Archive for the 'Sasha Vujacic' Category

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Vujacic Updates Slovenian Situation

Sasha VujacicEarlier this week, we read reports that Sasha Vujacic was not selected for the final roster of the Slovenian National Team, set to play in EuroBasket 2009 in September. Slovenia’s coach, Jurij Zdovc, cited a minor knee injury.

Vujacic, however, wanted to explain the situation from his perspective, and he did so on his website.

Well, I know there has been a lot of speculation about what has happened with my participation with the Slovenian team and I wanted to set the record straight to discontinue any rumors and falsehoods. So here is the whole story just for you guys: After a long time of consideration, I accepted the Slovenian national team’s invitation to play for them because I had a strong desire to play for my country and was assured that things had changed with respect to how the team was handled and operated. I reported to camp incredibly healthy, feeling great and ready to work hard to attain the national team’s goals. I trusted their methods and I was ready to accept their training program. I arrived to Ljubljana and joined the team. Our preparation began in Rogla (mountain in Slovenia). The very first day, I realized that training was unreasonably excessive and insensible to avoid injury…

TO READ VUJACIC’S FULL ENTRY, CLICK HERE.

Vujacic To Miss EuroBasket 2009

An update on Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic from Eurobasket.com:

The head coach of the Slovenian Basketball National Team Jurij Zdovc cut down the roster for the 2009 European Championship 16 players to 14. Miha Zupan (205-F/C-82) and NBA champion Sasha Vujacic (200-G-84) of Los Angeles Lakers – who has a minor knee injury – were not among the players selected for the roster by coach Zdovc before the tournament in Maribor. The roster now includes Goran Dragic, Jaka Klobucar, Jaka Lakovic, Domen Lorbek, Beno Udrih, Samo Udrih, Goran Jagodnik, Bostjan Nachbar, Primoz Brezec, Jurica Golemac, Erazem Lorbek, Uros Slokar, Matjaz Smodis and Gasper Vidmar.

European Round Up

blog_0908paugasol_euro
***UPDATE 2: The Spanish National Team expects Pau Gasol (finger) to play.
***UPDATE: Sasha Vujacic will not play in the tournament.

On September 7 in Poland, up to three L.A. Lakers could be representing their National Teams in EuroBasket 2009, an international tournament intended to designate Europe’s best team.

Pau Gasol of Spain, Sasha Vujacic of Slovenia and D.J. Mbenga of Belgium, are all expected to play, though Gasol is in the process of recovering from a torn volar plate on the index finger of his left hand. Gasol will be re-evaluated in just over two weeks when Lakers Athletic Trainer Gary Vitti travels to Barcelona.

Gasol and Vujacic’s teams have already qualified for the tournament, while Mbenga’s battling for Belgium to join his Lakers teammates in Poland.

Mbenga (who grew up in Congo, Africa, before moving to Belgium) has averaged 20.3 minutes on the way to 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game for his country. Belgium needs to win its final game in Group A of the Additional Qualifying Round to finish 3-1 and thus advance to play Group B winner France for the right to play at EuroBasket in Poland. Just as the folks in the “Banging with Mbenga” fan club would have expected, D.J. swatted five shots to open the tournament, then contributed seven points and four boards in a 102-79 victory over previously unbeaten Bosnia and Herzegovina to put the Belgians in place to beat Portugal and move on to join Group B, featuring Russia, Germany and Latvia.

Gasol and Vujacic’s countries are both in Group C, widely considered the tournament’s toughest group, which also features former Laker Vladimir Radmanovic’s Serbia as well as Great Britain.

According to Vujacic’s website, he’s been dealing with a sore knee, but began practicing again on Monday, August 14.

Slovenian Basketball Federation national team director Matej Avanzo confirmed that Sasha will be practicing with the team again on Monday and travel with them to Spain for their next match after the games against Croatia.

Stay tuned for further coverage of Gasol, Vujacic and Mbenga as EuroBasket 2009 approaches.

Sasha Vujacic: Exit Interview

blog_090616sashavujacicFollowing a breakout 2007-08 season that earned him a contract extension with the Lakers, Sasha Vujacic was disappointed with his injury-plagued 2008-09 that saw his contributions wane as the season wore on.

In the regular season, Vujacic averaged 5.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.96 steals in 16.2 minutes per game while shooting 38.7 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from three. In the playoffs, his minutes dropped to 10.9 minutes per game, and his production to 3.0 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.5 assists on 31.4 percent from three and 26.4 from the field.

In his exit interview, Vujacic talked about how he plans on improving things for next season among other things:

- First of all, he was wearing a green shirt. Apparently the Celtics demons have been exercised. He’ll also be cutting some hair, but not too much.

- On meeting with Phil Jackson: “It was an interesting meeting. I understand (his perspective).
From a personal point of view the season didn’t go how I wanted. I had a different role. Sometimes you have to give something up to be part of the team’s success. That’s what I learned this season … Being today in front of you as a world champion is very important to me and my teammates. It’s going to be an interesting summer.”

- An honest, open Sasha on his tough year: “It’s not a secret that I shot the ball terribly this year. I was disappointed with myself, there’s no one to blame for that, no excuses to be found. I was struggling all year long to find a game rhythm and to catch what I found last year, to play with the same (freedom) that I did last year. That was missing, but I and (Phil) know what I am capable of.”

- BUT: “It doesn’t really matter, we’re world champions at the end of the day.”

- This summer could be very important for Vujacic retaining his rhythm as he’s planning on playing big minutes with the Slovenian National Team: “That’s going to be crucial for me. Both Mitch and Phil agreed that that’s a good idea. A summer to get away, refocus and (find) rebirth. I need to completely clear my mind. We have games in Slovenia, and to be honest with you, slowly L.A. became home to me, so that has nothing to do with it. I’m confident playing for the National Team is going to bring that back.”

- Vujacic said Kobe Bryant joked about him being in the gym too long, and said there might be a little truth to it, but that he can’t change his work habits and desires: “He’s the biggest hard worker I’ve ever seen, that’s why I respect him so much,” said Vujacic of Kobe. “Hard work will always no matter what in life pay off.”

- Vujacic said he’ll report to the Slovenian National team on the 22nd of July. Beno Udrih and other well known guys will also play, he said, and they have the goal of winning the whole thing.

- Missing three weeks of training camp with an injury, according to Mitch Kupchak (through Vujacic) didn’t help Sasha’s season at all.

- Vujacic talked a lot about the pressure he puts on himself to do well, and acknowledged that it may have played a role in his pressing with limited minutes. But he can’t change his style or how he plays.

Halfcourt Contest

After this morning’s shootaround Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic and assistant coach Brian Shaw stayed to have a little halfcourt shooting contest. Check out the video above to see who won and what they had to say afterwards.

Sasha Post-Shootaround Video

Sasha Vujacic joined us after shootaround to explain why he let Pau Gasol win their regular 3-point shooting contest, share his thoughts on the Denver Nuggets and talk about why he enjoys interacting with fans on Twitter.

Idle Chatter with Sasha

Sasha Vujacic plays better after coming on Lakers.com. That’s just how it’s been.

No, seriously, (check the archives).

That’s why we grabbed him after shootaround heading into Thursday evening’s game against the Phoenix Suns, in a game that might demand more minutes from the 6-7 Slovenian thanks in part to Leandro Barbosa’s presence (Vujacic is one of the few capable and willing to chase the Brazilian Blur).

Let’s make no promises, however, that we understand completely how the conversation went. The idle chatter, however, did produce an odd, random nickname that will soon be forgotten. Take a look:

Vujacic Gets Healthy During Break

Sasha Vujacic - Daniel GibsonFor some players, the All-Star break is a welcome momentary pause for R&R, a chance to get away from the game and give the legs some rest.

For others, like Sasha Vujacic, the break is a more strategic hiatus from grueling games and practices used to rehabilitate specific injuries.

We forget that Vujacic essentially missed the entire preseason with his injured ankle, and that he’s been nursing a sprain on his other ankle since about a month ago.

Before the game, Vujacic talked about how much better he’s feeling, declaring his ankles “100 percent” in the process. Here’s what he had to say:

Sasha Stretching in Toronto: Video

After Wednesday’s shootaround in Toronto, we brought our mini video camera up to Sasha Vujacic’s room to look on as Lakers assistant trainer Marco Nunez stretched the guard/forward’s hip flexor and other muscles.

It’s actually quite common for trainers to meet with players at various times of the day to ensure that their bodies are operating as effectively as possible come game time. Nunez offered the metaphor of a car, which constantly needs various kinds of maintenance like oil changes, new tires or what have you.

Here’s the video:

Lakers Preparing for LeBron, Cavs

Best in the East?
Perfect 80 degree weather and the NFC Championship game (see: Kobe’s insistence that his Eagles t-shirt hang from his locker) didn’t keep the Lakers out of the gym on Sunday afternoon, not with LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers coming into town on Monday.

Cleveland is perhaps the last, if not the best, contender for the championship trophy that the L.A. has yet to play. After all, the purple and gold have already seen Boston, Orlando, San Antonio, New Orleans, Utah and Houston (and even Denver and Phoenix).

Why are the 31-7 Cavs so dangerous? The very obvious answer is LeBron’s 27.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.3 blocks and All-First Team defense.

“(James has) made some improvements, in terms of protecting the lane, getting out in passing lanes, but he’s his usual stellar self,” said Kobe Bryant after practice. “I’m a big fan of his … I think he’s terrific.”

Kobe conceded that LeBron’s Olympic experience probably helped spur his defense on this season, and also said that he will “definitely” guard James at times during Monday’s game.

But it’s anything but a one-man team in Cleveland … LeBron’s been boosted by the presence of Mo Williams – a free agent acquisition from Milwaukee – who has taken some of the ball-handling pressure off James, and is a terrific perimeter shooter.

“He’s a big help, a legitimate scoring threat,” said Kobe of Williams. “He’s a person you have to identify, and we played him last year when he was in Milwaukee and he gave us fits.”

Throw in some other smooth shooters like Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, Booby Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic, plus three bigs who play good defense – Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao – and your squad’s looking strong to quite strong.

On Monday, however, the Cavs will be without two starters: Ilgauskas, who’s been on the shelf with a bad ankle, and West, who broke his wrist against Chicago last week.

Walton Goes Through Full Practice, But Won’t Start
Luke Walton completed his first full practice since missing the last eight games due to his foot injury.

“You can run all day but until you’ve actually played defense, switched, gone over screens and rebounded, it’s not the same,” said Walton. “It felt great, it didn’t hurt at all.”

Though Walton was very effective against Cleveland last season, Phil Jackson will continue to start Vladimir Radmanovic.

“Last year, I thought Luke did a really good job on (James) when he played him,” said Jackson. “(But) he’s still feeling his way a little bit.”

Sasha Finds Shooting Touch
Phil Jackson liked what he saw from Sasha Vujacic at Sunday’s practice: “He was shooting the ball (well) and looks like he’s back in rhythm,” explained the coach.

“I’m glad he said that,” said Vujacic. “It’s definitely good to be back … I’m feeling good. (The Lakers training staff) has been huge in getting me ready to play, and I’m 100 percent right now.”

With Vujacic and Walton both feeling much better, L.A. finally has 13 players healthy, and is waiting only on Farmar to boast its full complement of players.