2011-12 Eurocup Coach of the Year: Jure Zdovc, Spartak St. Petersburg

Apr 02, 2012 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
2011-12 Eurocup Coach of the Year: Jure Zdovc, Spartak St. Petersburg
Jure Zdovc - Spartak SPBEuroleague Basketball is honored to announce that Jure Zdovc of Spartak St. Petersburg, who took his team all the way from the qualifying round to the finals, has been chosen as the 2011-12 Eurocup Coach of the Year. In his first season on Spartak's bench, Zdovc has led the club to the Eurocup Finals in Khimki, Russia on April 14 and 15, with the chance to lift its first continental trophy since 1975. Spartak had a near-perfect Eurocup season, sweeping its qualifying-round series and winning its regular season and Last 16 groups, losing just one game out of 14. Spartak went on to finish the job by becoming the first team to sweep its two-game quarterfinals series, reaching the finals with a superb 15-1 record since the start of the qualifying rounds. Zdovc has been able to put together a team in which everyone has played a key role throughout the season. He has also turned Spartak into the best defensive team in the competition, allowing just 65.8 points per Eurocup game, and the second in the competition's decade-long history to reach the semifinals with just one defeat.

As such, Zdovc becomes the fourth winner of the annual award, which was introduced in the 2008-09 season. The previous winners were Oktay Mahmuti of Benetton Basket in 2009, Ilias Zouros of Panellinios in 2010 and Aleksandar Petrovic of Cedevita Zagreb last season.

The Eurocup Coach of the Year is part of an expanded awards structure meant to enhance the recognition of the finest Eurocup players and coaches for their efforts throughout the season. Euroleague Basketball and its in-house experts will also select the 2011-12 Eurocup Rising Star, as well as players for the All-Eurocup first and second teams and the Eurocup MVP. The Eurocup Finals MVP award will go the best player at that event as voted by accredited journalists in attendance during the title game.

Coach Zdovc, who signed a three-year deal with Spartak last summer, quickly made Spartak take care of business in the Eurocup Qualifying Round, downing Cypriot League champion Etha Engomi 59-60 in Game 1 and sweeping the series with a 83-64 road triumph behind 26 points from Patrick Beverley. Spartak went on to win all six of its regular season games despite being in a tough group featuring two teams from last season's Eurocup Finals - Cedevita of Croatia and Benetton Basket of Italy - and an emerging power like FC Bayern Munich of Germany. Loukas Mavrokefalidis had 23 points to lead Spartak to a 78-87 road win against Benetton. Spartak clinched first place with a 68-73 win against Cedevita with 16 points from Vladimir Dragicevic. Spartak advanced to play in a balanced Last 16 group featuring Buducnost Voli of Montenegro, Banvit BK of Turkey and Krka Novo Mesto of Slovenia. Spartak beat Buducnost 57-65 in its Last 16 opener behind 25 points from Beverley and then Banvit 80-71 with 29 points from Mavrokefalidis as both players earned weekly MVP honors. Two victories over Krka featured outstanding defense and a balanced offense. By the time Spartak downed Buducnost 70-64 in Game 5, it had clinched first place in its Last 16 group. In the quarterfinals, Spartak was the only team to win Game 1 on the road, beating Czech powerhouse CEZ Nymburk 64-68 behind 19 points from Beverley. Spartak completed its road to the Eurocup Finals with a no-doubt-about-it 86-71 home triumph against Nymburk as Yotam Halperin shined with 19 points and 7 assists. Spartak's only defeat came in Last 16 Game 6, when the team had already clinched first place. Nonetheless, its 15-1 record now makes Spartak just the second team with only one defeat heading into the Eurocup semifinals, after 2007-08 champion DKV Joventut Badalona of Spain.

Zdovc, age 45, knows what it means to be successful in European and world basketball. As a player, Zdovc won the Euroleague title with Limoges of France in 1993, as well as EuroBasket and a World Championships titles with the former Yugoslavia. As a head coach, Zdovc had a strong start, leading Split to the Croatian Cup title in 2004. He also coached Geoplin Slovan of Slovenia, Iraklis in Greece and Bosna ASA BH Telecom Sarajevo, which he led to the Bosnia and Herzegovina League title in 2008. Zdovc then joined Union Olimpija, where he had previously played for 11 seasons. In his three seasons on the Olimpija bench, Zdovc led the team to a Slovenian League title, three Slovenian Cup trophies, an Adriatic League title game and a Euroleague Top 16 appearance between 2009 and 2011. Now, the best might be yet to come for Zdovc, who has Spartak just two victories away from lifting the Eurocup trophy, which would also take Spartak to the 2012-13 Turkish Airlines Euroleague!

Previous winners of the Coach of the Year award: