Eye on the Finals: Dinamo Sassari looking to make Sardinia proud
MUNICH (Germany) - With a historic European milestone within reach for Dinamo Sassari and s.Oliver Wurzburg, the coaching staffs of Gianmarco Pozzecco and Denis Wucherer were busy breaking down one another's tactical schemes over Easter.
But it wasn't just them – ahead of the FIBA Europe Cup title clash between the Italian and German clubs, we reached out to basketball writers from the respective countries to highlight the key things to look out for in the Finals.
Italian freelance journalist Marco Pagliariccio offers us a Dinamo Sassari-centric perspective, while Manuel Baraniak from Germany puts the spotlight on s.Oliver Wurzburg in the other half of the two-part preview.
Marco, what do you see as the main strengths of Sassari?
At the moment, they are probably the hottest team in Italy. They are playing with great trust in themselves, they have many talented players who can score in different ways and they love to run – it's a pleasure to watch them play at this moment of the season.
If there are any, what are their weaknesses?
I would say that Sassari are a team that can win or lose against anyone. But [coach Gianmarco] Pozzecco's arrival gave them the right mental balance. They play with great energy and they love to run… Maybe it's not a team that loves that much to play slow, half-court basketball and, on the defensive side, they have many highs and lows. I think Wurzburg must try to work in this direction.
Who is the most important player on the team?
Here are my two cents on Jack Cooley and Jaime Smith. If Cooley is connected and involved in the game, he is a force of nature at this level. He has a really big body and great moves in the low post. It's not easy to guard him. The other key player to their system is Smith, a floor general and a point guard who loves to run and put his teammates in the best position.
What else or who else could be a difference-making factor in the Finals?
Maybe Wurzburg are a less talented team, but I saw them playing in a really solid way. Sassari need to pay more attention on the defensive end, where they are not always as connected as on offense. With great shooters like Jordan Hulls, this might not be a great deal…
How do their results in the domestic league and FIBA Europe Cup compare to pre-season expectations?
After winning the Italian title, the Supercoppa and the Coppa Italia in the same season in 2015, every year Sassari are viewed as a possible outside challenger in Serie A. Their goal is to be in the Play-Offs, preferably right behind Milano and Venezia. They are in the mix for a spot in the Top 8. Pozzecco's arrival and five wins in a row settled the situation. In the FIBA Europe Cup, considering previous runs by Italian teams, the idea was that Sassari could've been a leading actor in the competition, even starting from Qualification Round 2, so the Final isn't that big of a surprise, at least not to me.
Can you talk more about what impact Gianmarco Pozzecco's mid-season arrival has had on the team?
I don't think Pozzecco had an impact on the technical/tactical side. That wasn't their main problem. As he used to do as a player, he "shocked" (in a positive way) all of the environment there, giving his players the right motivation. In the FIBA Europe Cup that wasn't as visible because Sassari had a great run, but in Serie A they were on a roller coaster… With Poz, Dinamo won 10 games, lost only twice (against Cremona and Venezia) and had a tie with Pinar Karsiyaka.
Since you're now up to speed on Dinamo Sassari, why not read up on s.Oliver Wurzburg?
A freelance journalist and contributor for La Giornata Tipo, Marco Pagliariccio is an Italy-based basketball connoisseur, who knows all the ins and outs of the orange-ball sport across the Apennines and beyond.