Two-time EuroCup champion Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius has gone through many personnel changes in recent seasons, but this summer the club added only four fresh faces, hoping to mix them with a group of proven veterans and promising domestic players for whom they plan to give bigger roles. Rytas’s playmaking this season will be in the hands of point guards Corey Fisher and David Logan, both of whom will be responsible not only for setting up others, but also providing the team with a scoring spark. Meanwhile, the frontcourt has been bolstered with the additions of power forward Drew Gordon and center Kenneth Kadji, who will give Rytas quite an athletic boost around the rims.
Both new point guards, EuroCup rookie Fisher and the experienced Logan are also proven scorers at the elite level. And their playing styles should allow them to play together on the floor and to mentor young and talented point guard Aistis Pilauskas, who is set to embark on his first full professional season. Swingman Deividas Gailius will carry his share of the load, using his versatility and experience, while young Rokas Giedraitis is a downtown threat at the wings who will use last season's experience in the competition as a stepping stone for a big role this season on Coach Tomas Pacesas’s squad.
Rytas has a deep front court that has a little bit of everything. Inside, blue-collar bruiser Arturas Gudaitis will battle with opposing centers, while the tallest man on the team, Adam Lapeta will have his role on the bench to pose as a threat close to the rims. Rebounder and high-flyer Drew Gordon and another Kenneth Kadji are each capable of being a great presence inside, but also of stretching the floor from long range. Veteran forward and former EuroCup champion Arturas Jomantas will be one of the glue-guys with his defense and ability to pull down the boards, while youngster Julius Jucikas will provide depth in the same role.
PLAYER TO WATCH
It is no secret that Rytas’s 23-year old center Arturas Gudaitis had a disappointing EuroCup campaign last season. Due to injury, he appeared in only half of his team’s games, and did not perform up to the expectations. However, as the season went on he became a force in the paint in the Lithuanian League and flirted with double-doubles in nearly every game. Now in what is his fourth full season at this elite level, Gudaitis is capable and extra-motivated to continue where he left off last spring and to carry a large load for this Rytas team.
Rytas is a perennial contender and one of the most successful teams in competition history. With its tough home floor and a proven success record, Rytas is almost expected by default to make a deep run in the EuroCup. After last season's disappointment and an early exit, the club has put together a squad that will be a tough matchup for many opponents, and with it Rytas intends to get back to the role that is got its fans are used to – competing with the best and going as far as possible in the competition.