Teamcheck: Artland Dragons
At the end of july some BBL clubs have finished their work for this off-season.
With the Artland Dragons, Giants Duesseldorf, ratiopharm Ulm, TBB Trier and newcomers Phoenix Hagen five teams already look completed.
Time to have a closer look at the teams, this time the Artland Dragons Quakenbrueck.
After failing to make it to the play-offs last season, Thorsten Leibenath and manager Marko Beens did not hesitate to build a new roster full of familiar faces.
Ronald Ross joined Quakenbrueck late in the season and could help the team immediately. In 12 games the 26 year-old averaged MVP-like 15.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. It certainly was a no-brainer to re-sign with him and fortunately both partys could find a solution on the financial basis. Especially if you consider all the problems the Dragons had on the point guard position last season. Neither Zack Whiting, nor Drew Neitzel and Will Blalock could fulfil Leibenaths expectations. Ross gave the team the athleticism and the consistency to tap their full potential. With his combination of strength and quickness the former Georgia Tech guard looks like a perfect fit to the americanized BBL. German Flavio Stueckemann will be the backup point guard and give the team some tough defense.
The other difference-maker was wingman Toby Bailey, who already had an impact in BBL in 2007/08 when he was a keyplayer in Cologne. The veteran fitted as well into the new team as Ross and produced 12.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Just like Ross, Bailey was signed early this summer to make sure no other team hires him before.
Folarin Campbell replaces Lamont McIntosh, who had spent three seasons with the Dragons. New acquired Cambell had a decent season in Italy in 2008/09 and managed to produce 11.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals in his first year overseas. The former George Mason standout is the only new player, who has not played in Germany so far. All other guys have proved to be competitive on BBL level and should be easy to judge for coach and management.
Hendrick Feist returns to Quakenbrueck after a season in ProA with TV Langen, he will be the team’s sharpshooter and take Jan Rohdewalds place. 29-year old Alexander Seggelke was one of the best ProA players last season and had a nice BBL season in 2007/08 with Science City Jena. Seggelke had signed a multi-year contract with Jena in 2008, but the Artland Dragons did not hesitate to make a buyout and bring the versatile german to Quakenbrueck. Big Man Florian Hartenstein is a role-player who has already worked with Leibenath in Giessen and has always been a glue-guy in his career. With Fenn and Hall ahead of him, he will probably not get too much time on the court. But Hartenstein is a very good teamplayer, who is important for chemistry and balance on a team with so much quality.
The other two americans Artland signed were keyplayers for their teams last season.
Charles Lee was a big factor for MEG Goettingen’s sensational play-off appearance. With 13.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 steals (4th in the league overall) per game he suited perfect into coach John Patrick’s system. The Dragons must think really high of him, because they decided not to re-sign Adam Hess and instead secure the services of Lee.
Nathan Peavy’s impact on the Paderborn Baskets was incredibly huge. The Baskets lost 7 of their first 10 games while Peavy was injured. When the American-puerto rican returned the team managed to get back on the winning-road and even made it to the post season for the first time in the club’s history. With 13.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game Peavy clearly showed that he is ready to step up and be a keyplayer for a play-off team. He should fit in well playing along with Chad Prewitt on the Power Forward position. With Darren Fenn, who can also shoot from outside and complimentary Darius Hall, who is a beast on the boards, Quakenbrueck already had a nice center rotation.
There is no doubt about the quality of each player on the team. But with few exceptions all of these players like to have the ball in their hands. It will be Leibenath’s job to find a solid balance and make the star-players Peavy and Lee, who came from smaller budget clubs, work for the team.
PG Ronald Ross/Flavio Stückemann
SG Toby Bailey/Folarin Campbell/Hendrik Feist
SF Charles Lee/Alexander Seggelke
PF Nathan Peavy/Chad Prewitt
C Darren Fenn/Darius Hall/Florian Hartenstein
Bold new players
German players italic
Outlook: The Artland Dragons had play-off potential last season, but could not make use of that until February. Many coaches would have been fired in December when the team had a long losing streak, but Marko Beens kept being loyal to Thorsten Leibenath. I think it hurt the team a lot in 2008/09, that the Point Guards could not fulfil Leibenaths expectations. With Ross now being on the team from the beginning of the season the team should be competitive from the start on. One should remember that with Ross and Bailey on the team, the Dragons have won 9 of the last 12 games last season. With the signing of BBL experienced Lee and Peavy and the addition of Seggelke and Campbell, the team has become even stronger and should clearly be a play-off team.