Gordon Herbert is currently in his first season as head coach for 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin. He played at Idaho State and played professional basketball from 1982-1994. He started his coaching career in 1996 and has coached for teams like Tapiolan Honka (Finland)Oberwart (Austria), DJK S. Oliver Wurzburg (Germany), Frankfurt Skyliners (Germany), Paris Basket Racing (France-ProA), Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez (France-ProA), Aris Thessaloniki (Greece-A1), Honka Espoo Playboys (Finland-Korisliiga) and was ana ssistant for the Toronto Raptors in 2008-2009. He also coached the Georgian National Team in 2005-2006. He won the German title in 2004 with the Opel Skyliners, French cup in 2007 and Finish cups in 2009 and 2010. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Congrats to the 76-70 win against the Fraport Skyliners. How many nerves did this win cost you?
It was a pretty intense game like any other, but Frankfurt played well. I felt that Frankfurt controlled the tempo in the first, third and fourth quarters. Iam glad we got the win at the end.
Did Derrick Allen, Dashaun Wood and Gordon Herbert want the win a bit more than Quantez Robertson, Jimmy Mckinney and Marius Nolte?
It is always most difficult playing against an ex team or players in that first year. I would be lying if I said this wasn´t a special game. It was nice seeing guys like Klaus Perwas and Kamil Novak.
After Alba Berlin beat Frankfurt on the road, many wanted the head of Muli Katzurin. How sure were you that he would find a way to get his team going?
I never really thought about it. I always focus first on my team. I always hope or the ebst of any coach. I know how much pressure there is for a coach.
How much pressure is there to win the title in June?
It was disappointing losing to Braunschweig and not getting to the Top 4. The two favorites before the season were Bamberg and Munich. Of course we want to get back to the final. But now we have to focus on getting better.
Before the season, it was clear that Dashaun wood would not have to do as much scoring as in Frankfurt and could focus more on defense. However in the last weeks, he has been scoring much including 30 points against Artland. Is Alba Berlin a little to dependent on him than you would like?
In some games, we are dependent on him and in other games on other guys. Back in November/December, we had 2-3 guys that could step up on any given night. We were playing very well then and that was our strength. We have to focus on getting back to that if we want to be good.
You said in a Five interview that a good team needs its race horses and fighting pigs to be successful. How well would a Jacob Burtschi fit to be a fighting pig on your team?
I like him a lot. He has been a big reason why Frankfurt has turned the corne rin the last 10-14 games. He is like a point forward. He moves the ball well, can pass and shoot. He is a nice fit in their puzzle. He has a good chance to become a good European player. He reminds me of Marko Simonovic.
Alba Berlin has many talented players. How difficult is it getting the best out of good players?
To be successful, all players have to play defense, rebound and execute in the half court and going where it hurts. You need a good mix out of race horses and pigs. All have to do the dirty work, but that hasn´´t happened in the last months. This has to happen again if we want to compete.
Alba Berlin has developed many good young players, but most go elsewhere for their break through like Philipp Zwiener has with TBB Trier. Could young German Joey Ney become a good role player in your system?
He could become a good role player. He is a tough kid that goes where it hurts. The problem here is that there is a lot of pressure to have success and we can´´t get every guy into our rotation. Those that don´t go to smaller programes. Heiko Schaffartzik started here, left and came back. Guys leave to get experience and get minutes.
How is the development of Lucca Staiger coming along? He is known as a shooter, but penetrated nicely to the hoop twice against Frankfurt.
We had big plans with him at the start of the season. He started games, but got off to a tough start and dropped out of the rotation. We play only 9 guys and he was our 10th player. He got out of condition, but he is working hard at getting fit again. He is still in our plans and we are sure that he will help us.
How much of this ice hockey mentality has Alba Berlin gotten this season that you would like the team to have? It must of paid off in the close wins against Bremerhaven and Frankfurt?
We didn´t play too well in both games, but it was good that the team found a way to win. It would be nice if the team had that toughness of a canadian hockey team, but they are more like a European team with their finesse. I don´t think that they will never be like a Canadian hockey team.
What does Frankfurt have that Berlin doesn´t have and vice versa?
Both are great organizations. I have a lot of respect for Gunnar Wobke in how he has developed the program in Frankfurt the last 14-15 years. The only difference is the arena. Both clubs have the best training facilities as well.
You have coached in many places in the basketball world. Where would you rank Frankfurt?
Frankfurt is one of the best organizations that I have been at. I came back for a second time and I had back problems and they treated me super. Then I left and had an opportunity with Alba Berlin. I really wanted to stay longer in Frankfurt. I really liked my time in Frankfurt. On top of that, I love Germany. I respect the culture and professionalism very much.
How big was the success with Canada getting a fourth place at the 1984 Olympics?
It looks good now with how Canada has developed with basketball. We were very disappointed that we lost a heart breaker to Spain and then had to play USA in the semi finals and not get a medal. It was a great experience that I wouldn´t trade for anything.
What play do you remember from the game against USA at the 1984 Olympics?
I remember Michael Jordan hitting a long jumper and USA coach Bobby Knight yelling at him. Jordan then dunked over me after I had hit a jumper over him.
Both your sons are Finish junior national players. What tips can you give him?
I had coached their junior team sin the past. I tell them that they can develop only about 35% with the team and the rest is doing individual work. That is where a player develops most. In the winter, you develop with the team and in the summer is where you have to work on your game yourself. Basketball is a great game. All you need is a basket and ball.
What are your early 2012 NCAA Final 4 picks?
I have no idea. I have lost track, because I don´t have the channel. I watch CNN and BBC.
A few years ago Derrick Allen ran a 10,7 in the 100 meters. Could Quantez Robertson break that mark?
Yes I think that he can. Tez is one of the fastest players in Europe. He has the potential to become a Euroleague player if he works on his ball handling and shot and gets better habits. He has unbelievable potential.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Thanks coach for the chat.