Sometimes returning back to an ex team can be the simplest of things like it is spreading butter and jam on toast for breakfast or a hardcore soccer fan refusing to wear a FC Bayern Munich jersey. Players returning back to teams isn´t so usual, but it does happen and especially going back to the Artland Dragons isn´t strange as players like Adam Hess and Brandon Thomas have done it. When it was clear that tyrese Rice wasn´t going to return, how nice was it as the club announced that David Holston would be returning. Holston may only be 167cm and look like a cute teddy bear, but his game is anything but cute, but all basketball business. In his season with the Dragons, he was the best point guard in the Beko BBL being fourth in scoring, second in assists and second best pass giver in Eurochallenge play. With Artland in the Beko BBL he averaged 15.3ppg), 3.0rpg, Assists-2(5.6apg), 1.3spg, FGP: 49.7%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 88.2%; EuroCup Qualifications: 2 games: 6.5ppg, 2.0rpg, 4.5apg; EuroChallenge: 13 games: 12.2ppg, 3.3rpg, Assists-2(6.3apg), Steals-2(1.8spg), FGP: 39.1%, 3PT: 35.2%, FT: 73.9% Who could forget his amazing one on one duel against Je kel Foster where both players kept trading buckets while their teammates were out on a stroll to count if there are more white or black cows. Last season he returned back to Turkey where he had played before his first stay with Artland from 2009-2011. Last season he played for Mersin Buyuksehir Belediyesi (Turkey-TBL) playing 29 games: 14.8ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.2apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 37.4%, FT: 79.1%. However it isn´t always that an ex player returns back to his former stomping ground, but Holston seems very comfortable in Quackebruck has another solid supporting cast and it will be interesting to see if he can have similar team success as the first time? “David Holston will be a big factor again with the success of the Artland Dragons with his strong one on one qualities and the ability to take control of the game in deciding moments”, stressed basketball agent and ex Artland Dragon Jan Rhodewald. Bonn guard Andrej Mangold remembers Holston from two years ago and agrees that the journey of Artland starts and ends with a strong Holston. “David Holston is surely one of the best point guards in the league and can decide a tight game in important situations which he did against FC Bayern Munich. He is hard to defend, because he is small and quick, but can also nail the three pointer. Holston has gained more experience and the Dragons started very well and are a playoff team. Where Artland ends their seasons will depend on the play of Holston”, warned Andrej Mangold.
Last season the Artland Dragons finished in sixth place with a record of 20-14 and as so often in the last years, played a solid season, but not extra special being able to compete with the top teams like Bamberg, Berlin or Munich. They had the ability to go on some winning streaks, but then again also went on losing streaks of three games which is something that shouldn´t happen to a potential playoff team. They had had some spectacular displays of defense keeping Bremerhaven to 51 points, Frankfurt to 57 points, Alba Berlin to 56 points or FC Bayern Munich to 66 points, but then again on other nights have stunk up the building giving up 104 points to run and gun team Phoenix Hagen, 96 points to Bremerhaven or 90 points to the Walter Tigers Tuebingen. Artland had their chance at the cup weekend in Berlin to garner that second team title, but were deniedThey came into the Beko BBL playoffs having to face 2012 Beko BBL finalist ratiopharm Ulm and got rudely swept thus ending their season. After three years at the helm, the short Stefan Koch era ended in Quackenbruck. He led the team to three straight playoffs, but the organization didn´t give him the wanted two year deal, so he decided to go. Instead of looking for a new ehad coach, the club promoted assistant coach Tyron McCoy to head coach. For the American it is the first head coaching job after being an assistant in Ludwigsburg and three years in Artland for Stefan Koch.
There were quite a few reasons last season for the typical blab la season of the Artland Dragons not being able to make a run in the playoffs even though the team remains a kind of dark horse contender each season. The club was deep, but the injury to Demond Mallet didn´t help in shaping an early team chemistry as he missed the first few months. Also players came and went through the season which continued to disrupt the building of chemistry and at times it seemed like the club lacked focus in important phases. Head coach Mccoy opted for a house cleaning saying farewell to eight players like Mallet who went back to Belgium and guys like Bryce Taylor who went to Munich, Branislav Rathkovica to Tuebingen and Johannes Strasser to Cologne. Mccoy kept only two Americans and two Germans. He kept Anthony King who is a 28 year old 206cm power forward/center that got the citizenship of Cyprus in 2012. He played at Miami(NCAA) and as a rookie with Frankfurt. He then did a good job shaping his game in Cyprus and had experience in Greece. This will be his third season with Artland. Last season he played 36 games: 10.8ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 52.2%, FT: 79.4%; EuroCup: 5 games: 11.4ppg, 5.8rpg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 53.7%, FT: 72.2%. He is versatile in the post and could have an interesting pass form the post with Johannes Voigtmann as he is a great passer and belongs to the top 5 big men in the Beko BBL. The club also kept faithful Guido Grunheid who is a 31 year old 208cm power forward that will be playing his third season with Artland. Last season he played 36 games: 4.0ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.2apg; EuroCup: 6 games: 1.8ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg. He has played in Holland and for Alba Berlin, MBC and Cologne and has won four titles and three cups. He is a great passer as well out of the post and can defend smaller players at the three point line. The team also kept Germans Christian Hoffmann who is a 26 year old 185cm guard that will be playing his third season in Artland. He played in Munich, Trier and Jena. The club also held on to Acha Njei. He is a 28 year old 190cm guard that is alos playing his third season with Artland. He has played for Bremern and Oldenburg. Both guys wil be important practice players and fight for Beko BBL minutes.
The team brought in eight players and besides David Holston brought in an old known player Brandon Thomas. Thomas is a 29 year old 198cm swing man from Texas back for his second tour of duty in Artland after playing there in 2011-2012. He played in countries like Denmark(league top scorer), Austria and Italy. He helped Braunschweig reach the playoffs twice in 2010 and 2011. Last season he played for FC Bayern Munich playing 40 games: 9.3ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.3apg, 2FGP: 56.0%, 3FGP: 39.0%, FT: 82.1%. He is a pure scorer that will contend with Holston on many nights for top scorer. The club also hauled in Lawrence Hill who is a 26 year old 203cm forward from Arizona that played with the Lopez twins at Stanford. He has substantial experience having played in Mexico, the D-league and Korea. Last season he played for Hapoel Holon (Israel-Premier League) playing 27 games: 12.8ppg, 7.6rpg, 1.5apg, 1.5spg, Blocks-2(1.6bpg), FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 67.8%; EuroChallenge: 12 games: 13.3ppg, Reb-4(8.2rpg), 3.3apg, 1.0spg, Blocks-5(1.2bpg), FGP: 61.9%, 3PT: 15.2%, FT: 65.2%. Last summer he played NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando (Boston Celtics): 5 games: 5.5ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.8apg. He will help Artland with his hard working, rebounding and defensive focus. He cans core, but might not need to with other scorers on the team so he can focus on other things. The team also got Kenny Frease who is a 24 year old 212cm center from Ohio. He could easily take part at a talent show for being able to imitate a cow chewing on a pasture with normal bubble yum gum. He played at Xavier from 2008-2012 recahing two NCAA Sweet 16 rounds. Last season at Tuebingen he played 34 games: 11.0ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 54.8%, FT: 56.3%. He weighs 129 kilos and is quite agile for a man of his size and likes to ignite bullet passes from the post. It will be interesting if he can make the next step in a deeper and more talented roster than what he had with Tuebingen last season.
The Artland Dragons also brought in Antonio Graves who is a 28 year old 191cm guard from Ohio that played at Pittsburgh and has been a professional since 2007. He hasplayed in countries like France, Turkey, Israel Croatia and Italy as well as giving his five cents on the court in the D-league. Last season he played for Giorgio Tesi Group Pistoia (Italy-Lega2) leading them to the title while playing 40 games: 15.8ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 44.1%, 3PT: 41.8%, FT: 75.4%. He is a very athletic combo guard that will score and be a force on the defensive end. He may have some NCAA Sweet 16 stories form his two appearances on boring nights when Quackenbruck has closed down or on long bus rides during the Eurocup season. The etam also added 28 year old 199cm guard that played 106 ACB games the last three years for CAI Zaragoza (Spain-ACB). Lasts eason he played 40 games: 3.6ppg, 1.8rpg. He played at N.Mexico (NCAA) from 2004-2009 and is an excellent outside shooter who went from walk-on to scoring 1,000 points and becoming one of the top 3-point shooter in MWC history. After moving to Spain, he improved the other part of the game, becoming a better passer and defensive player and adding some SF moves too. Despite growing up in New Mexico he has the German citizenship and the discipline of a German. The team also added German national palyer Bastian Doreth who is a 24 year old 189cm point guard. He played for teams like Nurnberg, Bamberg, Munich and Trier. He is loaned out a second time from FC Bayern Munich. Last season for TBB Trier he played 32 games: 4.4ppg, 1.2rpg, 1.8apg. He is a very aggressive defender who could probably cling onto Jared Jordan even if he opted to run to Cologne for a Sunday afternoon at the Dome. He is a guard that is rapidly developing and should be a German national player for many years. He played this past summer at the European championships playing five games. The team also added Michael Wenzl who is a 22 year old 210cm center that has 113 kilo. Lasts season he played for 33 games: 6.0ppg, 3.4rpg, FGP-2(69.5%), 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 54.9%.
Head coach Tyron Mccoy stated that this years team has more players that have feisty defensive intensity, but the club is still finding their groove on the defensive end. They were able to upset Bamberg 71-68 and show a first class defensive performance and as well as beating Alba Berlin 67-66, but then again grind out a 102-101 win against cross field rival Vechta. However it seems like their defense is going in a good direction as they held Tuebingen to 60 points and Wurzburg and MBC under 75 points. If Artland can continue to defend this well and be able to score the way that they are capable then they could be a top 4-5 team in the league. Despite the league getting more and more competitive each season, it would be a very big surprise if they don´t reach the Beko BBL playoffs. The only time they might have a problem winning a game at home is if David Holston takes the wrong dirt road to the arena and lands in Vechta during a game.
The Frankfurt Skyliners have a 8-8 record since 2005 playing against the Artland Dragons and during 2005-2007 Frankfurt 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. 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. Last season, the Artland Dragons won their first meeting with the Artland Dragons 89-80 as American Larry Wright who had scored 27 points in the pre season against Wurzburg showed again his shooting touch scoring 21 points. Dion Dowell and Quantez Robertson added 16 points a piece in the offense surge and Bryce Taylor led Quackenbruck with 21 points. In the return game, the Artland Dragons got revenge putting up the defensive blocade winning 62-58 as ex Skyliner Anthony King showed his baby Shaq mood scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 boards. Ex Skyliner Brad Buckmann contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Quantez Robertson with 23 points and 14 rebounds while Zach Peacock chipped in with 19 points. The last time, the Fraport Skyliner stunk up the bhouse at home against Ludwigsburg, they bounced back with a big win in Trier and now after an ugly loss at home against the Telekom Baskets Bonn, what better place than to start a new winning streak than at home against the Artland Dragons. However like Bonn, they face up against one of the top teams at the moment with a 7-1 record. Artland is on a four game winning streak and have found their rhythm on defense allowing an average of only 76 points. Artland has some good shooters and real work horses down low. Artland and Frankfurt match up pretty evenly on the boards, but Jacob Burtschi knows that Frankfurt has to get on the winning road again. “Artland is a top 5 team and we have to take the loss against Bonn as a motivation to come back. We always bounce back after tough loses. We have to play well for 40 minutes”, warned Jacob Burtschi.