Do the Korisliiga series continue or not? This is how the head coaches of the teams fighting in the sun are responsible for the positions
We asked three head coaches of the team that is still fighting for places in the upper secondary series, what they think about the current series model. The subject obviously divides opinion strongly.
The Korisliiga serial model, introduced three years ago, has its friends and critics. In our interview, competition director Tom Westerholm spoke about his own satisfaction with achieving the goals with the changes to the series system, but assured that the management of the Basketball Association listens to the feedback of the clubs, club managers and coaches.
We also reached out to three coaches from Korisliiga to comment on the topic, for each of whom the matter is also very current, as all of them will play in the super final round of the regular season on Saturday for their place in the upper secondary series. Jyri Lehtonen , the head coach of seventh-placed Kouvoi , states directly that he does not belong to the first-mentioned group.
– I personally don’t like this continuation series system. First of all, in a program like ours, where we want to develop young Finnish players as much as possible, the beginning of the season will be so hectic. Every game is seriously important, and it has brought challenges in terms of gameplay, says Lehtonen and continues:
– However, you have to remember that this is a competitive sport. In order for proggis to work, you have to win a certain number of games in order to maintain peace of mind. As a result, there will be a lot of games where the game has already been decided in the last five to six minutes. There would be really good development minutes to be offered to those players who have terribly not been able to play in the season, but it is necessary to play the game from the result to the end: the winning team tries to win as much as possible, and the losing team tries to lose as little as possible. It kind of makes it tricky.
Kauhajoki Karhubasket’s head coach Janne Koskimies is from another country. He considers the model a successful creation precisely because the early season games have a greater stake.
– As a coach myself, I think that it should be rewarded for consistently playing well throughout the regular season, Koskimies emphasizes and raises, for example, his own team’s early season.
– In the first round, we only had four wins and seven losses. Now so far we have seven wins and three losses in the second round and we are now one of the teams playing in the last round [of the preliminary round] to get into the upper final round. Our situation also reflects the fact that when the first round has been played badly, it has a much bigger meaning now, when the division comes after 22 matches.
Jussi Savolainen, the main manager of Salon Vilppaa, sees both sides of the coin regarding the current serial model.
– There is a lot of good in it and maybe something that needs to be fixed. Competitively, it’s equal, that’s definitely a good point, besides, interest and interest from the viewers’ point of view are the biggest strengths. The number of games is smart, says Savolainen and adds:
– If you’re looking for negative aspects, the rhythm of the game has been quite loose. There can be long breaks between home games, for example, which is certainly something that could be otherwise for the club management. In terms of competition, I think the system is really interesting and functional.
The ideals of game rhythm in Europe
Karhubasket’s Koskimies, who has played European games frequently, sees the rhythm of the game as more suitable than loose.
– Some of the teams have had the [opinion] that the tempo of the game has been too low. We really didn’t have it, because we played the FIBA Europe Cup in the fall. It must be remembered that this season has also been exceptional in the sense that there was no FIBA window in November, which interrupts the series for ten days. It makes this looser. Next season, there will be a FIBA window in both November and February, it will also shorten the season, Koskimies points out.
Koskimies recognizes the concern for player development, but sees the current model serving it better. With that, the Korisliiga is getting closer to the rest of Europe in game pace.
– When there are such important games at such an early stage of the season, it makes it difficult for young players to play, that’s one argument. Another argument is this pace of play. – – If we look at this regular season of ours, where 32 matches are played, which ends at the end of March, yes, in Europe, regular seasons of 32 or 34 matches are played in many countries, and the Regular Season ends at the end of April.
– This pace of our game is by no means rare on a European scale: it is quite normal there [in Europe] to play one game a week. During the week, the teams have time to practice, Koskimies says and continues:
– In my opinion, this is a very important matter. Then we can also talk about the fact that Korisliiga is a good platform for young players, when the teams actually have time to practice. If the number of matches is too big, it is definitely not an optimal situation for young players.
For a suitor, it is not relevant in itself whether the series is divided into an upper and a lower series during the winter. It is more important to reduce the number of games – and at the same time harmonize towards the pace of other European leagues.
– I think it is more meaningful that there is now a 32-match regular season, and not a 44 or 40-match series that was really tight. There was not enough time for training then.
Savolainen considers the advantages of the current series model to be its equal starting points instead of the rhythm.
From a coach’s point of view, rhythms are important; how often there are games and at what intervals. Those are things that interest me, as well as the fact that the system is competitively equal, which it is now, Savolainen reminds.
You don’t make mistakes in basketball, and not in life
When the number of games decreases and the first goal is already in the heart of winter, there is less room for mistakes than before. Kouvojen Lehtonen sees that clubs react to losses more quickly, because the system forces it: there is less time to run in than before.
– I have such a feeling – I haven’t counted, but I would guess – that a third of the Yankees who started the season have already been replaced. The planned development of the team from the beginning of the season to the playoffs slows down, when all you have to do is to be in such a strong attack from the beginning of the season that you can compete, says Lehtonen.
This idea is also supported by Vilppaan Savolainen.
– Of course, it presents its own challenges, that every match is important: from the point of view of the players – especially foreign players – you have to succeed right away, there is basically no break-in time. We’ve also had a couple of seasons where we haven’t started terribly well: after the first seven to eight matches, we’ve had a minus record. It brings more contribution to the matches, which is then of course reflected in the play and the number of minutes played by the youngsters, basket differences and others.
Lehtonen’s view is that the previously backward-oriented season has now become unnecessarily forward-oriented.
– It takes a lot of time away from teaching personal skills, tactics and technique, when you have to spend much more time on various team tactical issues, going through the opponent and so on. Before this continuation series thinking, we started to go through the opponents more fairly sometime around January-February. Now we’ve done it a bit in practice the day before the game.
Savolainen from Salola is on the same lines.
– Competitively speaking, it’s great that there is stake in the games, but a single game can be very decisive at a very early stage. It also includes how different clubs assemble their teams, what time they come, how much preparation time there is, Savolainen reflects.
Professional or development series?
Lehtonen thinks that the current series model will be played for a few more years due to the current Korisliiga TV contract.
– I don’t want my comment to be taken as a criticism, but I want to tell the realism of how this situation is perceived in our society. Of course, whenever you start criticizing, you should give a better alternative: at the moment, I have the impression that, due to the TV deal, there really isn’t a better alternative to offer. It would be better to think about what to do when this TV deal ends.
– Perhaps the bigger question, however, is whether this is a development series of our series with a few professional teams, or whether this is a professional series with a few development teams. It hasn’t opened up for me yet, Lehtonen formulates.
In Lehtonen’s critical attitude, it is remarkable that in the previous two springs Kouvot has reached the upper final series and with it also the playoffs.
– In the first year, our two best players were taken to other countries before the playoffs, last season we were injured when the playoffs started. It would be much more important to end the season with the bundle that started with, and be healthy when the playoffs start. Now in the playoffs, we have a little bit left in our hand, Lehtonen says.
A lot is at stake in the Korisliiga super Saturdays
In the current series model, Vilpas is a veteran of direct tangents on the line. In all three seasons played in the current way, the people of Salo have twisted tooth and nail in the final rounds of the preliminary series from a valuable place in the upper secondary series. Now the team is in fourth place and two points above the line, but the place in the sun is not yet guaranteed.
– In terms of results, it was a bad start to this season as well, not that one – it is of course easy to tell the players that we simply have to get better in terms of results. I wouldn’t like to say that it brings any pressure, but it’s a big thing whether you’re in the top or bottom: it’s quite clear now, says head coach Savolainen.
Karhu, who has corrected his course under the leadership of his Finns, is stuck in the last place in the upper secondary series. Keeping the positions is a big thing for the rest of the season, says Koskimies.
– Of course we want to go up there, because it offers an opportunity to compete for home advantage in the playoffs. It’s quite clear at the moment that without major injuries the Seagulls and Nokia will play for the win in the regular season, it will be quite difficult to catch them in ten rounds.
Koskimies emphasizes that the four behind the Seagulls and BC Nokia will get to know each other while fighting for the home advantage in the playoffs, and on the other hand, they will also face each other in the playoffs. The Bear boss emphasizes the importance of that advantage in relation to the fact that you would still have to play to get to the playoffs in general.
“Playing against the top teams is the best preparation for the playoffs,” says Koskimies.
Unlike in the case of Karhu and Vilppaa, for Kouvoi a mere victory in the final round does not guarantee a place in the higher continuation series, but help is needed from elsewhere. Lehtonen reminds that the situation is familiar to the club from last winter.
– We have already talked about it many weeks ago, that every game is as important as any other game. Let’s go win the game and see what the other results are. A win would be really important, no matter what happens in the other games: it gives a better starting point to fight for third place in the upper final series and for the stalemate in the lower final series. It’s not worth making a big fuss about this, Lehtonen states.