Andrey Vorontsevich: “Are we not stars, or what?”

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19.01.2022

19.01.2022

On the eve of the UNICS match in the Euroleague with Barcelona, ​​in an exclusive interview with Kazanskiye Vedomosti, UNICS captain Andrey Vorontsevich told what happened in the away match with the Catalans, whether Mario Hezonja has a chance to return to the NBA and who should become agents for young basketball players.

On Isaiah Cannan's gesture to Barcelona fans: 'I don't know what he was thinking, but I don't see anything wrong with this gesture'


-How would you rate the first half of the season?

Now it is not worth summing up any results, the most crucial moment is yet to come. The team is doing well, many people like our game. Among my friends and relatives, such an excitement for watching basketball has grown primarily due to our good game and team chemistry. Now it’s not worth talking about the results, until the middle of the season, I would like to wish everyone good health, and we move on with the same attitude.

-What happened in the game against Barcelona? You were 20 points ahead and then lost the lead and lost that match. What caused the defeat? (Barcelona beat UNICS 111:109 OT)

In that game, everything went well, went, went, and then we ourselves gave away a few goals, made unnecessary losses. But to be honest, this game was fundamentally important for me. For our understanding, leading 20 points, especially on the court in Barcelona, ​​this is, of course, decent, but this is only half the story. Half the game we had +20, and then we began to lose the ball, throw it somewhere out of bounds, something we didn’t score.
Although I told the guys after the game that I was proud of them, and it was a great match despite the fact that we lost it. You want to win everything, but you need to learn from such defeats, because when you lead +20 points in a game and start to relax with teams of such a level as Barcelona, ​​they will immediately punish you. Therefore, there is nothing terrible in this defeat. Of course, you always want to score and win everything, but this is a sport and here you need to work so that your mistakes are not repeated in the next match.

- Did you say anything to Isaiah Cannan for the gesture to the stands? (UNICS' advantage during the meeting reached 20 points. In the fourth quarter, after a 3-pointer from Nikola Mirotic, Barcelona reduced the gap to 12 points. Guard Isaiah Canan (84:69) responded to the forward's hit from behind the arc, who raised his index finger to lips, calling the audience to calmness - ed.).

The coach paid attention to this, said that it was the wrong gesture, but Isaiah did not want to say anything bad to them. It's basketball, we're all emotional, especially when you're in the game running at a heart rate of 180-200 for the entire match.
I don't know what he was thinking, but I don't see anything wrong with that gesture. But he made the stands of Barcelona wake up to them, and they whistled, shouted, made noise so that the Catalan players were helped by this wave of energy. Therefore, perhaps he helped the enemy with this, I don’t see anything wrong with this gesture.

“If we are criticized, then there is interest in us”


- UNICS is often criticized for the monotony of the game in the attack, they say, only the "eights" are spinning. Indeed, sometimes it seems that the team moves the ball a little, what can you say about such criticism?

I wonder who criticizes us. If knowledgeable people, this is one question. But if they criticize, it means that there is interest in us, which means that this is already good. But this is a coaching idea, a vision of his staff. The coach sees and understands what works for us, and if we twist, then it is effective.

- Lorenzo Brown starts in the starting five as a point guard, he is also the leader in assists in the team, but it seems more like he is not a point guard, but a combo guard. Do you think the team lacks, let's say, a player at the start, who can pass from one corner to another?

No, I don't think so, we also have Marco Spissu, we also have Georgy Zhbanov, who can play as the first number. We have enough people who can play point guard, even the same Mario Hesonja, if you put him on the first number, he will look good there.

-You are also the leader on the assists is this the coach's attitude?

It's just my game, I'm trying to play team basketball. In the same practice, I thank and cheer my teammates if they share the ball with teammates. When we manage to make more than three or four passes, and if it’s five or six, I then shout: “Great, just like San Antonio ””.
On the team's performance without a big post: "Now I don't see much difference"
-At one time the team started at the start with the big center Tony Jekiri, but then you completely switched to playing with a small five. Why was this decision made, and how is it more convenient for you personally to play: when there is a big and low-mobility center on the site, or when you change everything for everyone? Is it time for centers without a shot?

No, I don't think their time is up. Look, Walter Tavares (Real Madrid center) is a great guy, active, big, and I won't say that he has a shot. Or Tibor Plyais from Ephesus.
I agree that the more mobile you are, the naturally your value increases. If you know how to beat under the basket, go into the passage and not only under a strong hand, but also under a weak one. All this is always welcome, but I would not speak at the expense of everyone either.

In general, I like coaches who find strengths in the players and do not let them sit too long. Some training is, of course, good, but playing time is necessary. And I sympathize with those coaches who try to bring out all the strengths in each player. Because it happens that in one team a player doesn’t really stand out, they put him in a “corner”, stand still and enjoy life, and in another team he starts to enchant and open up. And you think why?

Therefore, I would like each player, of course, to develop independently and with the help of coaches who see his strengths and help him. And then all these questions about what there are players with and without a throw will disappear.

You can even take John Brown, we spent enough time in training throwing, and now I don’t see him having problems with the throw, I wanted to help him somehow. I told him: “Just do it, notice every mistake you make. If you miss, that's good. So there is an opportunity to improve yourself.” And he just started throwing with confidence, and if he misses once, then after all, Michael Jordan once missed, there is nothing wrong with that.

So when the coach believes in you, when the players and teammates believe in you, and when you believe in yourself, then this is a combination for something big. Therefore, I do not want to separate big players from small ones, and this is more about what you can or can't do. If the center can shoot, then let him shoot, why not?

-How do you like the idea of ​​fives without an overall center, is it feasible?

Yes, of course, but there is no advantage in this. Now I do not see much difference, small players do not really outperform the big ones in speed. Because now centers are becoming much faster and more mobile. But without offending anyone, I can say that with a small five you can find an advantage in speed, mobility, but you need to understand who you are going up against. For this, the coach decides who will go to the court now: either small ones, or big ones, or both at once, that is, it depends on the opponent.

Therefore, it is necessary to vary the composition. For example, against the overall Walter Tavares, you can release a big center, and then try to beat him with a small center. The main thing is that everything brings results.

-In defense you switch, why don't you use zone defense?

I don't know why we don't play "zone". To be honest, I like this defense, after it you always get a good fast break, there should be a good rebound. But the coach sees it this way and considers it necessary not to put up a zone defense. It has the downside that if you're up against good throwers who hit 3-chokers with good percentage, that defense falls apart.

Perasovic, apparently, as a former basketball player is a good sniper, he understands that if teams have good shooters: from big to small, then we don’t put a “zone”. Maybe in the future we will try.

On Mario Hezonja's game: "I don't know if he managed to become a leader"


-How did Mario Hesonja join the team? At one time, even he was criticized. What do you think is his phenomenon? Does he have the makings of a leader?

A talented guy, he plays well, ambitious, somewhere you need to support him, somewhere, on the contrary, give him the opportunity to fool around so that he loses the ball. I don't know if he managed to become a leader. It seems to me that we all have leaders, there is no such thing as one leader, and all the others are not like that. Everyone distributes their positions correctly, everyone knows what is required from whom and what the coach asks. Everything is fine, we are all in good equality, we treat each other with respect.

In the team, I call myself a senior researcher and I try in every possible way to reveal the potential of Mario so that he understands a little that basketball is a team sport, and not tennis, where you alone are responsible for your actions.

-Have you talked to him about his NBA career? What does he say, why did he fail there?

No, I don’t ask such questions, because it would be incorrect on my part. Only journalists can ask such questions. I would say that he succeeded.

It seems to me that few European players have recently played in the NBA for so long, and getting big minutes, and I think that he has everything ahead of him. He is young, he has good potential, he needs a little European basketball experience, a little understanding of basketball itself, and he is ready.

-I would like to know about the distribution of shots in the team. Mario, Lorenzo and Isaiah get the most of them. Why was this particular strategy chosen? And why so many isolations are played so often?

I think it's from defense and from being able to hold the ball. This happens when you have 70% possession of the ball in your hands.
Naturally, when the defense changes against you in the end of matches, then there is a transition to isolation.

We try to play for the team and bring the players to the open throw, no matter who they are. But I think everyone should be ready on the court no matter how many times they get the ball. But if this happens, then it also depends on the combinations that we play. The coach sees where we can create an advantage. Therefore, if at certain points there is an advantage, then we try to use it.

On playing in the All-Star Game: "It's a great show for fans and players"


-You and Mario became the leaders of the All-Star Game voting, how do you feel about the All-Star Weekend, and is it reasonable to hold it in terms of covid?

Now it is difficult to say what is appropriate and what is not. The main thing is that everyone is healthy. The All-Star Game is an amazing event, I don’t want to think about covid, but I have to. If we put the coronavirus aside and don’t think about it, imagine that everyone is alive and well and no one is sick, then this is an amazing event, a basketball holiday, a meeting of friends, warm communication, a show for spectators, and the opportunity to watch beautiful basketball, which you will not see during official matches.

And for me it's a holiday, and a slam dunk contest, and a three-point shot contest, I like it so much, especially when they make a beautiful show out of it, and they also give prizes. I even became the first MVP (the best player) of the first VTB United League All-Star Game. Then they gave me a UAZ "Patriot", it's cool. I gave it to charity. It didn’t even work out that way, they took it to me for 3.5 months, and I gave 200 thousand more to charity than I received from this car.

Why did it take you so long to bring it?

I don't know, it's better to ask the organizers. It was easier to pick it up and leave on it.
About Anton Ponkrashov's game in Iran: "Apparently, he stagnated a lot and he wanted to play"

-Anton Ponkrashev resumed his career in Iran, how do you feel about it?

Just amazing, I read this news with such joy and watched his blog. I will say that he is handsome, I am happy for him. I know how much Anton loves basketball, how much he cannot live without basketball. Apparently, he was very stagnant and he wanted to play. He feels that he is full of strength and energy, it can be seen from him that his eyes are burning. Even in his blog, commenting on the signing, he, in my opinion, did it with big, burning eyes. God grant him more play and health, because money is money, and the joy of being involved in this sport, which you love with all your heart, can hardly be compared with anything.

-Timofei Mozgov also signed a contract with Runa.

Yes, the boys are handsome, I know that Yegor Vyaltsev signed with Samara, and I was happy for him. It's great, let the boys play, if you like it, if you have strength and health, then go ahead. I'm happy for them, honestly.

- And Timofey was not invited to Kazan?

No, this is not my job, I have another task. If I was an agent, coach or president, then you could think.

Telling my agent, "You don't work hard"


- You touched on the topic of agents, in Russian football there is a global problem with them, but what about agents in basketball?

After signing a contract with the club, agents are not visible. I have a normal agent - Burgan Nazirov, in principle I am satisfied with him, he is trying his best, by the way, he is from Kazan. We are with him, if not lie, together for 18 years, probably. I had the opportunity to sign with other agents, but as I like to tell him: “I believe in you and continue to believe, but you don’t work a damn thing.” But I'm just joking, he is actually a very professional agent, and, of course, from my bell tower, I can say that I would add more PR to the agency work.

Because you need to move, communicate with people, conclude more advertising contracts, be placed on billboards with some kind of slogans, it doesn’t cost how much money, how many movements that need to be created. Therefore, I would like to wish all our agents to actively promote the players with the help of souvenirs, the team is a team, and the promotion of a personal brand is also nice. Why are there NBA stars on T-shirts, and we are not stars or what? It's nice, I would fit such things to my friends and acquaintances and wear them myself.

I would work with an agent on this side, because signing a player and getting money from him is one thing, but you also need to add work on the legal side so that all young basketball players who do not have legal experience are not deceived and are protected from all sides so that they can only think about basketball, and their agents would deal with the rest. Or at least agents would prepare players for further independent life. I don’t want to offend anyone, just my opinion that the agent should be like a support and a shield that protects the players from problems, but also trains them. Because after finishing school, a player enters a university, he starts endless training, and you work in this mode all your life, few people have such assistants. Nor should the agent be a problem.

What are your expectations for the second half of the season?

I want everyone to be healthy, so that covid issues and injuries do not affect the teams. There are a lot of games, there is a lot of work to be done, especially in the second part of the season. There should be more positive, because the matter is approaching spring and summer, and the second half of the season is dawn. And just in it all the important games are held, on which the further fate of all clubs will depend, and all the more interesting.

-How will the tight schedule affect due to the postponed matches?

Yes, he was already dense, we will work and try. I hope everyone stays healthy so everyone has game time.