It seems like everybody in the BEKO BBL knows that The Brose Baskets Bamberg will win the championship and then kilometers later teams like Berlin and Frankfurt might be teams that could challenge them in a five games series, but no really has the Artland Dragons on the radar as a title team that could win it all, but they could possibly be a team to sneak into the final the same way Rajon Rondo does into the zone and be that team that laughs hardest last getting an upset like a Jack Black or Seth Rogen would after finding out that they beat out the Chippendales for a date with Paris Hilton. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners could meet The Artland Dragons again in the 2011 BEKO BBL cup final in Bamberg and their February 27th meeting against them will be an interesting and educational preparation that they have to take serious just like their last win in Braunschweig because their next meeting will be in the Cup semi finals April three. The Artland Dragons dont have to hide from any team in the BEKO BBL as their roster is as strong in appearance like the current Chicago Bulls who could be a sleeper, as actor George Clooney is in a Starbucks getting any woman with his non resisting appearance and raised eyebrows and actor Frankie Muniz being as credible to the press proclaiming that he isnt suicidal and The Deutsche bank Skyliners will have to be ready for this potential title team that nobody really has any eyes for at the moment. “The Artland Dragons are my dark horse as well as they are a talented team and they are deep in a lot of positions. They have experience and they are tough to beat on there home court. I really like them in the playoffs and they can compete with anyone in my opinion. Rice is getting better and Peavy is healthy and they are just clicking right now, and they are a team that most teams dont want to play in the playoffs or just at the end of the week”, warned TBB Trier guard John Bynum. Frankfurt will have to find a way to douse the Dragons fire possibly with dirt? “Well its cold and winter, but Frankfurt just has to let it rain on the Dragons fire”, joked John Bynum. “They are one of the best teams and I am looking forward to the challenge. They are playing well and it will be a good challenge. We will have to bring our A game against The Artland Dragons”, warned current BEKO BBL leading scorer Dashaun Wood.
A duel that could add some extra spark to the game will be between the current BEKO BBL leading scorer Dashaun Wood(17,7ppg, 4,6rpg, 5.5apg) and Tyrese Rice(15,8ppg, 2,7rpg, 4,9rpg). Wood and Rice are 1 and 4 in scoring and 2 and 4 in assists. Wood is an early MVP candidate as it would be very scary to think where The Deutsche Bank Skyliners would be without the services of the American. Wood has been top scorer in 13 of the 23 Frankfurt games while Rice has been top scorer in 9 of the 23 games and there was even a stretch where he was top scorer in five straight games as he was the go to guy. Wood knows what awaits him in Rice and even has some interesting comparisons. “Rice is a great guy and we both will try to lead our teams to victory. We also respect each other. I think that it will be a great match up of two players accepting the challenge and defending each other which we saw in the day with Larry Bird-Magic Johnson or Kobe Bryant-Tracy Mcgrady”, warned Dashaun Wood. If both players will put on the turbo and score is unknown, but one will see offense from both as both are playing very well at the moment. “I think Rice is becoming to feel comfortable and is more confident and because of that, the team is becoming better. Wood is a great player as well and makes everyone better as well. Both are solid players and it will be a great match up between the two”, added John Bynum. Sometimes one likes to speculate what were if a Wood wasnt in the BEKO BBL this year, would Rice be the best scoring point guard? “I think he is up there for sure, Both guys can score fairly well, but they have a great team behind them, but Rice can for sure put up points if he needs to”, added John Bynum. If Wood or Rice will decide the game is something one might expect, but Wood isnt so sure about that. “I think that it will come down to just more than me or him. I didnt have my best game in Braunschweig, but we still won. The club that plays more team basketball will win”, warned Dashaun Wood.
After winning their first BEKO BBL title with the cup in 2008 against EnBW Luwdigsburg in Hamburg in 2008, it seemed like the Artland Dragons were on a positive way with possible future hardware, but instead the club might secretly have been dreaming of the glory day in Hamburg where Darius Hall was in the middle of a swarm of Artland fans celebrating the win, because ever since that big title, the team has been looking for another success and missed the playoffs two seasons in a row. The Artland Dragons have been about as unlucky not reaching the playoffs the two seasons as a Formula one driver is racing the race of their life and then dropping out because the engine dies in the last lap as German Sebastian Vettel recently had to accept or poor cute lovable polar bear Knut who is being shunned by three female bears including his mother who can´t remember he is her kid. In 2009, they had to win the last game and did crushing Frankfurt 90-69, but not reaching the playoffs because Paderborn won on the last day against BG Goettingen and last season they made a last comeback winning the last four games, but losing their last game 82-80 to the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven a game they had to win missing the playoffs again. “I think that last season, Artland was lacking a guard who could control the team until the end. Ross was more of a scoring guard and Price could of done job, but he came to late in season to turn it around. The chemistry was lacking too and it seemed like players had their own agenda”, stressed Quentin Pryor.
The Artland Dragons can´t afford to miss the playoffs for a third consecutive season and wont. The club dismissed young German coach Thorsten Leibenath and brought in experienced German coach Stefan Koch. Koch led the Opel Skyliners to the BEKO BBL cup in 2000 and led the Giessen 46ers to the semi finals in 2005 losing to Bamberg. Koch hasn´t coached for some years, but has strong ties to basketball and seems like he is very hungry to bring some success back to the Artland. “I dont think that Koch is necessarily a better coach than Leibenath. I think that this years team has just as good players as last year. It just depends how quickly the team finds each other. However Koch will definitely help the team. He has a lot of experience and knows the league very well. I am sure the team will be better. With Koch on board, I think that they will reach the playoffs. They missed the playoffs the last two years and they have high expectations this season and a lot of ambition to be successful”, added Achmadschah Zazai.
In order for The Artland Dragons to be on a good route to the promised land, the club decided to keep a core of four players with Alexander Seggelke, Darren Fenn, Nathan Peavy and Florian Hartenstein. The club said farewell to point guards Ronald Ross, Hollis Price, former NBA player Toby Bailey, fan favorite Darius hall, Charles Lee, Chad Prewitt, Hendrik Feist and Flavio Stuckemann. The team added nine new players with six having BEKO BBL experience. The club has a very solid guard rotation with Tyrese Rice, Bryan Bailey, and Johannes Strasser. The team has very strong forwards with Adam Hess, Nathan Peavy and Alexander Seggelke. The team might have the best front court in the BEKO BBL this season with ex NBA player Ruben Boumtje Boumtje, Darren Fenn, Robert Kurz and Nathan Peavey. “The Dragons have some real big guys down low”, warned Skyliner AJ Moye. “I am not too familiar with Kurz, but they have a great inside game and he will make them better from what I hear from around the league”, stated John Bynum. Currently “I think that Artland will continue to play a big role this year. They are strong at all positions. If a guy is injured, then they have guys who can step up. they are very experienced as well. They have very good individual players. Fenn/Boumtje have a lot of experience having won titles, good guards with Rice who is fast, and Bailey is a great defender. Hess can score from all over and make that deciding shot. I am not sure if they have a weakness”, warned Achmadschah Zazai. “Their strength is their speed and ability to score at a high pace. If you allow them to play this then they can score 80 points plus. A hidden strength is that they are a very confident team and feel and play as if they were the best team in the league”, warned Kyle Hines. It seems like Artland has a better defensive team than last season and Dashaun Wood will have his hands full inside. “Artland is a pretty good defensive team. They have very good shot blockers with Boumtje Boumtje which makes it tough to score in the lane. On defense the Artland guards can gamble more for steals when you have shot blockers protecting you”, stressed Quentin Pryor. “I think the strength of the team is their depth, they are deep at each position and continue to get better. The weakness if there had to be one is just being consistent but they are doing that of late”, said John Bynum.
Currently the Artland Dragons are in third place behind The Deutsche Bank Skyliners with a record of 15-8. So far the team of Stefan Koch is holding their own near the top. They have had two winning streaks of three games and there only rap could be that they have problems winning against top teams. They lost both times to the Brose Baskets Bamberg, but only with a total combined score of 8 points. Their biggest win of the season was a 78-74 win in Berlin. Despite not being able to beat top teams, the club is one that cant be underestimated. “Artland has been a great team this season and continue to get better each week. They are a team that will go deep into the playoffs”, warned John Bynum. One thing that The Artland Dragons have improved is not getting lost on defense. “Now we don’t lose our defensive focus when we aren’t scoring on the offensive end. Earlier in the year, when we would miss shots, our defensive intensity would go down. Now we are able to move on to the next play, without thinking about our past mistakes”, stressed Artland Dragon guard Bryan Bailey.
The Artland Dragons are led by 30 year old center Darren Fenn who is a 208 cm center from Tonawanda New York who is averaging 13,1ppg, 6,7rpg and 1,7apg and is playing his sixth season in Germany after having also played in Bremerhaven and Bamberg. “He is also very versatile. He can score from outside, but also can post up and he is very strong”, stressed Jannik Freese. Fenn was one of the most dominating players in the German BEKO BBL over the last five seasons. He was the 7th most efficient player in German BBL for the 2009/10 season. He finished the 2008/09 EUROCUP season as the 6th best scorer with 15,8 ppg. He is an unstoppable inside player with a lot of skills and post up moves and is a high percentage 3-pt. shooter with range. His two seasons playing in Bamberg under Coach Bauermann, he improved his defensive and rebounding skills. He is a all-rounder who can post up, hit the jump hook, take the midrange jump shot, fill the lane on the fast break, score on a put back after the offensive rebound, or hit the 3-point shot. He can defend both inside positions, plays always with great intensity and has great quickness for his size and a strong lower body. The team brought back 30 year old 185 combo guard Bryan Bailey who comes from new York and played in Quackenbruck from 2004-2007. Currently he is averaging 10,6ppg, 2,4rpg and 3,3apg. He is a team leader both on and off the court. He Possesses a diverse game, with an ability to stroke the long-range jumper, penetrate to the rim or distribute the ball and is solid on the defensive end of the floor as well. He is a fierce competitive drive rubs off on his teammates. Bailey played at Bucknell and has gained experience having played in Holland and Poland. he reached the playoffs three times with Artland form 2004-2007 and the cup final in 2007.
Tyrese Rice is a 23 year old 185cm point guard that is playing his season in the BEKO BBL. He hails from Chesterfield, Virginia and played at Boston College from 2005-2009. In his senior year, he played 33 games: 16.9ppg, 3.8rpg, 5.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 41.3%, 3Pts: 34.7%, FT: 85.6%. As a rookie last season, he played for Panionios ON Telecoms Athens (Greece-A1, starting five): 27 games: 11.7ppg, 2.3rpg, 2.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 29.6%, FT: 81.4%. This past summer, he played Summer League in Orlando (Utah Jazz) and in Las Vegas (Sacramento Kings). Currently he is averaging 15,8ppg, 2,7rpg and 4,9apg. He still needs to find his stroke from the parking lot as he is shooting only 31%. The team got a huge pick up for the boards with Ruben Boumtje Boumtje. The 32 year old 212 cm center who ranks fourth all-time in Georgetown history in blocks with 255 behind Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo grew more into a scoring threat in Oldenburg and perhaps can give some added scoring stability for coach Stefan Koch. Even though he played 35 NBA games, his playing qualities often determined if he had the right coach. Last season for Oldenburg he played Euroleague: 10 games: 4.6ppg, 3.7rpg; German League: 37 games: 6.9ppg, 5.8rpg, Blocks-3(1.2bpg), FGP: 58.9%, FT: 76.6%. he will bolster the Dragons with his rebounding and shot blocking, but most important with his experience. Currently he is averaging 7,5ppg and 5,7rpg.
The team also got back Adam Hess as he starts his third tour of duty for the Artland Dragons. The trend the last years has always shown that Hess can´t stay away for more than two years as He played the first time with the Dragons in 2006 and the second time in 2008. Hess is a 29 year old 201cm forward from Michigan. He is a quick forward with not so great athletic skills, but very effective at the scoring department. He’s a tough player, however, and knows how to battle inside for a rebound and he defends well and has a great attitude. He played at William & Mary and also has gained experience playing in Italy, Czech Republic, France and Spain. Last season, he played for C.B. Tarragona 2016 (Spain-LEB Gold, starting five): 34 games: 14.8ppg, 5.6rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 45.4%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 88.1%. He had much success in the Czech Republic winning the league title in 2005 and 2006 and showing his shooting ability winning the 2005 Allstar game three point shooting contest. Currently Hess is averaging 9,8ppg and 4,1rpg. He is shooting 45% from the field and 43%from the parking lot.
30 year old 198 cm forward Alexander Seggelke is a 198cm forward who is playing his 13th season in Germany. Currently he is averaging 6,2ppg, and 2,7rpg. He played previously with The Bayer Giants Leverkusen and Science City Jena and is an all rounder with great scoring-skills, shows no fear, can point in the paint and from outside as well, and is a very good FT-shooter. He is playing his second season with the Artland Dragons and last season played EuroChallenge: 11 games: 4.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.4apg; German League: 33 games: 7.5ppg, 2.2rpg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT-1(56.9%), FT: 83.1%. 28 year old 190cm combo guard Johannes Strasser is playing his first season with The Artland Dragons. He is a very strong point guard that can hit the open three pointer at any time, penetrate and finish or find the open guy and is a pest on defense. He started his basketball career at Rhondorf in 1999. He had a very successful time with Rhein Energy Colone from 2001-2007 winning the 2006 BBL league title and three cup titles in 2004,2005 and 2007. He played with the Telekom Baskets Bonn from 2007-2010 reaching the BEKO BBL title twice. His job is to come from the bench and help out at the point or hurt opponents with his deadly three pointer. Currently, he is averaging 5,6ppg, 1,7rpg and 1,6apg. .
Florian Hartenstein is a 33 year old 206cm center that was born in Mainz, Germany and played at the University of Oregon before turning professional and playing at Giessen from 2001-2009 playing 227 games. He is starting his 10th professional season in Germany and second with the Artland Dragons. He is a competitor and tough defender and an important player for the team not only on the court but also off the court keeping the team together. He runs the floor very well and likes contact underneath the basket and has a unique shooting technique. Last season he played EuroChallenge: 10 games: 0.7ppg; German League: 15 games: 1.1ppg. “My man Flo is a good defender, is tough and is an important part of the team”, stressed ex teammate Jannik Freese. The team also have Germans Leo Niehbur and Andrej Mangold who see very little action. American Nathan Peavy is a 24 year old 201 cm forward who played 34 games: 11.2ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 57.3%, 3PT: 44.7%, FT: 66.9%; EuroChallenge: 12 games: 10.6ppg, 3.8rpg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT-2(66.7%), FT: 72.5%. He is still injured and a player that the club misses very much. “He can move very well and is very athletic. He is very versatile and can hurt a team inside and out”, stated Giessen center Jannik Freese. He played at the University of Miami at Ohio and is also a very technical player that will always . The team recently signed Robert Kurz who is a 25 year old American 206cm forward. He played st Notre dame from 2004-2008. In his senior year he played 33 games averaging 12,5ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.9apg, 1.5bpg, FGP: 45.0%, 3Pts: 39.4%, FT: 85.3%. In the summer of 2008, he got the chance to play NBA Summer League for the Golden State Warriors and left a great reaction that the team signed him. In 2008-2009, he played 40 games averaging 3,9rpg and 2,0rpg. Last season was like a long journey as he started off with the Cavaliers (NBA): only pre-season, in Nov.’09 moved to Fort Wayne Mad Ants (D-League, starting five): 38 games: 17.4ppg, 10.1rpg, 2.2apg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 51.0%, 3PT: 43.8%, FT: 81.7%, in Jan.’10 signed at Aris Thessaloniki (Greece-A1), but never went on the court with that team, in Apr.’10 agreed terms with Chicago Bulls (NBA). This season he played in Spain in the ACB for Granada playing 17 games and averaging 13,9ppg, 9,1rpg, 1,3bs and 1,2spg.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners had unfond memories to playing The Artland Dragons having a 5-7 record since 2005 and during 2005-2007 losing all four games including being outscored in the Artland arena 172-129. However, the tide turned for the better from 2007-2009 as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners had a 3-1 record. Three years ago, they celebrated a very big emotional win 87-75 winning in overtime as captain Pascal Roller sparked Frankfurt to the win with 26 points. two seasons ago on the last day, Frankfurt lacked spirit and were beaten in every phase of the game losing 90-69. Last season, the team lost a thriller 77-76 in Artland as Frankfurt staged one of their famous comebacks despite a late Pascal Roller three pointer, it was enough as they lost. Frankfurt was able to win at home 77-65 as Pascal Roller scored 20 points. However Frankfurt is 2-4 in Quackenbruck since 2005. Frankfurt won their first show down this season on the road winning 82-56 coming out of half time with a 24-8 run to easily win. Frankfurt was led by AJ Moye with 18 points and six rebounds.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners enter the game battered with injuries and boo boos, but might be able to present a Roger Powell who is nearing his return. German guards Pascal Roller and Dominic Bahiense De Mello might be back in the lineup.”Frankfurt really doesn´t need to worry so much about offense. If they can defend hard and force Artland to bad decisions then the offense will come from its self. Frankfurt has to keep the intensity high for 40 minutes”, warned Achmadschah Zazai. The play under the boards will be one of key factors to winning the game. “Frankfurt has to make the bigs make a decision on the pick and roll. I am sure that Wood will hurt Artland with his quickness. Roller will make the difference with his shooting again. Artland will have to know at all times where he is on the floor. Frankfurt can´t allow any open looks on defense and take them out of their comfort zone. Hess is dangerous. he can shoot, rebound and post up and is their x factor. Frankfurt does lack size under the basket, but they can space Artland at the other end”, warned Quentin Pryor. “Artland has an up tempo offense. Their weakness is their half court game. If you make them play that then they will have problems. Frankfurt should also keep them from continuously moving the ball and containing their transition opportunities”, stressed Kyle Hines. “Artland will have to control Wood and make other people make plays, it seems like I say that every week, but nobody can do it”, joked John Bynum. If there is one guy who loves to talk basketball, then it is Giessen 46er Michael Jordan who does see the point guards as the key factor to who will win the game. “Rice is a scorer and Wood will have to play defense. I think that the team that defends the other point guard best will win the game”, warned Michael Jordan. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners host The Artland Dragons Sunday February 27th at 15:00.