The Partizan American Tour came and went largely without occasion, but in their eyes–and mine–the trip was far more successful than the 30-point losses against the Nuggets and Suns would indicate. After losing four players (Velickovic, Tripkovic, Tepic, and Lasme) who accounted for 63% of Partizan’s scoring in 2009, they’ve regrouped and will use seven players still shy of their 22nd birthday to go after a ninth straight Serbian title. Once again, Coach Dusko Vujosevic will need to work magic with the youngest team in the Euroleague. In my article for SLAM, I explain why there’s nobody more amply equipped to lead a youth movement than Coach Dusko. Here’s an excerpt:
As the game clock raced backward to zero, Partizan’s Strahinja Milosevic rose up and guided the ball upward off of his finger tips and toward the rim. The red lights illuminated the backboard’s edges as the shot found its intended target, testing the outer limits of the term “improvement” as it rattled in. Final buzzer. Phoenix Suns: 111. Partizan Belgrade: 80.
Not good. But not bad, either. With their 32-point loss to Denver in the rearview, a 31-point loss in the desert suddenly feels a bit more humane. After all, losing by a wider margin would be a step backwards for the Serbian team, and Head Coach Dusko Vujosevic has never been one for regression…