Losing adds wrinkle for Langdon (Basketball)

January 25, 2011

Trajan Langdon

The Euroleague Top 16 playoffs are here but there is one familiar face not part of the fun.

For the first time in his eight seasons overseas, Trajan Langdon of Anchorage will not be on the road to the final four. His Russian team CSKA Moscow was eliminated in the previous round after losing seven of 10 qualifying games.

A two-time Euroleague champion since 2006, CSKA Moscow has marched to the semifinals eight straight years so failing to advance to the round of 16 sent shock waves throughout the country.

“Reaction here in Moscow was somewhat disbelief as they didn’t understand why it was happening,” Langdon told me. “I think they have been spoiled because of all the success and most of them don’t really understand how special the teams that have been here have actually been.”

Langdon, of East High fame, has quarterbacked much of that success over the years as an all-star shooting guard who is a Final Four MVP and member of the Euroleague All-Decade team.

CSKA Moscow is to the Euroleague what Duke University is to March Madness, so the Russians bowing out early is like the Blue Devils losing before the Sweet 16. It just doesn’t happen.

But this is Langdon’s reality.

“Losing is never fun,” he said. “It was especially painful because we basically had the same team as last year when we had such a tremendous season. But with the new coach things changed and we couldn’t keep the continuity we had as he chose to change everything and ended up backfiring.”

At 34, Langdon is starting to reflect more than ever.

“When I was young I knew the next year would bring another opportunity,” he said, “whereas now I am not sure when my last year will be.”

His spirits aren’t only low – so is his scoring average (8.3).

The 6-foot-3 guard is in danger of dipping below double figures for the first time since 2002 when he was in the NBA with the Cavaliers.

“The season has been tough for me as I have been battling back spasms which I have never had to deal with in the past,” Langdon said. “We have also had key injuries to several of our players and this has allowed opposing teams to key in on me almost every game, especially during the Euroleague.

“I have had to work harder than ever before and not getting many open looks makes it difficult to find a rhythm.”

Langdon and CSKA Moscow are still on pace to win the Russian Super League, a trophy the team has owned since 2003.