その他の海外

その他の海外

2022/05/10

「安間志織はワールドクラス」 - 独アイスフォーゲル、ハラルド・ヤンソンHC独占インタビュー(2)

Harald Janson (Head coach, Eisvögel USC Freiburg) interview (2)

 

Shiori Yasuma put herself in a situation where she had to take on a lot of challenges as a rookie, as the oldest player and a huge role as a floor general by signing with the Eisvögel USC Freiburg for the 2021-22 season, in which her team finished second with 18-7 record for the regular season games. In the end, she played though all of these challenges. It was an enormous success for both the team and herself individually.


League title with a regular season stats-line of 18.5PPG (2nd in the league), 5.3 RPG, 6.3APG (1st in the league), 3.0 SPG (tied at 1st in the league). Even before the league announcement comes out, it is obvious that she showcased an MVP type performance throughout the season as a “first-year veteran”.


There was corona. There was war in Ukraine. Different language and culture. None of those difficult challenges were too big for her to overcome and achieve greatness. Coach Harald Janson described how it was possible for both Shiori and Eisvögel.


――Shiori has been very consistent during the 2021-22 season. She averaged like 18 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, which look like an MVP type stats-line. Do you feel like she overachieved your expectations? Or was that just what you expected before the season opened?


You know in basketball, we always want to give simple answers to very complexed things. You need so many things. Shiori arrived here. Would it be possible to make her feel good? Would it be possible to give her language lessons? Would it be possible to find people who speak Japanese with her? Would she feel good in Germany eating German food? Would she sleep well? And there are so many things influencing a player that I did not really expect anything.
But when I saw her play on the video and in our gym for the first time, I knew from her basketball skills, she would have a very big chance to be the MVP of the league. So, I would not say that she over-met with my expectations. But I have to say that a lot of things went really well in a way that she could show that she was the best player in our league.


――But why was that possible? What made it possible?


She made very well. The basic reason why she did so well is Shiori Yasuma. She is very professional plus very very high standard in work ethics. She is very well-organized.
She stands up at 6:00 in the morning to stretch her body and to learn English and Germany. Usually I am the first in the gym. But you know when we practice on Saturday before the game, I came to the gym at 8:00. She was there at 8:02, one hour before the practice. She was always the first player to step in the gym.
And what did we do? The first thing I did when we signed her, I got in touch with our soccer club. In Freiburg, we have very good men’s soccer club. They play first division and maybe they will be in the Champions League next year, very good club. And their coach in the year 2000, Volker Finke, he went to Japan after his career in Germany to be a soccer coach in Japan. So, a little tradition in this club started and they even signed one or two or three Japanese players.
So, I asked them for a help. I asked them “What can we do? We will have a Japanese player next season.” And they helped me. They showed me the restaurant where Japanese people meet in Freiburg. The owner of the restaurant gave me the address of a very nice Japanese lady who taught Shiori English. So, we organized a system to make it possible for Shiori to learn English, which is very important for a basketball player, to learn German that she feels good, that she is able to say “hello” and “thank you” – “guten tag” and “danke schön”, “guten abend”.
So, step by step, she felt better. But Shiori did a very very good job from the beginning. The whole program was involved to make her feel good. But the best job was being done by Shiori herself. Don’t forget the corona situation. You know it’s much easier to feel home when all the restaurants are open, when the cafes are open, when people can hug each other, when they can give their hand, when you can meet and talk with the fans. It is much easier to feel good than in corona times where you spend most of your time at home.

 


――Did you have any issues in communicating with her, I mean the language?


I wouldn’t call it an issue. But we knew at the beginning of the season, that this team would have to meet a lot of challenges. Challenge #1, new coaching staff. I was back and a new coach. I had four other coaches on my staff. All were new. We had six new players. And we had one player coming from Japan. She was the point guard, the center of the team and she did not speak English. So, a lot of challenges. And we set together and wondered “How can we face these challenges?”
We had the corona challenges, for example. This is why…, I don’t know if you saw, but in the regular season already, my associated head coach coached five games. I was sitting and he was the head coach. We did that to be ready for the situation where the head coach was sick. And then in the Finals, I was sick. But the team was prepared. They knew the situation.
And so we had to do with the new players, so we had to do with the language thing. We had a lot of individual talks and , you know when you coach a team, usually you talk about “You screen here, you screen there, spacing, shot selections, defense here, defense there.” But we had meetings and practices where we practiced communication.
Which sign do we want to show? What does Shiori mean when she goes like this… (showing some hand signals) ? At the beginning, others didn’t understand. We saw that in the preseason. She did like a lot of hand signals here and there that others didn’t know. So we had practices where we practiced our communication on the court, you know. So it was a whole process of eight months. We started with a lot of challenges and we ended with a championship.


――Now she is obviously one of the top scoring guards in the league. But what is especially standing out in Shiori’s play style?


It starts with her personality. Shiori makes her teammates better. It is something that you cannot teach. We have players on the team who are very talented. But Shiori made them better. She gave them the ball and said to our 14 year old youngster, “Take it! Take the three!” she encouraged them. She organizes. So it’s a player personality.
Shiori is a world class level. I repeat, world class level when we talk work ethics, leading teammates, professional practice shape, and finally about basketball. Shiori is world class level at creating, playing 1-on-1, and passing the ball. She is on top of European level. I talk about Euroleague top level when we talk about athleticism, 1-on-1 defense and creating her own shots. This whole thing makes her the best point guard in our league.
One more thing. Japanese Olympic team was the only team who faced the Americans on “eye level.” Even though the Japanese team was much smaller physically, they played the best 12 basketball players in America and they played them on “eye level.”
Japanese female basketball players will have a very big assets on world basketball in the next years. We can see it already now in the WNBA. She (Rui Machida of the Washington Mystics) will be outstanding. She will show the world that to be an outstanding basketball player, you don’t have to be cool, you don’t have to talk a lot. With her character and politeness, with the Japanese way of presenting herself and standing behind, she will have an enormous influence. We’ll see in the next years and seasons. Japanese basketball players will be in America and the Euroleague if they want. Because I’m convinced the level of Japanese league is one of the highest that you can imagine. Shiori will prove how outstanding your country is in women’s basketball.

 

 

Interview by Takeshi Shibata/GetsBas.com

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