Brad Greenberg:
This Year's Avtodor is a Completely Different Team

Charismatic leaders, no respect for heavy favourites and amazing fans - that is what can sum up Avtodor’s inaugural VTB League season. We are about to witness a revamped Saratov team with Brad Greenberg at the head. The American coach spoke with VTB-league.com and told us about his expectations from the upcoming venture.

Brad, tell us about how ended up signing with Avtodor Saratov?

My agent has worked with Avtodor in the past and presented my name to the club. The strength of the VTB League, the possibility that Avtodor might be part of Eurocup and the tradition of the club naturally strengthened my interest in the position. And after speaking with President Rodionov we were able to come to an agreement.

What have you heard about Russian Basketball, VTB United League and your new team before?

I have always been a strong advocate for international basketball and know how competitive the VTB & Russian basketball is. The competition is fierce and challenging.

Many people think that Malcolm Armstead and Jeff Brooks, two Avtodor Saratov newcomers, will be the future stars of the VTB United League. Do you agree with this? What are their strengths as players?

Jeff has proven himself at the Euroleague level and is a complete and unselfish player. He does so many little things that help a team win. Malcolm is a deceptively quick player who is stepping up with his move to Avtodor and the VTB League. But he is a confident player who loves the challenge of playing against top competition.

Whom could you note among the other newcomers? Who surprised you during the training camp?

I am impressed with our veteran guard Evgeney Kolesnikov. He is a well rounded player who is smart and skilled. And while he just recently joined us, Denys Lukashov has shown us that his experience and basketball intelligence is a welcome addition to our club.

Is it possible to compare Avtodor Saratov in the last season with the team preparing to the upcoming season? Or this would be completely different team?

This is a completely different team. Fortson and Fesenko were such big parts of the team last year. They have moved on and now its most important we have good balance with more people involved offensively. And we need to be a stronger defensive team this season to have success.

Could you describe in three words the style of basketball which you would like to implement in your team?

I need 4 words. Defense, Unselfishness, Competitve, Connected

Avtodor Saratov always tried to develop young players. Which of them could reach new level already in the upcoming season?

Artem Klimenko is a developing big man who has the potential to be a very good player. This is an important season for him.

Artem Klimenko started last season very well, but after sustaining an injury never regained his form. What things does the Russian centre need in order to become a leader of the club once again?

Artem is just 21 years old and is still physically maturing. His body will get stronger and stronger as he continues to work on his strength and conditioning. But he needs to also work on the mental aspects of the game. To be active and alert and mentally tough. He has some good basketball instincts and is agile and long. And he has skills. He just needs to keep working with determination to improve.

Avtodor Saratov beat a lot of favorites in its debut season in the VTB United League. What goals have been set for the upcoming championship?

My team goals every year are first and foremost to try and reach our potential. For our team to come as close to our capacity as possible and to be as good as we can be. But I also know that we have to have some tangible targets as well. Last year's team made the playoffs and to have a chance to win a championship you have to first make the playoffs. We want to be in the mix…in the game so to speak and in the playoffs at the end of the season with a chance to compete for a title. We know how tough the competition is but we won’t shy away from that. And since we have the opportunity to play Eurocup we have a goal to advance out of the first stage in Eurocup and see if we can make some noise in that competition as well.

You have worked both in the USA and Europe. What are the main differences in basketball and structuring of teams between USA and Europe?

I believe basketball is pretty much the same no matter where you play. While there are some difference in style when you compare US and European / International basketball, its still about playing defense and hitting the open man. Ironically the game in the US is now starting to resemble European basketball more closely. The spacing and tactics of using ballscreens as a basis for creating offense has become a bigger part of basketball in the US and that is a direct result of US coaches watching and learning from international coaches and teams.

Please, remember your most successful season and the toughest season?

I have been so fortunate to be involved in the game I love for most of my life. I learned much about basketball from my father while I was a child and then had the good fortune to have a mentor in Jim Lynam who was one of my college coaches. Jim hired me after I finished playing for him in college and I worked under him at both the college and professional level in the NBA. And I have had the chance to work with Hall of Fame players and be part of so many good teams. The team I worked with in Haifa defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv for the Winner League Championship was a moment I will always remember. Having a role in helping build some great Portland Trail Blazer teams in the late 80’s and early 90’s was special. I have so many fond memories it is impossible to list them all. I love basketball and to have been involved in the game in different capacities on different levels in different countries has been a blessing and I appreciate how lucky I have been. And I am very excited about this tremendous opportunity to be part of a club with such a great history and to compete in such a fierce league as the VTB. The opportunity that President Rodionov has given me has great responsibility and I approach it with great respect and determination.