«Young guys can’t lift 50 kg bench press at 19 years old. We motivate them by our example». Interview with Evgeny Pashutin

«Young guys can’t lift 50 kg bench press at 19 years old. We motivate them by our example». Interview with Evgeny Pashutin

PARMA boomed in the middle of the season, beating CSKA and Lokomotiv Kuban. A 6-game winning streak lasted a month and was broken only on New Year’s Eve in Yekaterinburg. And in the first game of 2024, the Perm team was just 1 shot away from defeating Zenit.

Head coach Evgeny Pashutin revealed the secret of the breakthrough, talked about Ural-Great philosophy, lifting a 100-kg barbell, high competition in the new Дeague season, B.J. Johnson’s successful game and the development of young players.

About successful stretch
The guys believed in what we are doing (PARMA won 6 straight games for the first time in history, including wins against Lokomotiv Kuban and CSKA). Physically and technically, each of our guys is very strong. It was important to unite as a team and believe that the overall result is higher. In other teams the guys gain personal stats and the result is not important, next year the contract is there and everything is good. We have guys hungry for wins, we have the youngest team. Everyone talks about Lokomotiv, but we have a younger team. We have guys from 2005, Americans 25-26 years old, B.J., C.J., Solomon is about 30. And our young guys, the same Aleksandr Platunov is 27. The same Ivan Egorov, Firsov, Khalturin, Ruslan is a little older, but we have youth, ambition and strength.

We offered them defensive philosophy. Each in his own personal battle in the paint, try not to lose in the one-on-one battle. And the same thing on the perimeter – be more careful with shooters. The forward is stronger than the guard – help with backups. It’s starting to pay off. We watch our games, we show mistakes and try to polish our defense, show good moments and everything works. It is important to stay focused, not to give the opponent second chance points. Who controls the rebounds – controls the game. If my partner made a mistake, I go to backup and vice versa.

The guys felt the chain reaction. And on offense, if you miss 2-3 shots, it’s okay, we’ll rebound on defense and go on the offensive possession. The confidence from defense gave us the opportunity to find a balance, we believe in the defensive philosophy, and in offense we play team basketball. The guys believed, they are intelligent. Our strength is team play and team chemistry. Guys are enjoying moving the ball, making extra passes and making open three-pointers.

About being in shape
Now I’m keeping in shape, I’m not chasing any records (at the beginning of the season a video went viral, where Pashutin lifted a 100-kg barbell 20 times from his chest). Just to be in tone, we work with young guys, we need to transfer energy to them, to be on the same wave. The older we get, the more complex the metabolism, but it is important not to be fat, because a fat coach does not look good. It gives energy, muscle tone and psychological energy.

It all started with the Russian national team in ’93, when Sergey Belov came. We did it in Avtodor, but individually. And we started to do it purposefully when Igor Zavyalov was a doctor and physio coach, he worked in America with athletes and offered us the New York Knicks program. Belov said: «Look at the NBA players, they run faster than you, jump higher than you, shoot better, and are also physically more powerful». The guards were less pumped up, but they were skilled, fast and made shots. Sergey Belov got us used to the barbell. Bench press and squats. The third one was the back pull. It paid off. Everyone was agile, strong on their feet, moving.

2 hours before training we go to the gym and spend an hour there, then an hour with the players. It’s already like a religion. You can’t imagine yourself without it… By example, no one has canceled it. Leading by example is better than telling stories. You have to be smart, but when you have confirmation by example, it’s a great motivation for the guys. But young players come and can’t bench press 50 kg at the age of 19. Look, the guys your age around the World are already stronger than you. It’s motivating, because we have to be the strongest, the most agile and play basketball well.

The guys have no goal to set records in bench press. Abdulbasirov and Solomon are good, and Ruslan is probably the leader.

About top teams’ losses and high competition in the League standings
I have to give credit to the VTB United League management: Sergey Ivanov, Sergey Kushchenko, Ilona Korstin. The organization and requirements are at the highest level. 4 teams came in from the SuperLeague – Uralmash, MBA, Samara, Runa – and the requirements are very high. Arenas, organisation, hotels, airport, gamedays. PARMA is phenomenal. The heart of basketball. The whole city has loved basketball since Ural-Great days. First parents, then their children, grandchildren go. I wish it will continue.

The level of the entire League and budgets have grown, everyone has brought in quality foreign players. We have been strengthened with Russian guys and the competitiveness has grown. There are no outsiders. This gives birth to the quality of the whole ;League, like in the NBA. You can’t win 30 games, the Warriors are losing now. Every team can beat every team. It has to do with this as well. It’s like in the Euroleague – every game is like a final. The same thing is happening in the VTB League. Fighting for the Top-6, for the Playoffs, for their court, for a higher place. The management sets a goal – to get to the Top 6. Everyone is united by this goal.

About B.J. Johnson and what makes him one of the best in the United League.
He’s a very good person, professional, works hard, sociable and has a winning mentality. That allows him to showcase his talent at the highest level. When he was selected, we realized that he scored 50 points at university, but was limited in Spain – 18 minutes averaging 6-8 points. And his talent is much higher. The guys believed in him. We try to use his strengths. He feels all the moments in the game.

He’s a rare talent – a high vertical combined with great shooting. We don’t take Jordan and Kobe. But that’s a credit to the whole team. They put up screens for him. The chemistry of the team – they find a leader, don’t get greedy and it allows to show his talent and benefit the team.

About Perm young talents
I want to acknowledge Sergey Boguslavsky, Aleksandr Bashminov, Viacheslav Shushakov, the whole organization, and Zakhar and I are working on it. The youth project, the DYBL – all the guys are gathered from the Perm region. Guys born in 2005, 2004, 2003 went through the whole system and proved themselves. Ivan Egorov scored 6 points in the Cup game, Gleb Firsov came back after a fracture, he is second to Andrey Martiuk in potential. But we need to work hard. Grigory Tuchkov here for 5 years. Pavel Morozov, plus we add Lev Svinin, he is also from Perm. Mikhail Stafiev physically healthy, jumping, but they are on their way. We’re rotating them, plugging them in. Scherbenev, Martiuk have played, but we wish our guys to do it. We also have Kovalenko.

The program may be without the Academy, but it works. Moms and dads bring their kids. And we raise them. Aleksandr Platunov played 1 minute a year or 2 ago, and now he’s scoring 28 points. He was in PARMA youth team. That’s what we’re emphasizing. So that our own guys who grew up here, so that those fans who come to the games, their children and grandchildren get a basketball education and join PARMA roster. They will come from other cities, but the focus is on our own.

I wish the guys not to relax. Some of them have already made the roster, but this is an advance. With good work, with the talent development, they should come out and prove in a year or 2, and we will do everything possible for this.