When you see Larry Gordon depart a locker room after a hard fought basketball battle win or loose in any German arena, you see similarities to other players in that he is wearing normal leisure basketball attire, has headphones as huge as 70´s afros and has a gentle smile to fans who are inquiring for an autograph, however there is one big difference to the regular Beko BBL player in that when he is on the court, his game separates himself from most as he belongs to the top five players at his position. Gordon is a 26 year old 196cm guard/forward that is playing his fifth professional season and second in Germany with Phoenix Hagen after having played as a rookie in Holland and two seasons in Austria. He never won anything in his first three seasons in Europe, but was a major force in those leagues. Usually when you see a player coming from a lower league to the Beko BBL, one may have some skepticism as to wheather the player can make the jump to a higher league. We have seen it ever so often in the Beko BBL for example a Derrick Allen coming from Iceland to BG Karlsruhe, a high scoring Davin White coming form Mexico to Germany last season or a James Florence coming from Hungry to Braunschweig this season. All these guys were able to make the transition as was Larry Gordon. Gordon already had a stellar rookie season in the Beko BBL, but in a way was in the shadow of Davin White who led the Beko BBL in scoring and steals and won 4 Eurobasket.com All-German Bundesliga awards. White was a big reason why Phoenix Hagen was able to reach the playoffs. Last season Gordon in a way was the unsung hero award, but he put up amazing stats in 37 games averaging 12.7ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 43.0%, FT: 83.2%. One could say that without a Gordon, White would not have been as lethal and reaching the playoffs would have been more difficult. Gordon knew before the season that there would be more expected of him on the court. “Yea I worked hard on my game this off season, I really wanted to get better at certain things so I can be a major threat when I’m on the court and so my teammates as well as the coaches can trust that I can make the right plays no matter what the situation is. I set a goal for myself to be more of a threat this year in the BBL and I will continue to work to achieve that goal”, stressed California native Larry Gordon. This season Gordon has improved his stats in scoring, rebounding and assists. There was a time where he was leading the Beko BBL in rebounds by himself, but at the moment is still leading it, but is in a dog fight with Bonn center Jamel Mclean of Bonn. “Rebounding is one of my strongest attributes but I’m an All Around player so I don’t just focus on one thing, I do a lot of other different things on the court that sometimes stats do not show. So I’m just going to keeping doing what I’m doing and let everything else take care of itself. It actually feels good, because I pride myself on rebounding because it’s one of the strengths in my game. Also because I’m a 6’4 guard leading a league with a lot of really good big man in rebounding, so it feels real good”, commented Larry Gordon. Gordon can fill up the stats sheet and his versatility and passing game are big suits of his overall game. “My versatility is one of my strong suits in my game, so when something is not working I just do what is and let everything else take care if itself. Creating has always been in my game but people only notice when it shows up on the stat sheet, I create a lot good looks for my teammates and that’s what makes me an effective combo guard in this league”, warned Larry Gordon. With only a few weeks to go in the regular season and Phoenix Hagen two wins from the last playoff spot, it will require a minor miracle to make the playoffs as individual success is always in the shadow of Gordon. “It’s been tough as of late to enjoy individual success when your not winning games. I’m the type of player that really doesn’t care unless we Win games. Not saying I don’t observe the way I play but you take more pride as a player when you can back your stats up with Wins”, added Larry Gordon. If that playoff miracle does arise, then one will be sure that Larry Gordon had his magical hands and basketball IQ involved in reaching the promised land.
Since coming into the Beko BBL in 2009, Phoenix Hagen has continued to support run and gun basketball and nothing changed last season as they kept practicing it in games, but they also defended a bit better than in previous years as they earned their first playoff berth finishing the 2012-2013 season in eight place with a record of 18-16. They gave a great fight in the first round of the Beko BBl playoffs against the Brose Baskets Bamberg winning game two in Hagen, but were unable to win the series as the depth and experience of the Freak City team was just too much. There were many reasons why the club made the playoffs last season. Having a strong playmaker with Davin White who decided many games with his play, but also was able to put his scoring on the back burner when his shot wasn´t falling and was able to find his teammates. The team chemistry was developed very early in the season and with early success came for team confidence. Their offense also seemed to grow from other years as with a month before the end of the season, the team scored 80 plus points in 18 of 30 games and average 86 points a game. One could even be as unfriendly and mention that the team didn´t play defense in order to conserve energy for their offense. They continued to play run and gun, but seemed to play with a bit more consistency than in the past and the club also has found the word DEFENSE in their vocabulary. They were able to hold offensive teams like Oldenburg and Tuebingen to under 70 points and the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg who weren´t the strongest scoring team, but are capable of breaking out especially with a then fit Jimmy Mckinney who logged 34 minutes and was held to eight points. Not sustaining any severe injuries was also a plus for the team chemistry. Head coach Ingo Freyer preaches offense and last season the difference to the first three seasons, it seemed like they were playing a type of Euroleague offense compared to BBL offense the last years.
This season Phoenix Hagen had to say farewell to key players Davin White and Adam Hess as well as role player Abe Lodwick who was a type of glue guy coming from the bench that was capable of making big hustle plays. A big part of future success this season could be the importance of being able to hold six players from last season while adding three new parts to the roster this season. The most important player the club kept was Larry Gordon who is a 26 year old 197cm forward playing his fifth professional basketball season. He played his first three seasons in lower leagues Holland and Austria and last season made a very good transition to the stronger Beko BBL playing 37 games and averaging 12.7ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 43.0%, FT: 83.2%. He received a Eurobasket.com All-German Bundesliga Honorable Mention. Gordon is a very versatile player that can do just about everything on the court. He defends positions two to four, rebounds well and scores on a consistent rate. He is Phoenix Hagen´s best player. The team was also fortunate to be able to keep David Bell. Bell is a 32 year old 187cm guard that is the only basketball player on earth that looks like baby Hulk and can shoot out the lights on the court. The Oakland California native has a lot of experience having played in the D-league and in Holland, Switzerland or Finland and last season played 37 games: Score-5(15.7ppg), 2.5rpg, 2.5apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 39.9%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 90.1%. If he isn´t consistent then it is harder for the team to win. He great combination of shooting and penetrating and drawing fouls is his trademark. Another important player that they held on to was Mark Mr fantastic Dorris who is a 27 year old 188cm guard from Cincinnati, Ohio that could probably open up a special school with his friend Quantez Robertson entitled, “The dunking flight school”. He played at Marshall(NCAA) and since turning professional in 2009 has always been in Germany playing for Cuxhaven, Ludwigsburg and now his third season in Hagen. Last season for Hagen he played 30 games averaging 10.6ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 43.3%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 75.0%. He is a scoring guard that loves to dance into the lane and finish with a mid distance jumper.
The team also kept defensive specialist Dino Gregory. Gregory is a 24 year old 200cm forward/center from Baltimore, Ohio that played with NBA player Grevis Vazquez at Maryland. After playing for the : Sundsvall Dragons in Sweden as a rookie, he also made a good transition tot he Beko BBL last season playing 37 games: 7.3ppg, 6.0rpg, Blocks-1(1.6bpg), FGP: 55.6%, FT: 60.0%. He is very athletic and fits perfect into the playing style of Ingo Freyer and is a very good leaper and rebounder for his size. It will be important that the club establish more of an inside game, so there is more variation in the team game. He won the last two seasons Eurobasket.com Swedish Basketligan All-Defensive Team -12, and Eurobasket.com German Bundesliga All-Defensive Team -13. The team also kept German Ole Wendt who is a 21 year old point guard that comes from the Paderborn school of basketball. He belongs to the next generation of German basketball players. Last season he played 37 games averaging 3.6ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.6apg. He made a tremendous step last season and already shows a remarkable ability to lead a team at such a young age. He is a great defender that just doesn´t lay off his man. He has played for the German U-18 and 20 teams and the next step is the A German national team. The team also kept German basketball dinosaur Bern Kruel who is playing his 21ist professional season and 17th in Hagen. The 210cm center is 37 and this will be his last season. Kruel is an old school player that isn´t athletic, but can score and pass out of the post. He has seen it all as a professional and won a Beko BBl title in 2004 with Frankfurt. The club brought in three new players with Henry Dugat, Keith Ramsey and Nikta Khartchenkov. The most important order of business was finding a player that could replace top point guard Davin White. Dugat is a 26 year old 183cm point guard from Dayton, texas that played at Baylor. He is an NBA level PG with a 41 inch vertical – Quick, athletic guard. Known for highlight-reel quality drives, dunks and blocks. Finished seventh all-time with 158 career 3-point field goals made. Finished career fourth all-time at Baylor with 152 career steals. H eplayed most of his career in Mexico and his first in Europe last season with LF Basket (Sweden-Basketligan, starting five): 36 games: Score-2(20.4ppg), 5.8rpg, Assists-3(4.8apg), Steals-1(2.0spg), FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 40.2%, FT: 82.7%. The team also brought in a side kick for Gregory and to keep company in the zone with Keith Ramsey. He is a 26 year old 205cm power forward/center from Tennessee. He played at Missouri and as a professional in Spain, Sweden and Israel. Last season he played for Ironi Kfar Hamaccabia Ramat Gan (Israel-National League) playing 31 games: 12.7ppg, Reb-4(10.6rpg), 2.0apg, Steals-5(2.5spg), 1.3bpg, FGP-1(66.4%), 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 57.1%. His athletic and strong defense will make him a formidable duo with Gregory. The team also brought in Nikita Khartchenkov who is no stranger to Germany. He is a 26 year old 201cm forward that has the German/Russian citizenship. He started his career in 2003 with TV Langen and then got experience playing for BC Khimki-2 Moscow. In Germany he is a journeyman having played for Braunschweig, Chemnitz, MBC, Lepizig and Nurnberg. He also played a season in Romania. Last season he played for Uni-Riesen Leipzig (Germany-ProA): 13 games: 15.5ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.8apg, 2FGP: 42.3%, 3FGP: 36.6%, FT: 78.9%, in Jan.’13 moved to Nuernberger Basketball Club (Germany-ProA, starting five): 18 games: 14.6ppg, 2.3rpg, FGP: 50.6%, 3PT: 41.0%, FT: 83.6%. His best quality is his deadly shooting and his unorthodox shooting technique makes it hard to defend. He already showed an early knack for dropping bombs from outside nailing 15 three pointers as a junior.
Head coach Ingo Freyer is coaching his fifth season in the Beko BBL with Phoenix Hagen. He had a nice playing career playing for the German national team, in Italy and winning the Korac Cup with Alba Berlin in 1995 has made a solid transition to coach coaching three seasons in Wedel and now is behind the helm for his 7th season with Phoenix Hagen. He is the bonafide players coach that gives his players freedom. Experience in the Beko BBL has improved his coaching as last seasons playoff appearance the first since 2004 was no fluke in an always more competitive land growing Beko BBL. He has given the name run and gun a totally new meaning in the Beko BBL as sometimes just seeing their guards shoot, shoot, shoot makes one think that one is on the playground. Important was keeping consistency within the roster, but this season the team will be on the radar of teams and wont have that surprise factor as last season as no one predicted their good finish. The good last season gave the returning players very much confidence like Larry Gordon and David Bell. A big part of where Phoenix Hagen will be how consistent Henry Dugat will be. It is never nice to put so much pressure on one player, but Davin White was the best performing player on that team since they entered the Beko BBL in 2009 and he carried the team last season and in a way with the many role players this season will need a leader like that again. Dugat has played a solid season, but is no where statistically where White was and having that pest like White on offense and defense has been missing this season for Phoenix Hagen being consistently in the playoff places. Currently Phoenix Hagen is in 10th place with a record of 13-16 and still has big chances of making the playoffs as they are two wins from the last spot. This season their rapid fire power hasn´t been as explosive as last season as they have scored only 100 plus points once. Their defense continues to be their sour note as they have given up 100 plus points five times and 80 plus points 19 times. Their biggest wins have been against Alba Berlin, Artland Dragons and EWE Baskets Oldenburg. One never knows what you will get from Phoenix Hagen. They play very well at home and come into the game against Frankfurt having lost five of their last seven games. “Our preparation has been excellent the last weeks. We just need to execute. We have been good in preparation, but not doing it in games where it counts. We have to control the tempo in Hagen”, warned American Jarred Dubois.
The Frankfurt Skyliners swept the season series in 2009-2010 with Phoenix Hagen stomping all over them in Hagen 93-64 as Derrick Allen led all scorers with 22 points, Aubrey Resse chipped in with 18 points and Grayson Moyer had one of his best games as a Skyliner with 15 points and five assists. In the return game in Frankfurt, Phoenix Hagen lost 89-76. Skyliner captain Pascal Roller led Frankfurt with 18 points and five assists and Derrick Allen produced 17 points. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners outrebounded Phoenix Hagen 66-49 in both games. In 2010-2011, the Skyliners also won the season series with a 90-85 win as Jermaine Bucknor led the team with 19 points and six rebounds and 92-53 romp at home getting 24 points and eight rebounds from Roger Powell and only six points and seven assists from Dashaun Wood. In the first game in the 2011-2012 season, the Fraport Skyliners romped Phoenix Hagen 83-65 as fans saw the last Beko BBL game of Jon Leuer who erupted for 27 points and Jimmy Mckinney had 21 points. In the return game, the Fraport Skyliners stomped all over Phoenix Hagen 92-47. Five players scored in double figures as the team was led by Devin Gibson with 16 points. Last season Fraport Skyliners lost the first game against Phoenix Hagen in their own living room in embarrassing fashion 107-102 as they witnessed their opponent gave them a display of how to play run and gun basketball. Phoenix Hagen shot an amazing 51% from the field and 60% from the three point line. In the return game in Hagen, the Fraport Skyliners had their nerves under control in crunch time slipping by Phoenix Hagen on the road 81-78 as Frankfurt was led by Dawan Robinson with 25 points and ex Giessen players Ryan brooks chipped in with 14 points and Laquan Prowell with 13 points. In the first game of this season, the Fraport Skyliners squeezed out a 82-79 win at home as Aziz Ndiaye had his best game of the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Frankfurt had consistent production from many as Jarred Dubois had 15 points, Andrew Rautins chipped in with 13 points and Germans Danilo Barthel and Konstantin Klein had 12 points a piece. Frankfurt had no remedy for Mark Dorris who poured in 24 points for Phoenix Hagen. David Bell had 17 points and Larry Gordon had 16 points. Phoenix Hagen hosts the Fraport Skyliners April 17th.