Who could forget how shortly before the end of the 2010-2011 Beko BBL season as ratiopharm Ulm head coach Mike Taylor was rudely dismissed from his duties. The Pennsylvania native who coached the club from 2003-2011 and was responsible for so much in shaping the team in a new direction and putting the team on to the correct path where they are now as a top 5 BBL team was let down by the organization and never got the chance to work in the new arena and ripe the fruits of the success that he had built up. The list goes on and on on how he shaped top German national players Per Guether and Robin Benzing and bringing them to the next level, finding an overweight John Bryant and keeping ratiopharm Ulm in the Beko BBL after getting them there in 2006 and keeping them there when other teams like BG Karlsruhe, Paderborn or Jena only had short stays in the top German league. ratiopharm Ulm continued to make strides the last two seasons as they reached the Beko BBL final in 2012 ending the regular season in second place playing a great playoffs getting to the final, but then coming down to reality being swept by the Brose Baskets Bamberg and having to accept that there was a distinct level difference between both teams. Last season, they didn´t have any sophomore blues under head coach Torsten Leibenath reaching the playoffs again finishing the season in third place and getting to the 2013 Beko BBL cup final, but losing a spirited game to eight time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin. The club also moved into a new state of the art arena and have played Eurocup the last two seasons and welcomed top Europeam teams and players to the small German city Ulm. With the Beko BBL getting more competitive each season, what can ratiopharm Ulm accomplish this season and what can the fans look forward to each weekend besides the usual things as seeing competitive games, an amazing arena atmosphere and top players. However this season one could possibly if one is creative shout these initials T.G.I.F T.F.T.J.J.I.D.H.I.U.T.W. This could be a very difficult riddle to solve what the initials stand for so the solution is Thank God Its Friday Time For Till Joscha Joenke In Da House In Ulm this weekend. Ratiopharm Ulm has another very talented roster with exciting players to watch like NCAA finalist Matt Howard, scorer Cameron Long, exciting Dominican Republic guard Edgar Sosa, NBA draft pick and big man Trent Plaisted or German national player Per Guenther who is always worth the admission to watch. However like in Frankfurt where it took two years for German Danilo Barthel to develop into a future superstar, Til Joscha Joenke is slowly on his way to becoming a very good young German player. Joenke is a 21 year old 190cm guard that started his career with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and is playing his second season in Ulm having a double license to also play for Pro B team Weissenhorn. Last season for Weissenhorn he played 28 games averaging 18.0ppg, 6.6rpg, 4.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 45.2%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 80.4%. This season he is tearing up the Pro B averaging 24,6ppg, 3,9rpg and 4,1apg. The U-20 national player already played 13 Beko BBL games and five Eurocup games last season and credit also goes to his head coach Thorsten Leibenath showing trust in the kid and giving him experience. Last season he stepped up like a veteran in the playoff series against Oldenburg when Per Guether was injured.This season, ratiopharm Ulm is packed with much talent at each position, but he is clenching his teeth together and fighting for playing time and is averaging 4,0ppg and 1,0apf. He has had some solid games scoring eight points the last weeks against Tuebingen and Vechta. He is a very exciting young German guard to watch that plays with that high self confidence in the mold of a Konstantin Klein. Last season his teammate Myles Hesson was able to watch him play each day who sees him being able to become a sort of second type of Per Guether. “I think that he can. He plays with so much heart. He plays every possession as if it is his last and never gives up. That resonates for the whole team. He has an incredible eye for the ball and always goes to the basket for the rebound”, warned Myles Hesson. He is definitely a guy to watch this season how much more he continues to develop and what better mentor to have than a Per Guether. One doesn´t always have to be excited to watch the experienced and more well known players, but also look forward to watching a young kid who is trying to make the jump from the playground to the men´s club.
Thorsten Leibenath came to Ulm in 2011 with a reputation as a head coach that hadn´t been able to get the job done in Giessen or the Artland Dragons, but Ulm manager Thomas Stoll must of knew something because he gave the German the trust and since his arrival in Ulm, the club has been as successful as ever finishing in second and third place and reaching the Beko BBL playoffs each season. Last season the club finished with a 24-10 record and easily disposed of the Artland Dragons sweeping them in the quarterfinals and then taking 2009 Beko BBL champion EWE Baskets Oldenburg to five games that with some positive bounces here and there could of pulled out the series victory and reached their second final in a row. The question is can the club continue their high level of play in season three of the Leibenath regime? The team did a big house cleaning and the biggest loss was having to say farewell to two time Beko BBL MVP John Bryant. This season the club has a good mix of athletic players coupled with big men that have the ability to shine in the set play as well get easy points on the fast break. The club is still finding an identity on defense as they have had some very good defensive performances against Bremerhaven giving up 47 points, 62 points against the Artland Dragons, 66 points against the Mitteldeutscher BC and 55 points against the Walter Tigers Tuebingen, but then again had some lousy defensive games against Ludwigsburg 99 points, 102 points against FC Bayern Munich and have given up 80 points or more six times. That ratiopharm Ulm can score is no secret as the yhave put up 80 points or more eight times already in the season. Their biggest strength is their offense arsenal, rebounding versatility and bench and are deep at every position. Ratiopharm Ulm is a team that proved last season that they can withstand the pressure of their excellent freshman year and equal it in their second season under Leibenath. It will be interesting to see how the team will be motivated each weekend after playing Eurocup a few days before.
Ratiopharm Ulm kept important players Per Guenther, Keaton Nankivil, Daniel Theis and loaned player Philipp Schwethelm from FC Bayern Munich. Per Guentehr is a . Per Guenther is a 25 year old 185cm point guard that was born in Giessen and grew up in Hagen and is playing his sixth season with ratiopharm Ulm. He has very good speed and can dribble with both his hands he is very good in shooting from the arc and he has very good organizational skills, he watches the court with one glance and can assist his team-mates on a blind method pretending that he will shoot. He has an inborn charisma of a leader from a young age so he leads his team without having any problem. He played for BBV Hagen from 2003-2006 and with Phoenix Hagen from 2006-2008. In his last season in Hagen, he raised eyebrows with his play playing 29 games: 14.5ppg, 1.9rpg, 2.4apg, 2FGP: 55.8%, 3FGP: 35.7%, FT: 80.1%. He has improved his play each season as in 2009-2010 he played 34 games: 6.6ppg, 1.8rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 80.3%. Last season, he became into a real scoring option, but still keeping his playmaking qualities in front of him. He got into three games at the World Championships in Turkey in 2010. In 2010-2011 the German national player played 34 games: 12.4ppg, 1.2rpg, 3.2apg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 27.9%, FT: 84.2%. In 2011-2012, he played 41 games: 10.5ppg, 1.8rpg, 3.0apg, FGP: 53.7%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 83.1%. Last season he played 39 games: 11.7ppg, 1.4rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 44.5%, 3PT: 49.4%, FT: 86.4%; EuroCup: 13 games: 8.8ppg, 1.2rpg, 3.9apg, FGP: 45.1%, 3PT-1(56.5%), FT: 76.9%. Keaton Nakivil is a 24 year old 203cm forward from Madison Wisconsin that is playing his third season with ratiopharm Ulm. At Wisconsin he played together with ex Skyliner Jon Leuer and played a total of 107 NCAA games. In his senior year, he played 34 games: 9.7ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 45.7%, FT: 83.8%. He reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2008 and 2011. “Keaton “The Anvil” Nankivil is going to play a big role in Ulm’s success this season. He is a rookie but has been picking up on the European game quickly. He is a team player with high basketball IQ and is automatic from 3pt land. He might drop an anvil on somebody’s head in transition this year if they are not careful”, stressed teammate Dane Watts. In 2011-2012, he played 42 games: 8.1ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 47.3%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 78.6%. Last season he played 29 games: 8.1ppg, 4.4rpg, FGP: 53.6%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 82.6%; EuroCup: 14 games: 8.4ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 92.3%. Phillip Schwethelm is a 24 year old 201cm forward that is playing his second season in Ulm being loaned from FC Bayern Munich. He started his basketball career with Cologne in 2004, where he played until 2009. He played Euroleague at the age of 17. He helped Cologne win the Beko BBL title in 2006. He played for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven from 2009-2011 and in 2010-2011played 36 games: 10.0ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 44.9%, FT: 72.9%. He has been a member of the German national team since 2010.In 2011-2012 for FC Bayern Munich he played EuroCup: 6 games: 1.3ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.3apg; German League: 30 games: 3.2ppg, 2.2rpg. This past summer, he played Qualifications to European Championships 2013 – 7 games: 4.1ppg, 2.7rpg.Last season for Ulm he played EuroCup14 games: 7.2ppg and in the Beko BBL 41 games: 7.4ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 57.0%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 78.9%, 3.0rpg, 1.2apg, FGP-2(72.0%), 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 81.0%. German Daniel Theis is a 21 year old 203cm power forward. He started his basketball career in 2009 for the Spot Up Medien Baskets Braunschweig (ProB). He already played a game for the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig in the 2010-2011 season as he had a double license. In 2011-2012 he played : 21 games for the Phantoms: 3.4ppg, 1.9rpg; played also at Spot Up Medien Baskets Braunschweig (ProB): 25 games: 18.4ppg, 8.9rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1spg, Blocks-1(2.2bpg), FGP: 61.4%, 3PT: 30.3%, FT: 72.4%. Last season for Ulm he played 40 games: 6.3ppg, 4.5rpg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 28.3%, FT: 75.3%; EuroCup: 14 games: 5.4ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 54.3%, 3PT: 12.5%, FT: 75.9%, also played at Weissenhorn Youngstars (ProB): 7 games: 17.0ppg, 10.4rpg, 2.0apg, 1.7bpg, FGP: 60.9%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 70.0%. The team also have double license players Til Joscha Johnke, Kay Gausa and Jonathan Maier.
Ratiopharm Ulm brought in six new players and all are Americans. Cameron Long is a 24 year old 193 cm guard from Palm Bay, Florida that is playing his third professional season. He played at George Washington with guys like Folarian Campbell and Jay Threat who have played in Germany. Long is a player that is a defensive ace and is very potent at the one on one and can hit from outside. Last season he played for Le Mans Sarthe Basket (France-ProA): 33 games: 11.9ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.4apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 32.7%, FT: 75.9%; Euroleague Qualifying Round: 3 games: 11.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.0apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 66.7%: EuroCup: 6 games: 9.2ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.4%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 44.4%. Edgar Sosa is a 25 year old 190cm guard from the Dominican Republic. He is a very promising combo guard, with an immense upside. Has yet the court vision and the passing skills of a proven PG, scores a lot of points and can defend well. He played at Louisville from 2006-2010 and reaching the Elite 8 in 2008. At Louisville he played with current NBA player Earl Clark and former NBA player Derrick Carachter and Terrence Williams. As a rookie he had a very strong season with Angelico Biella (Italy-SerieA) 30 games: 14.1ppg, 1.4rpg, Assists-3(4.5apg), 2.3spg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 37.9%, FT: 66.7%. Last season he played in Puerto Rico with Cangrejeros de Santurce playing 31 games: 7.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 46.2%, 3PT: 36.0%. Trent Plaisted is a 27 year old 211cm center from San Antonio, Texas that is supposed to fill the role left vacant by John Bryant. The American played at BYU(NCAA) from 2004-2008. In 2008 he was drafted by Seattle Supersonics (NBA,2rd(46). He has a lot of experience in Europe having played in countries like Italy, Croatia, Lithuvania, Ukraine and France. He has been in the NBA training camps of the 76ers and Clippers. Last season he played for Limoges CSP Elite (France-ProA): 18 games: 8.3ppg, 5.6rpg, FGP: 56.0%, FT: 51.3%. He is a team player that is physical and likes to bang in the low post. Matt Howard is a 24 year old 203cm American from Indiana that can play forward and center. He is a two time nCAA finalist with Butler. As a rookie he played for Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus (Greece-A1): Greek League: 6 games: 4.0ppg, 1.5rpg; Euroleague: 2 games: 1.0ppg, left in Jan.’12, in Feb.’12 moved to EnBW Ludwigsburg (Germany-BBL): 13 games: 12.1ppg, 5.8rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 60.3%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 83.3%. Last season he played for Chorale de Roanne Basket (France-ProA,) 32 games: 9.0ppg, 6.1rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 57.6%, 3PT: 35.5%, FT: 76.8%. He doesn’ t fear any opponent and knows how to score inside and to grab rebounds. Wil Clyburn is a 23 year old 201cm forward from Detroit, Michigan. He is a Beko BBL rookie playing at Utah(NCAA) and as a senior at Iowa St. (NCAA, starting five): 35 games: 14.9ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 76.8%. He possesses very much athletic ability, can shoot and rebound abd be the Ulm version of Quantez Robertson with dunks. Adam Hess started his third tour of duty for the Artland Dragons two seasons ago, but last season moved to Phoenix Hagen. The trend the last years has always shown that Hess can´t stay away for more than two years from Artland as He played the first time with the Dragons in 2006 and the second time in 2008 and the third in 2011-2012. Hess is a 32 year old 201cm forward from Michigan that is playing his first season in Ulm. He is a quick forward with not so great athletic skills, but very effective at the scoring department. He’s a tough player, however, and knows how to battle inside for a rebound and he defends well and has a great attitude. He played at William & Mary and also has gained experience playing in Italy, Czech Republic, France and Spain. In the Czech republic he won the league title twice with Nymburk and the Czech Rep. League All-Star Game -05 (3-Points Shootount Winner) in 2006. In 20092010, he played for C.B. Tarragona 2016 (Spain-LEB Gold, starting five): 34 games: 14.8ppg, 5.6rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 45.4%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 88.1%. He had much success in the Czech Republic winning the league title in 2005 and 2006 and showing his shooting ability winning the 2005 Allstar game three point shooting contest. In 2011-2012 for the Artland Dragons he played EuroCup Qualifications: 2 games: 3.0ppg, 1.5rpg; EuroChallenge: 11 games: 10.2ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 57.7%, 3PT: 51.3%, FT: 84.6%; German League: 39 games: 6.2ppg, 1.9rpg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 86.5%. last season for Phoenix Hagen he played for 37 games: 11.3ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 48.7%, 3PT: 40.1%, FT: 84.3%.
Since ratiopharm Ulm entered the Beko BBL in 2006, the Frankfurt Skyliners have a positive record against them. They won in overtime 87-83 in 2007 with Murat Didin. The Eric Chadfield buzzer beater will for some reason always be stuck in the minds of people, which had an eerie similarity to the buzzer beater of Justin Gray against the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg two seasons ago. In 2008-2009, Frankfurt lost 74-69, but got a strong game form ex Skyliner Lorenzo Gordon who scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. In the first meeting in 2009-2010, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners dominated the game and put on a scoring display led by 23 points by Seth Doliboa as the club prevailed 95-82.Frankfurt shot an astronomical 57% from the field and easily won the rebounding fight 34-25. Ratiopharm Ulm did a great job only having seven turnovers. In the return game in, ratiopharm Ulm lost 84-77 as Skyliner American Seth Doliboa had another monster game pouring home 18 points and 15 rebounds. In 2010-2011, Frankfurt lost a 87-82 nail bitter in the Kuhberg arena, but returned home to win 74-67 as Dashaun Wood poured in 17 points and 12 assists. In the first meeting of 2011-2012 the Fraport Skyliners lost a winnable game 81-75 in the old Kuhberg Halle where Dane Watts made the two big buckets at the end showing NBA player Jon Leuer that guys from Missouri can play basketball. Ratiopharm Ulm had five guys in double figures, shot better and rebounded better. Frankfurt was led by Justin Gray with 14 points. The Fraport Skyliners got revenge in the return game in Frankfurt winning 77-64 in their strong second half of the season. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Michael Thompson with 16 points while Jacob Burtschi had 15 points. In the first meeting last season, the Fraport Skyliners pulled off a massive upset in their living room winning 78-62 as they were able to control the game and play a solid effort for 40 minutes. Frankfurt was led by Zach peacock with 18 points and American Devin Gibson played his best game of the season producing 17 points and dishing out six assists. Ratiopharm Ulm won the rebounding duel, but the Frankfurt defense was at their best forcing Ulm to cough up the ball 23 times. In the return game, the Fraport Skyliners made their debut in the new ratiopharm arena that fits 6000 people and lost a tight game 74-66. Ratiopharm ulm was led by John Bryant with 19 points and 12 rebounds and Per Guenther added 18 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by by Dawan Robinson with 21 points while Ryan Brooks added 12 points and Zach Peacock 10 points. When one looks at the current Beko BBL standings, the Fraport Skyliners have a 2-3 record against playoff teams. The Fraport Skyliners travel to Ulm with a 10 day rest and lots of self-confidence after the big win against the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig and know this will be a real battle. “Ulm is a great team that is a playoff team. They are a sound team that are coached well. It will be a real battle and we will have to play like against Braunscwheig to have a good chance to win”, warned Jacob Burtschi. Ulm come into the game with a 1-2 record against playoff teams having beta only Artland while losing to Alba Berlin and Bonn and ex teammate Isaiah Swann believes that Ulm will have their hands full in their own living room with Frankfurt. “It is really difficult to win in their new arena. I remember the Kuhberg gym which was difficult, but their new gym is always packed with 6000 fans. But if Frankfurt plays them the way they played us, they will beat them”, warned Isaiah Swann.