Geoff: My recent trip to Lithuania was an opportunity to play in front of top league coaches in the LKL or NKL. I played on a tour team which is comprised of selected USA basketball talent.
Chris: What should we know about Lithuania as a country? What is their basketball like? How are players different there?
Basketball in Lithuania is very strong and the people put the sport before soccer. The country itself is very refined and up to date. Technology and architectural structures were state of the art. As a matter of fact the hotel I stayed at was brand new with everything I needed. The players I played against were very lean, tall, and were fundamentally sound. Everyone could shoot and the timing and screen setting was almost impossible to guard at times. There was very little dribbling but the execution of backdoor cuts and reading screens was incredible! On a side note, they had great dynamic warmup and and performed static stretching after the games.
Chris: Picking up and leaving Austin can’t always be easy- tell us about the role of your basketball passion in this trip?
Geoff: It is difficult to make decisions when u have bills to pay at home, a family, and of course coaching at AYB. This Lithuania trip was based on my everlasting passion for the game and I was blessed to get the opportunity . I knew from when I was invited that someone will notice my talent. The teams and players saw it and was able to make an impression for next summer where I will possibly go back for a week to coach youth and workout for some teams out there. I realized my playing time wasn’t sufficient enough to show everything I do but I made the most out of the times I was in. I thought about the “masterpiece minute” which is a tactic we use at AYB. I played the best I could no matter what the result!
Chris: What obstacles do you face as a passionate professional trying to do your thing that helps you relate to some of the struggles our younger players face?
You may be that player that produces big numbers for one team, but in this case I had to accept a role whether it be politics or a systematic reason. It was difficult at first but I was able to adjust and accept it. I was the guy communicating to my teammates while playing good defense and scoring if I needed to. My emotions and opinions meant nothing to coaches. You go out there and you play the game and listen to coaches demands. Producing is big on the pro level but I must say that it’s important on every level of basketball.
Chris: Learn anything from Lithuania system you look forward to sharing with our kids?
One main skill I would say is how to set screens on and off the ball. Reading the defense and recognizing space is very important as well. All players sprinted to their spots and did exactly what their coach asked them. It was tough for my team because we played very fast and went for one on one situations more instead of sharing the ball. I look forward to teaching this to AYB students as soon as I get back to the United States.