CSKA Moscow big man and three-time Euroleague champion, Kyle Hines, talked exclusively to TalkBasket.net about his new documentary, “Just a Kid from Sicklerville”, his presence in CSKA, coach Dimitris Itoudis, his former team, Olympiacos Piraeus, and many more.
Here is what the 31-year-old center said about…
The decision to create the documentary:
“I talked with few of my friends about sharing this experience. Because there are so many different experiences, the goal was to show people the ups and downs of playing basketball overseas. People ask questions about playing overseas, so one of the goals is to show future players there are other options, if they don’t play in the NBA or the G-League.”
Whether these episodes will help other American players come to Europe:
“I hope so, that’s one of the goals. There are different stories people hear about playing overseas, but the target is to show the positive side, convince other players to come and play here and have better knowledge of what overseas life looks like.”
Life in Moscow, compared to life in Piraeus:
“When I first came here, the transition wasn’t easy. In Piraeus, it’s warm all-year round, people are more relaxed and go out, they speak English. On the other hand, Moscow is a huge city, the weather is cold, the city is very spread out, but since I have been here, I got adjusted to it. Moscow is my second home now, people here are friendly, there are many things to do, many restaurants, many different attractions.
My family and I feel comfortable here. When I have time off, I do things with my family, explore the city, go to different restaurants, visit different places. I like both Piraeus and Moscow. I have great memories from Greece, so many great friends, it’s a special place in my heart. Moscow is my second home, I have been here for five years, both places are very special for me.”
CSKA Moscow’s performance so far:
“The goal is to be better than last year, win all titles, the Euroleague Championship. We brought in a lot of big players, different players, like Sergio Rodriguez, Othello Hunter, Will Clyburn, Leo Westermann. They were big players on other clubs, they have definitely helped us and (have) brought new life and energy to the team. Now, we should work more on our chemistry, that’s the most important thing.
With the EuroBasket, we didn’t have a lot of practices together as a unit, everyday we continue get better, learn each other, grow as a team. We have a lot more personal talent than last season, Westermann and Clyburn can play in more than one positions, Hunter is another dynamic center, this can help us create a tag team together.”
Milos Teodosic’s departure and whether it has affected the team:
“Definitely, Milos is a special player, a unique player, an one of a kind player, he accomplished one of his dreams, I wish him all the best. At the same time, the management did a great job (to replace him). Sergio (Rodriguez) is one of the best point guards of our generation, he is amazing. Westermann and Clyburn add different dynamic and dimension to our team. The management has done a great job. This is one of the best and most talented teams, since I came here.”
CSKA Moscow coach Dimitris Itoudis:
“He is a great coach and great person, I really appreciate him. I know him a lot, he always tries to motivate his players, make them better, get the best out of them. It’s a great opportunity for me to be able to work with him, he is one of the best Euroleague coaches and proves that in every game, every season, every difficult situation.”
Coach Itoudis’ playing style:
“He is very open and clear about what he is expecting from you, what his goal is, he is always open to help you with any issues or questions you may have, he is a great communicator, always tries to put you in the best position possible.”
Working on different aspects of his game:
“It’s difficult to work individually, given the number of matches during the season. The coach gives us the opportunity and space to work on certain aspects of our game through a training schedule. We are professionals, though, it’s on the players, on us, we know our individual duties. When you reach the highest level, you know the things you have to work on to benefit the team and yourself.”
His individual performance and whether it’s better than last year’s one:
“I think it’s the same, but also better, actually. Every year, you expect to play at a certain level. But, right now, we haven’t reached our maximum level yet. We are still working on our chemistry, to learn each other, understand the system, what the coach expects from us. But, as the season goes on, we will play much better basketball. We have to be ready in May, so we are working towards that.”
His thoughts on Olympiacos and their loss to Barcelona:
“The Euroleague season is very hard, there are going to be days like this, down games, down periods, especially in the early part of the season. Olympiacos have so many injuries, so many issues, with guards playing while being hurt, but it’s part of the process. The Euroleague is a marathon, hopefully the goal is to be healthy and play your best basketball at the end of the season.”
The rivalry between Olympiacos and Panathinaikos and CSKA’s game against the “Reds” in December:
“It’s a big derby (Olympiacos vs Panathinaikos on Friday night), a huge match for both sides, if I have the opportunity, I will definitely watch it. Both teams have great passion.
It’s difficult to say what the strategy will be (for the match against Olympiacos), as the game is one month away. It’s about us, actually, our mentality, our physicality, the way we will play. Olympiacos are very physical, especially at home, fans are passionate. Concerning the strategy, the staff does its best to prepare us mentally and physically. It’s a big game, with huge implications (e.g home-court advantage), but there are many games ahead of this, so we should focus on each game separately.”
His feelings when coming back to Piraeus:
“It’s a great experience to go back to Piece and Friendship Stadium, see the fans and familiar faces and catch up with former team-mates (like Kostas Papanikolaou). But, when the game starts, I do my best to help my team win.
It’s always a good match-up, there is a great rivalry between Olympiacos and CSKA Moscow in the last decade, it’s always great to see familiar faces, but when I enter the floor, I am trying to do my best to help my team-mates.”
His thoughts about coach Bartzokas and coach Itoudis:
“They are two different coaches, they are both great, it’s very difficult for me to compare them. They have two different playing styles, it has been a great experience to work for both of them, they are very successful. Coach Bartzokas did a great job in Olympiacos and Lokomotiv Kuban, he is now in Khimki, one of our rivals. Every day I was learning something new from him and his staff, it was an honour for me to play for coach Bartzokas and the same goes for coach Itoudis, too.”
The new Euroleague season:
“It’s still too early in the season, many clubs have to deal with injuries and chemistry issues. It’s more of a marathon, many teams may play much better later in the season. Every game is competitive, no matter who you play, that what makes the Euroleague very exciting.”
CSKA’s younger players:
“For the younger players, practice is the game. They bring a different level of energy, try to make the difference in practice. I enjoy playing with them, it’s like fresh air for me.”