DJ Kennedy Could Be That Upset Ace For The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg In The Playoffs

The Beko BBL playoffs are still five weeks away and in that time the jockeying for playoff places can be as wild and unpredictable as the Atlanta Hawks season has been finishing first in the Atlantic East, but if you’re a Ludwigsburg supporter one can always dream what may happen. Last season 2010 Eurochallenge winner John Patrick had the reigns for a whole season after coming in as a fireman in January 2013 and led the team to the playoffs taking a game from FC Bayern Munich. This season Patrick has great chances to reach the playoffs again and with another very strong roster with that NBA flair as present as always with guys like Jon Brockman and Michael Stockton will be very focused to this time kick out on of the big three in the Beko BBL. The club could very well battle the Fraport Skyliners for that eighth spot if it comes to push and shove in the last two weeks. Both teams have a similarity in that both brought in players that in a way have turned around their season. In Frankfurt, rookie Justin Cobbs was brought in and with his stellar play the club would not be in the Eurochallenge Final 4 with his perfect 10-0 record or fighting for the playoffs. In Ludwigsburg, the club brought in ex NBA player DJ Kennedy who played 2 NBA games with the Cleveland Cavaliers and was close to making the Grizzlies and Mavericks rosters in December. The wins didn´t come as rapidly as in Frankfurt with Cobbs as he lost his first four games, but since then the team is 10-4 and had massive wins against Alba Berlin, Bamberg and Oldenburg and the Pittsburgh Native who played 129 NCAA games for ST John´s has been a central figure in this second half success. The American started the season with Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (Russia-VTB) VTB United League: 4 games: 19.3ppg, 6.0rpg, 3.3apg; Eurocup: 3 games: 16.3ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.7apg, 1.7spg, but despite good stats left only two months in and not because of the bitter cold. “The weather wasn’t a factor for me I’m from Pittsburgh so that wasn’t a big deal for me. I just think with the hiring of a new coach and the president wanting to go in another direction.  So it was best that we came two a mutual agreement for both sides to move on”, stressed Kennedy. He hit the German basketball scene like lightening and has scored 20 points or more 10 times including a 31 point outburst against Tuebingen, 29 points against MBC and hurt Oldenburg with two 26 point efforts. After the 0-4 start, Kennedy credits his teammates, getting a feel for each other and coach Patrick as why the team has had success. “I really feel our success lately has been because we have a better feel for one another now and we all are on the same page as a collective group and it shows. This is a Great group of guys very competitive, humble, unselfish and works hard every day. We are all learning from each other and it’s great to be a part of this group. Coach Patrick has been great for me, lot of my success so far has a lot to do with him. We have a great connection. He is very hands on as far as fundamentals and defense and stresses the little things that makes a big difference. I have a lot of respect for him”, stressed DJ Kennedy. In the first meeting in Ludwigsburg, Cobbs won the point battle against Kennedy 27-24, but the ex NBA player left the floor as the winner 88-75. On Easter Monday the ex NBA player Kennedy and possibly future NBA player Cobbs will duel again as a win for either team will bring them a step closer to the BBL playoffs. Kennedy as Cobbs will be instrumental for their teams in their quest to kick out a big three in the first round of the playoffs.

Last season the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg slipped into the playoffs finishing the season with a record of 16-17 and having the undesirable moment of meeting the might FC Bayern Munich. During the season their biggest wins were against Alba Berlin, ratiopharm Ulm, Artland and Bonn. The club gave up 80 or more points 14 times and scored 80 or more points 16 times. It was just a season of ups and downs which are prevalent in the season of any team, but overall just were inconsistent as they were unable to gather more than one four game winning streak all season long. The club had fluctuations in their roster all season long as players came and went and that team chemistry which was solid always had new challenges to prove itself. Ludwigsburg played with a lot of heart against FC Bayern Munich in the playoffs losing 3-1. Their best game was the big 85-83 win at home in game two, but other than that, the club lost by an average of 26 points per game in the other three games and just might have ran out of gas and been overpowered by the experience and depth of the troops of Svetislav Pesic.

It is always key to keep not all, but a healthy majority of players intact and that is what John Patrick did and has been known of doing especially when one looks back to his Gottingen days where he had the three amigos of Jason Boone, Ben Jacobsen and John Little on board for years which led to the clubs only title in 2010 with the Eurochallenge win. Patrick kept six players and added seven new players. German Tim Koch has been on the team the longest and Patrick also held on to BBL veterans Adam Waleskowski and Patrick Flomo as well as second year BBL man Michael Stockton and Coby Karl and defense specialist Shawn Huff. The club added interesting new players like American Kerron Johnson who had his break out game in his debut with 38 points against Bonn, ex NBA player and inside beast Jon Brockman, defense specialist and man to man pest John Little who played under Patrick in Goettingen and Wurzburg, veteran center Chris Mcnaughton who is playing for his fifth Beko BBL team in six years, young German/American Travis Warech and recently the team got valuable experience with DJ Kennedy who played with the Cavs and was on the pre season roster with Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks. Last season Ludwigsburg was a team that knew and was able to score from the guard position with Harris, Grant and Carl and this season Patrick has more options from the forward and center position. With Brockman on board the club has a consistent bruiser that can score and rebound and with Campbell and Kennedy there is more depth at the forward position. Despite all this talent and depth, the club struggled early playing way under their potential. The club was been up and down and in a span of six games were 3-3 always winning a game and then losing the next game in this span. The club also could have won five games more and could have had 9 wins and be sitting in the 4-5 area in the standings right before the start of 2015 as they lost five games by six or less points. The crunch time has been a sore point for the team that will need to be corrected if the club wants to reach a second consecutive playoffs. Patrick also has preached that he wants his defense stronger this season is still looking for improvement as his team had let up 80 or more points in nine of the first 14 games. However in the last 14 games with the 10-5 record the club has buckled down on defense having let up 70 points or less six times. Frankfurt and Ludwigsburg meet on Easter Monday. The Fraport Skyliners will be rested after a five day training camp in Mallorca. Both teams have been playing good basketball as of late with Frankfurt having won six of their last and Ludwigsburg six of their last 10 In the first meeting Frankfurt was pounded on the boards and both teams shot poorly from outside.

When looking closer at the Ludwigsburg roster, John Patrick held on to Coby Karl who is a 30 year old 196cm guard form Wisconsin that is the son of legendary head coach George Karl and is playing his second season in Ludwigsburg. He has NBA experience having played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliars and Golden State Warriors. The Boise State alumunist played in Italy the last four years and knows the European game. He started the season for  Grissin Bon Reggio Emila (Italy-SerieA): EuroChallenge: 4 games: 8.3ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.5apg, 1.0spg; SerieA: 8 games: 5.8ppg, 2.8rpg, 2FGP: 47.1%, 3FGP: 5.9%, FT: 57.9%. Last season for Ludwigsburg he played 23 games: 12.7ppg, 4.7rpg, 3.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 41.9%, 3PT: 43.1%, FT: 82.8%. Karl is an all rounder that fills up the stat sheet and just gives his coach something to smile about after each game. Karl will be one ex NBA player that Patrick will not have in the playoffs as he returned back to the D-league recently. Michael Stockton is a 25 year old 185cm point guard. He has been in the shadow of his famous dad John Stockton his whole life and always had to play at lesser levels like with Westminster(NAIA) or two seasons with pro A team BG Karlsruhe before making the jump to Ludwigsburg. He played solidly in both places and some may have seen the arrival of Stockton as a PR gag for the team, but Stockton has showed that he is for real averaging very respectable stats in the Beko BBL. He has proved so far that that he can be a very good player at the Beko BBL level. He is an all around good point guard that can fill up the stats sheet and get the team running. Last season for Ludwigsburg he played 37 games: 11.5ppg, 3.5rpg, 3.5apg, FGP: 48.9%, 3PT: 33.7%, FT: 78.0%. Shawn Huff is a 29 year old 198cm forward from Finland also with extensive important European experience that is playing his second season in Ludwigsburg. He played at Valparaiso (NCAA) from 2004-2008. He then played three seasons in the top Greek league and the last two seasons in Italy. He played very strong tournaments at the Euro 2011 and 2013. He is a guy that can score, but also another defensive minded player in the John Patrick style that he likes. Last season for Ludwigsburg he played 37 games: 10.1ppg, 4.1rpg, FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 35.5%, FT: 67.6%.

. Patrick is also reunited with Adam Waleskowski for a second straight season who he coached in the 2010-2011 season in Goettingen. The ex Florida State player is a 32 year old 203cm forward from Ohio that is playing his tenth professional season and has played in countries like France, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Kosovo. Last season he played for the Duesseldorf Baskets (Germany-ProA): 24 games: 13.3ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 58.2%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 68.8%. He is a very strong offensive player that can hurt you in many ways and has an array of different shots on offense and can give the team energy with his play. Last season for Ludwigsburg he played 26 games: 7.8ppg, 3.7rpg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 73.5%. Patrick Flomo is a 34 year old 203cm forward is back in the Beko BBL for a second straight season after playing two seasons in Duesseldorf. The ex Ohio university player had a successful stay in Bonn from 2006-2011 where he reached two Beko BBL finals and one cup final. Despite his age, he is still in top shape and will be a menace on the boards especially with his energetic play that also can spark the team in tough situations. Last season for Ludwigsburg he played 35 games: 3.9ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.1bpg.

The team added seven new players including Kerron Johnson. Johnson is a 24 year old 185cm point guard from Huntsville, Alabama that is playing his second professional season. He is an exciting floor general with a winning background. Last season as a rookie he played for the New Zealand Breakers (Australia-NBL) playing 28 games: 12.6ppg, 2.8rpg, Assists-5(4.3apg), Steals-5(1.2spg), FGP: 56.9%, 3PT: 31.1%, FT: 59.8%. He started his basketball career at Belmont (NCAA) playing a total of 133 NCAA games and as a senior played 34 games: 14.2ppg, 3.1rpg, 4.7apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 29.5%, FT: 77.8%. He won the A-Sun tournament twice and was the MVP in 2012. Jon Brockman is a 28 year old 201cm power forward from Snohomish, Washington that is playing his sixth professional season. He is a true workman, comes to play on every possession and is willing to do all the dirty work and he has a very strong body with a low center of gravity that allows him to clear space. On the O glass is where his greatest traits come to the forefront, his relentless approach and great anticipation allow him to grab rebounds that are even out of his initial rebounding zone. He played at Washington(NCAA) from 2005-2009 playing a total of 131 NCAA games and as a senior played 34 games: 14.9ppg, 11.5rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 52.6%, FT: 64.0%. In 2009 he was drafted by the Portland Trailblazers. He played in the NBA from 2009-2012 playing for Sacramento and Milwaukee playing a total of 150 NBA games. He played in France the last two seasons and last season for ES Chalon-Sur-Saone (France-ProA, starting five): 33 games: 6.9ppg, Reb-4(7.6rpg), FGP: 57.8%, FT: 64.4%; Eurocup: 9 games: 8.8ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 60.0%, FT: 86.7%.

The team also hauled in DJ Kennedy that is a 25 year old 198cm swing man from Pittsburgh that is playing his fourth professional season. He started this season at Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (Russia-VTB): VTB United League: 4 games: 19.3ppg, 6.0rpg, 3.3apg; Eurocup: 3 games: 16.3ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.7apg, 1.7spg. He played at St.John’s (NCAA) from 2007-2011playing a total of 130 NCAA games and as a senior played 32 games: 10.4ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.0apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 77.8%. In his first two seasons he spent time in the D-league and played two NBA games for Cleveland and was cut by Memphis to start the 2012-2013 season. Last season he played for Dallas Mavericks (NBA), released in Oct.’13, later that month signed at BCM Gravelines Dunkerque Grand Littoral (France-ProA): Eurocup: 4 games: 11.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.3apg; French ProA: 4 games: 9.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.0spg, left in Dec.’13, in Jan.’14 moved to Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (Russia-VTB), later that month agreed terms with Hapoel Holon (Israel-Winner League, starting five): 19 games: 12.1ppg, 6.1rpg, 1.9apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 30.6%, FT: 72.6%. The team also added John Little who is a 30 year old 182cm point guard that is known firsthand for his pit bull defense. He got name playing with Goettingen and won the Eurochallenge in 2010. He started his basketball career at N.Iowa (NCAA) in 2002 and played a total of 122 NCAA games until 2006. As a senior there he played 32 games: 7.3ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 40.2%, FT: 69.8% He played three seasons for BG Goettingen and Wurzburg. Who could forget how he stole the show from point guard Dashaun Wood during the 2012 playoffs where he played like an MVP against Alba Berlin. Last season for Wurzburg he played 33 games: 5.7ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 30.6%, FT: 69.2%. German Chris Mcnaughton is a 32 year old 211cm center that likes to play with his back to the basket and is playing his first season in Ludwigsburg. He has the American citizenship and has had experience playing in the NCAA at Bucknell and played many years in Spain winning the Spanish LEB Silver with Faymasa Palencia in 2009. He also played with Goettingen, Oldenburg and Bremerhaven. Last season for Wurzburg he played 34 games: 8.1ppg, 3.9rpg, FGP: 58.5%, FT: 64.9%. Travis Warech is a 23 year old 190cm guard from New Jersey that is playing his second professional season. Last season he played for BiG Oettinger Rockets Gotha (Germany-ProA): 29 games: 10.0ppg, 5.1rpg, 1.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50.6%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 74.2%. He started his basketball career in 2009 for St.Michael’s (NCAA2) where he played until 2012. As a senior he played for Ithaca (NCAA3) playing 25 games: 16.1ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 46.9%, 3Pts: 34.0%, FT: 65.6%

The Fraport Skyliners have nice memories of the last 19 games against Ludwigsburg having a 10-9 record. They have a 5-2 record in Frankfurt. One player who has fond memories of playing EnBW Ludwigsburg is ex Skyliner Derrick Allen who was the top scorer of Frankfurt in four of six games including a 37 point performance in a 96-87 win in 2008. In 2008-2009, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners split the season series 1-1 winning 68-64 at home getting 19 points from Aubrey Reese and losing the last game of the season 71-62 on the road getting 18 points from Derrick Allen. In 2010-2011 The Deutsche Bank Skyliners beat EnBW Ludwigsburg 74-67 in a low scoring affair. Frankfurt was led by Roger Powell with 16 points and six rebounds while current beko BBL top scorer Dashaun Wood chipped in with 13 points and eight assists. EnBW Ludwigsburg was led by Alex Harris with 18 points and ex Telekom Baskets Bonn center John Bowler was tough with 13 points and nine rebounds. In the last game of the season in Ludwigsburg, the Skyliners whipped EnBW Ludwigsburg 94-79 as ex NBA player Roger Powell had his best game as a Skyliner pouring in 28 points and Dashaun Wood added a double double with 19 points and 10 assists. In 2011-2012, the teams split the season series. The Fraport Skyliners played a horrible game in Ludwigsburg where nothing went their way losing 82-57, but won at home 76-72 as Jermario Davidson led the team with 21 points and Michael Thompson chipped in with 17 points. In the first game of the 2012-2013 season, the Fraport Skyliners stunk up the building losing 74-56. They only managed 23 points in the first half. Despite scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter, it was too late. Frankfurt was led by Quantez Robertson with 16 points and Johnathan Jones added 11 points.In the do or die game, the Fraport Skyliners came to play winning 77-72 as Frankfurt was led by Zach peacock with 20 points. Devin Gibson added 12 points and Konstantin Klein 11 points. Last season Frankfurt was swept losing the first game of the season 90-78 in Frankfurt as Keaton Grant and CJ Harris almost single-handedly as they got very hot erasing a 13 point Frankfurt lead in the second half. CJ Harris had 26 points and Keaton Grant 22 points. Frankfurt was led by Kevin Bright with 23 points as he connected for six three pointers while Jacob Burtschi and Konstantin Klein added 12 points a piece. Ludwigsburg destroyed Frankfurt on the boards 37-25.In the return game, Ludwigsburg won 77-76 as Frankfurt let another game of many in the second half of the season slip away as Coby Karl took a dive and Adam Waleskowski made a put back and winning free throw. Waleskowski led Ludwigsburg with 24 points and 11 rebounds while Coby Karl poured in 17 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Quantez Robertson with 15 points while Dane Watts added 14 points.

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