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Kay Blümel (German U18 Coach) Interview (Pt.1)

March 13th, 2012 · No Comments

Our friends at Yabazz published a long interviewwith the German U18 National Team head coach Kay Blümel these days. We provide you the English version of the talk where Blümel speaks about the upcoming Albert Schweitzer Tournament and the new Senior head coach Svetislav Pesic in the first part.

Kay, to start with, we have to talk about the new Senior National Team head coach Svetislav Pesic. He was called by the press as the “new hope”. Is he the right person for this job?

I do not like to call him the “new hope”. I think, this discredits a lot the work of Dirk Bauermann who did exceptional things. But to answer your question, Pesic is certainly one of the best coaches you could find. I know him and know that he also has some personal weaknesses but he is certainly a person to which you look up with a lot of respect.

Personal Weaknesses?

I think, he sometimes forces too much in order to bring his ideas through and insists on it. This is however often needed and maybe one of the reasons why he is so successful. His decision, to add an assistant coach like Henrik Rödl who is still very close to the German players, is a good solution.

Pesic will commute between Belgrade and Germany until 2013 because of his job with Crvena Zvezda. Do you think that it would have been better to sign a full-time coach immediately?

Of course it would have been better, especially if you see what Bauermann did during the years where he was fully committed to the Federation. During his time with Bayern Munich, Dirk Bauermann had only limited time to work for the federation which was quite normal.

For you and the other Youth National Team coaches, there will be more work ahead I guess?

Yes, that’s true. We had some first successes too so we did not everything wrong. If this work would have been stopped and changed by the new Senior head coach, I do not think that I would have continued in my job. Improvements and little changes will of course be accepted and implemented.

By the way, how does your normal week look like?

For the moment, I travel a lot. I support 11 regional centers and I am present at 2 or 3 of them on every week day. For example, every Thursday and Friday, I am in Heidelberg to work individually and athletically with Paul Zipser. I often leave home at 11 in the morning to be back at midnight. This occupies me for about 50-60 hours per week at the moment. On weekends, I follow of course the games and I focus mainly on the NBBL and JBBL matches.

So you must be a very common guest in most NBBL gyms and you can pass the ticketing counter by just saying “Hello”?

I always announce beforehand that I will come to follow a game but I have no problem to pay the entrance fee in order to support the different youth programs. But for example, I have never been invited to the NBBL All-Star Game over the last years even if such an event is interesting for a Youth National Team head coach. This year, I got an invite one day before the event. This is quite interesting, isn’t it?

You are close to a lot of young players. Do they consider you as a second father?

This is probably more the case with the different coaches in the clubs. However, I am aware that I have an educational role as well and that I can help outside the basketball court too. I sometimes share a personal minute with my players which can help to tie the link a bit further.

How would you define your coaching style?

I am not such a “radical” as Dirk Bauermann (laughing). A colleague told me once: You still believe in the good. I think that’s true, because I let people talk and discuss with me and consider other opinions as interesting too. I am not the kind of guy who is always getting loud. However, when I get loud, then you better pay attention. I can tell already now that this year, we will put the thumbscrews a little more than usually. For the U18, we will have some problems with size at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament and the Euro this summer which means that we will play with a smaller and faster lineup than usually. This means that we will run a lot of fast breaks and defend aggressively which needs the highest discipline.

You talked about the AST. Is the final roster already set in your head?

No of course not. 7-8 players are set somehow and 2 will probably miss because of injuries. But I will still wait with the final cut. Before the last AST, Thomas Reuter made the team only during the final preparation match and played some good games during the tournament.

Who are the 8 respectively 2 guys?

Ismet Akpinar, one of our best prospects. David Taylor, his great partner from the last U16 European Championship. Dominic Lockhart. Of course Malik Müller who was already part of the AST with the U17 National Team two years ago. Paul Zipser will be our leader and local hero. Daniel Mayr from Jena, who I consider to be our future on the Center spot and who might be as good as Tibor Pleiss in five years from now. He is already 2m15 now and might grow to 2m20. Gavin Schilling will not travel to Germany from the US to only do the preparation phase. Mauricio Marin is at the edge of joining the team at the moment. He needs to show a bit more. The other talented big men like Kalidou Diouf, Robin Jorch and Helge Bauesare of course interesting as well.

The 2 players who will probably miss the tournament are Kevin Bryant and Kenneth Ogbe from Urspring. Both had long lasting injuries recently. For them, the intensity of the preparation phase and the tournament would probably be too much and they should be ready for the their team in the NBBL Playoffs. And we need them during the summer.

As you said, it will be a relatively short team?

Yes, I want to be flexible in my game approach with the best available players. For example, I could imagine breaking our usual habits and let play Paul Zipser as PF as he is normally a guard.

We are looking forward to see this. One of the major prospects on the inside positions is Gavin Schilling who is currently playing in the United States. How do you see his development?

I did not speak to him in the last weeks but I have a regular contact with his father and read everything I can find about him. Everything sounds positive and Gavin has an incredible athleticism for his age. But what I do not like is that he plays only the Center spot in the United States and that he is being “abused” for the success of his team.

A little bit like Elias Harris?

Yes, he is being formed as a PF even if his future should be on the SF. It would be important for him to learn how to play the Small Forward position on the court and how to use the different screens.

The players have very high expectations for the Albert Schweitzer Tournament. They talk about the semi-finals as being a minimum…

I like this attitude, you should not go differently into such a tournament. I think, we have certainly the potential to reach the Top 8. Once we are there, everything is possible. But you have to bear in mind that this years AST is the best for the last 20 years. With the exception of Croatia and Lithuania, all the top teams are present. With a good USA team, Australia, Argentina, China and all the traditional European powers, it looks like a real World Cup this time. And it will be the special atmosphere of the event which will make it a very good experience for us and we can attack it as an underdog.

In the second part, Kay Blümel will speak about the NBBL Playoffs and the different German generations compared to the European top level. Check back for it tomorrow.

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