A Second Interview with Carl English

Title: A Second Interview with Carl English
Date: February 19, 2009
Original Source: Hoops Addict
Synopsis: I got a chance to do a second interview with Carl English, and it was picked up by Hoops Addict and Canada Basketball, those both links have since been lost. Still, you can see the content below.

Back in March of 2008, I had the chance to interview Carl English, one of the top stars in Spain’s ACB league and one of Team Canada’s top national players. At the time, we spoke about his journey to that point in his career and what the future might hold for him. After a summer of disappointment with Team Canada and a life-changing experience with the birth of his first child, Carl is enjoying his best season yet overseas, leading Kalise Gran Canaria to 6th place in the ACB with the league’s 6th best scoring total at 17 points per game. I recently got another chance to speak with the ACB’s Player of the Month for January, this time about Team Canada, the effect family will have on his career, and his ongoing dream of making it to the NBA.

Blake: Hi Carl, it’s great to be talking to you again. First things first, how’s the season going over there?
Carl English: It’s going pretty well. We’re having a really good season, we’re 6th in the ACB right now. So, in front of us are Barcelona, Madrid, Tau, Unicaja and Joventut, so we’re right up there with the big clubs. Coming up this week we have the King’s Cup, where the top-8 teams about halfway in play in a weekend long, single-elimination tournament. There are good teams, represented by a few NBA players. All the fans come out, especially Madrid, and there will be a lot of NBA eyes on it.

Blake: I see personally you’re doing well again this season (17.0 points on 55.5% shooting, 37.9% from 3-point range, 3.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists per game).
Carl English: Yeah, I’m doing well but we’re winning, and the goal is to help your team win.

Blake: Last time we spoke, we mostly discussed the Canadian National team. Obviously the end result was a bit disappointing, but tell me a bit about how the summer went.
Carl English: It was up and down. I had a different role than previous years and it was kind of difficult for me to adjust. In the end, I did what the coaching staff wanted me to do to help the team win and try and qualify.

Blake: You were pretty clearly underused in the tournament – you’re one of the best guards, one of the best scorers, and one of the most experienced players on the team.
Carl English: I felt the same way, but it’s a touch and go subject. People had different views of what they wanted, and sometimes people were trying to be too nice instead of doing what was best for the team. It’s a touchy subject.

Blake: Obviously Canada Basketball is looking to make some changes now. One of the main ones they’ve discussed is the addition of Steve Nash to the decision making group for the program. What kind of impact will that have?
Carl English: Most importantly, they’ve put the Board in place like the U.S. did. It’s got some big names like Jay Triano and Steve Nash, people that have helped the team win before, and they’ll be making the decisions. And then you have Maurizio Gherardini, who is the General Manager, he did some amazing things in Italy and now the NBA, and I think he’s going to turn the team in the right direction. It’s not going to happen overnight, but over the next few years he’s going to bring some people out who haven’t been, and four and five years from now you’ll see great improvements.

Blake: Last summer, Sam Dalembert, to be kind, wasn’t what everyone expected for that team. Now, though, Matt Bonner has come forward showing interest in gaining citizenship and filling Canada’s nationalized player spot. Would that be a good fit for the team?
Carl English: Obviously the first step is wanting to do it, and Matt obviously wants to do it. He has some Canadian connections and played here, he’s spent some time here. For him to offer to do it, he doesn’t have anything to gain from it, he clearly wants to help the project, and when you have a player like that who will do what it takes to win, he’ll really help the team.

Blake: His game also seems very suited for a European style of play.
Carl English: Yeah, he’s a great shooter. In the international game, running a pick and roll with him, he’ll be able to pop and shoot threes all day, so his game is very suited for that. I think the biggest thing is that the Euoprean game doesn’t reward high flying – you saw the Americans tailor their game because of it. The game is closer, the rules are different, and the middle is stacked up. If you get a guy like Bonner who is very skilled inside and outside, that’s a big asset. He’s obviously a good NBA player, but his game is suited for international play, too.

Blake: With the Olympics out of the question now, where is the focus of the program?
Carl English: Just to make the program better, getting the right core of guys in there, guys that are playing in Europe that people don’t know about. I think you have to build your team around certain things. If you have a player who is successful in Europe, he’s obviously a guy who should get some focus on your team. The game is different for college or NBA players, I go back to the Americans who had to change their game, you have to know the European game. I think that’s where Maurizio comes in. What he did in Italy is unbelievable, you know, so he can bring that aspect, knowing what type of players can adjust to that style of game. Then you have the Board of Directors that oversee everything, and your team is being watched over by a bunch of masterminds.

Blake: And that has to make it easier for the players to trust in the system.
Carl English: It makes it easier for players to make the adjustment and commitment, just come out and focus on basketball.

Blake: I’ve been pleased to see there’s a lot of optimism in the Canadian basketball community despite not qualifying for the Olympics.
Carl English: Exactly, because they’re happy with the changes. You have to change to get better, and I think we’re moving in the right direction now.

Blake: Are you planning to be a part of the team moving forward then?
Carl English: I’m not sure yet what I’ll be doing myself, Maurizio is coming over this weekend for the Kings Cup and I’ll be meeting with him. We’ll pick each other’s brains and go from there.

Blake: Now playing a part in the decision, I’m sure, is your first child, who was born this offseason, right?
Carl English: Yeah, I have a son right now who is almost four months old.

Blake: Congratulations.
Carl English: Thank you. Everything is good with that, but we’re overseas and haven’t got to bring him home (Newfoundland, Canada) yet. When the season’s over here, we’re going to go home. I haven’t had a break in five years straight now. I really don’t know what I’m doing yet, I’m not committed yet and I haven’t declined. I have to weigh my options for the offseason, see if there’s an NBA contract on the table. If there isn’t, I’ll probably sign a multi-year contract over here.

Blake: Yeah, having a child, obviously that rules out something like the D-League, too. Your life focus has probably changed. You mentioned looking for something long-term overseas?
Carl English: With the season I’m having right now, I’m getting a lot of recognition. This is the best season in club history and I’m leading us, everything is going really well. There are a lot of big teams (like Barcelona) that would be interested. Before I’ve signed with smaller teams on shorter deals in case an NBA deal came along, so if I can’t get something guaranteed in the NBA this year I’ll sign something with a big club here. Every year I’ve played for a contract, it would be a lot more care free, a lot more security.

Blake: And again, the new family life would play a part in that decision and the National team decision?
Carl English: Yeah, the focus has changed, everything’s about him now. The season has been demanding, practicing twice a day, travelling every other day. When the summer comes, it will be tough to commit two months to the national team with family stuff. And I’ve never had an offseason to focus on my game. It’s always been trying to make this team, or trying to help this team, or go to this NBA workout. I’m leaning towards focusing on what I have to do to improve, to get stronger, to be a better player, whatever I need to do to become better.

Blake: In terms of the NBA goal, you’ve played for Jay Triano before, and he now happens to be coaching the only Canadian franchise in the league, the Toronto Raptors. Do you think that presents a new opportunity?
Carl English: I’m not sure. I think Jay is doing a great job there, but it comes down to what Bryan Colangelo and Maurizio want to do. I think I was pretty close before, but like I’ve said I just need someone to take a chance on me. If they don’t now, everything is cool without it, but it’s my dream. Ball over here is a great living and at the end of the day I’m playing basketball for a livelihood. I obviously can’t complain but I feel I’m good enough to be there, and I’d like that chance.

Blake: The general opinion seems to be that you’re good enough. I’ve read quotes from people in the international basketball world who feel you have NBA game as well.
Carl English: The NBA is strange. You see (Juan Carlos) Navarro average 11 points in the NBA, he comes back and signs for $25M (USD) here, he wasn’t going to get that money in the NBA. He averaged 11 points in the NBA and 14 here with Barcelona. Rudy Fernandez, me and him went head to head all the time in the Spanish league, and he’s doing well in the NBA now. So, you know, if these guys are good enough, I just need a chance.

Blake: So the future for Carl English is one more shot at the NBA, and if not, a long-term deal overseas? We want to see you in the NBA.
Carl English: I’d always have it in the back of my mind if I never got my full shot. I don’t want to give up on it but at the same time I’m not going to go to training camp without a contract. I’ve proven myself in every level I’ve went to, and now I’m playing in the next thing to the NBA, where guys go back and forth all the time, and I’m playing at the highest level and playing great. If I can’t get noticed from that, so be it, I’ll continue doing what I’m doing.

Blake: Well best of luck to you. I know a lot of people that are hoping for you to get here, you’d have a lot of support, so best of luck this offseason. Congratulations again on the son and the success this year.
Carl English: No problem, any time. Keep in touch, and we’ll go from there.

You can keep up with Carl by checking out the ACB website, his EuroBasket page, or the Basketball Canada website.

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