It´s Another Normal Day At The Office For Aaron Nelson As He And The Dragons Rhondorf Destroy BG Karlsruhe 87-70
The last time that fans could depart the always loud Dragons Dome with a smile on their faces and still enough time to spare to get home and watch the ZDF Sportschau to catch the football scores was Janaury 2nd, 2016 as Rhondorf had smacked around Rent4Office 83-65 which was only one of two wins in a season to forget as the club stunk up the Pro A and crawled back to the Pro B with their heads in bags as the embarrassment was difficult to hide. The last home game was a little more than six months ago where the Dragons lost a nail bitter to the RheinStars Cologne 78-76, but except for a tournament three weeks ago where they faced off against Pro B team AstroStars Bochum and BBL team Telekom Baskets Bonn, basketball had been missed in the Dragons Dome as the long summer seemed to drag on and on like a caterpillar does going through life. The 2016-2017 season finally started again as the Dragons Rhondorf hosted last season´s best regular season team BG Karlsruhe who totally underachieved in the playoffs getting spanked and got swept by the Dresden Titans. The club lost some serious fire power in Rouven Roessler and double double input with Marcus Smallwood and all-rounder Hayden Lescault, but kept American routine veteran Jeremy Black and added the top scorer Ricky Easterling of the Pro B the last two seasons. It was already evident that Rhondorf head coach Matthias Sonnenschein had done his homework in the off season as his trio of imports Aaron the beast Nelson, Canadian Mike Lucier and American William Trawick had found a healthy chemistry already in pre-season, something that was lacking last season with their American imports. It was the battle of the top Pro B team of last season BG Karlsruhe against ex Pro A team Dragons Rhondorf and the home team was able to finally win a home game again after waiting almost 9 months after their last win destroying BG Karlsruhe 87-70. After the game two thirds of the import trio of Aaron Nelson, Mike Lucier and Will Trawick were stretching as they combined for 54 of the team 87 points, but Canadian Mike Lucier quickly noted that the victory could be chalked up to a total team effort. “We played well together and you can see we have team chemistry. The secret to this early working team chemistry is that we have character guys that all get along and want to succeed. We all moved well off the ball, had strong cuts and guys got open and we hit our shots. We did a pretty good job on defense, but it could have been better. We played with good intensity and everyone knows when to switch and we communicated well”, added Dragons Rhondorf forward Mike Luicer. BG Karlsruhe had a tough time finding a healthy team rhythm and had to play catch up basketball all night long and just had no remedy how to slow down the Rhondorf offense. After the game, Baltimore native Ricky Easterling was reserved and low key about the loss, but knew that there is more to a season than just one game. “We came in here wanting to win, but faced a tough Rhondorf team. We were too hesitant on defense and had bad rotations and no communication. The season is long. We have to look at this game again and correct our mistakes”, stressed BG Karlsruhe guard Ricky Easterling. “It was a team effort and we played well at all times during our highs and lows. Our chemistry is working well and everyone knows their roles and how they work”, warned Dragons Rhondorf forward Aaron Nelson.
The story of the game was Aaron “BIG Dog” Nelson who came in and just destroyed BG Karlsruhe putting up incredible numbers of 26 points and 18 rebounds. His stellar play in the pre season also warned the league that Nelson is for real and should be a dominant player this season and he proved that in his first game doing absolutely everything on the court. The Illinois native scored inside at leisure against the one on one, double team or triple team and hauled down rebounds as if it was second nature. He played outstanding defense blocking Kwame Duku twice getting a steal as he snuck into a passing lane and picked off a ball and also proved why a hidden strength in his game is his passing as he dished out three assists including two touchdown passes that led to easy buckets on the transition. After the game the big man from Bloom Township, Illinois who had double double stats as a senior at S.Indiana and as a rookie in Chile was all smiles as he always is when he gets a double double, because only that way he is at peace in mind when he has helped his team best with his biggest strength scoring and rebounding. He was as humble as could be crediting the win less about his play, but more to his teammates finding him. “It was another normal day at the office for me, but I always compete at a high level no matter what. I have to credit my team to getting me in good position to score so many times. The opponent made me work hard to get points, but I have always been a good finisher with contact”, stressed Aaron Nelson. BG Karlsruhe guard Ricky Easterling definitely will remember the big dog Nelson and surely will be checking his stats every weekend as he could have a real battle this season for the scoring crown with Aaron Nelson. “We see Aaron play like this every night. He is so big, skilled and can just do it all on the court. Teams will have a hard time this season, because nobody can stop him”, stressed Mike Lucier.
The Dragons Rhondorf got off to a quick 4-0 lead as point guard Viktor Frankel-Maus scored on the alley-oop tap in as Aaron Nelson lofted up the perfect pass as fans saw a more untypical forward to guard combination, but one they have been doing in the preseason and Canadian Mike Lucier scored on transition as Frankl-Maus got his first of nine assists on the night. BG Karlsruhe struck back with a lightening 5-0 run as German ex BV Chemnitz guard Kenny Fluellen scored in bunches with a lay in and trey as BG Karlsruhe led 5-4. Both teams continued to exchange runs as now it was Rhondorf who jumped out on a 13-2 run to lead 17-7 as Nelson hit an uncharachteristic three, scored inside as hit over Jeremy Black. Rhondorf also got big production from German forward Bastian Winterhalder and Frankl-Maus scored again. BG Karlsruhe got production from Ricky Paulding who attempted a rare three as he only took 77 three´s in the last two Pro B seasons. However Rhondorf played consistent offensive basketball and just kept pouring it on and got production from Bedford, New York native Will Trawick who nailed a three and Lucier remained hot hitting a 25 footer as the Dragons Rhondorf led 24-15 after one quarter. “It was fun to watch Rhondorf and the fans were thankful for this good start. We played good defense, but it could have been a bit more aggressive. The help defense was always there”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf CEO Boris Kaminski. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 65% from the field and 33% from outside while BG Karlsruhe was shooting 3% and 33% from outside. Rhondorf had the 12-7 rebound edge and two turnovers while BG Karlsruhe had one turnover.
In the second quarter halfway through, the Dragons Rhondorf had a small lull, but head coach Matthias Sonnenschein called a smart time out and his team came out and started to get their offense going again and extended their lead and went into halftime with a comfortable lead. Will Trawick got Rhondorf on the board first with a bucket, but then it was Russian Anton Kazarnonski who won the 2004 Euroleague as a kid with Maccabi Tel Aviv and would play 10 years in Israel and two in Germany with Giessen and FC Bayern Munich and a few others led BG Karlsruhe on a 5-0 run with free throws and a bucket inside cutting the Rhondorf lead to 27-20. However Rhondorf came out of the timeout refocused and had to face a BG Karlsruhe zone and beat it easily going on a 9-3 run to extend their lead to 36-23. In the run, it was ex Lambton standout Lucier who scored twice with a two handed dunk as Frankl-Maus found him back door and then hit a trey. 17 year old Anton Geretzki snuck inside for two points and Frankl-Maus completed free throws. Fluellen then hit a jumper, but Rhondorf kept the offensive pressure on as Trawick connected on another trey and Bastian Winterhalder made free throws as the Dragons Rhondorf went into halftime with the comfortable 41-28 lead. “They went to zone after the time out and we got an easy basket and then a three pointer which opened up the game again. I was extremely happy with our three import players who were playing exactly how I had wanted”, stated Dragons Rhondorf CEO Boris Kaminski. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 50% from the field and 27% from the three point line while BG Karlsruhe was shooting 29% from the field and 36% from the three point line. Rhondorf had the 23-18 rebound edge and both teams had five turnovers a piece.
In the third quarter, the Dragons Rhondorf were able to extend their lead to 20 points as they continued to wear down BG Karlsruhe as their comeback attempts continued to get squashed and their energy level also went down more. Both teams best players Aaron Nelson and Ricky Easterling went to work scoring four buckets. Nelson scored inside and continued to show his divine versatility as he knocked home a three and Easterling made his bread and butter 20 footer mid distance shot something he learned from his high school coach Kevin Peiser and continued to develop through his college and professional career and then scored coast to coast finishing with his left hand as Rhondorf led 46-32. Rhondorf then made a statement as to how the game would continue to develop going on a back breaking 13-4 run to extend their lead to 59-36. In the run, Rhondorf got all around good production from many components as Lucier hit a trey, Frankel-Maus scored twice as did Thomas Michel who also dropped a three. However BG Karlsruhe never gave up and quietly clawed their way back going on a 15-3 run to cut the Dragons Rhondorf lead to 62-51. In the run, it was the BG Karlsruhe big men duo of Black and Kazarnovski who combined for all 15 points and for 3-4 minutes were unstoppable getting easy buckets inside and to the free throw line. BG Karlsruhe had stopped the Dragons Rhondorf momentum, but then as is so often the case in basketball the opponent struck a basketball like dagger in their back racing out on a lightening 5-0 run killing their momentum which they had gained back. Rhondorf ended the third quarter with a 5-0 run as Lucier continued to hurt BG Karlsruhe with his hot hand draining a trey and Michel scored inside as the Dragons Rhondorf led 67-51. “They had a little run, but we kept our head up. We could of gotten frustrated or pointed fingers, but we stayed in the flow of the game and knocked down shots”, stressed Mike Lucier. The Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 55% from the field and 38% from the parking lot while BG Karlsruhe was shooting 33% from the field and 29% from the parking lot. Rhondorf had the 32-26 rebound advantage, but 10 turnovers while BG Karlsruhe had seven turnovers.
The Dragons Rhondorf had a nice big lead and got a little tired in the fourth quarter, but the last little push by Ricky Easterling couldn´t change much as the home team would sail into their Saturday night happy and ready for an enjoyable Sunday. Nelson continued to tighten up his stats as he nailed the first three buckets for Rhondorf while Kazarnovski also scored twice, but Rhondorf still had the comfortable 73-55 advantage. After a Duku lay in came a curious play as BG Karlsruhe scored on the inbound play as Easterling found Kazarnovski, but Rhondorf didn´t move on defense as they seemed not to have heard the whistle which led to a big boo concert in the Dragon Dome, but Rhondorf still led 73-59. Nelson kept getting to the free throw line and feeding his points stats as he made free throw after free throw extending the Rhondorf lead to 82-61. Rhondorf was a little fatigued now and BG Karlsruhe closed out the game with a 9-3 run as Easterling as usual finished strong netting three baskets and getting his 20 plus points. He scored 25 and 15 footers and a beautiful finger tip roll, but it wasn´t enough as the Dragons Rhondorf won 87-70 as Winterhalder closed out the scoring with a lay in with two seconds remaining to play. “We got a bit tired at the end. If guys are tired then they should go out. We need to be able to bring it better for 40 minutes. We need guys always giving 100%”, warned Mike Lucier. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Aaron Nelson with 26 points and 18 rebounds. Mike Lucier had 18 points while Viktor Frankl-Maus and Bastian Winterhalder combined for 11 points a piece. Will Trawick added 10 points. BG Karlsruhe was led by Anton Kazarnovski with 23 points while Ricky Easterling added 231 points. The Dragons Rhondorf shot 50% from the field and 36% from outside while BG Karlsruhe shot 37% from the field and 24% from outside. Rhondorf won the rebound battle 41-36, but had 13 turnovers while BG Karlsruhe had 12 turnovers. The Dragons Rhondorf got off to a good start, but know it´s a long season. “WE are taking it one game at a time. We don´t want to get big headed, but keep improving. We want to keep sticking together at all times and just leave it on the floor in every game”, warned Aaron Nelson.
Jeremy Black(BG Karlsruhe) At This Point In My Career I´m Still Improving And Striving To Get Better
Jeremy Black is a 30 year old 203cm forward from Tampa, Florida that is playing his sixth season for BG Karlsruhe. He played at Tampa (NCAA2) from 2004-2008 and in his senior year played 30 games: 18.7ppg, 11.0rpg, 1.6apg, 1.1bpg, 1.5spg, FG: 49.3%, 3Pts: 30.8%, FT: 72.1%. He turned professional in 2008 and since then has always played in Germany except two seasons ago where he played for AB Contern (Luxembourg-Total League) 4 games: 12.8ppg, 10.3rpg, 1.8apg, in Nov.’14 moved to BCKE Wallabies (Switzerland-LNB). He also played two seasons for Science City Jena. Last season with BG Karlsruhe he played 21 games averaging 11.4ppg, 8.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 56.2%, 3PT: 17.6%, FT: 61.5%. He spoke to German Hoops before the season opener in Rhondorf against the Dragons.
Thanks Jeremy for talking to German Hoopos. You are playing your sixth season for BG Karlsruhe. What is missing most in Karlsruhe that could almost substitute it with Tampa as home?
Karlsruhe is my new home base. I can always go back home but what I miss most is my family and the food!
Except for a short stay in Luxemburg two seasons ago, you seem to always come back to Karlsruhe. What is most appealing about the organization and city that makes you want to return?
Yeah, Karlsruhe is and always will be special to me. I came here not expecting much but I got way more than I can bargain for. The city is awesome besides the never ending construction. The people who I’ve came in contact with while being here have been nothing short of amazing.
When looking back at this season´s roster, for me BG Karlsruhe seems just a tad weaker than last season. How do you summarize this seasons roster in comparison to last season?
I think last year’s team we had more veterans who led the team, while this year’s team we have a few vets and will rely more on our younger German players.
BG Karlsruhe lost key guys like Marcus Smallwood, Rouven Roessler and Hayden Lescault, but gained top Pro B player Ricky Easterling, center Anton Kvarnoski and Kenny Fluellen. How will this season´s team be different in playing style in comparison to last season?
I don’t think it would be much of a difference! We will still let our defense dictate our offense! We will push the tempo for quick easy baskets, when we can and when we can’t, we will run our plays.
How much will you miss big man Marcus Smallwood and how is the game of Anton Kavarnoski different than of Smallwood?
Marcus was a great teammate and a competitor. He was one of the key reasons why we were successful last year and we played really well together. Anton is more than capable of replacing him. Anton I think is the best shooting big man in the league and he is capable of posting up and putting the ball on the floor and attacking the basket.
What do you see as being BG Karlsruhe´s biggest strength on the court this season?
I think our defense will be our focus and let that dictate our offense and how we control the game.
What BG Karlsruhe German do you see as having the biggest chance of having his breakthrough season?
Aaron Schmitz or Andrej Schmidt
Ricky Easterling is considered the best Pro B player. How thrilled are you to have him on your side and will he continue to be as dominating or perhaps become more of a playmaker?
How can you not be excited to have a player like Ricky join your team? I think you will see him doing both. He knows the game and our team well. He has the experience to know what our team needs him to be at a given time.
Have you ever seen a more deadly mid distance shot than his? Will the day come when he can blindly hit that shot?
Haha in this league honestly not; I think its no different than having multiple defenders contesting his shot and him being capable of consistently knocking it down.
You have had very consistent stats throughout your career. Now at 30 where do you see your game going as you get older?
I think I’m still improving. At this point in my career, everybody knows what I can and can’t do. I strive each day to get better. I have the experience to know how best I can help my team achieve success.
The next opponent are the Dragons Rhondorf. They are back in the Pro B after a horrible Pro A season where they only mustered two wins. What kind of game can we await in the season opener?
The first game of the season is always tough to measure. Rhondorf and my team both want to start the season on the right track. I think both teams have a lot to prove so I think it will be a defensive battle.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore and chose 4 NBA heads which best four would you pick?
Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James
Now that Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs where does this further NBA title put him against the best that ever played the game?
LeBron is definitely a top five player in the history of the game. Players and game itself has changed a lot over the years. LeBron still has years to play and I think his point in history should be judged when he is done playing the game or he gets three rings in a row just make his case while still playing
What was the last movie that you saw?
The Good Neighbor.
Thanks Jeremy for the chat.
Virgil Matthews(BV Chemnitz) I Was Playing Awful In The Preseason So It Just Felt Good To See The Ball Go In
Virgil Matthews is a 33 year old 188cm guard from Federal Way, Washington that is playing his tenth professional season and third with BV Chemnitz. Last season for BV Chemnitz he played 33 games averaging 12.6ppg, 6.1rpg, Assists-2(7.6apg), 1.6spg, FGP: 55.5%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 75.2%. He played at Montana (NCAA) and in his senior year played 31 games averaging 10.1ppg, 4.6rpg, 4.0apg, 1.7spg, FG: 49.8%, 3PT: 48.4%, FT: 76.1%. In 2006-2007, he turned professional and came to Germany and played for KICKZ Muenchen Basket (Germany-2.Bundesliga) playing 29 games averaging 18.0ppg, 6.1rpg, 5.2apg, 2.6spg, 2FGP: 57.3%, 3FGP: 31.8%, FT: 66.5%. In 2007-2008, he played for Tacoma Jazz (IBL). In 2008-2009, he returned back to Germany and played for Schwelmer Baskets (Germany-Regionalliga). In 2009-2010, he played for Olympia Reign (IBL) playing 28 games averaging 23.1ppg, 7.2rpg and for Seattle Aviators (NABL).In 2010-2011, he played his first season for Erdgas Ehingen playing 32 games: 11.6ppg, 5.3rpg, 3.6apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 57.6%, 3PT: 29.4%, FT: 71.3%. He would play until 2014 with Ehingen playing 126 games with three seasons in the Pro A and one in the Pro B. He spoke to German Hoops after the season opening win in Erfurt against Gotha.
Virgil thanks for talking to German Hoops. The new season kicked off tonight with a road win against Gotha. What do you believe is most fascinating about this derby?
Gotha fans have their own way of supporting their team and they are very loud and do a good job. Combining that with the great fans of Chemnitz makes a great derby.
Congrats on the exciting 74-72 victory. What a great start to the new season with such a close finish. Is this a further token how competitive the German pro A will continue to be this season?
I think the Pro A is always pretty competitive it doesn’t get the credit it deserves I think, but yes I think this season will be very competitive.
Gotha scored 21 points in the first quarter, but Chemnitz came roaring back heightening their point production with 22 and defended better letting Gotha only 14 points. What do you believe was the biggest difference at halftime between the two scores besides the 40-35 score?
I think we just got settled in a bit the big stage is always something new for guys and it takes a minute to get back to being who you are and I think we did that after going down early.
BV Chemnitz had started off very well in the third quarter and had a double digit lead , but led only 58-52 after three quarters due to being held scoreless in the last three minutes. Are these the type of phases that can be avoided as the season carries on and the team knows it´s self even better on the court?
There will always be runs in games we have to make sure to continue to make good plays when teams make runs, which will in turn get us good shots and hopefully help us set up defense on the other end which should help make an 8-0 run to an 8-4 run which is a big difference.
You had 11 of the 17 BV Chemnitz points in the third quarter. Did coach Pastore give you more of the green light or did you feel the need to step up more?
Coach never tells anyone not to shoot. I just made my first shot out the half and so I felt good and was open so I shot. Everyone on our team can help in multiple ways at that time I guess scoring just fell my way, not usually my thing to score big but it happens.
After Sam Parker hit a huge three pointer to cut the BV Chemnitz lead to 71-70,BV Chemnitz held their nerves and won the game with Carter and Ziegenhagen free throws, What biggest asset on the defensive end got you the win in crunch time?
Just sticking to the game plan and they missed shots, I mean they had an open look to win the game sometimes you just got to be lucky.
What was your overall impression of team Gotha that reached the semi-finals last season. They have big ambitions in Gotha. In what direction is this team going and where will their journey end on the court?
They are a good team, but so are we so I hope that showed last night, we have our own aspirations and goals too we just focus on us.
BV Chemnitz Kept Gotha to 72 points. Do you see BV Chemnitz being able to win many games this season when you keep opponents to 75 points or under? Is Chemnitz a team that offensively will be able to score 80 points a game?
I think 70 is always a good defensive goal so they were over that. We have a talented team though so we will see how many teams hold us under 70 so we feel good when we hold teams to 70.
You led BV Chemnitz with 22 points and was the most effective player on the court. Your obviously a veteran that has known for years when you need to score and when playmaking is needed mostly, but could scoring be needed more this season from you in the BV Chemnitz offense?
I felt I was playing awful in the preseason so it just felt good to see the ball go in. I think some games the team will need me to score, others just to lead, others to facilitate, I just do whatever is necessary.
Your 33 now. Is your biggest goal this season to win the Pro A title?
Haha my goal is just to make it through the season. Kidding the goal is always a title.
Last season you had a triple double against the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and just missed one with 11,9,17 against Nurnberg. Do you think that you might get one this season with the continued style that you play on the court?
Its always possible, but I hope we won’t need me to do that much, because our team is very good.
What has been your impression of American Chris Carter who was always a scorer at Florida Tech(NCAA2) and last season in the Ukraine. Do you see him continuing to be a scorer and carrying the team as a scorer?
Chris has been great I think we play well together and I think the sky is the limit for him and he will definitely be one of the people carrying the team this season.
Talk a bit on new Germans Malte Zigenhagen who played in the BBL and Stefan Wess that won 2 Pro B titles with Oldenburg. Will these guy be consistent contributors in the Pro A this season?
We expect them to they both are more than capable of being contributors to BBL teams so we expect them to have significant roles here in the Pro A.
Now that Lebron finally won the NBA title with his home twon team Cavs, where does he stand in the debate with Michael Jordan as the alltime best?
He’s right there with him. Lebron is something we will never see again the way basketball is going.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Last movie I saw was War Dogs.
Thanks Virgil for the chat.
In Freak city Bamberg, one can tackle the difficult question about which player in the last 10 years had the most impact on their two dynasties, ex NBA player Casey Jacobsen or Brad Wanamaker, but one thing is for sure, the eight time BBL champion would have won far less titles had the club not had these two players aboard. Of course a team effort belongs to the success of a club, but these two players had a major impact on their teams. Granted a Jacobsen won 5 league titles in four and a half years while a Wanamker won only two, but the American who head coach Sasa Obradovic once called one of the three best players to have ever played in the BBL played only two seasons with the team going two for two in league titles and now has headed to greener pastures in Turkey with Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul. Just how dominant would the Brose Baskets Bamberg have been this season and for the future if the club had miraculously been able to produce an extra crate full of cash to keep the Philadelphia native on board? In any case when Jacobsen retired in 2013 the Brose Baskets Bamberg were dethroned in 2014 by FC Bayern Munich and now with Wanamaker departed, will they be able to keep the new started dynasty alive? This season the Brose Baskets Bamberg don´t have that dominant guard from nature on and off the court like a Wanamaker, but a very potent guard rotation of French national player Fabien Causeur, rookie Maodo Lo and Janis Strelnieks. All three have their own diverse talents with the French man´s basketball IQ, drive and shooting, Lo´s undeniable quickness and drive that is hard to stop as well as probably the best playmaker of the lot, and Strelnieks´s dangerous shooting and ongoing basketball IQ. Bamberg will have one of the best guard rotation´s in the league and even if they lost such a huge leader in a Wanamaker, the club has enough other players that will be able to slip into the role that Wanamaker once had. The question will be what player will be able and want to take over that responsibility? “I think Bamberg is still the favorite. But losing Wanamaker is a big loss for them, similar like when Munich lost Delaney. It will be interesting how they compensate for this loss”, stressed Phoenix Hagen assistant coach Steven Wriedt.
Last season the Brose Baskets were able to repeat as league champions, but were caught off guard losing in Munich in the cup semi-finals to FC Bayern Munich. They started off the season with two wins, then had an embarrassing loss in Giessen 81-80 which was a wakeup call preceding to win 23 of the next 24 games losing only in Frankfurt in a nail bitter 88-86. Since November 15th, 2015 where they lost in Frankfurt, they have only lost one more time in a shoot out in Oldenburg 102-97 and are still perfect in 2016 at home. Euroleague teams like Barcelona, Moscow and Piraus all left Bamberg understanding why playing in Freak City is a phenomenon. In the playoffs it was clear sailing for them as they swept Wurzburg, FC Bayern Munich and ratiopharm Ulm like a nasty tornado can the wayside in the prairies of Oklahoma. Their biggest strength last season was their immaculate sense of team play, team chemistry, ball movement that is similar to the San Antonio Spurs and a hard edged defense that kept teams under 70 points 22 times. Their offense is probably even more impressive than their defense as they nailed opponents with 80 points or more 37 times as teams got dizzy with the whipping around of the ball in the set offense. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were a well oiled team that made history reaching the Euroleague Top 16 and many said that last season´s Brose Baskets Bamberg was one of the best teams ever.
This season it is no secret that the club wants to continue their success and keep collecting new titles the same way Jared Jordan has dimes in the BBL the last years. The club can´t and won´t have any other goals other than winning all national titles and reaching the Euroleague top 16 again and possibly going a step further this season by having some more fortune than last season in this competition. The club is deeper than last season and their goal like last season is too play total team basketball with a deadly ball movement and a defense that will make opponents go home wondering why they couldn´t score 70 plus points. The club has another packed roster with guys that would start for any other BBL team except for maybe Yassin Idbihi. They have held on to 11 players and added three new players with Fabien Causeur, Maodo Lo and Vladimir Veremeenko and thus rounding out the leagues deepest roster. The club held on to ex Kentucky(NCAA) forward Darius Miller who will be playing his third season with the team and last season played 39 games averaging 10.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 54.8%, 3PT: 49.3%, FT: 88.9%; Euroleague: 24 games: 9.4ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 90.9%. He now fully concentrated on Bamberg with his NBA hopes on the back burner and he is the player that could slip into the Wanamaker leader role. Janis Strelnieks goes into his third season with the team and last season played 39 games: 11.1ppg, 1.9rpg, 3.3apg, FGP-3(68.9%), 3PT: 43.4%, FT: 79.2%; Euroleague: 24 games: 9.8ppg, 2.0rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 55.8%, 3PT: 40.4%, FT: 91.3%. The Latvian was known for the big shots in crunch time and his high shooting percentages from downtown proved his worth. After 5 years with EA7 Emporio Armani Milano (SerieA) where he developed nicely, Italian Nicolo Melli had his breakthrough last season with Bamberg playing 40 games averaging 9.4ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 57.1%, 3PT: 43.8%, FT: 76.0%; Euroleague: 23 games: 9.2ppg, 6.5rpg, 2.7apg, FGP: 47.5%, 3PT: 45.3%, FT: 81.5%. He was the team´s unsung hero as his consistent inside/out play was vital for the success of the team. There was a reason why Bamberg brought in 16 time title winner Greek Nikos Zisis as his experience was the back bone of the team. Last season 2008 Euroleague champion with CSKA Moscow played 38 games averaging 9.3ppg, 2.4rpg, 3.7apg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 36.5%, FT: 88.1%; Euroleague: 24 games: 10.1ppg, 2.7rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 38.8%, FT: 80.0%. 208 cm Croatian Leon Radosevic returns for a second season and last season played 32 games: 6.1ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 56.3%, FT: 81.5%; Euroleague: 19 games: 7.5ppg, 3.5rpg, FGP: 55.2%, FT: 71.2%. He came in November, but gave the club added stability inside and he had some huge games in the team´s biggest wins of the season in the Euroleague against Piraus and Moscow where he steered 14 points in 16 minutes.
The club also kept their quintet of five Germans with Daniel Theis, Elias Harris, Patrick Heckmann, Lucca Staiger and Yassin Idbihi. The unending deepness of the Brose Baskets Bamberg continues with their potent German lineup as with Theis and Harris the club have the two best German power forwards ever on one team. Theis is going into his third season with Bamberg and continues to develop nicely and heightened his game from his first season playing 40 games averaging 10.7ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.2apg, Blocks-4(1.4bpg), FGP: 67.4%, 3PT: 45.7%, FT: 75.4%; Euroleague: 24 games: 9.2ppg, 4.4rpg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 76.4%. He can do it all on the court and is simply a game changer on both ends of the court. Elias Harris reached the big show in the NBA which Theis hasn´t so far, but the German is in the shadow of the ex Ulm player, but the ex Gonzaga player couldn´t be more of a professional in that his good character has won over his ego as he has accepted the more limited role. Harris who played two NBA games with the Los Angeles Lakers and can always tell his grandchildren that he was teammates with Kobe Bryant last season played 35 games: 7.7ppg, 2.3rpg, FGP: 68.8%, 3PT: 46.2%, FT: 81.6%; Euroleague: 20 games: 4.6ppg, 2.4rpg. He has accepted his role and his job is too be as efficient as possible in the minutes he gets and he has been able to do that. He had his best stint in the 3-0 sweep of Wurzburg where he gave efficient a new meaning as he scored 14 points in 16 minutes, 15 points in 17 minutes and 21 points in 16 minutes. German national player Patrick Heckman is playing his second season with Bamberg. He was one of the team´s biggest surprises last season as the ex Boston College player started on occasion and played 40 games: 6.9ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 61.9%, 3PT: 40.3%, FT: 77.7%; Euroleague: 23 games: 4.1ppg, 2.0rpg. He continues to develop and will get his minutes. Lucca Staiger is going into his second season with Bamberg and last season despite the heavy competition had a pretty solid season despite never knowing how much he would play. He played 39 games: 6.7ppg, 1.3rpg, FGP: 59.1%, 3PT-3(52.9%), FT: 85.7%; Euroleague: 20 games: 2.7ppg. He had a 22 point game against BG Goettingen and 19 point games against Bonn and Crailsheim. His 52% shooting from the parking lot was the best in his professional career and he is always good for a big shooting game. Yassin Idbihi is the elder gentleman on the team at 33 and has won at least a title with each of the big three teams Alba Berlin, FC Bayern Munich and Bamberg. Last season in a very limited role he played 29 games: 2.6ppg, 1.4rpg; Euroleague: 13 games: 1.2ppg. The ex Buffalo(NCAA) center isn´t concerned with minutes anymore, but just wants to keep collecting titles and enjoy the ride.
The club added three new players with Fabien Causeur, Maodo Lo and Vladimir Veremeenko. Causeur is a 29 year old 194cm guard that is a truly explosive player who is effective in putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket. Thanks to size and solid body, he’s also a good defender, even on taller opponents. He started his career at STB Le Havre (ProA) and then played at Cholet before moving to Laboral Kutxa Vitoria (Spain-Liga Endesa) where he played the last four seasons. Last season he played 24 games: 9.0ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.6apg, Steals-5(1.5spg), FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 71.2%; Euroleague: 21 games: 10.3ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.9%, 3PT: 39.5%, FT: 81.0%. The French national player and two time France allstar has won only two professional titles and is hungry to add on more hardware with Bamberg. His experience will be vital to Bamberg and just how well he can slip into the Wanamaker role is to be seen. Maodo Lo is a 23 year old 190cm guard who can thank a strong season at Wilbraham & Monson Academy in 2011-2012 averaging 19.8ppg, 4.5rpg, 3.6apg for keeping his basketball career alive as the year before it seemed like his basketball career was going nowhere with the Central Hoops Berlin (2.Regionalliga). He moved to Ivy league school Columbia in 2012 and the rest is history. He had a strong four year career there, got NBA workouts and took the vacant spot of NBA player Dennis Schroeder in the German national team this summer leading the team to the 2017 European championships. As a senior at Columbia he played 35 games averaging 16.9ppg, 3.9rpg, 2.9apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 55.2%, 3PT: 37.4%, FT: 70.3%. Then he played at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft): 3 games: 5.7ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.7apg. Then he got valuable experience at the NBA Pro Summer League in Utah (Philadelphia 76ers): 2 games: 10.5ppg, 4.0rpg and at the NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Philadelphia 76ers): 5 games: 6.8ppg, 1.8rpg. After four years in the NCAA, he will have to adapt to the BBL and Bamberg style, but one that he should be able to handle with the strong roster and coaching staff to assist him. Vladimir Veremeenko is another player that brings valuable experience to the club as he is a 32 year old 208cm forward from Russia that was drafted by the Washington Wizzards in 2006 and played mostly in Russia, but also has played in Turkey and last season with Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (Italy-Serie A, starting five): 37 games: 8.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 62.1%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 78.7%; Eurocup: 14 games: 7.0ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 62.9%, 3PT-1(66.7%), FT: 70.0%. He may not be able to boast like a Zisis about winning 16 titles, but many players dream of winning 6 titles something he has accomplished. He has an all around game, but is very versatile on the floor and can play multiple positions.
The Fraport Skyliners have a massive negative record on the road in Bamberg going six years without a win until the Beko BBL playoffs 2010 where the club of Gordon Herbert won in game one 65-63. Who could forget the embarrassing 81-48 loss in 2007 which was the last game for Skyliner coach Charles Barton. In 2009-2010 the club won twice winning in the regular season 84-80 as the team was led by American point guard Aubrey Reese with 18 points. They won a second time in game four of the 2010 finals with a 69-56 win sending the 2010 BEKO BBL finals back to Bamberg as Alba Berlin American Derrick Allen led the charge with 19 points and seven rebounds. In the first meeting in 2010-2011, The Brose Baskets Bamberg were able to pull out a hard fought 71-62 win as they rallied from being down 60-55 and ended the game with a 16-2 run. Anton Gavel led all scorers with 19 points and Reyshawn Terry added 15 points. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were led by Dashaun Wood with 15 points, but he steered only two assists. Brad Buckman and Jimmy Mckinney chipped in with 10 points a piece. Bamberg was able to shoot over 40% from the field and outside while Frankfurt didnt have the touch from the three point line at only 29%. In the second game at home, Bamberg won easily 81-63. In 2011-2012, the Fraport Skyliners stunk up the Stechert arena with a degrading 97-63 loss. Julius Jenkins led Bamberg with 20 points while Jon Leuer produced 17 points and 14 rebounds. In the return game, the Fraport Skyliners gave a spirited effort winning in sensational style 76-68. Frankfurt had a strong 16-7 third quarter leading the team to the win. Jimmy Mckinney had 19 points while Marcus Slaughter had 15 points. In the 2012-2013 season in the first game, despite a strong first half by Frankfurt, Bamberg was able to prevail in the second half wining 76-67. Anton Gavel led Bamberg with 19 points and the ex NBA players Casey Jacobson and Bostjan Nachbar contributed 14 points a piece, while ex Skyliner Ted Scott produced 14 points. In the return game in Frankfurt, the Fraport Skyliners took apart Bamberg 77-64 as they were led by American Dawan Robinson with19 points, Ryan Brooks added 13 points and Zack Peacock 12 points. Bamberg was led by Anton Gavel with 22 points. Frankfurt did a superb job controlling the boards and showing their aggressive Katzurian defense. In their first meeting in the 2013-2014 season, the Brose Baskets Bamberg took apart the Fraport Skyliners 73-43 as Frankfurt had many injuries and many young players that had to take responsibility which is never easy in the hostle Bamberg environment. Bamberg was led by Elias Harris with 13 points, while Anton Gavel and Casey Jacobsen had 12 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Konstantin Klein with 14 points. In the return game in Frankfurt, Frankfurt defended well keeping Bamberg to 64 points, but couldn´t muster anything on offense scoring only 54 points. The Brose Baskets Bamberg were led by Americans Jamar Smith with 18 points and Rakim Sanders with 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Johannes Voigtmann with 15 points and Ramon Galloway steered home 13 points. In the 2014-2015 season the Brose Baskets Bamberg swept the season series winning 81-62 in Bamberg as they were led by Ryan Thompson with 14 points and Daniel Theis had 13 points while Frankfurt was led by Johannes Voigtmann with 18 points and Danilo Barthel had 11 points. Bamberg also won in Frankfurt 85-69 as they were led by Josh Duncan and Janis Strelnieks with 15 points a piece while Frankfurt was led by Danilo Barthel with 16 points and Johannes Voigtmann with 14 points.
Last season the Fraport Skyliners won in sensational fashion at home 88-86 as they had five guys score in double figures as Danilo Bathel had 23 points and Aaron Doornekamp had 22 points. Bamberg was led by the one and only Brad Wanamaker with 36 points in 36 minutes. In the return game in Bamberg, Bamberg got revenge winning 71-58 as they clamped down on defense and totally dominated the bench points 35-8. Bamberg was led by Janis Strelnieks with 18 points while Frankfurt was led by Jordan Theodore with 21 points while Aaron Doornekamp supplied 16 points. The Brose Baskets Bamberg open the season at home against the Fraport Skyliners and go in with huge expectations. Losing is never in the equation, but most will be speculating how long their first win streak will last. The Fraport Skyliners have a mostly healthy roster and go in with some self confidence after giving a very spirited performance in the Fiba Intercontinental Cup where they were in it to the end against Guaros De Lara of Venezuela until a lack of experience cost them the game. Nobody is expecting any miracles in Bamberg as the team hasn´t won there in six years, but just not getting creamed and letting the new youth program era reloaded 2,0 start with their development phase and the club will take it from there.
Will Trawick is a 22 year old 196cm guard from Bedford, New York that will be starting his professional career in Germany with the Dragons Rhondorf. He played at Emory (NCAA3) from 2012-2016 playing a total of 120 NCAA games. As a senior he played 27 games averaging 15.2ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 46.7%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 78.9%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball during the summer.
Will thanks for talking to German Hoops Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
Hi Miles. It’s nice to finally make it to the professional level and be able to talk to German Hoops. My summer has been good. For the most part, I have been training and talking to coaches and teams. I am currently in Atlanta, Georgia. My university is here so I decided to stay to train with my coaches and use the facilities.
You recently finished at Emory(NCAA3) How was the whole transfer process for you this summer. You were signed very late and will have little time to enjoy that first professional contract with Rhondorf as training camp starts soon.
I loved my time at Emory, but I am definitely ready for a new chapter in my life. The process of signing with Rhondorf has been easy, because the club is very organized and cares about their players. Basketball is my life so I am not worried about training camp starting soon, I am excited.
How blessed do you feel about turning professional? It isn´t always a common occurrence that an NCAA 3 player gets to live a professional basketball career?
I feel super blessed. There are so many people in the world that have to make great sacrifices and work long hours to put food on the table. Of course I work extremely hard, but I love basketball so for me it´s easy and I feel so fortunate. As far as being from a D3 school I agree. It’s definitely a hindrance as far as being recruited and signing a contract, but I believe that I am as good as anyone that I will play regardless of division.
Congrats on signing with German Pro B team Dragons Rhondorf. One could say that Emory(NCAA3) continue to hold up the flag in Germany as last season your ex teammate Alex Foster signed with the RheinStars. What special qualities does an Emory basketball player have that is extra special on the court?
Emory basketball players are extremely unique. First, our coach Jason Zimmerman never talks about divisions or goes easy on us because we are division 3 players. We are basketball players and Coach Zimmerman expects us to compete at the highest level. Second, we put our team first. I definitely had a good year statistically, but that is because my team needed me to score and rebound. I was surrounded by guys who didn’t care about numbers, just wins. Third, we are really smart guys. We have had so many great players in the past who could have dominated in Europe but chose to become doctors, bankers, lawyers. We are well rounded men, and truly live up to the name student-athlete.
Do you feel some pressure of having to hold up the Emory flag on the court?
I don’t feel any pressure at all. I am confident in my game, and I know I will be a great addition to the team.
What do you know about the country Germany and it´s basketball in general?
I know a lot about Germany. Two summers ago we took a trip with the Emory team to play some Regionalliga and Pro B teams. We went to Munich, Dresden, and Berlin. We went sightseeing and learned a lot about German and European history. The competition in Germany is fierce. I look forward to the challenge
Did you have a long talk with Alex Foster about the pro´s and con´s about playing in Germany?
Yea I have been talking with Alex throughout the summer about playing professional basketball in general. Him and Alex Greven have been my main two contacts and have helped me out a lot during this process. Alex Greven is another ex-teamate of mine, he played in the second league in Spain last summer. Alex Foster has really enjoyed his professional career in Germany, so when it came down to deciding where to go Germany seemed like a no brainer.
What was the deciding factor that made you sign on the dotted line with the Dragons Rhondorf?
It is really tough trying to trust someone that you barely know, especially when you hear horror stories of Americans going overseas and not getting paid, having to live in a gross apartment, or what have you. But, signing with the Dragons was easy for me. Coach Matthias Sonnenschein and manager Boris Kaminski made me feel at ease, and I never hesitated to trust them. Our conversations flowed naturally and they were extremely transparent from the beginning. Also the fact that the Dragons had a strong roster didn’t hurt.
Did you have any talks with head coach Matthias Sonnenschein? How quickly did you realize that you spoke the same basketball language?
Yea of course. He was the first person I spoke to from the club. It seemed like he really understood my game, because he was recruiting a very physical and strong shooting guard and that is exactly what I am.
Let´s talk a bit about your game. You are known as a knock down shooter and have a great basketball IQ, but is being able to defend all positions something you take most pride in?
Yea I definitely take a lot of pride in my defense. I hate getting scored on, I take it personally. In college we would switch every screen so I guarded the 1 through 5 every game and every day in practice.
You can really fill up the stat sheet, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I really know how to move without the ball and make strong cuts that get my teammates open. In college we rarely ran plays, rather we would spread the floor and set screens and make cuts based of intuition. Because of this, over the past four years, I have become very knowledgeable about some of the smaller yet important details of the game.
You had a very illustrious career at Emory reaching the NCAA 3 tournament each year. How do you believe that your game progressed in your four years and what can you still improve to help keep your development going as a professional?
Thank you. My game has gotten so much better in the past four years. My freshman year I wasn’t a very strong three-point shooter and the college game felt too fast for me. In high school I was big enough and athletic enough to dominate without those facets of my game. In college I knew I would have to improve so I worked really hard to become a knockdown three-point shooter. Coach Zimmerman really helped me adjust to the speed of the game with our intense practices. I have never felt satisfied with my game, and I am always improving. Specifically, this summer I have been working on extending my three point shooting range, and I have been practicing a lot of offense coming off of ball screens.
You had so many great games at Emory, but what memories do you have of the 69-63 win against Chicago where you already had 19 points at halftime and finishing with 25 points.
That was a great game. I had that game marked on my calendar early in the year. Chicago was an early favorite to win the league, so I knew it was an important one to win. I have the ability to heat up quickly and score in bunches. My teammates realized early that I was feeling good so they got the ball to me in good positions for me to score.
What was your sweetest memory with Alex Foster and what is something about him that one rarely knows about?
My sweetest memory with Alex Foster is when I stayed with him and his family in Portland, Oregon for a week. We went camping, we played basketball, and we explored the city together. He is one of my best friends and I am so excited that he will be close to me. One secret about Alex is that he is deathly afraid of caterpillars.
Rhondorf is only 42 kilometers away from Cologne. Do you see yourself visiting Alex Foster on a regular basis and what would be the perfect off day with him?
Yea I definitely see myself visiting him on a regular basis. I’ve heard Cologne is a great town so I am excited for him to show me around. I think the perfect off day with him would be going to a concert. We both love music and seeing shows together is one of our favorite things.
How did head coach Jason Zimmermann groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Jason Zimmerman grooms all of his players to become outstanding men. He really cares about our academic and personal lives. I think the best thing he did for me personally was believe in me and push me every day in practice. He was consistent with his praise, but he also never failed to point out something I did wrong. He really helped me develop my skills and my ability to take criticisms and get better from them.
Who won a one on one in practice last season you or Davis Rao?
Davis Rao has never beaten me in one on one in the past four years. He is a great player as well, he just doesn’t quite have that edge. On a side note, Sam Heery has been known to beat me once or twice.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore and chose 4 NBA heads which best four would you pick?
Steve Nash, Shaq, Vince Carter, and Jamal Crawford……Those four are my all time favorite players because they dominated the game in their own special way.
Now that Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs where does this further NBA title put him against the best that ever played the game?
I think Lebron is the best to ever play the game. There you go, you heard it here first!
What was the last movie that you saw?
I just saw Suicide Squad. It was entertaining, but overall it was a lackluster performance considering the budget and cast.
Thanks Will for the chat.
The 2010-2011 Fraport Skyliners season seems like it was ages ago as guys from that successful semi-final run loss to Alba Berlin like Pascal Roller, Roger Powell, Dominik Bahiense De Mello, AJ Moye Jimmy Mckinney and Marius Nolte are all retired and Chris Moss might be hanging up his sneakers now soon as well. The only guy still with the team is Skyliner identity figure Quantez Robertson who now has the distinction of being part of a second basketball cycle that is commencing in the Frankfurt basketball world. A cycle is a recurring period of time in which certain events or phenomena occur and reach completion or repeat themselves in a regular sequence. In life one has all kinds of cycles like the astronomical cycle, climate and weather cycles, geological cycles, agricultural cycles or medical cycles just to name a few and if you want to get cute and absurd actor Charlie Sheen and his own bizarre sex cycle that is as rapid as the daily new lines that Donald Trump is delivering to the world. The two best import point guards that the Fraport Skyliners ever had with Dashaun Wood and Jordan Theodore were present at the start of the first cycle in 2011 and end of the first basketball cycle in 2016. No one is really sure where Gunnar Wobke came up with the idea of starting this basketball youth development factory in Frankfurt wheather it was looking over the shoulder of Henrik Roedl and TBB Trier as they were on the youth development trip starting in 2010 or if the lack of budget left him no other choice? In any event, the Fraport Skyliners youth program era began in 2011 and first cycle ended in 2016 and now the club has clearly displayed that a new youth program era reloaded 2,0 is commencing again with new faces, challenges and hopes. With guys like Niklas Kiel, Max Merz and Stefan Ilzhoefer on the verge of making their BBL break through, Garai Zeeb in his second season in development and new German faces of Mahir Agva and Daniel Mayer continuing their development in Frankfurt, the club feels that the youth program era reloaded 2,0 will be one too remember. Not to forget 16 year old Isaac Bonga who is a 203cm point guard and the most interesting player to watch in the next years where the sky isn´t the limit, but moreover outer space is the limit.
When looking back at the last 5 seasons, there were some rocky seasons for the Fraport Skyliners, but in the end the new youth program era that slowly started in 2011 with a ninth, 14th and 11th finish, but ripped it´s benefits as the club finished sixth and third the last two seasons with two playoff appearances, a Eurochallenge top 4 finish and third club title with the Fiba Europe Cup. Club owner Gunnar Wobke proclaimed his 3 year plan in 2013 stating that the goal was to give added minutes to the Germans in the first season, reach the playoffs in the second season and become a top 5 team in the third season as well as reaching the cup top 4 and winning the Fiba Europe Cup and everything happened just as he had hoped for as he could easily have moonlighted as a fortune teller. Danilo Barthel came in 2011 and Johannes Voigtmann and Konstantin Klein in 2012. All three players matured and developed into top BBL players, became German national players and also BBL allstars. Now their grooming time is over and a new youth program era reloaded 2,0 has began with some faces already been around for some years as well as new heads popping up this season. The club also lost some key components to the success of last season with the pride and joy of Englewood, New Jersey Jordan “I Believe” Theodore who was a main reason for the team winning the Fiba Europe Cup and reaching the semi-finals of the playoffs and has gone to greener pastures in Turkey to Banvit who will face the Fraport Skyliners in the Champions Cup. The club also lost Aaron “Mr 7am practice player Doornekamp” who was Gordon Herbert´s favorite student and a guy that never took an elbow he couldn´t handle and was the team´s most improved player and was one of big contributors in the 88-86 Bamberg win at home with 22 points and was a key figure in the Alba Berlin sweep in the playoffs. The team also lost the pit bull John Little who did everything possible on the court and was instrumental with his leadership and never die attitude on defense. The club also elected not to hold on to Johannes Richter who made his breakthrough two years ago with a 13 and 6 game against the Baaken Bears in the Eurochallenge. His never give up attitude was clearly seen in his expression every time he scooped up an offensive rebound on the glass.
The club kept club identity figure Quantez Robertson who got a three year deal and most likely will finish his career with the Fraport Skyliners. Robertson is a 31 year old 188cm guard from Cincinnati, Ohio that will be playing his eighth season with Frankfurt and last season played 40 BBL games averaging 9.7ppg, 3.5rpg, 3.1apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 45.3%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 77.0%; FIBA Europe Cup: 19 games: 11.2ppg, 4.1rpg, 2.8apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 60.6%, 3PT: 40.2%, FT: 82.9%. Even at age 31, he has hardly lost a step, is explosive in route to the rim and is so valuable with his leadership and defensive qualities. He averaged 12,0ppg in the Alba Berlin playoff series and shot 50% from downtown in the series and was at it´s best contributing 15 points in the Fiba Europe Cup final against Varese. The club also held on to Mike Morrison who is a 26 year old 206cm center from St Petersburg. After gaining early professional experience in Belgium, Cyprus and Finland, Morrison has found a real second home in Frankfurt playing his third season with the Skyliners. Last season he played 40 BBL games averaging 7.0ppg, 3.4rpg, FGP: 59.1%, FT: 55.2%; FIBA Europe Cup: 19 games: 8.0ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 58.9%, FT: 41.7%. He became more of an offensive consistent player last season and showed that he can score on a regular basis when he starts as he scored in double figures in six of his first seven games last season as Johannes Voigmann was sidelined with an injury. He shines in the play very near to the basket, will once again be the recipient of most alley-oop plays, can make the easy put backs, run the floor and get the big blocks on the defensive end. The club also held on to Mr Canada Philip Scrubb who is a 23 year old 190cm guard that many have called the best Canadian college player of all-time as he won 8 titles with Carelton(CIS) and can hit the three with ease the same way a certain Presidential candidate can dish out the insults. Last season with Frankfurt, Scrubb played 23 games averaging 10.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 50.9%, 3PT: 44.4%, FT: 83.8%, 2.7rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 52.2%, FT: 90.3%. He tore up Phoenix Hagen with 26 points and was instrumental in the Fiba Europe Cup series against Macabbi Rishon averaging 15,0ppg in the three game series. He still has much potential and despite some new talented Americans in the mix, he will still be a main contributor this season. The fans will have to wait a while as he rehabs a brutal knee injury.
The club held on to a number of young Germans who were on board during the end of the Voigtmann, Barthel and Klein youth development phase and now will continue to grow in the youth program era reloaded 2,0. One guy that belongs to this group has been on board the longest and came the same time Barthel did in 2011 is Max Merz. Merz who was named co captain is a 22 year old 184cm point guard that will be starting his sixth season with the club. He has played a total of 48 BBL games in the last four years and especially in the last two years profited from the daily practice time with Americans Justin Cobbs and Jordan Theodore even if he was away for half a season two seasons ago taking a semester in Australia. Merz is a controlled point guard that seems to be coming into his own this pre-season after he had to take control with the import point guard coming in late. He broke out of his shell nailing Bayreuth for 20 points and has dramatically improved his outside shooting. He also reads the defense a lot better now and has less problems with bigger players blinding his view on offensive sets. Niklas Kiel is a 19 year old 207cm forward that is back for his third season and belongs to the biggest German talents from the year 1997. He has drastically improved his game in the last two years as last season in the Pro B he played 24 games averaging 14.1ppg, 7.3rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 28.8%, FT-2(90.4%). He won Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Most Improved Player of the Year last year and now can fully concentrate on basketball as last season he still had school stress, but with his German high school finished, basketball is his #1 priority now. The club wants to slowly groom him into a BBL player this season and it won´t be easy playing in the shadows of the departed twin towers Voigtmann and Barthel, but putting any pressure on him would be more than unfair. He has the complete game, but his three pointer is still a work in progress that still needs to be worked on. Kiel has seen much action in pre-season, starting games and has a developing self confidence and inside game that already has had BBL big men sense his presence. Kiel is an interesting project in it´s own right, but Stefan Ilzhoefer is another where break-through seems to also be etched in his future now. Ilzhoefer is a 21 year old 201cm guard/forward that is so valuable because he can play multiple positions. He already played his first BBL game at age 17 with Ludwigsburg and it´s hard to believe that he is starting his fourth season with Frankfurt as injuries have been his biggest burden in this time as he played only 7 games in his first season. He has played only a total of 59 games in three seasons that include BBL, Pro B, Eurochallenge and Fiba Cup competition. This season he finally is 100% healthy and like Kiel has shown in pre- season that he is focused, motivated and confident on the court. Despite injuries, one has seen a big turn in his game also. His biggest plus has been his self-confidence and desire to be a main factor in the offense in the early going of pre-season as only Morrison and Robertson were present as the imports. It will be interesting to see what kind of role he will have as the team is complete. Another very interesting Skyliner project is Garai Zeeb. He is a 21 year old 186cm point guard that already played 6 BBL games as a 17-18 year old with the Eisbaeren. Last season he came to Frankfurt and played 2 BBL games averaging 3.0ppg; FIBA Europe Cup: 1 game: 0pts, and 29 Pro B games averaging 7.4ppg, 2.3rpg, 4.2apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 44.6%, 3PT: 22.8%, FT: 76.5%. He is only in his second year in the new youth program era reloaded 2,0 and should like last year have most of his time with the Pro B team. It wasn´t any different for Max Merz who went the same way the last years. Zeeb is a smart quick guard who already has a good sense of knowing how to separate when to score and when to dish at the right moment. His whole game still needs time and needs to keep being developed at the Pro B level, but here and there he will be thrown into the BBL shark tank.
Three new Germans join the youth program era reloaded 2,0 for the Fraport Skyliners with Mahir Agva, Daniel Mayer and Isaac Bonga. Agva has the most BBL experience of the three as he is a 20 year old 206cm forward that started his career at TSG Reutlingen and is the one of the youngest players to have played a BBL game at age 16 with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen. Two years ago, he played some major basketball overtime as he seemed to be more on the road than anybody as at times he was playing 2-3 games a weekend and had more problems to make his weekend driving schedule than the Rolling Stones tour manager back in the day. In the 2014-2015 season, the German played for the Erdgas Ehingen/Urspringschule (ProA): 25 games: 13.6ppg, Reb-3(8.7rpg), 1.3apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 68.4%, played also at U19 team (NBBL), in Apr.’15 moved to Walter Tigers Tuebingen (BBL) playing 5 games: 6.0ppg, 6.8rpg, FGP: 38.7%, FT: 66.7%. Last season he made his BBL breakthrough with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen (BBL) playing 31 games averaging 6.5ppg, 3.4rpg, FGP: 51.6%, FT: 67.7%. One could see that his strong play the season before in the Pro A was no fluke as it transformed over nicely to the BBL. He scored in double figures seven times including a double double against BG Goettingen and owned FC Bayern Munich rattling them twice for 14 points. This season he fills a big void with the absence of the twin towers and so far in pre-season is still finding himself. If he can be a banger down-low and take the physical punishment that Barthel withstood is still to be seen. Daniel Mayr is a 21 year old 218cm giant who is the son of former German National Team player Rolf ‘Bibo’ Mayr who stands 222cm (7’4′) tall. Mayr started his career at the Dragons Rhondorf and then played some years in the Jena organization before making the big move to FC Bayern Munich. However after only 15 BBL games and 36 with farm team FC Bayern Munich 2, the club gave up on him. Mayr is a huge talent and has played at all levels of the German national teams and played at three consecutive NBBL championships and averaged 16 and 10 stats in the 2013-2014 season, but his biggest misfortune so far in his career has been his health. Currently he is injured and will be will be brought along slowly and will be see most minutes with the Pro B team Skyliners Juniors. The most anticipated talent and current team jewel is Isaac Bonga who turns 17 in November and started his career with the Post SV – Luetzel Baskets Koblenz junior team. Last season he played for SG Luetzel-Post Koblenz (Regionalliga) playing 24 games averaging 5.9ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 58.4%, 3PT: 19.0%, FT: 64.1%, played also in NBBL for Eintracht Frankfurt averaging 15.9ppg, 7.9rpg, 3.6apg. At 203cm, he can play the 1-4 positions and has a reach of 2,14 meters. What stands out at first glance is his unending athleticism and the way he moves on the court with such ease. His passing abilities are also worth raving about as he dazzled fans in his first exhibition game on the American airbase in Wiesbaden with a no look pass that would even have had Magic Johnson wondering who this kid is. Experts see him as an NBA player in the making.
The club completed their roster by bringing in three new players with Shavon Shields, Antonio Graves and Markel Starks. Shields is a 22 year old 201cm forward from Olathe, Kansas that has the American/Danish citizenship and his father Will was a well-known NFL player with the Kansas City Chiefs that was selected to 12 Pro Bowls. He will be starting his professional career with the Fraport Skyliners. He had an illustrious career at Nebraska(NCAA) from 2012-2016 playing a total of 118 games and as a senior played 29 games averaging 16.9ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.6apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 79.0%. In the last months before coming to Frankfurt he played at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft): 3 games: 13.7ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.7apg, 2.3spg and NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando (Orlando Blue): 2 games: 2.5ppg, 1.5rpg. In the first test games, he has been dominating being top scorer and rebounder on many occasions and his quickness in the paint has really stood out. Antonio Graves is a 31 year old 191cm guard from Mansfield, Ohio that will be playing his 10th professional season and third in Germany after playing with Artland and Crailsheim. He is a combo guard who can play either the point or off-guard. He is an athletic player, solid defender, good shooter who can handle the ball and plays with intensity and is a team player. He hails from an intriguing basketball family background as uncle Ahmed Kent ranks second on Mansfield Senior’s career scoring list, while several cousins played NCAA Division I basketball, including Dapreis Davis (Nebraska, 1989-92) and Marquis Sykes (Morehead State, 1999-03). His vast experience coupled with that of Quantez Robertson will be an instant spark as he has played in countries like France, Turkey, Croatia, and Italy. The ex Pittsburgh(NCAA) guard last season played with the Crailsheim Merlins (Germany-BBL) playing 12 games averaging 15.3ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 80.8%. The club got the last piece to the team with point guard Markel Starks who is a 25 year old 188cm point guard from Accokeek, Maryland and will be playing his third professional season. He is a super quick player, with great offensive instinct and scoring ability that makes him more a combo guard that a true PG. Has great athletic skills and he’s actively working to his defense on the perimeter. He played at Georgetown from 2010-2014 playing a total of 125 NCAA games and was able to improve his scoring each season. As a senior he played 32 games averaging. 16.5ppg, 2.2rpg, 3.9apg, FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 86.1%. He has had experience in Italy, Australia and played NBA Summer league with the Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves. Last season he played for the Cairns Taipans (Australia-NBL) playing 26 games averaging 12.5ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.3apg, 2FGP: 52.9%, 3FGP: 22.4%, FT: 84.1%, in Feb.’16 moved to Vanoli Cremona (Italy-Serie A) playing 13 games: 8.2ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 29.7%, FT: 66.7%.
With so many key components of the past two successful seasons departed, what will be in store for the Fraport Skyliners this season and can interin coach Klaus Perwas carry over the magic that Gordon Herbert usually has? If you look on paper, this team doesn´t look bad at all, but there are two big factors that need to be weighed in. Can some of the young German players of the youth program era reloaded 2,0 be able to make an impact and can the S&S show of Starks and Shields also be able to be consistent performers and help carry the club? I can imagine the 2016-2017 Fraport Skyliners finishing somewhere between 7-13 as one has to always weigh in the immense competitive nature of the EasyCredit BBL, unwanted injuries, team chemistry and if certain players will be able to perform to what they are capable of. Americans Quantez Robertson and Mike Morrison will lead the team with their experience and get useful aid from Antonio Graves who fills out this neat trio while it will be interesting to see how well Shavon Shields can perform as a rookie and if his pre-season double doubles can transform over into the season. In the last two seasons, rookies like Justin Cobbs, Sean Armand and Philip Scrubb made the grade and became vital components for the success of the team. Head coach Gorden Herbert also has a history of finding the right point guards as he proved that with guys like Dashaun Wood, Justin Cobbs and Jordan Theodore. A guy like Richard Williams was surely also a good signing, but he was never fully healthy and can´t be judged in a way that he was a bust two seasons ago. Markel Starks is an interesting pick up and in a way is like a copy of a Theodore in that both can penetrate, with a quick first step, play tough defense, don´t have the most consistent three pointer and have immaculate characters. The only real difference is that Starks is just a tad slower than Theodore when getting to the bucket. Either way Starks should be able to run the Skyliner offense and lead the team to success. One can´t always predict how quickly the bucket full of young Germans will produce, but at least two will have to start to bring consistent stats in the season. The best bet is Niklas Kiel and who the second one will be with an Ilzhoefer or Agva is hard to pinpoint, but not over pressuring these guys and just letting them develop further is the first priority for them. It will be another interesting and exciting season for the Fraport Skyliners with Champions cup play, the BBL debut of Isaac Bonga possibly looming at some point, the return of Jordan Theodore in late October and continued speculation about when a new state of the art arena will be built. It never gets boring in Frankfurt if one follows basketball and oh yes with the 2016 presidential elections are on the horizon and getting the take from Markel Starks about if Donald Trump is top or flop could be an interesting side note as the American has stressed his interest of becoming a congressman someday.
Larry Gordon(KT Sonic Boom) I Have A Chip On My Shoulder And That´s The Way I Will Play This Season In South Korea
Larry Gordon is a 28 year old 196cm forward that recently finished his first season with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven playing 33 games averaging 10.1ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 57.8%, 3PT: 42.6%, FT: 84.3% This season he will take his talent east to South Korea. The American played a total of 101 games for Phoenix Hagen from 2012-2015 leading them into the playoffs once He played at Cal Poly Pomona (NCAA2) from 2005 to 2009 playing a total of 116 NCAA2 games. In his senior year, he played 33 games: 15.7ppg, 10.4rpg, 2.0apg, 1.7apg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 75.7%. He was a CCAA Player of the Year and NCAA D2 Finalist in 2009. In 2009-2010, he came to Europe as a rookie and played for Landstede Basketbal Zwolle (Holland-Eredivisie) playing 36 games and averaging 14.0ppg, 8.1rpg, 1.8apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 33.7%, FT: 75.8%. He played for ECE Bulls Kapfenberg (Austria-A Bundesliga) from 2010-2012 before coming to Phoenix Hagen in 2012. Larry Gordon has been a regular for German Hoops as he gave his 39th interview for the website recently from South Korea.
Larry thanks for talking to German Hoops Where are you at the moment and how was your summer?
No problem sir it’s always a pleasure man. At the moment I’m in South Korea, preparing for my upcoming season in the KBL. I had an incredible summer, took a vacation, traveled a lot and of course worked on my game.
After 7 years in Europe and four in Germany, you are headed east to South Korea to play for KT Sonic Boom. How excited are you about this new adventure?
Man I’m real excited, it’s a new situation for me and my career. The league is a bit different than leagues in Europe, but I’m adjusting so far and just want to make big impact here my first year.
Do you feel like at age 29 that this is the right career path? Are you in your prime now?
I’m all about opportunities, and when great opportunities present themselves it’s only right that I take advantage of it. I’m definitely reaching the prime of my career but I still have a lot to give to any team whether it be in Europe or Asia, I stay hungry. And I thank God for blessing me with the ability to continue playing basketball around the world.
You had very strong seasons with Phoenix Hagen, but last season a season to forget with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. When looking back did you regret making this move?
I don’t regret any decisions that I make, it was a tough situation in Bremerhaven. I had high hopes that I would be able to make the next step with them but it didn’t turn out that way. But I just took it as a learning experience, the season may not have gone the way I wanted individually but I took a lot of good from it.
You had played very well under Ingo Freyer, but how much of a role did the new coach Muli Katzurin play in any discomfort you felt with your new situation?
Muli was a great coach as you know. Our situation was just a misunderstanding on how I was to be utilized in the beginning of season to help the Win. We had really good players in Kyle Fogg, Jeremy Smith, Brandyn Curry and myself, so it caused if bit of conflict but I took a step back and just played my role and did whatever it took to help the team Win, whether it was rebounding, guarding the best player on the other team or looking to score. I think giving the circumstances I had a decent efficient season. I feel that I’m way more valuable than what the stats show. My feel and knowledge of the game is higher than people think.
It was a season to forget as the team underachieved despite having so much talent. Was team chemistry the biggest weak point of the team?
For sure, team chemistry on the court was a problem. Our comradery off the court was great, just need to transfer that on to the court and I think by the time we figured it out it was a bit too late.
It was your lowest totals in scoring in rebounding in Germany. Do you feel like last season was a step backwards in your career?
No I don’t at all, like I said given the situation I think I had decent season. I was very efficient from the field and I did a lot of good things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. I may not have taken a step forward by I honestly feel I didn’t take a step back either. I’m a competitor, I’m going to work hard and get after it no matter the situation. I think If I was given the keys and was the “go to guy” for Bremerhaven and put the stats I had last season, then I can say I took a step back but that wasn’t the case. I was 3rd option on the team and sometimes 4th, so I think I did pretty good in my situation.
A nice consolation was that you shot 42% which was your highest in Germany since your first season with Phoenix Hagen. Is that one of the positives that you could take from last season?
Definitely a positive, I took very good shots. Didn’t force a lot, and like I said I have a really good feel for the game.
Now you will play for KT Sonic Boom. With what kind of expectations are you going into with your new team?
Expectations are high for me here with KT, they rely heavily on the imports to produce and have impact to help the team Win. I am one of the “Go To Guys” which is going to be interesting challenge for me but I have faith that God put me here for a reason and I know that I will have a successful year. I definitely have a chip on my shoulder and that´s the way I will play this season.
The KBL is a league where there is a lot of scoring. At the moment you are the only import on the team. Are you prepared to put up crazy stats?
Well I’m not the only import, I have experienced big man Chris Daniels on my team as well. And I think we are going to be a great pair in this league. But I still have to put up crazy stats to help the team Win as many games as possible and make the playoffs.
What were you working on last summer on the court to get you physically and mentally prepared for this season?
I worked on everything this summer, but I focused on my ball handling and one on one skills, so that I can be more effective at creating my own shot. And now that I’m in Korea it is definitely paying off.
Is having a great stat season a goal for you to garner greater interest next summer from bigger teams in Europe?
As a basketball player I want to have great stats but I want to WIN just as bad. WINNING is the goal for me this season. And one thing I’ve learned is that the stats will follow with winning. I feel that I shouldn’t have to put up crazy numbers to get interest from teams. I think with my resume, experience and the potential I have, I think that should suffice.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 NBA heads would you choose?
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Shaq
Now that Lebron finally won a NBA title with the Cavs where does this title put him in the debate as the all-time best player in the world?
Doesn’t change anything, he is a great player but He is still second to Mike
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Larry for the chat.