「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(1)

Harald Janson (Head coach, Eisvögel USC Freiburg) interview (1)

Head coach Harald Janson of the Eisvögel USC Freiburg, which just won the 2021-22 Damen Basketball Bundesliga title with the key addition of Shiori Yasuma, sit with on May 3rd. On a busy day as he had to participate in the celebration for the club’s first league title and also the first national title for the city of Freiburg since its soccer team won it in 1907, he took time to reflect the difficult season and the Yasuma’s incredible first season in Germany.

――After winning the first ever league title, how are you feeling now?


I feel good because it is a big, big team success. And when I talk about the team, I involve the whole team, the whole staffs. We had the corona season. So you need more than just players and coaches to make it successful.
I was sick in Final 3 and 4. We made a video session for the team for Game 3. And the next day, I was tested positive. So, the job for the Game 3 was done. We only had one day between the Games 3 and 4. We had to do a good job on the video coaching side. But the main job was done already.


――Is this the first title for you personally?


In adult basketball, yes. Our program has won youth championships when I was the coach. We had already won the German cup in 2013. But at that time, I was not coaching the team. I was the sports general manager. I was elected coach of the year in 2011 when we made it to the Final.

――So, it’s the first title for the city with the basketball team.




――You lost twice to the Rheinland Lions during the regular season. But it was such a turnaround in the Finals. What made that happen for you?

Two things. The most important thing is the players and the team’s shape. Our team was in a very good shape. We did conditioning practice, workouts during the playoffs until the Finals. Our players were young and they were healthy.
We only had five practices in the whole season where we could not play 5 on 5. We always had 10 good players in practice. So, we knew in the Finals that this would be a very big advantage especially when it came to “game, 1 day off, game, 1 day off, game”. So, a short time to recover.
We knew that the other team was older (with) players 35, 36 years old. And we knew that we were in a very good shape. So, we knew with every game, we would get an advantage. That’s the reason #1.
Reason #2. Our opponent did very good adjustments. Offense changes and reacted to our defense. And we reacted again. They reacted again and we reacted again. But at the end in Game 3 and 4, it was basically individual scouting reports. How do we want to guard #5 (Joyce) Coussein-Smith? How do we want to guard #46 Romy Bär? And the individual scouting reports got better from game to game. So, that’s the two big reasons. Shiori guarded #5 (Coussein-Smith) but they made guard #2 (Taylor Rochelle Wurtz) on Shiori.

――This season should be very difficult one. Not only corona, but also you had to face with the unbelievable war in Ukraine. I think it affected the mind and physical condition of players drastically. It is really a big issue for everyone. How difficult has it been?

First, corona. Very difficult. We needed a great job by hygienic staff. In the regular season, we tested every player three times a week. And when the playoffs started, every player (was tested) before practice every day. When the coaches and the team, the players came together every day, we knew everybody was negative. That’s #1.
#2, we did not allow too many people to go into our gym even at game days. usually we have 1,000 fans. But in the regular season we only allowed 500.
War in Ukraine. For us the situation, it was the two weeks that were the most difficult in the whole season because it was two bad news at the same time. Our post player, a good friend of Shiori – her name is Emily Kapitza, #21, she got hurt in a game against Nördlingen (on Feb. 20). Knee injury. ACL injury…, end of the season. And she is one of the very important players for our team. She was one of the two captains. So, we lose Emily Kapitza and the war in the Ukraine starts. It was the same week. Mentally and emotionally, it was a very very hard moment for everybody.
You have to know that we have also Americans on the team. So, their parents were calling “how are things going in Europe?” They were afraid. So the thoughts go away from basketball, which makes it difficult. But you have to allow that because there are things which are more important in life than basketball.
And the players did a very very good job in this. They involved Emily Kapitza and they dealt very well with the war situation. You have to admit that from Germany where we live to the Ukraine, it’s about 1,500km. and there is another country between us and Ukraine. Poland, Hungary, Austria. So, we’re not neighbors. But psychologically, we were very close.

――I would like to ask about your basketball, especially about the defensive end of the game. Shiori and Hannah Little was tied at the top of the league’s steal ranking. Lina Sontag was the 3rd best shot blocker of the season. You are really really a tough defensive team. What was schematically going well for your team on the defensive end? It’s not just the personal effort but the team effort, I think.

Well, it started with scouting the team. It started with recruiting the players. I love to recruit players who love to guard, who love to play defense. I’m not saying that this is the only way you can play basketball. But it is my way of coaching.
And I selected the players in a way that I saw that we had athletic players. I like to guard pick & roll very aggressively by trapping the pick & roll. And I like to guard full court. I don’t want to guard the half court. I want to guard the whole length of the court. And of course, I was looking for players who can do this.
I selected Hannah Little who is much smaller and much thinner than a regular post player. But she was very athletic. She can guard from position #5 to position #1. I selected Christa Reed who is an excellent defender.
I selected Shiori Yasuma. When I saw when she played for the Antelopes, she hit a three or she had an assist, and she immediately continued playing. We know that a lot of players shoot and the jog back. But Shiori, no. Shiori shoots and when the ball leaves her hand, she keeps playing. She plays the game 40 minutes.
I selected Lina Sontag who I knew could guard from #1 to #5. So we had great defense skills and the other players had the mental approach to be ready to guard. You could see it in Game 4. We took our shots and we immediately played defense.

――Do you prefer to use switching defense so that everybody can cover each other?

We can do it. But we didn’t do it often. We usually, on the pick & roll this season, we usually trapped. We doubled the ball handler. And then we rotated it. But switching defense is possible with Hannah Little and Lina Sontag. But we struggled a little bit when we switch on the #5 position with Mirna Paunovic and Andelina Radic.


Interview by Takeshi Shibata/