the ball and makes mistake (either personal foul or falling out of bounds). On the defensive end, Rupnik has very low and good defensive position, while Rojc is a little bit too high and sometimes reacts too late. They both have good hand-work denying passes and both can follow players through screens.
They are aggressive enough in beating screens and are tactically very skilled to defend situations in different ways.
Rupnik and Rojc have good sense for reading offense and ball movement so they create many steals. They understand zone-presses where Rupnik uses his quickness and aggressiveness, while Rojc uses his height and good wing-span to steal the ball.
Helping and rotating:
I can say that they are good in this element for their age and understand the elementary rules of defense.
It is not a secret that Rojc and Rupnik are the top Slovenian prospects in the generation 1993 and even more-they are the top prospects in general at guard positions (together with the 1992 born Jan Špan) in Slovenia.
Rupnik can become mixture of Stockton-Jennings style in the future, while Rojc reminds me in some moves on late Dražen Petrović (but he needs to work on his shot of course). At the moment they are progressing well (under good experienced coaches) and will be interesting to follow them in future.
written by Luka Bassin
Luka Bassin played professional basketball in Slovenia and finished Faculty of sports on University Ljubljana. He worked as head coach of High school Gimnazija Bežigrad (Jan Vesely, Bostjan Nachbar, Erazem Lorbek… were students at Gimnazija Bežigrad) and won ISF World championship of High Achools 2001 in Turkey. Made junior Final 8 (NIJT Euroleague) in 2009 and 2010 with Olimpija Ljubljana. Worked with U20 national team as assistant coach and won bronze medal in 2006 in Turkey. Worked with Goran Dragic, Gasper Vidmar, Jaka Klobucar, Emir Preldzic, Mirza Begic… in national teams.