There are always those enchanting stories of players coming from smaller schools that have to start at the bottom of the basketball league food chain and through strong performances and keeping stats consistent make the jump to higher leagues. This scenario has been displayed in the German basketball leagues with guys like Jason Boone, Devin Uskoski or Jacob Doerkson moving up from the Regionaliga and Pro B leagues to find their niche in the Beko BBL. Another guy who has done this is California native Richard Williams who excelled at San Diego State8NCAA) an dthen worked his way up the German leagues starting with UBC Hannover in 2011 in the Pro B where he averaged 18.3ppg, 5.1rpg, Assists-4(5.7apg), Steals-2(3.2spg), FGP: 48.1%, 3PT: 36.1%, FT: 75.8%. Last season he was an instrumental part for SC Rasta Vechta moving up to the Beko BBL where he averaged 15.6ppg, 5.2rpg, Assists-1(6.7apg), Steals-1(2.5spg), FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 35.2%, FT: 79.9%. Williams came into the Beko BBL knowing that his hard work really had paid off. “I am not surprised at all. Its been a long time coming for me to get to this point. This is my opportunity to show what I am made of. Hard work, faith and patience have been good to me. I believe so. I am not the first to start from the bottom and I wont be the last. There have been guys before me that made this opportunity possible. Without those guys no one would look for talent in the lower leagues”, stressed Richard Williams. It has been a rocky season for SC Rasta Vechta as they were 3-12 in 2013 and in 2014 are also 3-12, but suffered an untimely 12 game losing streak which undoubtedly sealed their fate for the next season in the Pro A. They lost some close games to MBC and the Telekom Baskets Bonn in this 12 game losing streak, but the club and league knows that SC Rasta Vechta are a different team than their record translates. “We’re definitely better than our record shows. Our games prove it. We need to translate these close losses into wins. Knowing that we’re in every game is a positive thing but its frustrating to keep losing these close battles”, warned Richard Williams. This season Williams has proved that he belongs in the Beko BBL as he has been among the leagues top in scoring, assists and steals, but didn´t get an invitation to the 2014 Beko BBL All Star game. He battles the leagues top point guards each week and has held his own all season long. “I prepared for Per the same way I prepare for anyone else. Extra film and looking for tendencies. Per is a very good and crafty player so I couldn’t just take away any one thing and think I could stop him. I just wanted to keep him under pressure and make him work for everything. I definitely feel I belong in the All-Star game but I’m not. It is what it is and I have to move on. I’ll speak with the way I play. This is just extra motivation to show everyone I belong to be mentioned with the best in this league. Nothing I’m not used to. Two seasons ago I was told I wasn’t good enough and had to start from the Pro B. Look at me now”, warned Richard Williams. In the long losing streak, Williams did his best trying to help his club win each agme and was a leader scored in double figures in 11 of 12 games. Basketball is a team game an dthe blame is never on only one player. Williams has the heart of a Lion who is cornered by their enemy the buffalo and somehow has the will to escape, but can´t really and must go through hardships just like on the court. Shortly before the new year 2014, Williams made a promise, but reality just didn´t want to fulfill it. “We have a team full of confident players that will grind out every game to make sure it happens that we will remain in the league. We will survive because I will make sure we survive“, warned Richie Williams. Williams may have very confident words, but if there is one guys who lets his play talk then its Williams. He is the first SC Rasta Vechta player that will leave his jersey on the floor before he leaves in a loss. The club probably would have had even less wins had Williams not been on the team. His teammates support the effort of Williams. “Richie has played an important role this season, as he has the past three years we have played together. He is an extremely quick player, and brings a great intensity to the game. I don’t think that you can attribute our teams losing streak to any specific player. Basketball is a team game, and being so we should take the praise for the wins together, and the negativity of losses together”, stressed Jacob Doerkson.
Since departing the German Regionaliga, the rise of SC Rasta Vechta has been immense finishing 2010 in 12th and then the next two seasons in third place and then last season in first place in the Pro A. Pat Elze surely won´t forget how the 2012-2103 Pro A season started with a three game losing streak as just looking ahead game to game and winning the next battle was their focus and any ideas of what the Beko BBL basketball life could be like was about as distant as it is for the Duesseldorf Baskets at the moment. But as is the case in basketball, the club got a big win in Nurnberg and from then on won 14 of the next 15 games and suddenly were in first place and dreaming just a little bit about the Beko BBL were starting to transform. The club finished the Pro A season strong with a five game winning streak including a 129-88 crushing of the Uni Riesen Leipzig. In the playoffs, they started by sweeping German talent school Erdgas Ehingen and then had to battle down 2-1 in games against BG Karlsruhe winning the last two games including game five 86-74 as Corey Hassan scored 24 points. In the finals, they played against Duesseldorf winning both games by identical scores 84-78. Often in the past, you have seen a team move up to the Beko BBL and then get a bigger budget and bang the organization exchanges players as swiftly as American prankster Jack Vale brings out new videos. But Elzie didn´t do that and rewarded many players exactly seven by keeping them and letting them have that Beko BBL experience. The SC Rasta Vechta budget is estimated at 1,4 million 10 times smaller than that of the the big mighty red FC Bayern Munich. But as Pro B TV Langen forward Martinis Woody explained after a win where they played against many up and coming Beko BBL players, it isn´t always about the quality on the court, but how well the talent on the court plays team basketball and stays together. SC Rasta Vechta may not have the best talent, but they have a coach who understood what mix fits and has groomed a team that appreciates team basketball. Many players came and went already in the first months like Faisal Aden, Steven Esterkamp, Marcus Neal and DJ Seeley, but that just shows that head coach Pat Elzie is trying to get the right fits and wants to fix the holes early before later when it might be too late. SC Rasta Vechta may only have won three games leading up to the first game in Frankfurt in late December 2013, but it was still early and one can´t forget that they are new to the league. They were able to win big games in Trier and Tuebingen and finally won their first home game against Bayreuth. They could have had three wins more as they lost three tight games to Phoenix Hagen, Artland Dragons and MBC combined by not more than 6 points. SC Rasta Vechta plays their own style of basketball with scrappy defense and high power offense. This team can beat almost anyone on a great day, but since the loss in Frankfurt, it was all downhill as the club suffered a brutal losing streak losing 15 of their last 17 games including a 12 game losing streak. Staying in the league will be very difficult for them with three games remaining. They have had tough luck all season and in the last few months lost a few more close games to Bonn and MBC by two points each. They have youth coupled with some experience, but overall may be lacking the overall talent level to stick in the league. “We have a great team of players this year, but have has some unfortunate bad luck. Each player is skilled and has had success over the years, but our skills just haven’t been matching up together as a team, which happens sometimes in sport. The win against Tuebingen has kept us alive, but barely. After losing so many games it is hard to you think you should, but despite this I think that we have found some confidence as a team. A win definitely feels good and the helps the morale of the team, and has given us a push for the last few weeks of the season”, warned Jacob Doerkson. The swapping off ex NBA player William Conroy and DJ Seeley may have been the teams biggest mistake. With Bayreuth Conroy lost seven of eight games and the losing streak as continued with SC Rasta Vechta as he has lost nine of ten games. DJ Seeley who left SC Rasta Vechta after being in a try-out has had more fortune in Bayreuth helping the team of Mike Koch to a 6-4 record. In the first game in Frankfurt, SC Rasta Vechta lost a nail bitter 70-67 as Frankfurt was led by Jarred Dubois with 17 points, Konstantin Klein had 14 points and Johannes Voigtmann chipped in with a double double of 10 points and 10 rebounds and Andrew Rautins played his last game steering 10 points before getting injured. SC Rasta Vechta was led by Jacob Doerksen with 19 points and Brandon Bowmann had 13 points. Frankfurt comes to Vechta having snapped their six game losing streak with a huge 67-56 win at home against TBB Trier while SC Rasta Vechta played a hard fought battle against Beko BBL powerhouse Bamberg, but came up short 88-78. “This late in the season and with the position we are in it is no longer so much about the x and o’s, but more about effort and hard work. For us Frankfurt is a must win and we need to go out there and take that win from them”, warned Jacob Doerkson. SC Rasta Vechta host the Fraport Skyliners April 25th.
The club kept seven players and the biggest surprise has been German Dirk Madrich. Madrich is a 30 year old 212cm center that is one of the top German scorers in the Beko BBL this season. He started hot scoring in double figures in 10 of his first 13 games, then cooled down scoring in single digits in nine straight games, but since then is finishing strong having scored in double figures in six of his last nine games. The German was always seen as a solid basketball player, but a guy that was never able to become a consistent solid Beko BBL player. He won a Beko BBL title with Bamberg in 2005 and also got experience in France with SIG Strassburg, but never was able to get that breakthrough in the Beko BBL. Three seasons ago he played in Giessen and in the summer of 2011, had no offers, but Pat Elzie wanted him and Madrich had to take two steps back to the Pro B, but he kept his cool had nothing to lose and now has the laugh last as he isn´t having his second basketball life, but possibly his fourth. He won a cup in 2008 with Artland and in the 2008-2009 season Artland coach Thorsten Leibenath gave him a chance in Eurocup: 11 games: 9.8ppg, 3.5rpg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 45.8%, FT: 83.3%. It will be interesting to see how much more he can develop during the season. His versatile game of inside out and experience has helped his rise this season.
Richard Williams is a 26 year old 177cm guard from Spring Valley, California that is playing his fourth professional season. He is a guy that loves to fill up the stats and great at pushing the break. Can score by shooting the three or using his explosiveness to beat his man. Gets to the basket and scores in traffic. A specialist in steals that uses his quickness to intimidate on defense. Great ball control. Gets the whole team involved when playing the point but can take over a game at any time. He played at San Diego State(NCAA) and two years ago started his career in Germany in the pro B with Hannover. Last season he was very instrumental in SC Rasta Vechta moving up playing 38 games: 15.6ppg, 5.2rpg, Assists-1(6.7apg), Steals-1(2.5spg), FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 35.2%, FT: 79.9%. He is content that the Beko BBL will see a triple double from his this season. The team also held on to Jakob Doerksen who is a 26 year old 199cm power forward from Canada. He is undersized, but that doesn´t hinder or limit his immense fighting qualities in the paint. He will always give you scoring punch. He played at the University of Victoria (CIS) and Trinity Western University (CIS) before turning professional in 2011. He was a teammate of Richie Williams two seasons ago and also came from the Pro B and is playing Beko BBL. Last season for Vechta he played 34 games: 13.7ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.2spg, FGP: 64.5%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 62.7%. Flavio Stuckemann is a 28 year old 187cm point guard that is also one of those German talents that never really panned out at the Beko BBL level until possibly now. He started his basketball career in 2002 with the TSV Quakenbruck junior team. He then was in the Braunschweig organization from 2003-2008 playing mostly for their farm team, but was lucky in the 2004-2005 season as a 19 year old to play 10 Eurocup games. In 2008 he moved to the Artland Dragons where he also was unable to crack the roster playing only 35 Beko BBLgames and getting little limits. After a solid Pro A season with BG Karlsruhe in 2010-2011, he also took a step back in 2011 as Elze wanted him and went to the pro B to Vechta. Last season for Vechta he played 40 games: 7.6ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.9apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 66.7%. He doesn´t really do anything fancy, but is the typical point guard that has valuable experience knows how to organize a game and keeps the team calm in hectic situations. The club also kept AJ Rudowitz who is a 25 year old 198cm forward that is playing his third season with Vechta and is one of the rare players like Jason Boone and Devin Uskoski that went from the Regionaliga to Beko BBL. The New Jersey native played at Stonehill(NCAA2) from 2006-2010. As a rookie he played for ASC Theresianum Mainz (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 25 games and averaging 20.2ppg. Last season for Vechta he played 40 games: 11.3ppg, 5.8rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 48.9%, 3PT: 19.6%, FT: 70.2%. H eis the favorite player of Elzie and a guy that does everything right and knows how to anticipate well on the glass. The team also kept Germans Daniel Krause and Axel Jarchow who combined have worn the Vechta jersey for seven seasons. Both come from the Artland Dragons. Krause is a 25 year old 195 cm guard that can shoot the ball well and if needed help out at the point guard position. Last season he played 27 games averaging 3,8ppg. Jarchow is a 24 year old 191cm guard that three Beko BBl games for Artland and one Eurocup game. Last season he played 24 pro A games.
The team brought in seven new players including Brandon Bowmann recently who could be the missing piece for the club staying in the league instead of moving back down to the Pro A. Bowmann is a 29 year old 204cm forward from Santa Monica, California that played at Georgetwon from 2002-2006 reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2006. He is a very versatile player who can spend time in either forward slot. Good shooter and quick runner, can score in traffic or create his shot from the dribble. Goes well to the offensive rebounds, has a great leaping ability. Above all, he’ s a very good defender on every kind of opponent, with a relentless mentality that makes him a very good player for the European leagues. He was very close reaching the NBA twice playing in NBA training camps with the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. He is no unknown face in the Beko BBL playing for Bonn in the 2008-2009 season reaching the Beko BBL final. He has much experience in the D-league and has played in countries like Italy, Bulgaria, France, Serbia and Israel. Last season he played for Dongbu Promy (Korea-KBL): 4 games: 13.3ppg, 5.8rpg, 2.5apg, 1.0bpg, in Oct.’12 signed at Seoul Samsung Thunders (South Korea-KBL): 4 games: 13.3ppg, 5.8rpg, 2.5apg, 1.0bpg, in Jan.’13 moved to Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa (Israel-Winner League): 4 games: 5.0ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.3spg; Balkan League: 2 games: 10.5ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.5apg, 1.0spg. The club also signed Dylan Talley that is a 24 year old 196cm guard from New Jersey that is a rookie. He played at Binghamton for two seasons and then two years at Nebraska (NCAA) and as a senior played 33 games: 13.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 38.7%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 74.1%.The club also brought in Isaac Butts who is a 24 year old 208cm center from Georgia that is playing his second professional season. He played at Appalachian St. (NCAA) form 2007-2012 and as a senior played 28 games averaging 7.6ppg, 6.6rpg, FGP: 64.4%, FT: 61.5%. As a rookie last season he played for the Moncton Miracles (Canada-NBL Canada) playing 36 games: 15.0ppg, Reb-1(11.1rpg), 1.4apg, Blocks-3(1.6bpg), FGP-1(60.3%), FT: 54.9%. He likes to bang under the basket and wont shy away from any player. Urule Igbavboa is a 26 year old 204cm center from St Paul, Minnesota that also has the German passport.He played at Valparaiso (NCAA) from 2005-2009 and is playing his fifth professional season. He has played in Iceland, Greece and the last two seasons in Sweden. Last season he played for LF Basket (Sweden-Basketligan) playing 35 games averaging 14.3ppg, 7.1rpg, FGP: 54.3%, FT: 73.5%. The club also brought in German Max Weber that is a 28 year old 201cm swing man that is playing for his ninth professional team in Germany.He already played four Uleb cup games in the championship season of Bamberg in the 2004-2005. He played for the Frankfurt Skyliners from 2006-2009. He also has played for teams like Giessen, Kasierslautern, Goettingen and Ludwigsburg. He is the ultimate team player that brings much energy in every play Oliver Makeldanz is a 23 year old 212 cm center that puts 113 kilo on the scale. Last season he played for Cuxhaven BasCats (ProA) playing 34 games: 3.2ppg, 2.6rpg. He recently played in the second Regionaliga and now is playing in the Beko BBL, a trend that has been popular with SC Rasta Vechta players.