Five years ago, medi bayreuth head coach Michael Koch and new medi Bayreuth forward Brandon Bowman began a very fruitful working cooperation with the Telekom Baskets Bonn that would take them to the Beko BBL final against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg, but their season came to an end in game 5 as it was Rickey Paulding and Jason Gardner sipping champagne and smoking cigars while Koch probably had nightmares after and Bowmann was already thinking about his summer in Los Angeles and how much harder he would work to get even better on the long bus ride home to the former German capital Bonn. Since that frightful June evening in Oldenburg that ended their season, Bowmann had had more team changes than Koch. Koch remained in Bonn until 2013, but would never get back to a final except for the Cup in 2012 and even missed the playoffs in 2011 for only the second time since 1996 for Bonn. Bowmann on the other hand got to know the basketball world as he was on the training camp roster of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2009 and also played in countries like Bulgaria, Turkey, France, Serbia, Israel, Korea and New Zealand. It took him a while to win his first title as a professional as he did this past summer for the Pacific Jewellers Saints (New Zealand-NBL) where he played 10 games averaging 18.5ppg, 7.4rpg, 3.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 77.1%. Bowman is one of those guys that eats, sleeps and thinks basketball. Last season he played for SC Rasta Vechta which has 32,000 people and about the only thing to do besides count cows on the pastures and take a stroll down the miniature main-street is to live in the gym which he did. Its no different in Bayreuth, even if the city is a little more than twice as big as Vechta, it is in the nature of the Los Angeles native to always get better even at the age of 30. Koch is still looking for his first coaching title in Germany and continues to be very hungry while Bowman is still hungry to get another professional title which would be only his second. Just how well medi Bayreuth functions this season is still difficult to predict since the season is still young, but the club has a good mix of veterans and youth and with the leadership of Bowman and unending preparation mentality of Koch, the only thing that might be missing for the team to get the extra push for success is if Bowman puts on the famous song Glory Days of American singer legend Bruce Springsteen to get his team ready each day. Often a player is in his prime at 31 according to 2 time Euroleague champion Kyle Hines, so Bowmann should be close at age 30? “I personally think that Brandon is in a great point in his career. The word prime is just a word. When you prepare and workout like Brandon does, you control how good you can be. We live together and I see first hand how hard he works to be a top talent in this league. The biggest strength I would say is his ability to let the game slow down. This allows him to pick his moments when he can be productive. Just like most players, the longer you play the better you read the game. His good decision making will play a big role in every win for THE TEAM. Brandon has always been a motivated player. That doesn’t change. I can’t give away all his eating habits/secrets but I will say, he is by far the cleanest eater I’ve ever met. His dedication to his eating and training habits is why he will play the game as long as he wants at a productive level.”, warned friend Zeon Gray who plays for Bayreuth Regionaliga team. Teammate American Bryan Bailey is also very content with the work ethic of Brandon Bowman. “Brandon can play different positions for us and brings and inside and outside presence for us. He can take slower defenders off the dribble and can post up guys that are smaller. He is a guy that always works hard and wants to continue to improve every day and leads by example. I’ve never seen a player put in so much extra work in the weight room than him”, stressed ex Artland Dragon Bryan Bailey.
Ever since coming back to the first German basketball division in 2010, the Bayreuth basketball team has had a name change, Kevin Durant rumors of him playing a few games and living in a castle and Gary Mcghee never hearing the end of his ankle breaker Kemba Walker gave him in the NCAA, but reaching the playoffs still has only been a whisper in the small cultural city in east Bavaria as the club has more been near the middle of the standings to the end than anywhere else. Last season was no exception either as the club finished in 14th place mainly due to the top leadership and guidance of head coach Michael Koch who came early to replace Predrag Krunich who Koch will never forget battling in the 2009 finals where Bonn was seen as the winner before those last famous seconds changed the whole title game. Last season actually started out great for the team winning two of their first three games where the club showed their defensive qualities holding Frankfurt and Braunschweig to 58 points average. However than as if a dark brutal black cloud had set over Bayreuth and never left, the team next lost 11 of their next 12 games and was in the Beko BBL cellar. They did lose a few games in crunch time to Artland and Vechta, but in most games were without a chance like their 33 point massacre that FC Bayern Munich gave them. The chemistry between Krunich and the team was as distant as the current Jacksonville Jaguars of eclipsing a win anytime soon. With the mergence and arrival of Koch, things changed as one could feel that the players appreciated him more as he gave them more freedom. With time wins started to pop up more as did the self confidence of the players. In the second half of the season with Koch on the sidelines the club won three games in a row twice and were saved. In a season to be forgotten, there weren´t many bright spots, but if one had to name a few then it was the win against Phoenix Hagen and the sweeping of Frankfurt and Braunschweig. Defense was a big problem last season as the club gave up 80 points or more 15 times, but one has to mention that after the allstar break with Koch there, the club defended better and gave up only an excess of 80 points five times.
The club underwent a major house cleaning session as seven guys departed like Kevin Hamilton and Kyle Weems to France, Nico Simon to Braunschweig, Brian Qvale to the NBA as well as guys like DJ Seeley, Tom Spoeler and Beckham Wyrick. Bayreuth kept five players from last season including American Ronald Burrell who played under Koch in Bonn and are on the same page basketball wise. Burrell will be playing his sixth season in Germany after having played also in Cologne and Oldenburg and still belongs to the top 5 power forwards in the Beko BBL. The club also held on to American Bryan Bailey that just doesn´t quit with age as is playing his 13th professional season and Germans Simon Schmitz who is a reliable back up point guard and is playing his fifth season with Bayreuth, Philipp Heyden who is a solid back up center and Peter Zeis who can give energy from the bench and hit three pointers. The team brought in four new players including two Americans, a Czech and a German/Polish player. The most important pick up was point guard Trevon Hughes. If Bayreuth will have success this season will rest quite a bit on his shoulders. The American has more talent to work with than last season in Trier. Already last season in a pretty weak team, he showed what he is capable of and this season could have that Darius Adams or Dashaun Wood type of seasons that they had in the Beko BBL. The club also brought in Brandon Bowmann who has had a solid basketball career and still has gas left to make another memorable season like in 2009 with Bonn. Bowman is a basketball junkie that eats and sleeps the sport. The team also hauled in rookie Javon Mccrea who seems eccentric from the first impression, but he is all business on the court. The guy improved his scoring and rebounding each season at Buffalo(NCAA) and could have been a NBA Draft pick had he played in a stronger conference. He could be the x-factor for the team. Michael Koch also brought in some youth that also will need to contribute in big ways for the club to be successful. With Lukas Palyza they have a young Czech national player that played the last 3 years for top team Nymburk and has international experience at the club level and is looking to make the next step in Germany and David Brembly who has German roots and last season played in Poland for Trefl Sopot (Poland-TBL) and in the German A-2 national team. He also is looking to make the next step at a higher level. The play of medi Bayreuth will be different from last season simply that they have gotten more athletic and with the speed of Hughes play more transition basketball. The defense can only get better and with a more athletic team should get better. The question only remains how much of a classic inside game the team will have with no real center. Will the answer to success be more small ball? The club also has a very thin rotation so the bench will need to be consistent all season long and rookie Javon Mccrea could have big shoes to fill being the X-factor? “I think this team is a more athletic team than the team we had last season. Our biggest strength is our ability to put pressure on teams defensively. Q was very talented, but we have two good centers in Javon McCrea and Phil Heyden. Both can play with their back to the basket and give us a good inside presence..Javon is very talented and could definitely be an x-factor for us. He is strong defensively and quick on the offensive end. He’s not extremely tall, but makes up for that with his athleticism. So far he’s made a good transition to the pro’s and will continue to work hard”, warned Bryan Bailey. Zeon Gray practices with the team and could easily function as an assistant coach to Tim Nees. “The strengths of the team are obviously that they were picked specifically by German coaching great Mike Koch. Some teams just buy the best possible players. Medi depends on solid team basketball, which is what the game is all about. This team has players willing to sacrifice anything to win. It’s tough to really say if the team has a weakness. They have a great staff and players that can play multiple positions. The X factor will be the entire team. Like I stated above, this team isn’t built around one player. It’s built around each one of the guys on the team doing their part to contribute to each win. Javon will be a force in the BBL. He is obviously a bruiser. He plays hard and I think BBL fans will appreciate what he brings to the game”, stressed Zeon Gray.
The Fraport Skyliners have split the season series from 2010-2013, but last season got swept in the season series. In 2010-2011, they won at home 83-75 getting 26 points from Dashaun Wood, but losing on the road 86-79 despite 29 points form Wood. In 2011-2012, they lost at home 79-71 despite 27 points form Tim Ohlbrecht, but won in Bayreuth 90-57 getting 22 points from Jimmy Mckinney. In their first meeting in the 2012-2013 season, the Fraport Skyliners won 76-59 as they were led by Ted Scott and Danilo Barthel with 15 points a piece. In the return game in Bayreuth, the Fraport Skyliners lost 75-69 in a game that was tight in the last few minutes as Beckham Wyrick hit some big three pointers. Frankfurt was led by Ryan Brooks with 15 points and Dawan Robinson with 14 points. Last season the Fraport Skyliners lost the Bayreuth home opener 74-67 as they didn´t have the nerves in crunch time and got beat from Beckham Wyrick´s big shots. The FRaport Skyliners were led by Dawan Robinson with 19 points and 11 from Andrew Rautins while medi Bayreuth was led by Brian Qvale with 19 points and Ronald Burrell chipped in with 17 points. In the return game in Frankfurt, Bayreuth won again 72-64. Medi Bayreuth was led by Kyle Weems with 15 points and Ronald Burrell added 14 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Ramon Galloway with 17 points and Danilo Barthel added 15 points. Medi Bayreuth enter the game against the Fraport Skyliners Sunday coming off a huge 64-56 win at home against Bremerhaven while the Fraport Skyliners finally shook their 0-3 start with a huge win against the Telekom Baskets Bonn at home, but then a week later showed a poor team effort in Bremerhaven. Frankfurt is no where near their potential as this will be an interesting game as the Skyliners will meet one of the leagues top defensive teams.
Medi Bayreuth is led by Brandon Bowmann who is a 30 year old 204cm forward from Santa Monica, California that played at Georgetown 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. In 2012-2013 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. Last season he played for SC Rasta Vechta playing 23 games: 13.0ppg, 6.0rpg, 1.7apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 42.5%, 3FGP: 39.5%, FT: 83.0%- Last summer he got further basketball experience playing for the Pacific Jewellers Saints (New Zealand-NBL, starting five): 10 games: 18.5ppg, 7.4rpg, 3.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 77.1%. Ronald Burrell is a 31 year old 204cm forward from New Jersey that will be playing his 10th professional season. He played at NC-Greensboro (NCAA) and as a professional also in countries like France and Poland. He played three seasons for top team Asseco Prokom Gdynia (Poland-PLK) winning the league title three times and playing 45 Euroleague games. Last season for Bayreuth he played 33 games: 11.4ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 49.4%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 69.9%.He can bang, hit consecutive three pointers and likes the extra pass. Trevon Hughes is a 27 year old 184cm point guard from Queens, New York that may have the best cross over in the Beko BBL this season. He played at Wisconsin from 2007-2011 and played with future nBA players like Jon Leuer, Marcus Landry or Greg Stiemsma. In his first three professional seasons he played in Slovenia and Lithuania and last season rocked the Beko BBL with TBB Trier (Germany-BBL) playing 31 games: 14.7ppg, 3.9rpg, 3.6apg, Steals-1(2.2spg), FGP: 42.9%, 3PT: 31.8%, FT: 74.0%.
Bryan Bailey is a 34 year old 185cm guard from New York that has played in 10 of 13 seasons in Germany. He has played in countries like Bosnia and Holland and in Germany for Wurzburg, Oldenburg and five seasons with the Artland Dragons. This will be his third season with Bayreuth. Last season he was injured for the most part and played only 4 games: 8.0ppg, 1.3rpg, 2.3apg, 1.5spg. He seems to get smarter with age and is still a powerful defender at 34 and can do it all as an aggressive guard. Philipp Heyden is a 26 year old 206cm center that is playing his third season with Bayreuth. He started his career with BSG Ludwigsburg and then stayed two seasons in the Alba Berlin organization playing 1 beko BBL game. He then got experience with Ludwigsburg playing 28 Beko BBL games. He then played with MBC from 2011-2013 playing 55 Beko BBL games. Last season for Bayreuth he played 28 games: 5.4ppg, 2.4rpg, FGP: 57.7%, FT: 76.0%. Simon Schmitz is a 24 year old 188cm guard that started his basketball career with SG Bad Duerkheim/Speyer junior team. He then played two seasons for BIS Baskets Speyer (ProB) before coming to Bayreuth in 2010 where he played a total of 127 Beko BBL games. Last season he played 33 games: 2.6ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.2apg. He is the team captain that can always nail the open three pointer and hardly misses from the free throw line. Peter Zeis is a 25 year old 196cm forward that is playing his fourth season for Bayreuth. In the last three seasons he has played 52 Beko BBL games. He started his basketball career in 2005 for TSV Troester II Breitengussbach (Regionalliga) where he played until 2011.
Javon Mccrea is a 21 year old 201cm forward from Newark, New York that likes Lebron james and his favorite show is the Fresh prince Of Bel Air and his personality is somewhere between Lebron James and Will Smith. He played at Buffalo(NCAA) from 2010-2013 and as a senior played 29 games: 18.5ppg, 9.9rpg, 2.2apg, 1.5spg, 2.2bpg, FGP: 56.1%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 66.7%. He was the All-MAC Player of the Year in 2014. This past summer he played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Dallas Mavericks): 5 games: 4.8ppg, 1.4rpg, FGP: 62.5%, FT: 66.7%. Lukas Palyza is a 24 year old 202cm forward that was born in Ostrava. He is a classic modern player at position SF. A 204 cm tall athlete with a basketball body, with a very good range and a dangerous shot from a short and long distances. He understands the game, is a smart and hardened player, who likes the team-play, and is unselfish. He can work up his own shot position. He takes advantage of his quick penetration, has the opponents focus on him and passes the ball to the open teammate. Very hardworking and ambitious player. He started his basketball career in 2006 with BK Nova Hut Ostrava where he played until 2011. He played for CEZ Basketball Nymburk (NBL) the last three seasons playing 27 Eurocup games. Last season he played VTB United League: 15 games: 3.1ppg, 1.1rpg; Czech Rep. NBL: 28 games: 8.6ppg, 2.7rpg, FGP: 55.4%, 3PT: 42.5%, FT: 69.7%; Eurocup: 10 games: 1.6ppg, 1.0rpg. David Brembly is a 21 year old 197cm forward that started his basketball career with the Trefl Sopot junior team. Two seasons ago he played two Eurocup games for Trefl Sopot and last season for them played 40 games: 3.4ppg, 1.1rpg, played also at Trefl II Sopot (Poland-2Liga). In 2013 he was a German U-20 player playing the European Championships U20 in Tallinn (Estonia) -13: 9 games: 9.4ppg, 3.8rpg, FGP: 45.2%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 53.3%. Last summer he moved up to the German A-2 national team.