Sunday, January 15, 2017

Uno en Uno With: Turkay Barutcuoglo, TCA Black

ZS: What was going through your mind when you hit that dagger 3-pointer to put away a pesky GOTR team in Saturday's 91-83 win?

TB: To be honest, I'm not afraid to shoot the ball. I came here as a shooter, that's the role my teammates are comfortable with me having. Coach Brad (Traina) puts a lot of confidence in me being able to shoot the ball, because it is the compartment of my game which I really excel at. So, hitting shots like the deep three in the first half and the 3-pointer late in the game, I don't think about missing or worry about missing. You can't play scared out there.

ZS: Being from Turkay, the basketball buzz clearly isn't similar to what it is here in the United States. How did you get into the game and who helped persuade you to pursue basketball at a higher level?

TB: My father was a respectable basketball player in Turkey. He wasn't a professional, but he was often playing the game with other decent players throughout the country. He showed me everything about my shooting. He showed me how to get my form down, he showed me how to follow through, he showed me how to not get frustrated if I miss a couple in a row because I could also come back and nail a few in a row and get hot. So, we would go outside and shoot everyday and every night and I picked up on it and made it a real hobby of my own.

ZS: In which ways has your game improved since you've been here? As effectively as you can shoot the rock, you are still working at becoming more athletic and explosive, to prepare you for the greater stages of play. How do you go about doing this and really readying yourself for the rigors of NCAA hoops?

TB: We are in the weight room almost everyday and every night with Brad. Coming here to the United States, I've learned just how important adding strength is to my game. As a shooter, you have to have strength. You have to be able to get through picks and fend off defenders with muscle so you can get your shot off. Brad has really taught me a lot and instilled confidence in my game.

ZS: You've had moments where you've been quiet, but you've also had moments where you can shoot open a game if you catch the hot hand? How do you get into this zone? Does the basket keep getting bigger and bigger after each shot you hit, once you start feeling it?

TB: I think it's just about having confidence and patience and knowing I have to hit shots when my number is called. If I could get a few in a row, you bet if I get a good clean look at the rim the next shot is going up.

ZS: Which aspects led you to take your game to the United States and who were some of the influential figures who helped you choose to take your basketball career to the next level?

TB: It was my goal to become a college basketball player in the United States. I watched guys like Hedo Turkoglu in the NBA and that inspired me. When I was a young kid he was on the Sacramento Kings with Chris Webber and I used to try to watch his games and look at highlights.

One person who really helped me with my shooting is my coach in Turkey, Cavit Altunay. He is actually 86 years old now, yet he is still shooting. He is the guy who taught me how to dribble and create my shot, we spent a lot of time shooting between me him and my father and those were the good old days as they say. Vassalis Spanoulis is my favorite basketball player in Europe. I like his pick-and-roll concept and his leadership so I kind of tried to be like him.

ZS: How did you find you find your niche as a shooter here in the U.S.? How did it all come about?

TB: Well, at first, I went to a school in D.C. I had a good time but I don't think my game was improving or I was being used the right way. That summer, I worked really hard at shooting the ball and earned a spot on the Turkey U-18 National Team. I was playing point guard and shooting guard for them, but unfortunately our tournament was cancelled as threat of war took over the country.

Tamir Turkman, he helped me find this school. So I am eternally grateful for that. He helps foreign students who aspire to study in the U.S.A. find schools that cater to them. He helps me every time I need him and is a very trustworthy guy. So, I am extremely appreciative that he is in my life.

ZS: What's your relationship like with fellow guard Thomas Fourtier like and how does it benefit your play on the court?

TB: Thomas is my best friend and he's my roommate, so we spend a lot of time working on our games even outside of the school and the schedule. Sometimes we will go up to UCF and shoot against each other and dribble against each other and really push each other to our extreme. Thomas is a big, strong guard and he can shoot from distance too, so it's like having a challenge everyday. Our chemistry off the court leads to chemistry on the court, he always knows how to find me open for a shot or cutting.