heinnews.com’s David Hein talked with German national team coach Dirk Bauermann about a number of issues. Here is part two of the interview.

heinnews.com: What is the best part of being only the head coach of the German national team?
Bauermann: I can pretty much focus completely on the federation. Also dealing with the youth programs and their development. Basically 24-7, you can concentrate on one thing alone. Also I have more time for my daughter.

heinnews.com: And the worst part?
Bauermann: Not having the daily practices and dealing with the players on a regular basis.

heinnews.com: Many fans do not quite understand what a national team coach does when he’s not coaching the national team. Can you tell us some of the things you have been doing recently and what you have planned for the near future?
Bauermann: I was in the United States for three weeks recently. I talked to Chris Kaman and tried to strengthen that relationship. I also saw Lucca Staiger, who is playing at Iowa State. I met with people who deal with athlete’s performance. As a national team program we need to become more professional in our preparations for big tournaments. I met with a sports psychologist who can help young players develop the mental toughness needed to compete at a high level.

I was also scouting a lot of guys and trying to give them feedback about what they need to work on. But I am doing that in close cooperation with their coaches because I don’t want to tell them something that does not fit into the plans of their coaches.

I am also doing a lot of conceptional things. I’m in Cologne all day for a round table talk with officials and coaches and general managers in the field of recruiting young players between 8 and 10 years old in cooperation with the elementary schools.

We are in the process of establishing a nation-wide system of recruiting and developing young players starting at 8 or 9 years old. I think we are pretty far in putting together a concept. It’s a huge step for German basketball and I need some feedback from people in the practical field.

We also have had two big tournaments – sort of like try-outs for our under 16 and under 18 teams. I was at the under 18 tournament last week and helping the coaches pick the right players while also talking to the state federation coaches. We are trying to be more specific about what 14, 16 and 18 year olds have to be able to do to make the national team – from a skill level in terms of one-on-one, and decision making. We just want to be very specific with the players while also teaching the coaches.

heinnews.com: You had five years of coaching both Bamberg and the German national team. Now you are just with the German federation. How is your health doing?
Bauermann: I feel good. I feel really good right now. I’m running a lot. It was a much needed change of pace. It was taking a little bit of a toll on my health. And it was important to step away and reload the batteries.

heinnews.com: Let’s stay with the German national team. The draw for EuroBasket 2009 came out and Germany was drawn into Group B with defending champions Russia, Latvia and the qualifier team. That qualifying team, however, could be such strong teams as France, Italy, Belgium or Portugal. What do you think about the draw?

Bauermann: Obviously, it’s an extremely strong group. But we’re talking about European basketball. And all the groups are tough. I do like that we don’t have to face either Greece or Spain in the first round. And we wouldn’t have to face Spain in the second round either, so that’s good. I think they are the best two teams in Europe. I am well aware that Russia are the reigning European champions but I think Spain are heads and shoulders above everybody else.

Still Russia are great. Latvia are always to be reckoned with. They are so fundamentally strong and so tough from the outside.

And usually you like that you have the qualifier in your group but with some of the teams out there – France, Italy, Portugal and Belgium. That’s not necessarily a good thing. For the first time in history, the qualifier for the EuroBasket could actually win the whole thing. I mean if Italy and France have their best players with them, both could reach the final. That just shows you how much parity there is in European basketball. But it’s unbelievable that three of France, Italy, Belgium and Portugal will not reach the European championship. Maybe we need to start thinking about having 20 teams instead of 16. It’s a shame that great teams like that will not get the chance to compete.

But back to the draw, it is what it is. And at the end of the day you can’t do anything about it. We just have make every attempt possible to convince Dirk and Chris to play. If they both play we have a chance to go very far. If one of them plays we could still do some things. But it will be very difficult to get past the first round if neither of them plays. But if they don’t come we can’t be whining or complaining. We will just have to coach the hell out of those guys.

heinnews.com: I know it’s early in the process, but what kind of chances do you see right now of Dirk and/or Chris playing this summer for Germany?
Bauermann: For Dirk I would say 20-80. He’s played for us for more than 10 years. He is seriously looking at taking the summer off and getting a long vacation and then getting ready for the NBA season. The London Olympics (in 2012) is something that fascinates him. I think he would love to take part in another Olympics. But you don’t qualify for the 2012 Olympics this summer but rather in 2011. So I think he may be thinking like that, taking a rest now and maybe in 2010 and then coming back in 2011. But I sure as hell don’t want to go to the qualifiers for 2011. I would rather qualify for London through Turkey (the 2010 world championship).

With Chris, he really had a great summer and really enjoyed being with a team, the whole team meals and camaraderie and everything that goes along with it. If he wants to play he has to be healthy, which he still is not. And he really fought the Clippers to play this past summer. And I don’t know if he wants to do that again. We need to get the Clippers on our side and things will be a lot easier. I am pessimistic but there are chances for both of them.

heinnews.com: If neither of them come, Jan Jagla will probably be even more important, correct?
Bauermann: Yeah, Jan is probably Germany’s most intriguing player. He needs to understand it’s a team game and that he does not need to take every shot. Also that he has to rebound consistently and rebound with emotional discipline. If he makes those steps then he will be the key for us if Dirk and Chris do not come.

heinnews.com: There’s one other issue out there I would like to get your opinion about. Josh Childress made big news when he left the NBA to join Euroleague side Olympiacos. And 19-year-old Brandon Jennings decided to turn down going to Arizona to play for Lottomatica Roma. What do you think about these two moves?
Bauermann: I read an interview with Childress and mentally he seems well prepared for this. He seems like a different breed of cat. They got the right guy. He is someone who is willing to make sacrifices and not need preferential treatment. It was a great choice. And obviously if he does well and he likes it, others will follow.

And with the youngster, I think it will be really, really interesting if he has the mentality to be successful in Europe. He is so far away from home, does not have his friends with him and it’s a big challenge. But it will be interesting.

heinnews.com: Dirk Bauermann, as always, it’s been a pleasure and thanks for your time.
Bauermann: Dave, sure, no problem.



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