What type of a coach is he?
“I’m not an offensive coach or a defensive coach. I’m a basketball coach, someone who through teaching and working with people and getting the most out of my players and staff has always seen the success of the team as paramount. We will be committed to playing as a team and being good on both sides of the ball.”
Is he a confident coach?
“Make no mistake; I have won everywhere I’ve been, from Maccabi through Benetton through the Russian national team and back to Maccabi, and I plan on doing the same here.”
Will this be a big challenge for him?
“Absolutely it’s a challenge. But I’ve got to tell you, the game is not so different as people think it is. It’s a little bit longer here. Perhaps the level of athleticism and speed all around the court is different. But it’s not like playing baseball and soccer. It’s still the same game. I’ve coached in enough international games, participated in enough events that include NBA players and NBA teams to know that when you play the game right, it doesn’t really make any difference where you play it.”
How will he deal with the egos of NBA players?
I don’t buy that. I’ve had wonderful discussions with the players with the Cleveland Cavaliers. I find a group of guys that want to be coached, that want to learn, that care about winning. Those are things I have to emphasize with them, that I have to strengthen and help them understand the right way to do it. I’ve coached enough great players in my life to know when guys are happy playing together and are seeing that doing it the right way brings and fosters the spirit you need to win, it doesn’t make a difference where you coach.”
What is his coaching philosophy?
“It’s always been the same: play hard, play together, play to win and have fun. There’s not a lot more I can tell you tactically right now until I sit down with the players and get inside their heads that I see what the final roster is going to be. There’s two kinds of coaching. There’s systematic and there’s learning from what you have. I’m more of the second. I won’t come in and run the Princeton offense just because I played for the great Pete Carill at Princeton. I’m going to see what I have, I’m going to decide together with the coaching staff what the best way for us to play is. Most importantly, figure out how we’re going to win the most games. The ball has energy, teams that are playing together have the ball moving, hopefully moving fast, everybody is involved and happy. Then the game is easier to play. That’s the kind of philosophy I want to instill here.”
How would he help sell a free agent on playing for David Blatt and the Cavs?
“Honestly, I really think developing relationships is more about the person you are than the reputation you have. I look forward to the opportunity to any of the guys Griff feels are right to come to this organization. Am I the most convincing guy in the world? Probably top four.(laughs) I have no problem talking to anybody. I’ve always had the kind of relationships with my players where they know that I’m going to be tough with them and fair with them and treat them like human beings, just like I want to be treated.”
How does he deal with pressure?
“I’m fully aware of both the expectation and the desire of the club to be a winning organization. Pressure for me is something that’s second nature after so many years of coaching at the highest level in competitions where you’re expected to be one of the top clubs. I also think the best way to deal with pressure is through good preparation and hard work I think it makes it a lot easier to go about that.”