Interview with George Dikeoulakos: “The only thing that I know is that I miss basketball, whenever I see kids playing at the playground, I go and I fix their technique, or I organize some competition drills for them”.

Today we are with one of the best coaches in women’s basketball, George Dikeoulakos. In his career, George worked important clubs such as Fenerbahçe, Lithuanian women’s basketball team, Nadezhda, Polkowice.

Hello coach. First of all, thank you so much for accepting our interview offer because we would like to speak more about women basketball on our website. Let’s start the interview.

1) Firstly we want to ask about last season. You did make F8 with Nadezhda. Then you took a 1-0 lead against Asvel. However, the season has been cancelled. What do you think? What could Nadezhda do if the season continued?

Honestly, I am so proud of this team and what we achieved last year. We are talking about a team that the previous year failed to qualify to the next round (playoffs) in Euroleague, but this season we managed to be almost at the F4. I don’t know what we could do there, but the reality is that after January we were playing amazing basketball that made everybody in the team so happy and so proud. In the F4 all teams are good and especially the other teams would be more experience cause from Nadezhda only one or two players have been there before, but we always had the feeling that every day we were better and better.

2) What are your plans for the next season?

It’s a crazy time in the world. I have no idea. Maybe I will make my jump to men’s basketball. I always had offers from there. Maybe not, maybe I will wait for December to see how it will be with COVID worldwide. The only thing that I know is that I miss basketball, whenever I see kids playing at the playground, I go and I fix their technique, or I organize some competition drills for them.

3) What do you think about the basketball tournaments to play in 2020-2021 season? Euroleague women decided to make a “Bubble” style system. What do you think about this system? Do you think this season will be possible to play?

I have no information on the system that will take place but we need to watch games. I know it will be difficult, I know that there is no solution that we will like as before, but it has to be some games. Covid-19 came to our life very violent and it took our lives, our habits, our communication with other people, our entertainment. I m afraid that at the end we will end with many psychological problems, not to mention the economical problems. That’s why we must not lose some things, FIBA has to find the way to make games happen, of course under all hygienic protocols.

4) Although women’s basketball improves, neither in Europe nor in WNBA, women basketball are not close to men basketball. What do you think should be done for the further progress of this branch?

I am glad that someone like you mention this problem without any fear. Cause right now we are almost in point ZERO for women’s basketball. If FIBA EUROPE will not decide to put some rules of developing a system of marketing, a system of developing new players, find ways to stop the free-taking passports of the Americans who can play as Europeans and take place of young talents, if generally will not create a new department for developing the women’s basketball, then the end is really close. Once upon a time, the market was so big, so many good teams from so many countries,, so many young talents, but now the situation is disappointing. The good coaches try to find the chance to jump to men’s basketball, talents do not work enough or good enough or they don’t even play at a high level. Countries and their federations do not pay attention in women’s basketball. We have to sit down people from all positions, federations, coaches, players, FIBA and discuss the solution. Otherwise, the patient (women’s basketball) may not die but will be in the hospital and live with mask and oxygen for years.

5) You have worked with many important players in your career. Cappie Pondexter, Ruth Riley, Angel McCoughtry, Candice Dupree, Allie Quigley, Candace Parker, Dewanna Bonner, Erica Wheeler, Penny Taylor, Liz Cambage are some of them. Which was the best player? Also, can you build the 5 you have worked with?

I am sorry I cannot do that, All of them have a very special place to my heart, each one of them gave me titles and important wins, you cannot ask the father which one of his kids loves more. From the other side, you know how girls are if I choose the best or just 5 then the rest of them will never talk to me again hahaha. But really look at this list, for each one of these players you can say that she is the best player in the world. And believe me, they were not only inside the court, not only inside the game but also during the practice, also inside the locker room the way they were inspiring their teammates. I love them all and I have a very special connection with all of them, as with all of my players, even the youngest or the weakest. Everybody knows that.

6) Lastly, you wrote a book as far as I know. We also have a lot of Turkish followers. You are a coach who popular in Turkey because of Fenerbahçe. And its Turkish translation will be published within 1-2 months. Can you tell us about your book?

The title of the book is called THE ART OF SCOUTING. In a few days, it will be published in the Greek language, then in English and then almost in all countries and languages. The title says everything, it explains how you can scout and learn everything about your opponent, how to explain to your players and make them understand the keys of the win, and how to learn which one will lead you to the win. But in order to do that, you must learn first of all yourself as a coach and your connection with your players. It doesn’t just give a simple data on how to do the scouting, it also has a lot of basketball philosophy and a lot of emotion. But the most innovative and amazing thing in that the book is that it has an NFC technology on it. One NFC microchip is at the cover page of the book, and when you bring your phone close to that spot where the microchip is, the actions, the exercises, the plays that are written to the book, you can see them on video alive from real players. Actually is the technology which gives sound and video to the book and I am proud that I am the first one which will use it in most of the countries. But don’t get impressed by the technology, the inside of the book is the most important and the real treasure.

Onat Orhan Selvi

Image: George Dikeoulakos