Mike Taylor (Polish National Team) German Basketball Is Making An Impressive Step With So Many Players Taking Their Game To The NBA

Mike Taylor is in his 17th season as a professional coach and currently head coach of the Polish national team and preparing the team for the Euro 2017 tournament. He is the son of Dick Taylor who was an NCAA coach and assistant with the New York Knicks. Mike Taylor started his coaching career in 2001 with Chemnitz (Germany-2.Bundesliga). In 2002-2003, he got valuable experience in the UK with the Essex Leopards London (United Kingdom). In 2003, he started to coach for ratiopharm Ulm leading them into the Beko BBL in 2006 and Beko BBL playoffs in 2009 before leaving in 2011. He had a record of 101-15 in four years of second Bundesliga basketball. He also has coached Kansas Cagerz (USBL) in the summer time as well as being an assistant for the Czech national team. In 2011 he made the jump back to the states and was an assistant for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers(D-League). He then was head coach of the Boston Celtics D League team Maine Red Claws and they reached the playoffs for the first time in team history. He spoke to German Hoops before Poland played at the Super Cup in Hamburg, Germany.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber visiting coach Mike Taylor in Maine when he was head coach for the Boston Celtics D-League team Maine Red Claws

Thanks Mike for talking to German Hoops In our last interview a year ago, I started off what was easier changing a diaper or to deny John Bryant the ball in the post. You stated that “My wife Alice would tell you that I am much better at changing defenses than changing diapers but that is a time when there is no problem doing the dirty work”. Did your diaper changing improve in the last year?

My diaper skills definitely improved! Luke will be 2 Sunday the 20th so it has been a fantastic life experience and I am very thankful for Alice and our family.

Before we start to talk about the Super Cup and Euro 2017, I have to take a step back and talk about Euro 2016. Poland Played a very good Euro winning their group 5-1. What positives do you and the team want to take from last seasons run into this years competition added with what the club brings to the table this season?

Our strength is our team. We have been together for three successful years winning two Qualification groups and advancing to the Top 16 in Eurobasket 2015. Our core of players and coaches have worked very hard together and we are battle tested. We have faced pressure games and top opponents together. Now enter into our fourth, we are preparing for our biggest challenges yet with Group A in Helsinki. We are focused internally on being the best team we can be and I believe in our guys. We will be ready for the challenge to beat great teams.


Mateusz Ponitka(Polish National Team) My Goal For The Next Years Is To Be Ready To Be An Important Player In A Euroleague Team

Mateusz Ponitka is a 23 year old 196cm guard that will be playing his first season with Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias (Spain-Liga Endesa) and currently is playing with the polish national team. Last season he played with Pinar Karsiyaka SK Izmir (Turkey-BSL) playing 27 games averaging 13.7ppg, 4.9rpg, 2.3apg, Steals-4(1.7spg), FGP: 60.3%, 3PT: 29.7%, FT: 70.8%; BCL: 19 games: 10.8ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 70.7%. He started his basketball career in 2008 with Kasprowiczanka Ostrow Wlk. He then played three seasons with Tempcold AZS Politechnika Warszawa (1Liga). In the 2012-2013 season he made the jump to Asseco Prokom Gdynia (PLK): 34 games: 8.7ppg, 4.2rpg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 27.2%, FT: 70.7%; Euroleague: 10 games: 8.8ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.0spg, FGP: 61.0%, 3PT: 32.3%, FT: 38.1%. He then played two seasons with Telenet BC Oostende (Belgium-Scooore League). Last season he played for Stelmet Zielona Gora (TBL): 41 games: 10.5ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.7apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 61.8%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 76.1%; Euroleague: 10 games: 12.0ppg, Reb-3(7.9rpg), 2.2apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 57.7%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 67.6%; Eurocup: 10 games: 13.5ppg, 6.5rpg, 2.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 58.8%, 3PT: 47.6%, FT: 69.4%. Last simmer he took part at the NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Denver Nuggets): 4 games: 2.5ppg, 6.0rpg, 1.3spg. The Polish player gave German Hoops his fourth interview before the Super Cup weekend in Hamburg




Thanks Mateusz for talking to German Hoops again. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?

Right now I am at the airport as we are heading to Hamburg with national team to play tournament against Germany Serbia and Russia. My summer was pretty long because we finished season early in Turkey and I had a lot of time for rest and practice. So the first 10 days was holidays and then 1,5 month individual work.

You have been preparing for Euro 2017 with the Polish team the last weeks. The club beat the Czech Republic twice, split with Latvia and lost to Lithuania. How content have you been with the preparation of the club so far?

We are working hard since the 15th of July. Training camp and now friendly games so basically my season already started. We are practicing really hard the last few weeks and in those friendly games our performances are different. We are in a good spot and we are looking forward to finish preparation to start the real battles in Eurobasket.

When looking at the current roster that still will be trimmed down to 12 for the Euro 2017, one doesn´t see much change except that there is no Marcin Gortat and no Maciej Lampe. How will the 2017 Euro roster be different and better than last summer´s?

Maciej Lampe is with us and he will play in tournament in Hamburg. We are trying to quickly put him in our system. He is very talented and experienced player so his help is priceless. Marcin finished career in national team so we can´t count on him anymore. Last summer we won our qualification group because we built collectiveness. This year we will try to do the same thing.

There will be many players left from Euro 2016. You will have vetearans Damian Kulig and Aaaron Cel on board. How much stronger will Poland be this summer?

Every player witht such an experience like Damian and Aaron is for us big help. So basically we are happy that we can count on them. Both can really improve our game and make a big impact on the score.

Poland will have their real first test this weekend in Hamburg at the Super Cup. How excited are you to be heading back to Hamburg where you played at the U-17 world championships in 2010?
I have been there many times and its always going be great place for me. Memories are coming back very quickly. For me personally that was a great tournament and to be honest my career started form there. It all started from the silver medal in Hamburg and now we are here. So it will be a hard tournament for us playing against the best teams in Europe but also great test. We are looking forward to competiting with all three teams and to check at which point we are now.

What memories do you have of the U-17 World Championships in Hamburg. You were the second top scorer of the tournament averaging 19,0ppg. What players do you remember form that tournament that now belong to the best in the world?
I remember everything like it was yesterday. All games we played and of course the final against USA. I remember all them big players who are now playing in NBA or in Euroleague. Too many to count them but that was a great tournament with a lot of talented players.

You face Germany on Saturday whom you lost to the last two seasons. NBA players Dennis Schroeder and Daniel Thesis will join the team for the Super Cup. How confident are you that Poland will be able to win this game considering Poland has had the core of it´s team together longer?
I think the German team is always well prepared and well organized. I know Dennis and Daniel and I know how big of an impact they can have on the team. So I think Germany will be very strong especially playing at home. We are ready to play against everybody and hungry to compete with the best teams.

How have you followed the development of German basketball in the last year. Dennis Schroeder continues to get better, Paul Zipser made it to the Chicago Bulls, Daniel Thesis was signed by the Boston Celtics and Isaiah Hartenstein was drafted by the Houston Rockets. Germany was also fifth at the U-19 World Championships. Is it just a momentary run or do you see German basketball continuing to develop better?
Germany have a great basketball system and they take care of their youth players. Taking care of the development of young players is very important and this has to bring some progress. As you see – more and more players from Germany are going to the NBA and young players are always high in standings of youth competition. With that good system German basketball is developing.

Poland is in a tough Group A with France, Greece, Slovenia, Finland and Iceland. This will be a real battle for the fourth and final spot. What will be vital for Poalnd to do on the court to help them advance?
We have to play as a team and compete against every team on 100% of our abilities. Its a hard group but we are not without chances to advance. We will do our best to make some surprises and win games we have to win.

How vital will the consistency and good play of AJ Slaughter be for the success of Poland? How is your relationship to him. Do you ever give him advice or do you see him having a big Euro 2017?
AJ adapted really well to our team and our system. He is very important player for us and we count on his good performances at Eurobasket. I think you don´t need to give him any advice as he is anexperienced player, he played in many good clubs around Europe and he excatly knows what to do to play good.
Poland has a lot of veteran players on the team this summer, but not as many young players. What is the state of Polish basketball concerning it´s youth. What young players on the team do you see making the next step in the next years?
Ok I see you don´t consider me as a young player anymore. I think experience is very important on  a tournament like Eurobasket. We have some young players who will be very helpful in the next few years. Right now is 4 players from the 93 generation in the team and we are looking forward for some youngsters to come and join us when they will be ready.

What has been your impression of young guard Andy Maturczak that played in the NCAA and last season as a rookie in Greece and this season will play in Germany with Chemnitz. He probably won´t make the 2017 Euro 2017 roster, but how bright is his future and what do you like most about his game?

I think he is a very smart player. He got feeling for basketball especially as a point guard. Also he is very cool and focused on basketball. I think he can really help us at some point and he will play good in the German league. Every year he will be better and I wish him all the best for his career.

In our last interview you stated that Tomasz Gielo has the potential to make the next step. Last summer Aaron Cel wasn´t on the team, but is back this summer. Do you see the hard head to head competition making Gielo even stronger these weeks leading up to the Euro 2017?
For sure its great chance for him to improve. He is around good, experienced players and no matter how long he will play this situation is perfect for him to develop.

Last summer you said this about Polish national team coach Mike Taylor “. He is a big time professional and his attitude and approach is awesome. He gives me this positive motivation to work every day. Great coach and great person”. After another year of seeing more basketball and having more experiences, how has coach developed further in the last year that you have seen the last weeks?

I know him for last 4 years and I know how hard he is working to prepare us to the Eurobasket. He is everything I said last year plus one more year of experience. I really like playing for him and probably not only me. He refreshed our national team, brought positive energy and taught us how to become the best versions of ourselves.

Let´s talk about your game in the Polish national team. Last summer I asked you what your role would be and you stated “I am trying to be as versatile as its possible because then I can fit to every basketball system. Mike knows me very well and he knows that whatever he will need me to do he will get it. I am working very hard to be an all around player and national team is a great place for me to develop those skills”. You averaged 15,3ppg at Euro 2016. How will head coach Mike Taylor want to use you this summer best so Poland has the most success?
Similar to last year. I will try to do everything its need to be done to win the games. Simple as that.

A quote that I have kept in my head in the last year was this. “You can be able to know how to score 30 points in the game but it is not the same if you don´t know how to win the game”. You definitely know how to win having won titles in Belgium and in Poland. Do you feel like you can transform your winning genes to your teammates this summer?
I think we have good potential and many players who won something during their careers so probably it´s not going be needed that much. I won 2 championships in Belgium and 2 in Poland but you can´t compere it to playing at Eurobasket its different competition and its much harder to win something out there.

Last season you had a very solid season with Pinar Karsiyaka SK Izmir (Turkey-BS) playing: 27 games averaging 13.7ppg, 4.9rpg, 2.3apg, Steals-4(1.7spg), FGP: 60.3%, 3PT: 29.7%, FT: 70.8%; In the BCL you played 19 games averaging 10.8ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 70.7%. You were a Turkish allstar, reached the Champions League quarterfinals and Turkish cup semi final. You weren´t the go to guy like the year before, but a guy among many that had a significant role. How did your game prosper most last season that will help you make the next step this season with Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias (Spain-Liga)?
I learned a lot last season. As you pointed out my role was different and I tried to help my team in different ways. Like I said last year I am trying to adapt to every system you put me into so also in the Karisyaka system I found my role and tried to be the best at this particular role. I hope every next season will prepare me better for playing a solid role in the best teams in Europe. This is my goal for next years – to get ready for being an important player in a Euroleague team rotation. And Iberostar Tenerife is a great environment for me to do it.

What kind of a feeling is it for you going to Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias (Spain-Liga) who won the 2017 Basketball Champions League? Here it will be similar to last season in Turkey where there will be many talented players that can score. What part of your game do you feel will translate best to the style of the Endesa league?
I have never played in Spanish league before but it was always my dream. So now I am ready for every next challenge. I am really looking forward to start competing at this level. I know we have many good players in the team but I also have my experiences and I will try to use them as well. I hope this will be a great season for all the team not only me and that we can do something special.

You continue to develop as a player and after playing in Poland, Belgium and Turkey, you have reached the biggest league in Europe Endesa in Spain at age 23. Do you feel any pressure possibly in a few years having to be the guy that will take the torch from guys like Marcin Gortat and Maciej Lampe and be the guy keeping Polish basketball move forward?

I don´t feel any pressure. Pressure comes when you are not ready for the challenge. And I will be working hard every day to be ready and accept all those challenges life will put in front of me. Success with the Polish national team is very important to me and I take it personally. I want to do something special with this group of people. That´s why we are working so hard every day.

You recently played against New York Knick Kristaps Porzingis. He has had a very good NBA career so far. Do you see him becoming the next best European in the NBA after a Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol or is a guy like Nikola Jokic on a better way?
Definitely Kristaps is franchise player. He showed many times his talent and ability to play on the highest level for many years. I believe he can achieve a lot in his career when he will be healthy and that´s my wish for him.

What was the last movie that you saw?
I rarely watch movies I prefer reading books.


Thanks Mateusz for the chat.

Ian Tevis (I Believe I Can Make A Name For Myself In Europe)

Ian Tevis is a guard from Seattle, Washington that played college ball at  Red Deer College (CCAA). He was All-ACAC Player of the Year in 2017 and was nominated for the CCAA All-Canadian Team in 2017. He recently took part with the Howard Hoops international tour in Germany. He like so many other players is chasing his dream of becoming a professional player. He played strong with the Howard Hoops team and spoke to German Hoops about his special experience in Germany,

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The 2017 Howard Hoops team after the 107-66 win against TV Idstein: From left to right: Jamal Curry, Miles Schmidt-Scheuber (basketball journalist), Ian Mikeel Tevis, Corey Lewis and Khalil Keel

Ian thanks for talking to German Hoops You are in Germany taking part in the Howard Hoops international tour. How did this all come about? Did you send Ron Howard videos or how did it come about that you could join this tour?

I got connected with Howard Hoops about a year ago when my good friend Chris Neal went on his tour. Me and Ron were in contact all year while I was finishing my last season in college.

You got off the plane on Friday played a game at night and three games on Sunday. That is 160 minutes of basketball in two days. How is your body holding out?

I am a gym rat. I live at the gym. I take pride in my conditioning so playing all these games back to back wasn´t a problem. No time to complain and I can´t afford to get sore. My body was definitely feeling it on Sunday. But if we had to play again I would have been ready.

Is this your first time in Germany. How do you like the country and is there anything here that reminds you of home in Canada?

I am actually from the United States. Seattle, Washington to be exact. But I have been in Canada the last few years. This is my first time in Germany and Europe! I like this country. It seems like simple living. Everyone minding their own business. Nobody has been mean or rude to me. I have just been walking around dribbling my basketball.


KJ Sherrill (Dragons Rhondorf) Aaron Nelson is a great player, but I don’t feel pressured to follow in his footsteps

KJ Sherrill is a 26 year old 203cm forward from Cleveland,North Carolina that is embarking into his third professional season. He started his basketball career at Charlotte (NCAA) in 2009 where he played until 2012 playing a total of 75 NCAA games. He then moved to Augusta St. (NCAA2) and as a senior played 32 games averaging 14.7ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 55.7%, 3PT: 22.2%, FT: 76.7%. He started his professional career with the Cuxhaven BasCats (Germany-ProA) playing 27 games averaging 7.9ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 48.0%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 60.8%. Last season he played with the  Hertener Loewen Basketball (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 18 games averaging 14.8ppg, 8.1rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 68.4%. He spoke to German Hoops earlier in the summer about basketball.

KJ thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how is your summer going?

I am currently in Germany visiting my girlfriend; this summer has been pretty good so far.

You already have returned to Germany in early July shortly after July 4th. Usually Americans don´t return until training camp in August. Are you back early this season because you are extra focused on having a great third professional season with the Dragons Rhondorf?

I am back to Germany this early so that I and my girlfriend can take a few trips before I have to report to Rhöndorf. I am much focused as well to start my 3rd season with the Dragons.

Congrats on signing with the Dragons Rhondorf of the Pro B. How was this summer´s transfer period after having a very strong season with Herten. Was Rhondorf the best offer that you got?

The summer was a bit stressful not knowing which team I would sign with next. But I continued to work out daily and remain positive knowing that my agent would find me a good team, which he did. So I’m very thankful to be a part of the dragons.


Khalil Keel (I Am Never Satisfied Because If You Are Content Than The Next Person Will Outwork You)

Khalil Keel is a 188cm guard from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that like so many other players is looking to fullfil his dream of playing professional basketball. He has had extensive experience at the college level with schools like Lackawanna College, Lander (NCAA2) and Goldey-Beacom (NCAA2). He recently took part with the 2017 Howard Hoops international tour in Germany. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.

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The 2017 Howard Hoops team after the 107-66 win against TV Idstein: From left to right: Jamal Curry, Miles Schmidt-Scheuber (basketball journalist), Ian Mikeel Tevis, Corey Lewis and Khalil Keel

Khalil thanks for talking to German Hoops You are in Germany taking part in the Howard Hoops international tour. How did this all come about? Did you send Ron Howard videos or how did it come about that you could join this tour?

An agent that I know told me about the tour, then I reached out to Ron Howard and he gave me the information for the tour

You got off the plane on Friday played a game at night and three games on Sunday. That is 160 minutes of basketball in two days. How is your body holding out?

Playing games consistently after an 8 hour flight is brutal to the body, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t adapt to. I just had to give it my all regardless.

You were thrown together with a bunch of guys that you had never played with before with Howard Hoops all looking to fulfill their dream of playing professional basketball. Do you feel like after this weekends performance that you played to your best potential? You stated that you could have been more consistent.

Yes I feel as though I played well. I just always strive for perfection, so I can always use improvement.


Matt Gibson (Nurnberg Falcons BC) I Am Still Chasing The Dream Of A Championship

Matt Gibson is a 32 year old 195cm forward from Oklahoma that will be starting his ninth professional season and first in Germany with the Nuernberg Falcons BC (Germany-ProA). Last season he played with Vendee Challans Basket (France-NM1) playing 22 games averaging 9.0ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.7apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 57.5%, 3PT: 32.1%, FT: 63.5%. He has played in countries like Romania, Venezuela, Belgum. Mexico, Finland and Hungry. He played college ball at  Hawaii (NCAA) and as a senior played 25 games averaging 17.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 4.8apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 46.6%, 3Pts: 30.9%, FT: 80.0%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball earlier this summer.

Matt thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how is your summer going?

I am in Oklahoma for the moment. I haven’t been home very much the past few years so I am just enjoying the time I get with friends and Family.

One could really call you a basketball world traveler. You recently completed your 8th professional season and in this time you have played for 10 teams in six countries. Your 32 years old that just seems to love to move around. Has this lifestyle gotten harder with Age?

Yes it does get a bit older with age. But I love to travel and I love to be involved in the game of basketball. And now I am looking forward to experiencing both in Germany.


Jordan Bohannon (Iowa Hawkeyes) Our Expectations Are To Win A Big Ten Title And Try To Get To The NCAA Championship

Jordan Bohannon is a 20 year old 183cm point guard from Marion, Iowa that is going into his sophomore season with the University of Iowa. He comes from a very athletic family as he has three older brothers that all played college ball. Jason played basketball at Wisconsin; Zach played basketball at Air Force and Wisconsin; and Matt played basketball at UNI. Last season as a freshman, Jordan played 34 games averaging 10.9ppg, 2.2rpg, 5.1apg, FGP: 32.2%, 3PT: 41.6%, FT: 85.5%. At the moment Iowa is on a European tour and recently he spoke to German Hoops during a travel day as the team was headed to Switzerland.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Iowa Hawkeye point guard Jordan Bohannon at the Basketball Aid International tour game in Heidelberg, Germany

Jordan thanks for talking to German Hoops. You are on a European tour with Iowa(NCAA) and recently visited Heidelberg the cozy town that your brother Jason lived in for a year. If you had the chance to live here, what would enjoy most about this town with the castle on the hill?

I thought the town was beautiful and I already knew that coming in because my brother was always talking about it. For me it is always important to experience new things and be able to communicate with the people wherever I am.

After a tough NIT Sweet 16 exit to TCU, what are the main goals of this years team during this European tour?

Obviously get a better bond with each other on and off the court and also get more comfortable on the court getting to run some plays.