Courtney Belger is a 25 year old 187cm guard from St Louis that recently finished his second professional season with TV Ibbenbuehren (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 21 games and averaging 23.7ppg, 7.5rpg, Assists-4(6.7apg), Steals-2(3.5spg), FGP: 45.9%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 75.2%. He started his basketball career at Quincy (NCAA2) in 2008 where he played until 2012 playing a total of 113 NCAA 2 games. As a senior he played 27 games averaging 11.3ppg, 5.2rpg, 3.9apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 10.5%, FT: 72.0%. He improved his scoring and rebounding average each season. He will play in the German Pro B next season for Itzehoe. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Courtney thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how have you been enjoying your summer?
I am currently in Quincy, Illinois where I went to school living with my girlfriend. This has been one of the most ideal type of summers for me.
You recently signed with the Izehoe Eagles of the German Pro B after two successful seasons with Ibbenbueren. How difficult was it making this decision to leave a place that was your second home?
Whenever you return to a place and think about playing a third year, it’s always tough to leave. I had no problem with Ibbenbueren except I wanted to try to play in pro b. If I had stayed in the Regionalliga than Ibbenbueren would have been my first choice to come back.
You had so many great experiences the last two years with Ibbenburen, but what will you ultimately miss the most from these two seasons?
I think I will miss the people of the town most. They embraced and accepted me. You never know how things will turn out when you go to a new country which is scary sometimes. I felt as if I was home. I had the same routine and schedule like I did at home just with different people.
After moving up to the Regionaliga as a rookie, last season Ibbenbueren had a disappointing season with a 9-17 record and finished in 11th place. What positives could you still take from your second season as a professional?
I learned a lot through this season. I don’t think we ever quit or gave up on the big picture of trying to win games. We had a couple bad losses but for the most part a lot of bad luck with 3 to 4 point games and things like that. Timo talked to me a lot throughout the season and from the beginning to the end I could see growth in my play at the point guard position.
Like with so many Regionaliga teams, there is always an American that has the bulk of the work load. You had crazy stats, but what do you believe in your game showed that you aren´t just a scoring machine, but really an unselfish player?
It’s hard to look at stats and say if I’m unselfish or not because you see a lot of points. If you come to a game you will see that I really like and prefer to pass but when the game takes certain changes different things are called for and I love to step up in those moments. Sometimes the team needs more aggression. If everyone is on fire, I have no desire to just get my points or something silly like that. Any of my teammates know that’s it’s about us before it’s ever about me.
How difficult is it for a player like yourself, when a team isn´t winning as much and despite putting up great stats the wins just don´t want to come?
It’s very difficult and I struggled with that a little last year but I for the most part tried to take those losses on me. I think I could have played a little better which would have helped us get more wins. There’s always something that could be done better, so no sense in blaming others.
How important was head coach Timo Volkering for you especially as a rookie when you came fresh from the States to a new culture on and off the basketball court. What was the most important thing that he gave you to be able to get used to everything better?
Well my first coach when I was a rookie was Andreas Joachim who told me “to never lose my game and play the way I play” this helped me to break out of my shell a little. The next season Timo took my new aggressive style of play and taught me how to control that and run a team at the same time. He showed me how to find that balance.
You scored in double figures in all 21 games, 20 points or more in 16 games and 30 points or more five times. What was your personal season highlight with Ibbenbueren?
I think it was beating Cologne earlier in the year because nobody gave us a chance and that was a great bus ride home after that one.
You averaged 23.7ppg, 7.5rpg, Assists-4(6.7apg), Steals-2(3.5spg), FGP: 45.9%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 75.2%. One realizes you are a very good rebounder at 187cm and can do very much filling up the stat sheet, but what is a hidden strength that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I talk to all of my teammates and try to make sure we are all on the same page. Sometimes people need a little more direct conversation and sometimes they need to hear you say it’s my fault even if you don’t think it is. There are other things than just stats that go on in a game and I think communication is one of them
Who was your toughest player opponent last season on the court where you had the hardest battle with?
Easy Trevin Parks. Lil dude just too fast smh.
You have gone up leagues the last two seasons and now will play in the German Pro B. How ready are you for this challenge and what is your goal?
I feel that I am mentally and physically ready. I just have to keep that hungry underdog mentality that what I feel gives an edge. My goal is to show that I can play at a high level and get others involved. Last year I learned how to balance my play making. I would like to perfect it this year.
How important was Izehoe head coach Pat Elzie for you leaving Ibbenbueren and taking on a new challenge?
I had heard a lot of great things about coach and when he announced he would be the coach at Itzehoe and that I might have a chance I was ready. I know a lot of his accomplishments and you can’t help but to want to learn from a person like that.
You played four years at Quincy(NCAA2) and reached the NCAA2 Sweet 16 in 2010. What will always stay in your memory from this run?
What really sticks out during this run was us beating the top team early and then me fouling out in the game we lost. I had to watch the last overtime. We loss on a tip in. I always get the last rebound when the other team misses in that situation.
You played four seasons for Marty Bell at Quincy. How did he prepare you best for a professional basketball career in your school days?
Marty taught me how to play a more controlled system driven type of game. He also loves tough players and I think I gained toughness from being there. He made sure we were on our best behavior which I think has prepared me for playing in Germany. Coach was always on my case and I always wanted to prove him wrong. He gave me great motivation and am thankful for that. He taught me how to compete for what I want
Who won a one on one in practice back in the day you or Chris Babbitt?
Me but Babbs height gave me trouble all the time.
What has been your main goal this summer in getting ready for the German Pro B? Is there specifically something that you have been working on most on your game?
My main goal this summer is to be the best I have ever been and feel the best I have ever felt on the court. I have been working on a lot of things this summer but I would say two things in particular are my body and being comfortable shooting more than I attack the basket
How does a normal work out day look like for you in 2015 on and off the court?
Weights at 5:30 or 6:30 am with ABF Training. They do performance enhancing training for sports. Next I eat a big meal and relax. Around 2:30 pm I go to our college and shoot 1000 shots. Later about 8 or 9 pm I train with Darrell Johnson and crossover hoops on skill development unless it’s the weekend. Friday through Monday in which I train with my trainer from last year Stephon Martinez with Dig Deep training. I tried to space out my workouts throughout the day to be able to really put intensity into each one.
What memories do you have of current German BBL players Rickey Paulding and Jimmy Mckinney when you were a kid when they were balling at Missouri(NCAA)
I remember Jimmy more now because I see him at home in the summer and to me he is young kobe. Back when both of them were at mizzou nobody could stop them. I became a mizzou fan because of those two players honestly. I liked SLU before they started playing at mizzou
What was the last movie that you saw?
Jurassic World with my lady.
Thanks Courtney for the chat.