At the end of the 2005-2006 season, and before the well-deserved-holidays from work, school and basket-ball, we used the opportunity of yet another training session to interview two of our prominent players on their outlook on the season, the team and their future ambitions. Both Tom and Franck are home-grown players and it is of some interest to note how basket-ball players can accommodate the demands their sport puts on them, and their academic and working careers. A striking feature is the clear-headed analysis of last season’s performance once the team became aware of its potential again.
How did you go into this year’s championship, any misapprehensions ?
Not really! We were aware of our potential, we had watched the transfer market and seen what the other teams in the top league were capable of, and we knew that with Carsten Steiner we had the coach to get us back into the game again.
So, what were the goals ?
No need to be modest about it. Normally your ambition would be to stay in the top league, with us the goal was to reach the top six and to reaffirm our claim to a presence of T71 at the top.
What made you so confident ?
The team ! – There were no hitches from the very start. Despite some manning problems at the start of the season because of national selection requirements, the players took their responsibilities from the very beginning. Our games against RACING, MUSEL-PIKES and CONTERN, won or lost, confirmed our claim – we were back. The games we lost were mainly lost due to lack of concentration over the whole game. SPARTA turned out to be the most impressive opponent from the start. They are a very well-balanced and physical team with some very clever play.
Didn’t you become a little over-ambitious at that stage ?
Not really, no ! – The potential was there, our American player brought all his experience and dedication to bear, and we upgraded our ambitions to reaching the top four. Our regrets are that we did not reach that goal – silly actually. The game against RACING, lost by the smallest possible score, was probably our greatest regret of the season.
Bad for the morale ?
Yes and no. Nothing to be ashamed of if you play a good game, but the following defeats in a row against MUSEL-PIKES and BCMESS (cup) were far less pleasant.
Franck: I think the AS SOLEUVRE game really got us back on the winning trail again, we played our game very cleverly and more importantly, held on to our advance.
Tom: To me, the home game against ETZELLA was a similar highlight. Our American player was out early, we played a good game and only lost by a narrow margin.
We know this mainly concerns Tom for the time being, but you mentioned the national team requirements in the beginning, what do these numerous caps mean to you at your age.
Tom: Playing for your national team is something special, despite what you may think. It’s a tremendous experience and you do learn a lot from playing foreign teams. Our limits are very quickly set, these games are far more physical and speed is of the essence. Pressing is the name of the game and we have little to match the weight and size of these foreign players. I wouldn’t want to miss it, though.
This hard practice was pretty evident at the beginning of the season, but how do you cope with your regular practice schedule.
Basically it’s four training sessions a week. All you have to do from there, is to fit them in with your school (Tom) or work (Franck) requirements. Not all that easy. After a day’s school or work, the practice starts at about 6 p.m. for some individual work, a first team session at 7/8 p.m., and you normally leave the sports centre at 10.30 p.m. On top of this you have your pre-game practice, obviously.
Franck: Work permitting, i.e. when it takes me close to Dudelange, I can fit in a lunch-time practice – shooting, a little physical, you know.
Tom: This is where being a student helps, at least you have that extra break after 2 p.m., it allows me to be in the sports centre early. Makes a long day for both of us.
What are the demands on your body in all this ? Are you aware of any long-term risks ?
Franck: With me it’s already slightly different from Tom, I’m 26, so I want to listen to my body more than a youngster his age (18). But that’s your responsibility and choice again.
Tom: Luckily I had no injuries so far, and in order to keep my options for future ambitions – international if opportunity knocks - I also want to watch out.
We must say that T71 pays extra attention to our physical well-being – not only during the games or practices – we have medical attention all over the year. Carsten Steiner has included a special injury prevention scheme into his programme – power training for one, but also prevention techniques to adopt over the whole season.
After this pretty successful season, without injury, you must be looking forward to your holidays.
Don’t see much of it, actually.
Tom: I have a break of three weeks only – national team you know. That’s preparation camps in Montpellier and Vittel, and European Championship qualifiers to you : Georgia – Iceland – Austria and Finland waiting to take us on.
Franck: You can talk, I have my « congé » to look forward to. Employers may be understanding, but the days you take off for basket-ball are taken from that same « congé », you want to manage that as well.
Tom: Stop moaning ! We are off to a BASKET-BALL (what else) holiday to MIAMI - eleven players – should be fun. We already arranged for some basket-ball practice, so it’s not all lost to the good cause of T71.
Sure ! Anyway, what are the ambitions on your return apart from winning the championship and beating the European competition ?
We think we have reasonable hopes to make the top four next year, our progress is there to prove it. Also, the transfer market has been pretty busy, to our advantage we must say – people coming back into the fold, others joining the better team and all that. Also, we are privileged to have Carsten Steiner as our coach, he deserves top marks for his professionalism – on and off the pitch. T71 offers a good mix of routine and youth, of home-grown players and valuable additions ; to us the balance appears just right and the renewed competition at the top will do us good.
Before you become too enthusiastic, we’ll leave you to your practice session with Carsten, wish you a pleasant stay in Florida and look forward to the start of the new season. Thanks lads.
Our pleasure, and no need to write everything we said, people read that homepage, you know !