Can John Patrick Perform His Magic Again And Turn Around MHP Riesen Luwdigsburg Into A Winner

It seems that with every passing unspectacular  season, the lust to have a winning formula again with the combination of shear desperation of getting back to the Beko BBL playoffs is getting greater and greater each season for MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. Since leaving the BBL in the 90s and moping around in the Regionaliga via the second Bundesliga, the club finally returned back to the big show in 2002. After finishing their first two seasons in 12th and 14th place, the club had three very successful seasons finishing in eighth, sixth and second place. In the 2006-2007 season, they were one of the big surprises in the league and belonged to the best teams that season. However since 2007, the club has been buried in no mans land in the Beko BBL and last season were only saved by a wild card otherwise they would have been back in the second Bundesliga. Ever since the glory days of Silvano Poropat in 2006-2007, the club has changed their head coaches increasingly the way Tom Brady lost his receivers last season and this season has to mold rookie receivers into guys who won´t drop the ball. In this time, the club has had the services of Rick Stafford, Tolga Ongorin, Marcus Jochum and Steven Key. None of these coaches garnered the francise better than a ninth place finish. Last January, the club was at the bottom of the Beko BBL standings as winning had become as difficult for the Stuttgart neighbor as it is for Boston Redsox player Mike Napoli from cutting off his ZZ Top looking beard. The club removed Steven Key and inserted John Patrick as a type of a fireman to rescue the team. It is never easy to come in blind in a season, and he helped the team get some wins, but we wasn´t able to save the team from having to declare a wild card. The team got the wild card and kept John Patrick.It really doesn´t matter where Patrick has been, if it was in Japan with Toyota Alvark, with BG Goettingen or the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg, he was able to build winning teams and with the case of BG Goettingen make successful teams out of low budgets and sending unknown rookie players on to bigger and better teams after letting them develop in Goettingen. Patrick now was able to form his own team and has blended it nicely with players that have youth, experience and special desire that has been seen in the early going. It is early and currently the team is in seventh place with a record of 3-2 and with time the team will build even more chemistry. In the case of Patrick, one could say three is a charm as he led BG Goettingen to the playoffs numerous times and won a Eurochallenge, led Wurzburg to the playoffs in their first season and kicked out Alba Berlin and now with his third team in Germany Ludwigsburg might have that special spice to have the club magically succeed. If there is any coach that could do this then it is John Patrick.

Last season the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg had a season to forget as they needed a wild card to stay in the Beko BBL.They did have a super start crushing Frankfurt in the home opener and embarrassing ratiopharm Ulm, but instead of keeping that trend the team then lost 10 of their next 12 games and didn´t necessarily have a Christmas with nice memories of the first few basketball months. They just seemed to have a nasty combination of misfortune and inconsistent play. They lost by 30 points at MBC, gave up 100 points to Bonn, lost at home against Giessen and even when they played well against TBB Trier, couldn´t get anything going on offense scoring only 60 points. Despite getting  a big 79-75 win in Wurzburg, management decided to let go of Steven Key and replace him with an unlikely fireman John Patrick. Patrick not known for coming to teams in mid season, but moreover building teams with lower budgets to winners as he showed with BG Goettingen leading them into the BBL playoffs in three of his four years and winning the Eurochallenge as well as leading Wurzburg into the playoffs as a new team in the league and upsetting Alba Berlin in the playoffs. He also had numerous success in Japan leading Toyta Alvark to titles. He is a coach that likes the pressure basketball and knows how to motivate his players to get the fullest out of them. He also made some changes as Americans Kammron Taylor and David Weaver had to depart. He brought in Americans Marquis Blakely who has brought scoring punch who has valuable experience having been in pre season for the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers. Patrick also brought in Eric Coleman who played together with his ex players Ben Jacobson and John Little at Northern Iowa and finished sixth alltime in scoring and always brought up consistent stats in the Ukraine. He also brought in guard Lawrence Westbrook who got injured and missed the rest of the season. The last component that Patrick brought in was Derrick Zimmerman who is a crafty athletic point guard that can fill up the stats. He played at Bamberg back in the 2006-2007 season and even played two NBA games for the New Jersey Nets. “He is our floor general and he is cat quick. He is very long for a point guard at 190cm and his arms are 210cm. You can´t take the ball from him and he has a great eye for the floor. He is a great ball handler. He is so athletic and is like a human highlight reel”, expressed John Patrick. After losing the first two games under Patrick, the team then seemed to find their stride winning three games in a row but against teams in the middle of the standings. The play didn´t im prove so much as the club had a 4-7 record going into the do or die game with the Fraport Skyliners last April. They demonstrated that they could stay with teams like ratiopharm Ulm losing by six points and keeping Alba Berlin at bay on the road before losing gas in the fourth quarter and losing by 13 points. The club finished in 17th place with a record of 12-22. The biggest gift that fans got was that management kept John Patrick and gave him full control of the reins for this season.

John Patrick underwent a severe house cleaning getting rid of every player except German Tim Koch who has been a staple of the Ludwigsburg organization since 2007 having played in between for BSG Ludwigsburg and cooperation partner Kirchheim Knights. He has played 51 Beko BBL games for Ludwigsburg and is a force from behind the three point line. Patrick hauled in a good mix of nationalities of five Americans, a Japanesse, a player from Finland, Venezuela and players from Germany. The new roster is young, but he brought in Mario Stojic(4,8ppg, 1,6rpg, 1,4apg) who has much experience being a 33 year old 198 cm swingman born in Mannheim and has the Croatian citizenship as well. He has played nine seasons in the ACB(334 games) including two seasosn with Real Madrid. He won titles in Italy, Spain and Belgium. He played at the European championships 2007 and 2009 with Croatia. Currently Keaton Grant(13,8ppg, 3,6rpg, 1,4apg) is the top scorer of the team and is a 26 year old 193cm guard. He played at Purdue(NCAA) with top Beko BBl defensive specialist Chris Kramer, NBA player Carl Landry and ex Beko BBL top scorer David Teague. He has experience in the D-league, Czech Republic and Greece. He isn´t only an all around offensive player, but is a top defender. One of the great stories in the early part of the season is the development of Michael Stockton who is a 24 year old 185cm point guard. He has been in the shadow of his famous dad John Stockton his whole life and always had to play at lesser levels like with Westminster(NAIA) or the last two seasons with pro A team BG Karlsruhe. He played solidly in both places and some may have seen the arrival of Stockton as a PR gag for the team, but Stockton has showed that he is for real averaging 12,6ppg, 3,4rpg and 4,2apg. He has proved so far that that he can be a very good player at the Beko BBL level. He is an all around good point guard that can fill up the stats sheet and get the team running. He could be one of the big steals of the season for Patrick.

Shawn Huff(9,0ppg, 2,6rpg) is a 28 year old 198cm forward from Finland also with extensive important European experience. He played at Valparaiso (NCAA) from 2004-2008. He then played three seasons in the top Greek league and the last two seasons in Italy. He played very strong tournaments at the Euro 2011 and 2013. He is a guy that can score, but also another defensive minded player in the John Patrick style that he likes. Another very interesting player that Patrick hauled in was Gregory Echenique(8,8ppg, 5,5rpg, 1,2bpg) who is a 22 year old 206cm center and carries 118 kilos. He is a rookie having played at Creighton(NCAA) where ex Beko BBL players Dane Watts and Anthony Tolliver learned their trade. The Venezuelen national player is a strong low post player that has quick feet. He has had an up and down season so far, but in the big 79-77 win against Braunschweig had a good game with 15 points and 12 boards. He might not always score in double figures, but his rebound and shot blocking work will always be vital for the success of the club. CJ Harris(9,8ppg, 2,3rpg) is a 22 year old 191cm guard from North Carolina who is also a rookie and had a stellar career at Wake Forest playing 124 NCAA games as captain of the team. There he played with NBA player Al-Faroug Aminu and ex Ludwigsburg player David Weaver. As a senior at wake Forest he averaged 15.4ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 43.1%, FT: 84.7%. This got him a date with the Denver Nuggets NBA summer league team where he posted solid stats of 7.2ppg, 1.6rpg, 1.2apg. he is a very good shooter and another typical good defender that will fit into the system of John Patrick. Tanner Smith(7,2ppg, 3,2rpg, 1,4apg) is a 23 year old 196cm guard that can play the positions 1-3. He played at Clemson and last season was a rookie with Landstede Basketbal Zwolle (Holland-Eredivisie, starting five): 38 games: Score-2(18.2ppg), 5.1rpg, 2.3apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 74.3%. He will be a needed offensive spark with that defensive nature in his game.

John Patrick is reunited again with banger Robert Tomazek(3,6ppg, 2,4rpg) who is a 32 year old 205cm center that has the German and Polish citizenship. He started his career in Bremerhaven in 1998 and since then has seen the basketball map going to school in one of the most beautiful places in the States in Aspen, Colorado, playing at Texas Tech and playing in countries like France, Spain, Italy, Poland and the Ukraine. Two seasons ago he played under Patrick in Wurzburg. Last season he played for  Energa Czarni Slupsk (Poland-PLK): 28 games: 5.9ppg, 4.1rpg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 55.7%. He is a beast down low and won´t shy away from anyone and can get you points and rebounds. Patrick is also reunited with Adam Waleskowski who he coached in the 2010-2011 season in Goettingen. The ex Florida State player  is a 30 year old 203cm forward from Ohio that is playing his ninth professional season and has played in countries like France, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Kosovo. Last season he played for the uesseldorf Baskets (Germany-ProA): 24 games: 13.3ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 58.2%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 68.8%. Despite his nice resume, he hasn´t had much playing time so far with 5,6 minutes per game and 2,7ppg. He is a very strong offensive player that can hurt you in many ways and has an array of different shots on offense and can give the team energy with his play. Patrick Flomo82,0ppg, 2,0rpg) who is a 33 year old 203cm forward arrives back in the Beko BBL after playing the last two seasons in Duesseldorf. The ex Ohio university player had a successful stay in Bonn from 2006-2011 where he reached two Beko BBL finals and one cup final. Despite his age, he is still in top shape and will be a menace on the boards especially with his energetic play that also can spark the team in tough situations. Patrick also added Takumi Ishiaki who is a 29 year old 188cm point guard from Japan. He played with the Toshiba Brave Thunders (JBL) and came to Germany in 2011 and played two seasons with BV Chemnitz. Last season for Chemnitz, he played 30 games: 12.8ppg, 2.1rpg, 3.7apg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 74.6%.

The Fraport Skyliners have nice memories of the last 15 games against Ludwigsburg having a 10-6 record. They have a 5-1 record in frankfurt. One player who has fond memories of playing EnBW Ludwigsburg is ex Skyliner Derrick Allen who was the top scorer of Frankfurt in four f six games including a 37 point performance in a 96-87 win in 2008. In 2008-2009, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners split the season series 1-1 winning 68-64 at home getting 19 points from Aubrey Reese and losing the last game of the season 71-62 on the road getting 18 points from Derrick Allen. In 2010-2011 The Deutsche Bank Skyliners beat EnBW Ludwigsburg 74-67 in a low scoring affair. Frankfurt was led by Roger Powell with 16 points and six rebounds while current beko BBL top scorer Dashaun Wood chipped in with 13 points and eight assists. EnBW Ludwigsburg was led by Alex Harris with 18 points and ex Telekom Baskets Bonn center John Bowler was tough with 13 points and nine rebounds. In the last game of the season in Ludwigsburg, the Skyliners whipped EnBW Ludwigsburg 94-79 as ex NBA player Roger Powell had his best game as a Skyliner pouring in 28 points and Dashaun Wood added a double double with 19 points and 10 assists. In 2010-2011, the teams split the season series. The Fraport Skyliners played a horrible game in Ludwigsburg where nothing went their way losing 82-57, but won at home 76-72 as Jermario Davidson led the team with 21 points and Michael Thompson chipped in with 17 points. In the first game last season, the Fraport Skyliners stunk up the building losing 74-56. They only managed 23 points in the first half. Despite scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter, it was too late. Frankfurt was led by Quantez Robertson with 16 points and Johnathan Jones added 11 points.In the do or die game, the Fraport Skyliners came to play winning 77-72 as Frankfurt was led by Zach peacock with 20 points. Devin Gibson added 12 points and Konstantin Klein 11 points.

Seventh placed Ludwigsburg meets number 13 Fraport Skyliners in a rematch of the do or die game from last April Saturday October 26th. The Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg are a team that is blessed with many very solid defensive players and it is obvious that the club will be a team that will define themselves through stopping their opponents on offense. If one compares this seasons roster with last years roster one will see that the club is  a lot more athletic and  a lot deeper. Patrick has incorporated a healthy mix of different nationalities and that should have a positive effect with the chemistry and development of the team. So far the club has had a good start going 3-2. They started off with a 2-0 record beating Bremerhaven and getting a huge 74-64 win against new Beko BBL team SC Rasta Vechta who are as unpredictable as the BG Goettingen teams of John Patrick in the past. Then came two annoying back to reality loses FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin where they were gave up na average combined of 88 points. Last weekend came a big 79-77 win at home against Braunschweig where they won a big game in crunch time which should give them confidence going into the next games. The Fraport Skyliners are coming into the Ludwigsburg game with a brutal 97-65 loss against FC Bayern Munich. They got a real basketball lesson from Germanys most famous team and the best thing the club got was experience for the young players. The club now has a week to prepare and fans will see a totally different game against Ludwigsburg and forget the game in Munich. “We have to get back to basics. We have to regroup and refocus and concentrate on the little things. We have to get back to executing well on offense and defense”, stated Dawan Robinson. The club will need to work on many things this week including these. “We really have to practice well this week on our plays. They were sloppy in Munich and they denied very well. This is something we can´t allow letting the opponent get in the passing lanes”, warned Konstantin Klein.

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