A very exciting aspect to a professional basketball players season is when two players meet again for the first time as full blown professionals after making the jump from the NCAA ranks. This is something that happens every so often in any league in Europe. Back in December ex NBA player Andrew Rautins of the Fraport Skyliners and 2 time NCAA finalist with Butler Matt Howard met in Ulm and at the end Rautins was standing tallest as he had led his team past ratiopharm Ulm in three over time periods as Howard once again was at the short end of a game departing the floor as a loser. With the season winding down, medi bayreuth more or less was saved form the cellar and the Fraport Skyliners were closing out the season with pride wanting to win as many games as possible. However this wasn´t the only duel for pride, but there were also two guards from both teams that were meeting again after playing in the NCAA head to head. It was on March 14, 2012 on a comfortable evening in late winter in Los Angeles when Cal State Fullerton arrived to play Loyola Marymount. It pitted bowling aficionado and NBA aspirant DJ Seely of Cal State Fullerton against Jarred Dubois who were both juniors. After 40 minutes, it was Dubois and Loyola Marymount that prevailed 88-79. Dubois played 28 minutes netting five points and dishing out two dimes. It was Seeley who had a monster game with 32 points that probably would have needed a Bobby Brown who played at Cal Fullerton before turning professional as a reinforcement at the guard position to help win the game as he can score at an instant. 25 months later, both American guards faced off again in Frankfurt and this time DJ Seeley got revenge grinding out a hard fought 72-64 win with medi bayreuth in Frankfurt. After the game the numbers of 32 and 5 and schools Loyola Marymount and Cal State Fullerton brought a smile to his face. “I remember that game against Jarred Dubois. It was a win or go home game. It is nice seeing guys again and you can see how they have developed over time. Dubois is a good player a lefty that is hard to guard, shifty around the rim and a good defender”, stressed American DJ Seeley. Dubois who had two tough endings to the last two games also remembered the 32 points, but also was quick to reply that Loyola Marymount had won the game. “It is lovely to see a guy like Seeley again. He didn´t get the recognition that he should have, because of playing at a smaller school and it doesn´t surprise me how well he played”, added Jarred Dubois. “I have seen many guys over my career that I played against in the NCAA. I remember playing against Chris Mcnaughton when he played for Bucknell and it is especially nice when you can still see guys now at this stage when so many guys aren´t playing anymore”, stated ex Holy Cross guard Kevin Hamilton.
Another great thing to observe before a game is the familiar faces that one may see in the stands following a basketball game. In the last weeks, Hans Beth who once coached Hanau has been a frequent visitor in the Fraport arena or Kevin Koch who is the son of medi bayreuth head coach Michael Koch has been in Frankfurt. Despite still living in Bonn, he is at every road game of Bayreuth to support his dad and was even in Frankfurt recently when the Brose Baskets Bamberg played as he was watching his friend Jared Jordan play. These two guys were both in attendance today, but the game marked also the arrival of the male relatives were in attendance. Over in the medi bayreuth fan area, there was a middle aged man that looked like he lived in Florida year round that was sporting the smooth tan that would even have made actor George Hamilton jealous and it was so apparent that he was the dad of Bayreuth player Beckham Wyrick. His friendliness was apparent right away, but what he didn´t know was that he wasn´t the only Ohio native in the arena that was a relative of a player, but a relative of Fraport Skyliner Quantez Robertson was also in the stands.It was unsure if it was the dad or an uncle, but one thing was certain, the resemblance to Tez was easy to observe. The relative of Tez wasn´t as lean as Tez, but probably was an athletic demon in his younger days. After the big medi bayreuth win, Beckham Wyrick had some time to reflect on how thrilled he was too have his dad at the game and let out a loud laugh when asked about his dads chances against the relative of Tez in a one on one game. “It was really good to be able to play for my dad. He doesn´t get to see me play so much anymore. He once saw me play here when I was playing for Bamberg years ago. I am sure that Tez´s relative would beat my dad in a one on one game”, smiled Beckham Wyrick. Well then again Beckham Wyrick didn´t know that his dad definitely had the lean effect over Tez´s relative and probably would of won by speed.
Two months ago medi bayreuth fans were panicking that they might not survive and stay in the Beko BBL for next season, but the club has rattled out five wins in the last six games and won the last three road wins and came into the game in 15th place with a record of 9-19 and were a real crunch time team has they had won their last games with not more than 14 points combined. medi bayreuth played a solid game and just were the more intelligent team in crunch time, made big shots, plays and made the defensive stops to get the win. Maybe it was the luck of the beard of Kevin Hamilton who has been growing it as of late. “I didn´t start to grow this beard because of Isaiah Swann as his beard is more established in the league, but since we have been winning I have decided to let it grow.It has brought us luck. We turned over the ball too much in the first half and they got easy buckets. We defended better in the second half. We had good possessions and cut down our turnovers and were lucky to get the win”, said New York native Kevin Hamilton. 2014 has been a short basketball year to forget as they have had a 2-11 record. Crunch time has slowly become like a curse no matter if Frankfurt plays in Frankfurt, Oldenburg, Braunschweig or Ludwigsburg as they have lost six games at the end and with half those wins probably would be scratching at the playoff places. At the end, it was the little things that hampered the Fraport Skyliners from winning as a smashed game board at the entrance to the catacombs showed the frustration of the Fraport Skyliners. “I thought that Frankfurt played ok, but it is tough losing close games. It was rebounding and the little things that hurt the team. I think that the club will be ok. It just has to execute better”, stressed Canadian Bryson Johnson.
4,750 fans were in the arena to see a Sunday matinee as Frankfurt was without Dane Watts and Konstantin Klein, but the Fraport Skyliners got out on the board first getting Quantez Robertson free throws and a Ramon Galloway three pointer as Frankfurt led quickly 5-0. However medi bayreuth also found their rhythm quickly going on a 8-2 run to take their first lead of the game 8-7. In the Bayreuth run, it was the lethal combination of DJ Seeley who nailed two consecutive three pointers and ex Bonn forward Ronald Burrell who hit a mid-distance shot. Then both teams exchanged leads as Danilo Barthel nailed free throws and Burrell connected again on a runner as Bayreuth led 10-9. medi bayreuth continued to take advantage of the dismal Frankfurt pick and roll and transition defense as Seeley scored inside as if he was on a Sunday stroll and Frankfurt were behind the arena picking daisies. Burrell then connected on a three pointer as he was hitting nothing but net as Bayreuth led 15-9. However the Fraport Skyliners closed out the first quarter with an 8-2 run to lead 18-17. Barthel made his two free throw misses good again by taking advantage of the Johannes Voigtmann lob pass an getting an easy put back and then also jammed home a quick Max Merz pass. Frankfurt kept taking advantage of Bayreuth break downs inside as Robertson scored on the hard penetration and Dubois made two free throws. “We started out bad, but I felt that the game was even. Frankfurt upped their defensive intensity the last few minutes and got easy buckets”, stressed Bayreuth guard Nico Simon. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 60% from the field and 50% from outside while medi bayreuth was shooting 50% from the field and 50% from outside. Frankfurt had the 6-5 rebound edge, but a horrible eight turnovers while Bayreuth had seven turnovers.
In the second quarter, the Fraport Skyliners started to pull away from medi bayreuth as they were getting production from every player and Danilo Barthel added on to his first quarter eight points with seven in the second quarter. The Fraport Skyliners took off in the second quarter heightening their 7-0 run to end the first quarter with a 6-0 run with consecutive three pointers from Barthel and Merz as Frankfurt led 24-17. Hamilton who had four turnovers in the first quarter made some amends with dropping a three pointer, but Barthel kept his offensive aggressiveness intact and Frankfurt ahead 27-20 with a running hook shot over German Philipp Heyden. Frankfurt was defending very fiercely and much of their baskets were the result of Bayreuth turnovers. Super Tez was the force on defense getting three steals and on the offensive end, Ramon Galloway calmly nailed a pull up jumper and Voigtman scored inside as Frankfurt led 31-22. American Kyle Weems then made a dunk getting a back door pass from Hamilton as Frankfurt still led 31-24. The Frankfurt offense was still potent as they could keep their lead as Barthel scored on a tip in ally-op. After a Brian Qvale lay in who had been kept quiet to that stand point with little touches and constant double team, it was Dubois and Weems who traded three pointers as Frankfurt still had the 37-29 advantage. Dubois then hit a runner and Qvale closed out the second quarter with a nifty turn around shot as Frankfurt led 39-31. “We had a bad start again, because we had problems with their press defense and had too many turnovers. Barthel was playing great on the high and low and Robertson was defending great and gambling correctly and we couldn´t take care of the ball”, added ex Alba Berlin guard Nico Simon. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 64% from the field and 80% from the three point line while medi bayreuth was shooting 43% from the field and 38% from the three point line. Bayreuth had the 15-11 rebound edge, but 13 turnovers while Frankfurt had 11 turnovers.
In the third quarter, the Fraport Skyliners had a 10 point lead, but at the end of the third quarter led by only two points as Frankfurt let medi bayreuth back into the game. medi bayreuth exploded on a 9-3 run to start the third quarter to cut the Frankfurt lead to 42-40. Voigtmann got Frankfurt on the board first with a kook shot over Qvale, but then it was all Bayreuth going on a scoring onslaught as Qvale got more touches got to the free throw line, scored with a runner and a massive dunk, while Weems easily got by Voigtmann for the easy bucket. Bayreuth was playing very smart offense and had stepped up their defensive intensity while Frankfurt wasn´t executing on offense and got away from the team basketball that they had displayed in the first half. Seeley who had been as quiet as any town during the Superbowl got heated up again making a dunk and hitting a three pointer as Bayreuth retained the lead again 45-44. The lead would go back and forth for a few times as Galloway connected on a tip in and Heyden scored inside as Bayreuth led 47-46. Frankfurt then got the lead back and kept it in the third quarter as Robertson penetrated hard to the hoop and finished with his left hand as Frankfurt led 48-47. Galloway then continued the Frankfurt 7-0 run with a lay in and step back three pointer as Bayreuth trailed 53-47. Wyrick then scored then scored inside as did Galloway hard over Heyden as Frankfurt still led 55-49. Bayreuth closed out the third quarter with a 5-0 run as Heyden hit free throws and Weems made a three pointer, but Frankfurt still led 55-54. “We stuck with it, got stops and made big plays. We did miss some free throws, but did a good job keeping the turnovers down”, added Kyle Weems. “I think we had the ball stuck too much in the same spot. Bayreuth hurt us with their defense”, stated Bryson Johnson. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 57% from the field and 56% from the parking lot while medi bayreuth was shooting 47% from the field and 47% from the parking lot. Bayreuth had the 21-19 rebound edge and 13 turnovers while Frankfurt had 15 turnovers.
The fourth quarter was a dog fight where medi bayreuth had the better nerves at the end. medi bayreuth got the lead back as Qvale scored inside as Frankfurt trailed 57-55. However it the Frankfurt rookie guard duo of Dubois and Galloway that smoked medi bayreuth with two consecutive three pointers as Frankfurt took command again 62-57. However medi bayreuth didn´t let that rookie push unnerve their game as Kyle Weems led his team on a swift 6-0 run making all points with lay in, free throws and a three pointer to give Bayreuth the lead back 63-62. Aziz Ndiaye then hit two big free throws to give Frankfurt the lead back 64-63. Ndiaye had been huge in these few minutes as he made a monster block on Weems and scooped up some big defensive rebounds. “Aziz was great. He was so valuable on the offensive glass. He is the best teammate and gives everything on every possession. He does great things and never takes off a play”, warned Bryson Johnson. Frankfurt had the lead, but instead of keeping the lead, they lost it and even worse let medi bayreuth end the game with a 9-0 run. Burrell and Wyrick then scored free throws as Barthel and Robertson both missed shots on two possessions as one could of questioned the shot selection. “If those two guys get that same shot 10 times, then each guy makes it nine times. They are both big time players and we have the confidence always that they will make those shots in that situation”, stressed Jarred Dubois. Dubois then made a turnover which led to an open two handed dunk by Burrell as medi bayreuth led 68-64. “It was a handoff and each defender went for it and Burrell had the open space for the dunk”, stated Bayreuth guard DJ Seeley. Dubois then missed a three pointer and Weems ended the game with four free throws to seal the victory for medi bayreuth. “Dubois played a great game. He hit shots and made big plays in the game. Turnovers happen and we need to rally as a team at the end to get the win”, warned Bryson Johnson. “I thought that I was more patient than in Braunschweig. Turnovers are a part of basketball. I need to learn from my mistakes”, added Jarred Dubois. medi bayreuth was led by Kyle Weems with 15 points. Ronald Burrell added 14 points. DJ Seeley and Brian Qvale added 13 points a piece. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Ramon Galloway with 17 points. Danilo Barthel contributed 15 points and Jarred Dubois 12 points. medi bayreuth shot 44% from the field and 44% from outside and the Fraport Skyliners shot 46% from the field and 47% from outside. Both teams had 31 rebounds a piece. Frankfurt had 21 turnovers and medi bayreuth had 16 turnovers.