The Fraport Skyliners Face No Kevin Durant, But A Ear-Splitting Arena And Belligerent BBC Bayreuth Team

Two months ago, the small basketball world in Bayreuth was about as exciting and comparable to if Lebron James were ever to be traded to small market team Memphis Grizzlies, ex Artland Dragons Darius Hall and Michael hakim Jordan going back to the Artland Dragons to have a smiling contest with the loser to tangle with mascot Toby the dragon in a mud pit or the current buzz that is actually happening in Berlin with famous coach Otto Rehagel coming to save Hertha Berlin and keep them in the Bundesliga. The rumor of NBA mega superstar Kevin Durant joining the team the Bavarian team had transformed the city into Durant fever and put the quaint city onto the world basketball map. Even though the city never got to see the American do his magic on the court, the possibility of what he could have done on the court and how he could of helped the team win removed some boring and laid back afternoons for some into an exciting and magical dreamland. With Jeremy Lin and Linmania taking the big apple by storm presently, BBC Bayreuth fans may be dreaming of a new basketball mania for the future, but for now basketball life is back to normal in the Richard Wagner city as the team is still fighting to reach the beko BBL playoffs despite a slump presently. For BBC Bayreuth German big man Stefan Schmidt, the whole Kevin Durant is old news, but he still remembers how life was in early December 2011. “I was surprised at the beginning about the Durant rumors and we sat together and talked about it and we agreed not to talk about it and just concentrate on our games. At that point the topic of Durant was forgotten. The whole Durant rumor wasn´t really as spectacular as many may have expected. I don´t read Bayreuth newspapers, so I didn´t really follow what was happening. I thought it was only funny that suddenly as Durant wa sin the news, everyone was interested in little old Bayreuth. Everything is back to normal, but the only difference now is that I am not getting 50 messages a day asking if Durant was coming”, smiled Stefan Schmidt.

The last time BBC Bayreuth won the BEKO BBL title was in 1989 a few months before German tennis legends Boris Becker and Steffi Graf won Wimbeldon  together, Sebastian Vettel was only two years old and late Boston Celtic Reggie Lewis was slowly making a name for himself in the NBA. Back then the team was called Steiner Bayreuth and had German basketball legends like Michael Koch, Hansi Gnad and Calvin Oldham and success was as common in 88 and 89 for the club as winning was für Rhein Energie Colonge was from 2004-2006. After being  regulated in 1999 due to financial reasons, the team had to start at scratch in the Regionaliga and fought its way back up to the PRO A and finally landed back in the BEKO BBL in 2010.

Last season, BBC Bayreuth were saved at the end as MBC lost on the last game day and the Bavarian team finished with a record of 9-25 and a 16th place finish. The team started off with two losses against The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig and the Giessen 46ers before winning a big game at home against 2010 Eurochallenge champion BG Goettingen. However instead of continuing the winning streak, the club suffered a five game losing streak before recovering and going on a two game winning streak beating Phoenix Hagen and TBB Trier on the road.The team then finished the season with a record of 6-18. “I think their guards were a big part of their success. But they have had injuries as well this season. Gibson is a solid point, and Ginyard was a great player as well. Harris came in and was a solid back up. I think the guards but then you had Reiner in the middle as well and he gave them a guy on the block that can score”, added John Bynum. It didn´t help the team either that they lost five games by five or less points. “If they had won at least three of those games, they would have had their ticket to the beko BBL sooner for  next season. They havd all the pieces, but couldn´t seem to put it together better. Their strength was that they have high quality players at each position. Our biggest problem when we played them was not being able to keep Danny Gibson in front of us on the press”, warned Quentin Pryor. It also has been surprising that the club wasn´t able to have more success even with strong experienced players like Jared Reiner and Koko Archibong on the roster. “I just think it has just been one of those seasons for them. It is there first year in the league but still on paper if you were to look at that team, they are a good team. I dont know what it is but they beat us twice so I cant really say nothing negative about them. I think their weakness is just playing consistent for 40 minutes, they played well at times and have let ups and at this level you cant have too many let ups but like I said, they didnt have a let up against us either time”, warned John Bynum. “I think chemistry had been their weakness”, said Quentin Pryor. If the team hadn´t had a big 86-79 win against The Deutsche Bank Skyliners at home at the end of the season and finished winning four of the last five games near the end of the season, the yprobably would be back to traveling to less exciting cities like Kirchheim and Cuxhaven

Despite their poor record last season, the organization was in high spirits for the upcoming season and maintained head coach Andreas Wagner for a second season. However Andreas Wagner has had a steady rise as head coach and is coaching for the second time in the BEKO BBL. Wagner also has had a secret formula of how to help basketball clubs reach the next level as he brought FC Bayern Munich from the Regionaliga to the second Bundesliga in 2004, led the Nordlingen Giants from the PRO to the BEKO BBL in 2008 and had another trick up his sleeve bringing BBC Bayreuth from the PRO A into the BEKO BBL in 2010. Of course, the question was can he keep BBC Bayreuth in the BEKO BBL in 2011? The club made a pretty big house cleaning as seven players left. The team held forward and shot block ace Ibekwe Ekene and young Germans Simon Schmitz and Stefan Schmidt. The club brought in experienced point guard Kevin Hamilton who had led the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig into the playoffs twice in a row and is one of best defenders in the Beko BBL. Mr everything on the court Beckham Wyrick was added who won titles with Bamberg. The team brought also brought in ex NBA player Brandon Hunter for the dirty work under the boards, banger Maksym Shtein to give stability from the bench, versatile forward Tyler Smith, sharp shooter Osvaldo Jenaty who can give shooting clinics in any Beko BBL arena, Beko BBL rookie Corey Stokes who is Mr efficient and German Tom Spoler. Stokes got injured and returned back to the StatesWagner´s motto was that he rather wanted a strong starting five then solid 12 man rotation. But if you look at the roster and record, one can see that the team has stability from top to bottom. The team recently got 21 year old 192cm Estonian Rain Veideman to help out at the guard position. He last played at Tartu and is a U-20 player.

After a slow start this season where the club lost the first four games of the season, the team surprisingly let go of Andreas Wagner and bringing in experienced Dutch coach Marco van Den Berg who coached in Holland form 1996-2011 winning two titles there. The team also brought back point guard Danny Gibson and since then the team went on a 5-2 record with big wins against EnBW Ludwigsburg and the Telekom Baskets Bonn as they came to Frankfurt in December winning 79-71 as Gibosn and Ibekwe hit big shots in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Van Den Berg has changed the team philosophy and brought success to the team quickly and was rewarded last week with an early contract extension. Despite the Kevin Durant rumors and injury to Kevin Hamilton, BBC Bayreuth have brought a refreshing game to the Beko BBL in the first two months. “Bayreuth is a good team. I believe that people have underestimated them. Defensively they do their home work on their opponents and have detailed game plans”, warned Josh Young who saw BBC Bayreuth let up only 53 points in Tuebingen. In the first games BBC Bayreuth let up an average 83 points, but since Van Den Berg took over, the team has only let up an average 68 points per game in those six games. The team can score if needed and scored over 80 points twice and even if they are keeping teams to under 70 points, defense is still an area where the team can improve. “Their outside shooting is their biggest strength. Gibson really gets their offense going. He provides instant offense and is great in transition. He is the floor general that has been important for their success. If they had a weakness then their pick and roll defense and transition. The few points that we got, we got on transition. But it is hard to pinpoint it in one game since we looked so bad and made them look so good”, added Josh Young. Last season, The Frankfurt Skyliners split the game series winning in Frankfurt 83-75 as Dashaun Wood had 26 points, four rebounds and seven assists and in the return game had problems with the noise level in Bayreuth losing 86-79 despite 29 points from Dashaun Wood. However since the big win in Frankfurt, the team has been struggling a bit having a 3-8 record. They had a big win at home against Bremerhaven and against Alba Berlin, but since that big win against 8 time Beko BBL champion, the team lost 4 games in a row and couldn´t hold the momentum. Last weekend, they celebrated a big road win in the always tough Osthalle against the LTi Giessen 46ers. Despite being known for being tough to beat at home because of the noise level, BBC Bayreuth only has a 6-5 record at home and need to get out of their slump. “We seemed to have lost our rhythm at the Allstar break. Nobody really knows why. We have good practices, but can´t transform it into games. I hope that we can lose our black sheep soon and find rhythm again. We are having problems on offense. Our defense is good, but cant take that energy into our offense. Jeanty and Gibson have had problems shooting the ball”, warned Stefan Schmidt.

The Fraport Skyliners are looking to start a new winning record on the road after their bitter loss in Bremerhaven last week, but at the same time win their second game in a row. After averaging giving up only 64 points in 11 games recently, leading up to the FC Bayern Munich game, the troops of Muli Katurin had given up a total average of 79 points in the four games prior to the last game. The team found back to their defense strength allowing FC Bayern Munich only to getting 49 points with great pick and roll defense and showing the heart of a lion again. “If we can play defense again the way we did against FC Bayern Munich, then we will have good chances to win”, stressed Skyliner Quantez Robertson. BBC Bayreuth may only be in 13th place, but is still a dangerous team that Frankfurt has to be aware of and be awake for 40 minutes. “They are a very athletic team and we will have to be ready for them. It will come down to our defense which has been our staple. One can win letting up 80 points, but with our team it has been keeping  a team to 40-50 points”, smiled Sklyiner forward Jacob Burtschi. “We have to move the ball and our good defense sparks our offense. Once we get stops early, we have to get out on transition”, warned Skyliner guard Michael Thompson. BBC Bayreuth know that they have to use their home court advantage . “We can´t worry about Frankfurt, but concentrate more on our game. We can´t let Tim Ohlbrecht have another big game again. We owe it to our fans to play with passion, so our home court becomes our sixth man”, warned BBC Bayreuth center Stefan Schmidt.

BBC Bayreuth is led by Danny Gibson who is a 27 year old 180cm point guard from Madison, Indiana who is playing his fourth season in Germany and second in the BEKO BBL. In 2007-2008, he slowly made a name for himself in the German basketball world as he played for the Cuxhaven BasCats (Germany-ProA, starting five): 28 games: 15.6ppg, 2.9rpg, 4.2apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 51.4%, 3FGP: 38.1%, FT: 76.3%. In 2008-2009, he played his first season in the top German league for Giants Noerdlingen (Germany-1.Bundesliga, starting five): 34 games: 12.2ppg, 1.9rpg, 3.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 66.0%. In 2009-2010 he made the jump for the cheese in Holland and promptly led the league in scoring for Zorg and Zekerheid Leiden (Holland-Eredivisie, starting five): 43 games: Score-1(18.3ppg), 2.8rpg, Assists-5(4.3apg), 1.4spg, FGP: 55.4%, 3PT: 42.3%, FT: 73.3%. He was named MVP in the Dutch league and was an allstar. Last season for BBC Bayreuth he played 34 games: 12.0ppg, 1.6rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 40.8%, FT: 79.4%. Osvaldo Jeanty is a 28 year old 183cm guard from Gloucester, Canada. He is a combo guard who is a shooter run the offence guy as a point and a scorer shooter at the two. A good shooter with unlimited range and incredibly consistent. He defends bigger guards extremely well because of his strength. He is as tough a competitor as you will find. Extremely hard worker, determined and focused. Great attitude. If deference to team goals and sacrificing personal gain are what coaches are looking for, then Osvaldo Jeanty is your man. His focus is on the execution of game plans, belief in his coach, and faith in his teammates to deliver a common goal. A most refreshing perspective in an age where so many young athletes are preoccupied with what they’re getting. He played at : Carleton (CIS) from 2002-2007. He played for Nordlingen helping team advance to the Beko BBL in 2008. In 2009-2010, he also played for CS Gaz Metan Medias (Romania-Div.A): Romanian League: 2 games: 11.5ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.0apg; Balkan League: 3 games: 7.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.0apg, 1.0spg, in Jan.’10 signed at LTi Giessen 46ers (Germany-1.Bundesliga, starting five): 14 games: 13.1ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 86.7%. Last season for BBC Bayreuth he played 12 games: 9.9ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 54.8%, 3PT: 32.8%, FT: 88.0%.

Kevin Hamilton from New York is a 27 year old 193cm guard. He played at Holy Cross with ex Skyliner Keith Simmons from 2002-2006. He played in Poland the last few years and in the summers in Puerto Rico. He played under coach Sebastian Machowski in Poland and was made into  a point guard even though he has been a shooting guard most of his career. He scored 17,9ppg in his last season at Holy Cross and last season he led the Polish league in assists. What makes him so dangerous is his scoring and his potential and ability to score are limitless. “In college, I averaged almost 18 points per game. I have been a shooting guard for most of my career. Two seasons ago, I had to play point guard in Poland. I always thought that I was a good passer. I think passing has come naturally to me. I have enjoyed playing point guard”, stressed Kevin Hamilton. The best thing that teams can do is to keep the ball out of Hamiltons hands, but that is about as impossible as doing the same to Lebron James. “We tried to keep the ball out of his hands. We didn´t want him to make plays. He is a true point guard. He is a great passer and makes things happen for them. When he gets going, it is hard to stop the team”, warned ex Braunschweig guard Steven Wright. In 2009-2010 Hamilton played 39 games: 10.1ppg, 3.8rpg, Assists-3(5.4apg), Steals-2(1.9spg), FGP: 63.7%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 77.6%. He is one of those rare players that has triple double potential. Last season for Braunschweig, he played 39 games: 9.0ppg, 4.1rpg, 4.3apg, Steals-1(1.9spg), FGP: 53.9%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 67.0%. Last summer, he played for Indios de Mayaguez (Puerto Rico-BSN): 11 games: 8.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 7.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 18.4%, FT: 66.7%. Ekene Ibekwe is a 26 year old 296cm forward with American/Nigerian roots. He is a long, lean dynamic player with unlimited athletic potential that can score in the post and brings energy to the team on defense with his shot blocking ability. He played at Maryland from 2004-2007. He turned professional in 2007 and played in Israel and in France for Bensancon where he was France PRO B champion. In 2008-2009, he played for Aku Selcuk Universitesi Konya (Turkey-TBL, starting five): 28 games: 18.6ppg, 8.3rpg, 1.2apg, 1.8spg, Blocks-5(1.8bpg), FGP: 60.6%, 3PT: 38.7%, FT: 57.0%. In 2009-2010, he played for Bld Antalya (Turkey-TBL) in Jan.’10 signed at Genc Banvitliler (Turkey-TB2L, starting five): 10 games: 21.2ppg, 10.6rpg, 1.2apg, 2.2spg, 2.1bpg, FGP: 58.8%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 59.2%. Last season, he started with The Artland Dragons averaging 11,8ppg, 5,8rpg, 1,1apg and 1,3bpg. He then had a very short stay in Israel for Ashkelon (Israel-Premier League) averaging 6,0ppg and 4,7rpg. He neded the season with BBC Bayreuth playing 15 games: 11.5ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.0apg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 57.4%, FT: 54.7%.

Tyler Smith is a 25 year old 201cm forward from Pulaski, Tennessee. He played at Iowa(NCAA) from 2006-2007 and at Tennessee(NCAA) from 2007-2010, but had to leave early because of disciplinary reasons going to play for Bornova Bld (Turkey-TBL): 12 games: 16.8ppg, 6.8rpg, 4.1apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 53.1%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 72.5%. he remained with the team last year playing 19 games: 15.4ppg, 7.9rpg, 3.7apg, FGP: 55.3%, 3PT: 13.3%, FT: 70.6%. he reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2008 with Tennessee and last season was a Turk Allstar and won the slam dunk contest. Brandon Hunter is a 31 year old 201cm forward from Cincinnati, Ohio. He played at Ohio Univ. (NCAA) from 1999-2003 with Beko BBL players Steven Esterkamp and Patrick Flomo. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2003 in the second round at #56.He played at total of 67 NBA games for Boston and Orlando from 2003-2005. Since then he has had a very fruitful career in Europe playing in countries like Greece, Italy, Turkey, Israel, Lativa and Puerto Rico. He played three complete seasons in Italy and belonged to the top big men never averaging less than 8,6 rpg. Last season, he played for Aliaga Petkim (Turkey-TBL): 19 games: 10.9ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 52.1%, FT: 60.4%; in Mar.’11 moved to BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL): Latvian League: 18 games: 11.5ppg, 6.6rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 56.1%, FT: 48.8%; EuroChallenge: 3 games: 11.7ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.3apg; Baltic League: 4 games: 12.0ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.3apg.

Maksym Shtein is a 31 year old 206cm center from the Ukraine who is the typical solid role player from the bench that just does his job. He is a big guy who runs the floor extremely well,  is able to play both inside positions defensively because of his mobility and speed, likes to play physical and with contact, has nice post-up moves underneath the basket and good hands cutting through the zone,  good shooting skills enable him to play also minutes offensively on Position four and is a confident and fearless player who will produce at any level. He has played in Germany since 1996 for teams like MTV Stuttgart, Ludwigsburg, ratiopharm Ulm(2002-2007 with 155 games), Deutsche Bank Skyliners, TBB Trier and last season with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven where he played 35 games: 3.5ppg, 2.1rpg. Beckham Wyrick is a 27 year old 198cm forward from Cincinnati, Ohio that ha splayed in Germany since he was a rookie in 2006. He played for NC-Wilmington (NCAA) from 2002-2006 together with Bamberg floor general John Goldsberry. Wyrick played for Bayer Giants Leverkusen from 2006-2008. He then had a successful stay with the Brose Baskets Bamberg from 2008-2010 winning a Beko BBL title and cup. Last season, he played for FC Bayern Muenchen (Germany-ProA): 25 games: 8.8ppg, 4.7rpg, FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 30.4%, FT: 68.4%. Simon  Schmitz is a 21 year old 188cm point guard that began his basketball career in 2005 with SG Bad Duerkheim/Speyer junior team. In 2008-2009, he played for BIS Baskets Speyer (ProB, starting five) where he played together with German national player Elias Harris. He played German League: 20 games: 14.1ppg, 4.0rpg, 3.7apg, FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 33.6%, FT: 79.1%; also TV Bad Bergzabern (2.Regionalliga): 8 games: 14.5ppg. Last season, he played for Science City Jena (ProA): 29 games: 10.9ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.9apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 44.7%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 80.2%, in Mar.’10 also played at Mitteldeutscher BC Weissenfels (1.Bundesliga). Last season, he played at the European Championships U20 in Croatia -10: 9 games: 10.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 56.5%, 3PT: 38.6%, FT: 80.0%. Last season, the German played 31 games: 3.3ppg.  22 year old 206cm center Stefan Schmidt who was born in Schwandorf. He started his basketball career with Franken Hexer (2.Regionalliga) in 2006. In 2007-2008, he played for SELLBYTEL Baskets Nuernberg (ProA, starting five): 20 games: 3.2ppg, 2.7rpg, FGP: 39.5%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 66.7%. In 2008-2009, he played for Franken Hexer (ProB, starting five): 29 games: 9.4ppg, 7.8rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 51.3%, 3PT: 25.3%, FT: 75.0%. Last season, he played only three games for BBC Bayreuth. He has played for the German U-18 and U-20 German national teams. Last season, he played 21 games: 0.7ppg, 1.6rpg.

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