Nihat Izic was head coach of the Bosnia & Herzegovina Cadets, as well as coach of their Junior, and Men's National teams. He also coached Antalya, Bursa, and Fenerbahce in the Turkish Division I. He is currently the assistant coach of the Men's National team.
In 1994, the Turkish Commission for Youth Basketball decided to create a new program for the development of young basketball players. The first aim was nurturing and growth of top players, who would be able to play for Senior National Team in the future and achieve the best results in European basketball.
We needed to create a new generation of young players, who would be chosen on standards based on height, quickness, and jumping ability. With many games and practices, we had to prepare them in technical and tactical areas and give them international experience before they started to play for Senior National Team.
We have chosen players born in 1978 and 1979 and created a four-year program, in which they played four FIBA European Championships and one FIBA World Championship, competing in about 200 international games. As a result of that program, we have developed six young players, who played for the Senior National team, with two going to play in the NBA. As a team, we came in third place in the FIBA European Championship in Sicily, Italy (our team was three years younger then other teams, on average) and won fifth place in FIBA World Championship in Australia.
After the 2001 FIBA European Championship in Istanbul, where the Turkish Men's National team achieved the second place silver medal, the best result in the history of Turkish basketball, the Turkish Federation Commission for Youth Basketball convened a new meeting with the target of creating a new program for the develpment of young players. Again, we had to develop new young players, who would be able to win championships in the future.
We had to find and develop players, who would be taller, quicker, jump higher, and have a winning mentality. We have been analyzing the Yugoslavian Men’s team that beat us in the final of the FIBA European Championship in 2001 in Istanbul. Here are their heights:
Guard: Bodiroga 204 cm
Guard : Jaric 202 cm
Forward: Gurovic 206 cm
Center: Drobnjak 210 cm
Center : Tarlac 212 cm
Our goal, which was to beat such a team, was to find players, who whould have the same height at the same position, the same quickness, jumping ability, overall basketball fundamentals, and experience. We had to find young talented players, who would, at the end of their development, play for the Turkish Men's National team, and be able to face the best European national teams.
The second goal was to prepare them to play multiple positions on the court at a young age, which is what we did with Hidayet Turkoglu, who now plays in the NBA. Again, we wanted players, who were even better than Turkoglu at that age. We had to find a good scorer, who could play different roles (better than Ibrahim Kutluay, a good shooter), and be a good defender, and rebounder. He had to be super-quick, as well.
As you can see, our goal was to find better players than we ever had in the previous generation. We created a four-year program, with more practices than ever before, and we scheduled as many international games as possbile.
We started in August 2001, and from the 200 young players, who tried out for the team, we chose 16 players for the National Cadet team. We had these players complete a variety of physiologic and psychological tests, and compared their characteristics with the results of Hidayet Turkoglu, Kerem Tunceri and Mehmet Okur, and other players from the generation that started in 1979.
I am happy to report that the new generation of players in Turkey achieved better results in all categories. We continue to test the players annually. We also had the oportunity to compare some of these tests with the best Yugoslav cadets' team from 1968-70. The results are on the right.