my name is jan and i like sushi
and the washington capitals
Editor’s Note: Slightly lost in the mix of Washington losing its first two games of the season is Jan Vesely’s play. No, the young Czech isn’t wowing the masses. Nor is he playing well enough to satisfy critics. Still, in only two games his numbers show improvement over last season, and Vesely isn’t playing as timid as he was early this preseason. He only made one of his three jumper attempts against the Celtics on Saturday night, but he took all of them with confidence (although one miss in particular was ill-advised). Again, the biggest issue with Vesely going forward, aside from confidence, will be strength. He certainly got pushed around by Jared Sullinger more than necessary, but he did fight back, increasing his aggression in four minutes during the fourth quarter. Stay tuned, because there is time to be had in exchange for hustle despite the seeming glut in the Wizards’ frontcourt. Randy Wittman’s willingness to sit veterans down the stretch has proven this. Otherwise, Jan got all gussied up to tell you about his Facebook promotion to win a new backpack. And below that is a translation by TAI’s Lukas Kuba (@Luke_Mellow) from an interview that Vesely gave to the Czech outlet, basket.idnes.cz, last Friday. Enjoy. -Kyle W.
“I hope John will be back quickly, because I like fast basketball.” -Jan Vesely
I’m still finding my game, admits Vesely
basket.idnes.cz – November 2, 2012
“For sure I feel more relaxed than before my premiere season, because I know what awaits me. But of course there’s a healthy nervousness and expectations. That was in effect particularly before the first game of the season.” -Jan V.
Q: Generally, the second season in the NBA is regarded as the toughest, do you agree?
JV: It’s true, certainly there will be more expectations upon myself. There’s more pressure on experienced players than rookies. It will be difficult, but I’ll try to work on my game in order to have good performances.
Q: Does your position on the team somehow change when you’re not a rookie anymore?
JV: It is true that rookies, like in Europe, have to carry bags, balls and stuff. I went through that last year, now we have new guys to do that. Basically, I’m a veteran now.
Q: How do you perceive the opinions around you, that you have to be more of a ball hog, to shoot more and to believe in yourself more?
JV: I try not to deal with it or think about it, just play my game. Or rather to find my game, the game I played in Partizan [Belgrade]. Now that training camp’s behind us, I believe in myself more than in my rookie season, which is good. There will be little time, but regardless, I’ll still try to find some time for individual shooting practice. We’ll see.
Q: Your team entered the season losing 84-94 in Cleveland. Did the absences of John Wall, Nene or Kevin Seraphin affect the loss? The Cavaliers had their way with you in the low post and against your backcourt.
JV: It is true that we were missing three important players, but we did defeat Cleveland with basically the same roster in the preseason. We failed on defense and on rebounding, which we took lightly. That decided the game. With Varejao, it did not occur to me that he collected 23 rebounds, which is a remarkable number. Everything just keep falling into his hands. But we took it lightly, and we didn’t box-out their players enough.
Q: How would you evaluate the overall strength of the team in comparison with the end of last season?
JV: The collective game plan is similar like it was in the spring. Maybe even more. All the players that came [in the offseason] don’t try to act like they are individual stars, they gladly submit themselves for the team’s good. For sure their arrival helped us. Our strength has to be in team basketball, because we don’t have a star who can score 40 points a game. With everyone healthy, I think we have what it takes to be a playoff team. Last year it didn’t work out, but with the changes that happened, we can fight for playoffs. There’s a lot of positive atmosphere here, and everybody tries in order to win games.
Q: But I’m sure you’re missing John Wall.
JV: Definitely I miss him. With him and without him, it’s a big difference. He always catches the ball [after a defensive rebound] and runs the fastbreak, and I’m used to running with him. We’re missing that fastbreak a bit now. But on the other hand, A.J. Price and Jannero Pargo are veteran guards who know how to hold the fort. But I hope John will be back quickly, because I like fast basketball.
Q: Isn’t it a pity that with Wall injured, Tomas Satoransky didn’t stay on the team and instead headed to play for Seville for one more year? Wouldn’t he have more of a chance to make a name for himself this year?
JV: I didn’t think about this. Too bad they didn’t let him to be on the team after the Summer League. But you never know what’s going to happen and at that time we didn’t know John would be hurt, and we couldn’t count on it. But I want to have Tomas here as soon as possible.
Q: In the United States, the number one topic these days is the Hurricane Sandy. Were you personally affected by this storm?
JV: D.C. wasn’t affected much. I don’t want to say at all, but it wasn’t catastrophic. Only a whirlwind with the storm. As a team, we were affected mainly in having to travel for the Cleveland game 7 a.m. in the morning. Normally we go to a morning practice, and then we fly [for the game]. So we had to practice in Cleveland. Actually, we kind of avoided the worst weather by flying earlier, so I didn’t experience Sandy in D.C. From what I could see on television, New York City got the worst of it.
Q: The Wizards did exercise the third-year contract option on you for next season, did it help your confidence as well?
JV: Of course it did, when you know there’s not a last season with the team ahead of you, that the team counts on you for next season, too. It’s encouraging. I’m hungry to show them they didn’t make a mistake when they believed in me. During the training camp I guessed it could come, but you don’t know until last second. All summer I was giving my best in order to be prepared as best as I could. And it paid off.
Q: In the meantime, it looks like Emeka Okafor and Trevor Booker are in front of you in the big man rotation. Where do they have an advantage over you?
JV: In particular, they are stronger at defending one-one-one and fighting for position under the basket. And also they are a lot more experienced. I’m still just getting used to the NBA game. But I will work hard in order to get more playing time. It’s up to coaches how they see the matchups against particular opponent, who’s more suitable playing whom.
Q: You said earlier that your fiancee, Eva Kodouskova, would move to Washington, too. It is true?
JV: She’s here with me already. She should begin going to school here in January. Now she doesn’t have much to do yet, so I try to devise a [free time] program for her. It’s good for my well-being [that she’s with me here]. After all, when I was coming back from the trip to an empty apartment at midnight, it was such a sad feeling. Now that I know she’s waiting for me at home, it’s more cheerful. Last season I lived closer to the Verizon Center, now we moved off the downtown to calmer neighborhood. Although it’s further, I’m satisfied.