A Conversation with George Dikeoulakos

Oct 07, 2015
After a strong showing at EuroBasket Women as Head Coach of Greece, George Dikeoulakos is back at the helm of Fenerbahçe.

In 2012 the EuroLeague Final Eight was in Istanbul, and Head Coach George Dikeoulakos took Fenerbahçe within one win of the finals, ultimately finishing the competition fourth, and the Yellow and Navy finished off the season with their 7th straight Women’s Basketball Super League. The Greek play-caller is back in Istanbul looking to take Fenerbahçe back to the top after a two-year title drought. Leading the charge will be guards Birsel Vardarlı-Demirmen and Olcay Çakır, the only two players remaining from Dikeoulakos’s championship team. Coming off a summer in which he led the Greece national team to a 4-3 record at EuroBasket Women 2015, we caught up to discuss his expectations for the 2015-2016 season and the state of Turkish Women’s Basketball.

Welcome back to Turkey and to Fenerbahçe. What are your expectations for the upcoming season?

Well, working at a club like Fenerbahçe the expectation is that you come here not just to have a nice season, but to take titles. We know that, and we’re working for that. Besides this, I think that we have to prepare [for] the future of Fenerbahçe and prepare some young players, which are going to be the future of this team.

Fenerbahçe has some important returning players and also made important transfer for this year. How’d you build this team? What were you thinking when you built this team?

First of all I want to keep the core of the team. For me the core of the team is the soul of the team, and this is the Turkish players. For sure I wanted to keep the Turkish players, especially the ones I worked with in the past. For me they’re very important, like Birsel [Vardarlı-Demirmen] and Olcay Çakır. For sure, these new players, the foreigners they come. My mind was [on] building a good chemistry. Because I thought also in the past the big budgets are just numbers and mathematics, but what makes a team good is chemistry.

What do you think about Turkish Women’s Basketball, and where does it rank in European Women’s Basketball?

For sure, it’s number one or the first two-three in the championships in Europe. I see very good organization from the Federation. They pay attention, they give glamour to the players and to the championship. But also you see very good organization in the youth program, and this is something that many countries and federations must copy and put into their programs.

What would you like to say about your competition in Turkey?

I don’t care as much about my rivals as much as I care about my team. Because if I prepare my team I know that I’m preparing for the biggest rival. So I don’t care so much what they can do. I can’t stop them from having big budgets and big players. For me that’s most important; how we build our team, how we build our character, how we can as fast as we can to put the “I” under the “Team.” For me that’s most important.

Lastly, how are your preparations going for the upcoming season?

The preparation is always the most fun stage of the season. There’s not so much stress. You’re always looking at wants going on, what’s going bad. Actually, there’s no stress. The biggest thing is not having injuries, so you can prepare as you want and you can follow the program as you put it [together]. Thank God, so far it’s going very well. I’m very pleased with the players. Hopefully we can continue like this.

Also in this month’s newsletter:

Message from President Harun Erdenay
Basketball Super League Tips off on Saturday
Women’s Basketball Super League Schedule Set
İnanç Koç and Pınar Karşıyaka are Ready to Defend