Dan Mavraides and I have been talking about doing an interview for a few weeks, but the former Princeton guard wanted to wait until his situation in Italy was settled before answering any of my questions.
Mavraides' new team holds a 2-4 record in the top Italian league and Mavraides has hit double figures in his last three contests, averaging 8.0 ppg and 2.8 assists/game on the young season.
The result of our email exchange follows after the jump.
Can you take everyone through the last year or so? How did everything finish up in Greece since we last talked? Can you tell me about the path that brought you to Italy?
Our team ended up making the playoffs, but not meeting our expectations we only came in seventh place and had to play the second seed, Panathinaikos. They beat us 2-0 in a three game series. My first year in Greece was a all about adjusting to the European game and trying to play well consistently. There were stretches during the season where I played great and stretches where I played poorly but the Greek League and Eurocup were both very competitive and prepared me well for my second year.
You had a three year deal - Did the financial situation in Greece effect your decision to depart?
Yes, all the reasons I had for not returning to Greece for the remainder of my contract were because of the financial situation there. It is a tough time for all of Europe, but as we all know, Greece is seeing the worst of it and they are really struggling to pay their players, therefore leading to the league's competition diminishing. I really enjoyed my first year playing there and wouldn't trade it for anything. I loved the fans, the city and my whole experience.
I know you first signed a one month contract with Sidigas Avellino and then a two week deal along the way - How unique were these circumstances?
I initially signed a one month try-out with Avellino, which is very common in Europe. I had some international exposure last year in the Eurocup but none in Italy. I played really well toward the end of our preseason and the end of my one month contract but our president and GM were still unsure as to which direction they were planning on taking the roster. So instead of offering me a full year deal they offered me another one month contract - not as common. I ended up playing very well in our regular season games during this month and at the end they offered me a full year guaranteed contract.
Is your teammate Dwight Hardy's passport situation still up in the air? Did that situation's resolution lead to your new contract?
Hardy's passport situation was not solved and he has since left the team. That situation did not lead to my new contract, but when he was unable to play I was given many more minutes and opportunities since we had one less guard.
How much did your Greek passport help you along the way?
My Greek passport has helped a lot. In Italy you are allowed either five foreigners (who can be from anywhere) or seven foreigners (three can be from anywhere and four have to be European). Our team chose to go the seven foreigner route and my Greek passport allows me to play in one of the four European spots.
Did you have to prove yourself on the floor to earn the full year contract?
Yes, I was fortunate to get in a rhythm early enough in the season to prove myself to the coaches and staff. The full year contract I was eventually offered was very dependent on how I was playing in the games.
So far, how does Lega A compare to the Greek league?
The leagues are both very good leagues, but with Greece's economic situation, the Italian league has definitely separated itself in terms of the competition. The Italian style of play has proven to suit my game more because it is a little faster and more physical. A lot more similar to the American game than the Greek league.
How have the games been going? Your stat lines the last two times out look real nice.
I have been starting the past three games and I have been playing a lot better in the extended minutes I've been given. I started the season as strictly a point guard, but as of late I have been playing both the "1" and the "2" depending on the lineup on the floor, and I am enjoy playing both positions throughout the game.
I've seen photos from Avellino games and the home crowds seem to be just as raucous as what you experienced with Aris!
Our fans in Avellino have been great. They are very fanatical, chant and cheer all game and tend to fill up our five or six thousand person arena. That being said, I have yet to experience any fans as raucous as the Aris fans. I honestly believe they are the best fans in Europe.
I know your team played Mason Rocca's team last weekend. How did that go and did you get a chance to meet?
The game went very well for us; as a team, we had one of our better overall performances and were able to get the win in front of our fans. I did get a chance to meet Mason and we were able to talk briefly about how our seasons have been going and obviously catch up on some Princeton basketball. Im excited to play Mason again in the second half of the season in Bologna.
Has that guitar of yours continued to gather dust? How do you fill your off-the-court time?
The guitar I bought is still in Greece, so it is definitely still gathering dust. As for now I have been filling my free time with reading, catching up on some TV shows and trying to see as much of Italy as possible. I have been able to spend some time in Naples, Rome, the Amalfi coast, and I'm really enjoying the country.
It is good to hear from you Dan! Please keep everyone posted on how your season goes.