After Getting Extended Coaching Grooming In Iceland Baldur Ragnarsson Came To Orange Academy To Give His Defensive Expertise

Baldur Ragnarsson was head coach of German Pro B team Orange Academy in the 2022-2023 season. He began his coaching career with Thor Thorlakshofn (Dominos League) and then coached U.M.F. Tindastoll Sauoarkrokur (Dominos League) for 3 years. He played professionally from 2006-2017 for Thor Thorl. He spoke to about basketball.

Thanks Baldur for talking to After playing and coaching in your homeland Iceland, you came for first time outside your country to Germany. I can imagine as an ambitious coach, coming to Orange Academy is like a dream come true?

Yes for sure, the facility is great and the organization is high level. Working for a good club outside of Iceland has always been my goal

How have you followed German basketball over the years? What has impressed you most about German basketball and how they develop young players?

I have mostly followed the Icelandic players who had played over there so I saw Alba Berlin a lot when Martin Hermansson was there and then I follow Jon Axel Gudmundsson games the last two seasons. Now is the first time I can really follow what is going on here and understand it at a higher level. I like what I see so far and look forward to keep on working in this environment

How exciting was it working with ratiopharm Ulm head coach Anton Gavel? What were some of the most important tips that he gave you about coaching his former team Orange Academy?

He gave me a lot of tips on how everything worked inside the club around my team organization wise. He told me to be myself and coach the team with the best of my abilities. If I have questions on day to day basis he is always ready to help me which I appreciate a lot

Your coach of the Icelandic U-20 team and also coached the ratiopharm Ulm U-19 team, so you have experience dealing with kids. What do cherish most about working with young players?

Their love for the game, Usually at this level they have big goals and are ready to do anything to achieve them. They are also super coachable which is fun as well

Orange Academy are one of the top teams in Germany with Alba Berlin for developing young players. What do you feel is your biggest strength as a coach in being able to help the youth players of today?

I think I have good tactical knowledge in basketball, especially on the defensive side. I have been a defensive planner for the senior national team of Iceland for some time now so I have worked a lot in that field. I have also been in Mindset programs for some time now and I can share my knowledge with them in that field as well when guys need it specially with staying focused on the things u can control. Than you need to make sure they got some training in all areas
Strength training
team offense
team defense
video work

As a former point guard, you must take much joy to being able to coach young point guards? One player that you will see a lot of in the NBBL and perhaps in the Pro B is Linus Stoll. Talk a little how you see his game as a smaller point guard?

Size doesn’t have to be a decisive factor when you are smart. Linus has been part of the organization for many years and we hope that he continues developing as a player and a person.

One guy who has made big strides is Joel Cwick. He will be looking to make the next jump this season. How do you feel will you be able to help him most in his game with your basketball expertise?

We look to help all players to improve in all parts of the game physicality, offense, defense and as persons. Joel is one of the players who has really benefited from this program

You played with Thor Thorl and retired at age 25. Did injuries play a role in you retiring so young?

I basically felt I was a better coach than a player. I thought early on I could help a lot of people on getting better and the joy of playing the game was not there anymore so I focused on One thing coaching

You played with very many different coaches in Iceland seemingly a new one each season. Which coach had the biggest influence on you in your playing career? Perhaps Bendekt Gudmundsson?

Ingi Thor Steinorsson, Einar Arni Johannesson and Benedikt Gudmundsson. They coached me the most in my career and for sure had the biggest impact on my playing career

Iceland is a country where many unknown Americans begin their careers. Not all have a long career, but some make the next jump like Vincent Sanford who went from Iceland via the Pro B in Germany to France pro A and Italy Serie A. What memories do you have from your ex guard teammate?

I remember he was a quiet guy at the time, super young coming straight out of college, he was for sure a good person, great driver to the basket

Iceland is a very small country and has basketball leagues. What is in general the longest basketball road trip in Iceland?

Usually it from Reykjavik to Egillstadir or Reykjavik to Isafjordur but for me last 3 seasons coaching in the north the longest one would be Saudarkrokur to Hofn but thankfully they are not in the same league

You became coach in 2016 and coached Thor Thorl and then U.M.F. Tindastoll Sauoarkrokur (Dominos League) from 2019-2022 winning coach of the year in 2022. How do you believe you develop as a coach in Iceland?

I think I was lucky being around good coaches. I started out as a Strength and Conditioning coach for Thor Thorl in 2013 and coaching youth teams as well and of course playing also. I was around the u20 national team as a strength coach and Arnar Gudjonsson coach of Stjarnan Iceland and Finnur Freyr Stefansson coach of Valur Iceland helped me a lot. They taught me how to cut video with sideline video analyzer and from there I got an assistant job in Thor Thorl to work video and defense coordinator for Einar Arni Johannesson. I have stayed with the national teams from that day, worked a lot as an assistant and worked my way up to a head coach job in the u20. At the same time I got the chance 5 years ago to assist Craig Pedersen with the Senior national team and he gave me a lot of responsibility right away. Now we are good friends and we work very good together. So I think all the coaches I have worked with have helped me a lot but at the same time I read a lot on sports physiology and mindset to be better at dealing with persons because you need to be able to connect with a lot of different personalities

Who was the best player that you ever played against that reached the NBA or Euroleague?

Kyrie Irving came to Iceland with a high school team from New Jersey and killed us

Please name your 5 best teammates of all time?

Darrin Govens
Brynjar Bjornsson
Aegir Thor Steinarsson
Olafur Olafsson
Gretar Ingi Erlendsson

Please name your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?

Michael Jordan
Lebron James
Kobe Bryant
Steph Curry

Where do you see Luka Doncic currently in the current top players in the world?

He is top 5 on offense for sure

Thanks Baldur for the chat.

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