The Coach: Dimitris Itoudis, CSKA Moscow

May 05, 2019 by Print
The Coach: Dimitris Itoudis, CSKA Moscow

After spending more than a decade as one of the continent's most elite assistant coaches, Dimitris Itoudis has forged a reputation as one of Europe's top head coaches, too, with five years of relentless excellence at the helm of CSKA Moscow.

Itoudis started his coaching career at a young age and had various assignments in Croatia and his native Greece before becoming Zeljko Obradovic's assistant at Panathinaikos Athens. They enjoyed unprecedented success together, including five EuroLeague titles, before leaving the club in 2013.

Itoudis took a year off before taking over at Turkish side Banvit Bandirma for one season. Then, CSKA came calling, and he has met the club's high expectations every season. To date, Itoudis has guided CSKA to the EuroLeague Final Four and to the VTB United League title in each of his four full seasons on its bench.

In just his second season with the club, Itoudis and CSKA were crowned EuroLeague kings after their thrilling overtime victory against Obradovic's Fenerbahce Istanbul team at the 2016 Final Four in Berlin. Now, following a second-place regular season finish with a 24-6 record, Itoudis is setting CSKA's sights on a second EuroLeague title together. Anyone doubting their capabilities or toughness was answered emphatically in the playoffs, when CSKA responded to briefly losing home-court advantage by winning twice on the same court in Vitoria-Gasteiz that will decide this season's champion.

Itoudis is very much a modern coach, striking the right balance between insisting his players maintain their professional discipline while also respecting their status. Just like his mentor, Obradovic, he knows when to support his players with a protective arm around the shoulder but is never afraid to give them direct and forceful feedback when necessary.

Itoudis expounds an offense-first philosophy based on rapid ball movement and the belief that every player should be mobile and capable of creativity around the basket. CSKA has averaged 88.1 points per game – far more than any other team – in its five years under Itoudis, and that offensive potency will again be the cornerstone of the Russian giant's Final Four challenge.