So Much Basketball Talent With The Artland Dragons, But So Little Titles?

Who could forget Darius Hall partying with the 3000 fans in Hamburg after the big 74-60 cup win against ENbW Ludwigsburg in 2008 looking like rapper Joseph Bruce of Detroit rap group Dark Lotus giving a concert. That was the first and last title of the Artland Dragons. That 2007-2008 team was simply so special as Chris fleming finally was rewarded with his hard work and dedication with  his first title, American John Goldsberry continued to develop as a point guard and by leading the Dragons to that title helped pave the road to joining Euroleague team Brose baskets Bamberg where he has been since 2008 or American EJ Rowland who after playing in lower leagues in Australia and Latvia was able to continue to chip away at his game then landing in Bonn and almost helping them to a title in 2009 and then moving up to top leagues in Italy and Spain. Every season the club is able to bring in top talented players, but in return are incapable of bringing extended pandemonium to the small 12,000 village with hardware. The list of top players having played in the Artland has been as unending as the Cleveland Cavaliers losing streak of 26 games in 2010-2011 or Psy having to utter the magic words of Gangnam Style since the innovative track became a world wide hit in 2012. Guys that have played there the last four years have been ex NBA player Toby Bailey, NCAA Final 4 player Hollis Price, top European point guard Tyrese Rice, diminutive point guard David Holston who has the heart of Simba in the Lion King, or Nathan Peavy. Especially this season the team was cherished with ex NBA player Dennis Horner and now Ryan Gomes. The team recently made a coup picking up Ryan Gomes(481 NBA games) who was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2005 and his claim to fame is being shipped to Minnesota for Kevin Garnett in 2007 and the rest is history.Horner didn´t stay long in Artland and is now of dreaming of getting back to the NBA displaying his skills with the Springfield Armour. He didn´t have much to mention about his short stay in Quackenbruck, but didn remember some one one duels with American Anthony King in practice. This seasons team may be the most talented team ever and Stefan Koch has the chance to win his second title in Germany. It continues to be a mystery why titles seem as rare there as a traffic light in Quackenbruck, but if there is one guy who can bring a title then its Koch. He has to shape the roles and chemistry the way Svetislav Pesic has in Munich. Maybe Toby the dragon should heat up his dungeon more under the arena so the team has more of an advantage to win big games at home. “The guard play of Mallett, Haynes and Taylor are an excellent guard combo. However I think that their inside game doesn´t fit together. Maybe they will get a new big man to make it work better. I think that the Artland Dragons have underachieved so far this season. Sometimes players chosen for a season just don´t fit together, but I feel that Stefan Koch can turn the season around. If this team clicks then they can be very dangerous. I think that they will finish around 6th or 7th place. They can be a very dangerous opponent in the playoffs”, warned basketball expert Steven Clauss. It seems like basketball expert Steven Clauss had some kind of premonition as Gomes returned back to the States and the team picked up ex Skyliner Brad Buckman. The Texas native has played superbly in Turkey the last two seasons at times averaging double double stats and will help the team. Buckman may not be a star, but sometimes non stars can gte the job done better than those who all are talking about.

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 in 2010, 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 in 2010, 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.

In 2010-2011,The Artland Dragons finally reached the Beko BBL playoffs again after a two year drought where they should of made it finishing the season with a record of 23-11 and landing in fourth place. They went the distance in the Beko BBL playoffs in the quarters beating a feisty Braunschweig team where the yhad to come from 2-1 down to win and in the semi finals gave a very hard fight against 4 time Beko BBL champion Brose Baskets Bamberg  bowing out 83-55 in game five. During the season, they had three three game winning streaks and one five game winning streak. They finished the season strong heading in to the Beko BBL playoffs winning eight of their last 10 games. They were unable to beat Bamberg in the regular season, but lost twice only by a combined score of 8 points. They were able to beat Alba Berlin once, the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven and BG Goettingen. One thing that The Artland Dragons improved on was not getting lost on defense.  We didn’t lose our defensive focus when we weren’t scoring on the offensive end. Earlier in the year, when we would miss shots, our defensive intensity would go down. Later we are able to move on to the next play, without thinking about our past mistakes”, stressed ex Artland Dragon guard Bryan Bailey. “In that season their strength was their speed and ability to score at a high pace. If you allowed them to play this then they can score 80 points plus. A hidden strength is that they were a very confident team and feel and play as if they were the best team in the league”, warned Kyle Hines. “Another strength of the team was their depth, they were deep at each position and continued to get better. The weakness if there had to be one is just being consistent but they were doing that late in the season”, said John Bynum.

Last season, the Artland Dragons reached the Beko BBL playoffs for a second straight season after missing them twice with successful ratiopharm Ulm head coach Thorsten Leibenath in 2009 and 2010. Last season the Artland Dragons finished in fourth place with a record of 24-10. They were led by David Holston who was only 167cm, but played with a huge heart and like he was a big 195cm guard not being intimidated by the bigger players. The club played pretty solid the whole season having two five games and four game winning streaks in the season. Their biggest wins of the season was against FC Bayern Munich at home 86-83 at home where David Holston had an eye to eye shooting clinic with Je kel Foster that was only out done by the famous Larry Bird-Dominique Wilkins shoot out in the 1988 NBA playoffs. The Artland Dragons also swept the season series with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg and the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg. Koch once again formed a very competitive team around Holston with guys like David Fenn, Nathan Peavy, Brandon Thomas, Adam Hess and Bryan Bailey. In the palyoffs, the Artland Dragons squashed the title dreams of FC Bayern Munich winning in five games. Who could forget the spectacular win in Munich where they had no David Holston who had been suspended for a game. In the semi finals, they lost 3-0 to the Brose Baskets Bamberg who just rolled over the Quackenbruck team winning by more than 74 points. It seemed like the spanking of the holy mighty FC Bayern Munich had been their highlight and they just ran out of gas against the Brose Baskets Bamberg in the playoffs.

After two consecutive seasons in the Beko BBL playoffs the only goal for the Artland Dragons is a return, annoying the other top teams and possibly sneaking into the Beko BBL final. The two biggest loses for the team were David Holston and Nathan Peavy. It is still difficult to understand why they didn´t try to hold Holston who went back to Turkey where he had started his professional team, but Koch possibly already had mallet in mind to bring that extra needed experience to the team. Peavy left to join 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin. He had played consistently in his time with the Dragons and will be dearly missed. The club also lost players like Bryan Bailey, Adam Hess, Darren fenn and Brandon Thomas. Despite so many going, the Artland Dragons have presented the league another very strong team this season. Joining Mallet in a top basketball ensemble will be Bryce Taylor possibly the second most important signing after Mallet, because of his offensive and defensive versatility, unending energy and never losing mentality. Andrew Drevo is back in the Beko BBL and will present mismatches at the position four with his stretching the defense. Koch also brought in Kristaps Valters for the injured Mallet who played two seasons with Don Beck in Oldenburg and has been a consistent performer in Europes strongest league ACB in Spain. He also brought in talented youngsters Marquez Haynes who played in the ACB who will bring athletic power to the guard position and Sergio Kerusch who is starting his second professional season after having played in Greece last season. Petar Popovic is a rugged big man that has oodles of experience and will bring physical stability to the boards. The team also brought in German Ben Spoeler. The team kept ex Skyliner Anthony King, versatile guard Johannes Strasser and Germans Guido Grunheid and Acja Njei.  The biggest strength of the 2008 cup winner again will be their deep roster and unlimited offensive power. If the Artland Dragons can combine that with a willingness to defend then they will be able to beat any team on any night. The only thing that could stand in the way of the Artland Dragons is underachieving. They are so talented, but will need to bring it to the table every night. Koch is known for forming formidable chemistry in his teams and will do it again with this gang. “Stefan Koch has done a good job again finding the right players. He always finds the right players. He knows how to find well functioning teams. Bryce Taylor was a very important pick up. The Artland Dragons will be a top team and play at the top”, stressed basketball expert Steven Klauss.

The Frankfurt Skyliners have had unfond memories to playing the Artland Dragons as both having a 7-7 record since 2005 and during 2005-2007 Frankfurtlosing 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. Four 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. In 2009-2010, 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 wasn´t enough as they lost. Frankfurt was able to win at home 77-65 as Pascal Roller scored 20 points. Frankfurt won their first show down in 2010-2011 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 and fans will remember a crashing dunk by ex NBA player Roger Powell. Frankfurt also won their home encounter 83-72 as Dashaun Wood had a Derrick Rose type of game making 29 points, 9 assists, five rebounds and four steals. The team lost a meaningless cup game in Bamberg against Artland where both teams played for third place and Frankfurt was without Dashaun Wood. Last season, both teams played a defensive classic in Frankfurt as Artland won 49-44. Frankfurt returned to Artland winning 66-60 as Jimmy Mckinney led the scoring with 15 points and ex NBA player Jermario Davidson had 13 points, six rebounds and six blocks.

The Artland Dragons have been up and down and in the last 12 games have had two three game winning streaks and three game losing streaks and the Fraport Skyliners have nice memories to their first meeting of the season in Artland winning 89-80 as the Larry Wright cindrella story continued as he led the team with 21 points showing that the PRO B player can play in the Beko BBL. The Fraport Skyliners got a lot of support from Dion Dowell, Quantez Robertson, Zach Peacock and Johnathan Jones. It was the best offensive game of the team in the season. The Fraport Skyliners are looking to start the second half of the season with a win. After a six day training camp in Tenerifa the team will have to make some changes in their game to be successful. “Frankfurt will always have a chance to win if they defend well and can get their offense going and score more than 70 points. Ou never know how offense will be if they defend well. The problem is that Frankfurt doesn´t have a dominat five man. It is fine if Frankfurt plays small ball, but if they don´t rebound well or play defense then it will always be tough to win”, stressed basketball expert Steven Clauss.

The Artland Dragons are led by Demond Mallet. Mallet is a 34 year old 186cm guard from Louisiana that has the distinction of being a cousin of Shaq. He played at Mcneese State and turned professional in 2001 and played for Braunschweig leading the team to the playoffs. With his scoring ability, he quickly went to Bamberg where he was able to become one of the top Americans playing in Germany at that time. He won the Beko BBL title with Bamberg in 2005. He then went to Cologne helping them win the cup in 2007. His biggets success was winning the 2008 ULEB Cup with Joventut Badalona with German Jan Jagla. In the last years, he has played in Turkey, Belgium and Israel. Last season he played for  Belgacom Spirou (Belgium-D1, starting five): 26 games: Score-3(15.1ppg), 2.7rpg, 2.8apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 84.0%; Euroleague: 12 games: Score-4(16.6ppg), 2.3rpg, 3.1apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 71.0%; in Dec.’11 moved to Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv (Israel-Premier League): Israeli League: 4 games: 3.8ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.8apg, 1.3spg; Euroleague: 10 games: 4.6ppg; Adriatic League: 12 games: 6.3ppg, 1.2rpg, 1.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 31.7%, FT: 87.5%, He is a five time Beko BBL allstar winning the MVP in 2007. He was the Beko BBL player of the year in 2002 and 2003 and was the Belgium league MVP in 2011. The team also brought  in 26 year old 196cm shooting guard Bryce Taylor last season who hails from San Diego, California. He is the son of former NBA player Brian Taylor. He is a great sharpshooter with an aggressive dribble drive and has a keen understanding of the game. He played at Oregon from 2004-2008. In his senior year at Oregon, he averaged 12.8ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 46.1%, 3Pts: 38.2%, FT: 82.3% in 30 games. Three seasons ago, he turned professional and played in Italy for Premiata Montegranaro playing 30 games: and averaging 13.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.6spg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 82.6%. In 2009-2010 in Bonn, he played 6 Eurocup games: 18.5ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.0apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 56.3%, 3PT: 36.4%; German League: 34 games: 12.5ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 81.4%. In 2010, he played NBA Summer league for the Indiana Pacers. In 2010-2011 for Alba Berlin Taylor played EuroCup: 11 games: 7.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 16.7%, FT: 83.9%; Euroleague Qualifying Round: 5 games: 0.8ppg; German League: 49 games: 7.8ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 27.5%, FT: 76.0%. Last season for Alba Berlin he played Euroleague Qualifying Round: 2 games: 9.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.0apg; EuroCup: 12 games: 9.8ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 45.9%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 80.0%; German League: 36 games: 11.8ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 53.5%, 3PT: 42.6%, FT: 82.4%.

The team also brought in experienced 33 year old 211cm Petar Popovic from Serbia. He is a very experienced center, who knows ho to play back-to-the basket and has good fundamentals. He isn’ t an explosive leaper, neither a shot-blocker, and probably he grabs less rebounds than expected, but he’ s a good inside presence defensively and has enough soft hands to score in double digits any night.. He already got experience at age 22 joining top team Hemofarm Vrsac playing there for four years. In the last years he has played for teams like Benneton Treviso,  MMT Estudiantes Madrid, and  Spartak St.Petersburg. Last season, he played for Crvena Zvezda Beograd (A League, starting five): Adriatic League: 25 games: 11.2ppg, 5.3rpg, FGP: 54.4%, FT: 77.2%; Serbian League: 21 games: 11.1ppg, 4.0rpg, FGP: 55.0%, FT: 58.5%. He has won five titles in his career the biggest being the 2008 ULEB cup with  Demond mallet at Badalona Joventut. He also played at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

The club also signed 25 year old 191cm guard Marquez Haynes from Irving Texas. He played at Boston College from 2005-2007 and finished his NCAA career with Texas Arlington  in 2010. In his senior year, he played  30 games: ScoreNCAA-3(22.6ppg), 4.3rpg, 3.7apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 40.9%, FT: 74.6%. As a rookie he played together with ex Skyliner Ilian Evtimov for  ES Chalon-Sur-Saone (France-ProA, starting five): 33 games: 14.3ppg, 2.2rpg, 3.9apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 73.1%. Last season, he played for  C.B. Gran Canaria 2014 (Spain-ACB, starting five): EuroCup: 8 games: 11.1ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 50.0%; Spanish League: 34 games: 10.9ppg, 2.2rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 47.4%, 3PT: 28.5%, FT: 79.1%. Recently he played NBA Summer league with AirTran Orlando Summer League (Oklahoma City Thunder): 2 games: 2.0ppg, 1.0apg. He reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2006, won the French cup in 2011 with Chalon and is a member of the Georgian national team. Sergio Kerush is a 23 year old 195cm forward from Memphis, Tennessee that also has the German nationality. He played at Western Kentucky. As a senior he played 32 games: 15.6ppg, 7.9rpg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 30.7%, FT: 64.4%. Last season as rookie he played for  Aris Thessaloniki (Greece-A1): EuroCup: 12 games: 7.4ppg, 5.8rpg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 66.7%; Greek League: 26 games: 7.5ppg, 4.4rpg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 61.2%. The team also brought in 24 year old 206cm German Ben Spoeler. He started his basketball career in 2oo3 with herten. He then played for the Bayer Giants Leverkusen from 2004-2010 getting into five Beko BBL games. He played two seasons in Paderborn and last season played 24 games: 6.1ppg, 2.6rpg, FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 65.6%.

Anthony King is a 27 year old 206cmpower forward/center from Durham, North Carolina. He is back in the Beko BBL after playing in Cyprus and Greece the last two years. This will be his second season for the Artland Dragons. He gives the team an additional scoring threat in the post as well as rebounding, is a physical performer who doesn’t mind mixing it up down low and gives the team added toughness in the paint. He played at Miami, FL (NCAA) from 2003-2008 playing 34 games in his senior year averaging 7.1ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.3apg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 43.1%, FT: 68.9%. He played for the Deutsche Bank Skyliners in his rookie season. In 2009-2010, he played for InterCollege Etha Engomis (Cyprus-Division A, starting five): Score-5(236 pts), Reb-1(148 rbs), Blocks-2(24 blocks). Last season, he remained with InterCollege Etha Engomis (Cyprus-Division A, starting five): Cypriot League: EuroChallenge: 8 games: 17.0ppg, 8.4rpg, 1.1apg, Blocks-1(2.0bpg), FGP: 53.6%, FT: 76.2%; Cyprus League: 16 games: 14.3ppg, Reb-2(10.0rpg), 1.1apg, 1.3spg, Blocks-2(1.8bpg), FGP: 54.1%, 3PT-3(50.0%), FT: 76.8%; Playoffs: 10 games: 14.2ppg, 10.4rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 51.4%, FT:80%, after winning the championship moved in Apr.’11 to Aris Thessaloniki (Greece-A1, starting five): 9 games: 8.1ppg, 5.8rpg, FGP: 50.8%, FT: 57.9%. He was won the double in Cyprus with InterCollege Etha Engomis. %. Last season, he played  EuroCup Qualifications: 2 games: 3.0ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.0bpg; EuroChallenge: 14 games: 10.8ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 62.0%, FT: 81.8%; German League: 36 games: 9.9ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.1apg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 57.0%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 80.2% 30 year old 190cm combo guard Johannes Strasser is playing his third 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 Cologne 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. In 2010-2011, he played 40 games: 6.4ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 87.2%. Last season, he played : EuroCup Qualifications: 2 games: 8.5ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.0spg; EuroChallenge: 14 games: 4.2ppg, 1.2rpg, 2.6apg; German League: 42 games: 5.9ppg, 1.2rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 37.8%, FT: 84.1%

Guido Gruinheid is a 30 year old 209cm forward from Jena that is playing his second season for the Artland Dragons. He is an in-betweener forward with the height (but not the size) of a 4 and the quickness (but not the ball handling and the shot) of a 3. A good rebounder and a hustler. He played for Alba Berlin from 2001-2005 winning three BEKO BBL titles and two cup titles. He then moved to Rhein Energie Koln in 2005 where he won his fourth BEKO BBL title in 2006 and another cup in 2007. He got added experience playing in Holland for Hanzevast Capitals Groningen . He also has gained valuable experience playing for the German national team as he was a member playing at the 2006 World Championships in Japan and at the 2007 European Championships in Spain. In 2010-2011 for MBC, he played 33 games: 7.3ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 58.9%, 3PT: 23.0%, FT: 44.7%. Last season for Artland he played : EuroCup Qualifications: 2 games: 8.5ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.0spg; EuroChallenge: 14 games: 4.2ppg, 1.2rpg, 2.6apg; German League: 42 games: 5.9ppg, 1.2rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 37.8%, FT: 84.1%. The team also retain Christian Hoffman and Acha Njei. Hoffmann is a 25 year old 187cm guard from the Tegernsee in Bavaria. He started his basketball career in 2003 for FC Bayern Munchen (Regionalliga) where he played until 2007. He then got some Beko BBL experience form 2007-2009 playing 44 Beko BBL games with TBB Trier. He then played another season with FC Bayern Munich and Science City Jena before coming to Artland last season. Acha Njei is a 27 year old 190cm guard that started his basketball career in 2004 with Vegesacker TV (2. Regionalliga). He then played fort eh Bremen Roosters from 2005-2009. He then played for 2009 Beko BBL champion EWE Baskets Oldenburg from 2009-2011 playing seven Beko BBL games and three Euroleague games. Last season for Artland he played EuroCup Qualifications: 1 game: 0pts; EuroChallenge: 9 games: 0.6ppg, 1.0rpg; German League: 15 games: 0.7ppg.

 

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