The recently-appointed India coach Scott Fleming has been a constant presence courtside during the 27th Federation Cup basketball championships here. The American spoke to the media at length on Thursday.
The job so far: I’ve not yet worked with the senior team; I’m anxious to hold a camp. What I’m doing now is evaluating the talent and helping choose the group for the camp.
In the meantime, I’m also working with the younger teams (U-14 and U-16); my job is not just to coach the senior team but also to develop basketball in India.
Plans for the Indian team: There are three main things I’ll ask of the team: play hard all the time, play together, and put the team above self. If players do that, I’ll be a pretty easy coach. If they violate that, I’ll be tough. There’s definitely talent here but what I look at more is productivity. I know India was competitive at the Asian Championships last time but now we need to win some games.
Is there a style of play you prefer? The system of play here will be closer to the college programs I ran. There’ll be some freedom but also some restrictions. We’ll have a system: fast-break play, half-court, a four out-one in offense that we’re calling ‘India’. But the defence is a priority.
Is the Indian players’ lack of physicality a drawback? There are ways to overcome that. We have strength and conditioning coach Zak Penwell in place; he has put out a book that will help them build their strength even without having sophisticated weight training rooms. But it takes discipline and players need to continue training when they go home.
International exposure: Some of my suggestions are to go to some other countries as exposure trips; I’d even like to go back to the US at some point. We need to play strong teams before we get to the tournaments.
Training camps: We were hoping for one in February but there should be one probably before April. My aim is to have training camps, however short, as frequently as possible. I will also have coaches’ clinics at the national camps. I need the Indian coaches on board too.