Photo from Nebrask University
heinnews’ David Hein made a stop at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament to talk to Brazil head coach Walter Roese, who is also the associate coach at University of Hawaii. They discussed what Brazil learned from the AST; the NCAA’s decision against allowing college coaches to attend the AST; being one of very few non-American coaches in the U.S. college system; Hawaii possibly bringing in more international players; and Brazil’s chances at the U18 Americas Championship in San Antonio in June.
heinnews: Hello coach Roese. This is the first time Brazil has been at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament. Talk a little bit about the exposure the Brazilian team got from a tournament like this.
Roese: This is a great tournament. More than exposure, I believe it’s a great experience of playing high level basketball. For the kids coming here, not only do they play but they also watch the other teams play and they are learning. They see what they need to improve and how they can get better. There are great teams here, great countries playing basketball right now. And the level is very high. So I hope this helps bring their level up as well.
heinnews: How much experience has this team had before this tournament?
Roese: This is a brand new team. I’m missing several players who are playing professionally in Europe right now. And some kids are playing in Brazil. So I brought a really young team. There are four kids on my team who have never played for the Brazilian national team before. A couple kids were never in an airplane before. So we are really young. But this is a great experience for them. You cannot simulate anything like this in practice. You have to play, you have to feel the game. So I think this will help them a lot in the long run.
heinnews: What’s it mean for Brazil to be taking part in the Albert Schweitzer Tournament for the first time?
Roese: It’s a great honor and we are very thankful for the organization team inviting us here. I was lucky to be in Muenster, Germany last year with the Brazilian U23 team. It was a great time and the team learned a lot. And then here as well – Germany really puts on some class tournaments.
heinnews: Do you think Germany should host a bigger European or world basketball championship?
Roese: Why not? As long as we are there at a world championship. I would be all for it.
heinnews: This tournament is also well known for all the stars who have played here in the past. What do you think about the talent level of this tournament?
Roese: It’s the top level in the world. You have countries from many different continents here. I think that helps in bringing them all together in one place. And it helps everybody to evaluate. Some times as a player you say I am very good in my country or my continent. And then you go away and you say, Woh! The level is very high. So it’s a great tournament and a great thing for the youth programs and people who love basketball. There is no better place to be than right here. I love being here.
heinnews: You were an assistant coach at University of Nebraska for two seasons until last year and now you are associate coach at University of Hawaii. How did you land at Nebraska?
Roese: I played college basketball in the United States at the University of Houston. And then I got my college degree and then in 2000 I decided to get into coaching. So I went back to the U.S. and I have been coaching there for 10 years now. So, I’m just moving up.
heinnews: What’s it like being one of the very, very few foreign coaches in the U.S.?
Roese: No, there are not. I don’t know if there are any head coaches or not. But you can always be the first one. And I’m never afraid to be the first one. I’m just trying to prepare myself to be the best coach that I can. Being here I can learn a lot of things from other coaches. And we’re just trying to do the best job that we can.
heinnews: Do you know of any non-American head coaches in the U.S. college ranks?
Roese: I don’t think so. But I always believe that you should hire the best coach possible. As long as they can do there job. Today, the way the world is, I don’t think there should be any borders for coaches. I think it should be the best person getting the job.
heinnews: What are some of the things you have learned here at Albert Schweitzer?
Roese: A lot of stuff: how to prepare a team, how to run some sets, some different types of sets for offense and defense, how to run the motion offense. There’s a lot of stuff you can run. And every country that we play, they have different and unique things that they are doing. So you just try to get something to bring back with you wherever you go and try to adapt that to your reality.
heinnews: This tournament is sanctioned by the NCAA, and college coaches are not allowed to attend this event. What do you think about that?
Roese: I don’t know. We have play by the NCAA rules and there is a word in the NCAA rules that says scholastic events. A scholastic event means it has to be involving school or high school. I think the NCAA is trying to do a better job and I adjust to international basketball, where there is no high school basketball. It’s all club basketball. So the word scholastic is keeping us away from recruiting the best talent possible. I don’t know if it’s good or not. I don’t want to get into that. I came here to coach the Brazilian team. I am not here recruiting. I am focusing on trying to get my team ready for the FIBA U18 in San Antonio (June 26-30). That’s my job here.
heinnews: The NCAA changed a rule which said players can also be considered amateur if they are playing on a team with professional players as long as they are not being paid to play. What is your opinion on the rule change?
Roese: It’s a great rule right now. With the past rule you were penalized for something which was not fair. You did not get paid, so it was not fair for the kids. As long as you have not signed a professional contract, you are still an amateur. That’s the beauty of the NCAA, you play against amateurs. So I am in favor of the rule. Some American coaches are complaining that some of the kids are coming as very mature players. You know what, it’s not the kids’ fault. That’s my opinion.
heinnews: What are your expectations for the Hawaii Rainbows?
Roese: We want to do very good and win as many games as possible. And I would like to have a lot of international players play for us.
heinnews: Are you going to have some internationals?
Roese: Yes we are. We will.
heinnews: You see a lot of Australians going to St. Mary’s. Will Hawaii become the new home for Brazilian players?
Roese: You know, Australia is not that far from Hawaii either. It’s nice weather and we will try to get the best players. One thing which is a reality is that not every kid fits into the NCAA style. Some kids do not belong in the NCAA. The NCAA is a good place for kids who want to work hard and go to school, get a degree. So there is more than just basketball. So when you recruit an international, you have to make them understand that the culture is a great experience. But it is not only about basketball. You can do both.
heinnews: Brigham Young senior Jonathan Tavernari has now completed his NCAA career. What do you think about his chances for the future?
Roese: I know him really well. I was a coach at BYU when we signed him and brought him over. He lived with me in my house for a year so I know him really well. I think he is a very talented young man. He’s a better fit for a European style because he can really shoot. How good he can be I don’t know. That’s up to him. And sometimes you need to get into a good situation for your type of playing style. I wish him the best. One thing he does, he works very hard. But I don’t know if he has enough talent for the NBA.
heinnews: You mentioned San Antonio and the U18 Americas Championship. Your group includes Uruguay, Canada and Puerto Rico. There are four spots open for the U19 World Championship in 2011. What are your chances?
Roese: Well two of the teams from the groups advance. All four teams are very equal in my opinion. We can finish at the top or at the bottom. But our job is to qualify for the World Championship. That’s why a tournament like this is incredible for us because I brought kids who have never played internationally before. And I can evaluate them and then add one or two or however many to the other group not here.
heinnews: Well, good luck in San Antonio and Hawaii.
Roese: Thanks man