By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
“Damn. Automatic voice translators have not yet been invented. Or perhaps they haven’t added basketball terms in them. Ah, shame. And what will Dusko Vujosevic do now? How will he be able to speak with the players? Are they going to understand him? Will they just do whatever they want? No it’s not going to work”
So far Dusko Vujosevic is not “lost in translation”. In fact, he does such a fine job, that he is transcending the linguistic borders. He is becoming a traveler, breaking the boundaries that, according to many, have stopped him for being successful outside of Serbia in his long coaching career.
His vehicle is not built by tools provided by modern technology. It runs on the fuels of simple, yet effective, basic, but often forgotten, perhaps easy to be understood, yet sometimes difficult to execute basketball archetypes: Be energetic on defense, move a lot, with, or without the ball, don’t lose your focus, pay attention to your teammate as well as yourself, be patient and find the ideal opportunity to make a shot.
Of course, all the above are an oversimplification of the new basketball chapter that Dule is writing in Limoges. His players are his pen and ink, filling out pages of material so rich in quality, that the French team has not seen in… quite a long time. Because now, Limoges’ basketball is potent enough to make a team like Valencia bow twice. In one week.
If you have come to Earth from another planet, let us fill you in. This is the same Valencia that has not lost a single match in Spain, and arrives from a big road win against Barcelona for Liga Endesa. Yes, not even Barcelona managed to bring coach Martinez’s team down. Limoges did. Actually, only Limoges did. And you know what? It happened, so very easily.
At least that’s how the Limougeauds made it appear on our eyes. Leo Westermann was almost flawless in his playmaking duties. Bo McCalebb rammed the Valencia defenses like a knife cuts hot butter. Ali Traore often made one of the most dangerous frontline duo (Justin Hamilton/Bojan Dubljevic) look helpless. Everyone contributed in all areas of the game. And no, they did repeat words like “what” or “quoi”, if you will, to Dule all the time.
No, Dusko Vujosevic does not speak the same language as most of his players. Westermann probably understands some Serbian. Perhaps Bo as well. But most of the others, wait for Dule’s translator in order to hear their coach’s advice. And guess what. It works. Actually, it has worked again, versus the team which probably creates some nightmare material even to those that haven’t faced them yet. Ok, perhaps I exaggerate a bit, but you catch my drift.
This is a major achievement, since it came simultaneously with this duo of impressive victories and sublime performances by the French. Because the Serbian coach spectacularly transformed Limoges and inspired players that would not understand a single thing he utters. He speaks to his guys in words they absolutely don’t get, but he certainly communicates with them so fine.
Realize this, if you haven’t already. He has half the time to say the things that he normally wants to say, especially during the timeout. Because everything has to be translated. What is “standard procedure” for almost all other coaches in Europe, becomes an unaffordable luxury for him. And while he doesn’t have the necessary timeframe in order to fully explain his strategy, analyze the next play, elaborate on the plan or express his advices, he still manages to send his players in after the timeout, fully informed on what they should do.
Of course, this type of communication makes things difficult for his players as well. But it almost seems like it doesn’t matter. They are ok with this challenge. Why? Because they show parts of the game on court that we have never seen before in the season. They cooperate better in unison and that also makes their individual game shine. They realize that the plan of their coach allows them to perform basketball of substance and, often, beauty. And, more importantly, they like what is happening because they celebrate when the final buzzer sounds.
If last week’s win was rightfully considered to be a raving surprise, this victory should be treated properly as well. How? As a result that was not coincidental. At all.
(photo by Matthieu Marot – twitter.com/MatthieuMarot7)