The glory days of Steiner Bayreuth and Michael Koch hoisting the Beko BBL title are a distant memory for the hardcore fans as well as breathing playoff air as the last time it was able to do that the walk man and listening to a Michael Jackson Bad cassette in the mall while doing some people gazing and seeing how many Madonna look a liikes one could count on your fingers was the game, a slew of German soccer legends like Lothar Matthaus, Rudi Voller or Jurgen Kinsmann were still looking but close to their first and only world cup title and the music trend acid was making its rounds following by the dance emergence in Europe and the grunge scene was only a few years away and already preparing for take off as the late 80´s were ending as was the high point of Bayreuth basketball. A long lull and dry spell followed as the club went through bankruptcy and falling into lower leagues until the reemergence of returning to the first German basketball league in 2010. In it´s first three years back in the top German basketball address, the club had some solid teams, but were unable to make noise in the playoffs due to a minimal budget and a continued heightening of the level of play in the Beko BBL. The club wants to change all that and after more than 20 years of feeling like wily coyote with their mouth foaming and foaming with hunger for being able to play in May, the club hopes to make that step this season. With a new name, a complete Predrag Krunic who is able to select his own roster this season unlike last season where he arrived as a fire fighter to douse the fire like he did in his Oldenburg tenure where he led the team to a title in 2009 and a stronger roster than in recent years, this could be the year where the club reaches the promised land for the first time. A new name could be that good luck charm and the name, resume and the intense eyes of sheer focus and desire to achieve success of Predrag Krunic could give Bayreuth fans this season something to forget their misery of certain departed players from last season and to pass their time before the Wagner games commence.
The team started the season last year with a surprising four game winning streak to get some early hype into the area, but then lost nine of their next 11 games and quickly fell from first place to the bottom half of the standings. The team finished the season in 15th place. The team had some big wins during the season with the biggest being the 90-65 trouncing of 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin at home on national television shortly before the new year. One had thought that that huge win might be the turn around, but inconsistency was a big factor in the team never really finding the type of rhythm that they needed to establish. Some other big wins were against Bonn, Hagen and Oldenburg near the end that saved their season. The injury to Kevin Hamilton who was only able to play 23 games was a factor as well as the expectations of inside duo of Americans Gary Mcghee and Jason Cain weren´t fulfilled. Some nights they looked unstoppable, while on other nights they looked like lost kittens scared of being poured with milk all over from naughty kids. The important thing is that the club stayed in the league and can give their faithful fans another season of hopefully more successful basketball. This season one of the most important words for medi bayreuth will be consistency on offense and defense. They will be a team that will play that aggressive Krunic style starting with a disciplined defense that will help the team get the needed fast break points. The team has much experience with guys like Burrell, Hamilton, Bailey and Wyrick and will play a heads up offense that will be unpredictable. German national player Nico Simon has made a steady development with medi Bayreuth an dthis could be the season of his real big breakthrough. This is a very very interesting team and if one remembers, Predrag Krunic did beautiful things in Oldenburg in 2009 winning the title in his second season. He may not win a title right away, but the playoffs could be a reality this season. Krunic is always hungry for success and so are their fans
This season Predrag Krunic was able to build his roster from the start and was able to keep a healthy core of players from last season. Krunic kept his point guard Kevin Hamilton who will be playing his second season with Bayreuth. Last season he played 23 games: 9.5ppg, 3.5rpg, Assists-4(4.3apg), Steals-5(1.6spg), FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 34.1%, FT: 72.2%. This will be his fifth season in Germany after having played two seasons. Hamilton belongs to the best assist players in the Beko BBL and is a pass first guard that is a pest on defense with his fast hands and due to his good rebound instincts is always on the run to get into the offense sets qúickly. He also isn´t lazy over the summers as he continues to play in the Puerto Rican league and since turning professional in 2006 has played 124 games there. The club also kept combo guard Bryan Bailey who at age 33 doesn´t seem to get any slower as he will be starting his 12th professional career and ninth in Germany having played with Artland, Oldenburg and Wurzburg in the past. Last season for Bayreuth he played 33 games: 12.2ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.7apg, 2FGP: 48.9%, 3FGP: 39.7%, FT: 84.7%, in May’13 moved to Acea Virtus Roma (Italy-SerieA): 20 games: 3.4ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.4apg. The biggest strength of the New York native is drawing fouls on the penetration and will hit that big three pointer. The club also kept the German guard duo of Nicolai Simon and Simon Schmitz. Simon may only be 26, but has much BBL experience having played with Alba Berlin, Paderborn and Tuebingen. He is starting his second season with Bayreuth and last season played 33 games: 9.3ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 41.8%, 3PT: 47.5%, FT: 86.8%. He made ahuge jump this summer playing exhibition games for the German national team. He is a great passer and dangerous three point shooter. He will come from the bench and give teams problems. Schmitz is a 23 year old 188cm guard that is playing his fourth season with Bayreuth. Last season he played 34 games: 5.5ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 27.3%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 76.9%. He is the captain of the team and will give valuable minutes from the bench. The club also kept the heart and soul of the team with Beckham Wyrick who is a 29 year old 198cm forward that will be playing his third season in Bayreuth. He has played in Leverkusen and Munich previously. Last season the Ohio native played 26 games: 7.4ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 41.0%, 3PT: 35.1%, FT: 60.0%. He is the heart and soul of the team and will be the energizer from the bench that will hit those big three pointers or muscle home shots in the paint with his grit. The club also kept young Germans Tom Spoler and Peter Zeis. Spoler is a 25 year old 206cm forward that already played 13 beko BBL games as a 19 year old with Leverkusen. This will be his third season with Bayreuth and last season he played 23 games: 2.8ppg, 2.0rpg. More a shooter than doing damage near the hoop and it will be interesting to see how many minutes he does get from Krunic didn´t always give Germans in Oldenburg suitable minutes. Peter Zeis is a 24 year old 196cm forward that is playing his third season with Bayreuth. Last season he played 28 games: 2.3ppg, 1.2rpg. He is a very dangerous three point shooter who nailed four against Tuebingen last season, but again the question will be how much playing time he will get so further development and hard work in practice will be vital.
Medi Bayreuth added four new players with Americans Ronald Burrell, Kyle Weems, Brian Qvale and Phillipp Heyden. Ronald Burrell is a 30 year old 204 cm forward that will be starting his fifth professional season in Germany having played for Bonn, winning the German cup with Cologne and reaching the 2013 Beko BBL final with Oldenburg. IN between he played in France and three seasons for Polish Euroleague power house Asseco Prokom Gdynia playing 45 Euroleague games. The great thing about the New Jersey native is that he is an allrounder at the power forward position and with his size can hit the three pointer at ease and is also a great extra pass giver something he already hurt teams with in Cologne. He will be one of the top scorers on the team a role that he will fulfill. Kyle Weems is starting his second professional season and came after the club parted ways with American Zach Morley. Weems is a 23 year old 198cm forward from Topeka, Kansas that had a brilliant rookie campaign for Bonn playing 38 games: 13.7ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 80.2%; EuroChallenge: 14 games: 13.2ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 79.3%. His stellar play gave him Eurobasket new comer of the year 2013. This past summer he played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Atlanta Hawks): 3 games: 3.3ppg, 3.3rpg. He is an allrounder that can hit in your face shots deep in the corner and will also be 1-2 in scoring for Bayreuth. Brian Qvale also is new on board who is a 24y ear old 201cm center that played at Montana(NCAA) and will be playing his third professional season after playing in Turkey and Belgium. Last season in Belgium he played for Belfius Mons-Hainaut (Belgium-Ethias League, starting five): 31 games: 9.8ppg, Reb-4(6.1rpg), Blocks-2(1.1bpg), FGP-2(65.3%), FT: 66.7%; EuroChallenge: 6 games: 13.3ppg, 9.7rpg, 1.0apg, 1.7bpg, FGP: 71.1%, FT: 57.1%. He has a big gap to fill at the center position after ex NBA players like Jared Reiner and Brandon Hunter playing there. However a plus is that he won´t necessarily have tos core much, because the team already has an abundance of scoorers, so rebounding and his instincts for blocking shots will be his main concern. The team aslo brought back Phillipp Heyden who played in Bayreuth He is a 25 year old 206cm center with rich BBL experience having learned the ropes in the Alba Berlin organization and having played for Ludwigsburg and last season for the Mitteldeutscher Bc playing 30 games: 6.3ppg, 3.4rpg, 2FGP: 52.3%, FT: 80.0%. He is your typical back up center that is a very good free throw shooter and will do the dirty work under the basket.
The Fraport Skyliners have split the season series the last three seasons. In 2010-2011, they won at home 83-75 getting 26 points from Dashaun Wood, but losing on the road 86-79 despite 29 points form Wood. In 2011-2012, they lost at home 79-71 despite 27 points form Tim Ohlbrecht, but won in Bayreuth 90-57 getting 22 points from Jimmy Mckinney. In their first meeting lasz season, the Fraport Skyliners won 76-59 as they were led by Ted Scott and Danilo Barthel with 15 points a piece. In the return game in Bayreuth, the Fraport Skyliners lost 75-69 in a game that was tight in the last few minutes as Beckham Wyrick hit some big three pointers. Frankfurt was led by Ryan Brooks with 15 points and Dawan Robinson with 14 points. The Fraport Skyliners go into the game with a 1-2 record in Bayreuth and it is never easy playing there as it is one of the loudest arenas in the Beko BBL. Ex Skyliner and 2011 Beko BBL MVP Dashaun Wood should know since he was 0-3 in Bayreuth and called it one of the loudest arena´s in Europe. One can never expect to much in the season opener except that the players usually give 100%, but at times may try a bit too hard and these type of games aren´t always the prettiest. This could be a defensive battle and low scoring. Vital for medi bayreuth will be to keep Dawan Robinson off guard and not let him do his magic with the playmaking that led too so many Skyliner wins last season and keeping Andrew Rautins at bay. The battle under the boards could be key with the young centers N’Diaye/Voigtman against Qvale and Heyden. The two energizers Wyrick and Burtschi could make the difference in vital circumstances throughout the game