Taylor, the basketball artist

2014-12-11T13:56:25+00:00 2015-05-24T20:26:45+00:00.

Aris Barkas

11/Dec/14 13:56


It’s not matter of what you have done so far, but what you can do from now on. Taylor Rochestie grabbed the chance and impressed everyone with Nizhny Novgorod. The American leader of the Russians talks on Eurohoops

By Lefteris Moutis/ moutis@eurohoops.net

It’s not matter of what you have done so far, but what you can do from now on. Taylor Rochestie grabbed the chance and impressed everyone with Nizhny Novgorod. The American leader of the Russians talks on Eurohoops.

This season is his third in the Euroleague and fifth in European competitions (including Euocup) in total. And nobody could imagine that he will make his break out season in this level with Nizhny in the age of 29. He’s the leading scorer in the Euroleague and ranked also second in ranking and fifth in assists showing he has the skills and the mentality to lead a Euroleague team.

Also, nobody could count Nizhny as a favourite to qualify in the next round, but the two wins over Sassari and the one against Unics gave them confidence to keep fighting. The biggest chance to secure a place in the Top16 was lost in the game against Zalgiris, but Nizhny fought hard also in the home game against Real. But its leader, Taylor Rochestie got injured in the last minutes (scored two free throws almost with one leg) and the Madridistas won the game. Nizhny has to struggle for a Top16 ticket without its leader but Taylor is optimistic; not only for the present but also for the future of his team. He enjoys his days in Novgorod and feels his teammates as his family…

Niznhy is the first team in your career that you stayed for second season. Which is the thing that you haven’t found so far and you found in Nizhny Novgorod?

“Everyone is looking for a good situation for themselves and careers. To have good coaches, teammates, solid organization and high level of competitions. I like the team and the town, I learned on summer about the coach, so I was excited about all that. VTB is a great league with big development and I had the chance to play also in the Euroleague. So it was a perfect fit for me to stay here this season and I feel very comfortable”.

You have played again in the Euroleague but this season with Niznhy you are almost a completely different player. Do you think that it’s matter of experience, teammates or the coach?

“It’s a combination of everything. My coached and teammates are the main reason I have success for sure, without a doubt. I’m more experienced now, so I am ready to show who I am as a player this season. The player I want to be for the rest of my career. Whether it’s my role or the minutes I’m playing, make me feel very comfortable on the floor”.

You said in your Euroleague blog that the secret in Niznhy is that you enjoy basketball. What does any team need to have this environment?

“It’s tough to create environment like the one we have here. You need to build step by step, keep the same players for a couple of seasons and also create a good chemistry. At the same time you enjoy playing with each other and for each other. In many teams you can see inside competition, people not happy with the roles of other players. Every team, player, city and league is different, so it’s really exciting the environment we have over here. It’s a unique situation”!

Niznhy plays a lot of times like a college team. Do you think that style of basketball helps you being better? You have made a great unit with the other three Americans…

“It’s funny! Because my college team was trying to score you know like 15 points per game! The defense was the main point. We wanted to slow the games down. I think it’s really important how the foreigners fit with the others, no matter if they are Americans of from other countries. Sometimes the local players know each other for many years and are friends, so the Americans have to come close fast. At Niznny we became friends very fast and we fit really well on the court”.

How easy or difficult is to play in the same Euroleague group with two other teams of the VTB League, Zalgiris and Unics?

“It’s tough. We have VTB teams playing together in Euroleague and also in Eurocup. It’s strange, especially when you face twice the same team in 4 days like we did vs Unics. It looks like playoff series. Potentially you will play again with these teams! It’s not fun, but you know, it’s interesting because you build up a little rivalry and some excitement around these games”!

Last season you made a huge success with Niznhy by qualifying in the finals of the VTB League. Do you play better as an underdog?

“During my whole life I prefer to feel and play like an underdog. No matter if I am to the better or worst team of any league. I know than every team can lose to everybody. I was watching before the Barcelona loss at Seville. In basketball anything can happen. If you don’t come out with intensity and the right mentality you are going to lose. So to me, the best way to play is like you are the underdog no matter if you really are or not”.

In the start of the last season you were part of Siena. The season was great for the team though the huge financial problems. Which is your most moving moment there? Have you watched the video of Crespi’s speech before the seventh final in Legabasket?

“Something you can’t take away from Crespi is his intensity and the fact he has a lot of passion for the game and his players. Especially when you fight hard, he is with you. You can see him in sidelines fighting just as hard as his players and maybe sweating as much as the players! He really knows the game and is very passionate for the sport. Yeah, I definitely watched this video. The best moment was “playing at Euroleague we had two buzzer beaters. Jeff Viggiano made both at Malaga and Vs Zielona Gora. Anytime you could be part of a winning game or a buzzer beater”. It’s fantastic! We won the cup at the beginning of the season. The fans of Siena were great. They really supported the team during a very tough time”.

Coach Crespi published a book about last season with Siena. Have you talked with him? Are you anxious to read it?

“I haven’t talked to him since I left. I would be interested to read it for sure. It’s always important to read about the work of a coach, of a player, a trainer, a manager in order to see what’s happening behind the scenes. There is a book published by a teammate for a team I played for in Berlin, Alba, someone told me about that and I’m very curious to find out what’s in there. Because I truly believe he has an amazing basketball mind”.

Russia is the seventh country in which you play basketball in your professional career. Where was it better for you? Can you compare the level of the competiveness of the championships that you played?

“Wherever I played the competition was tough. I have been in many leagues, at different countries and also in Euroleague and Eurocup. Sometimes the game is faster, some others more psychical, sometimes you have to deal with very quick players or with big bodies. It’s just fun to be in all these leagues. I’m loving VTB right now, but I was loving every league that I was playing for. I think I don’t have a favorite league, I just love to play basketball”.

You missed the chance to play in the NBA because you were undrafted and then you didn’t sign a contract through the try outs. I read that you were happy by wearing Lakers’ shirt even in the summer league. Do you have still in mind going back to US? Many Euroleague players sign lately contracts in the NBA even if they are 30+ years old…

“Of course, I was watching NBA all my life growing up, so if I had a big opportunity to go there, I would take it! It would be something special playing back at my country close to my family. But I couldn’t be happier than I am right now. No matter where I play here or in China. In order to be happy, I just need to play basketball”.

Your ex-teammate Jason Boone said once for you that he admires your mentality and your confidence. Is this at the end of the day the biggest skill that every player must have?

“To me, no matter if you have a good season or a bad season, if you have started well a game or no, always you have the chance to play well and to turn it around and play great. Confidence, confidence to your self is something you need to have. I’m always thinking my team will win and I will play well. For sure your team can’t win all the games, you can’t play well always, but this is not enough to change the way I fell before and during the games”…