Can Dru Joyce Make the Playoffs A Reality For The s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg?

It is never advantageous to put the fortunes of a club on the strong shoulders of one player, but it just happens that the point guard position on a basketball team is very vital for the success of a club as it is the quarterback on a NFL football team. You can make unending examples from football and basketball where a point guard or quarterback had what it took to the lead the team to the promised land and guys where it just wasn´t enough. A great example is Dru Joyce who is a point guard that has gone through his basketball life as a top 10 point guard year in and year out in the Beko BBL, but at the same time no day goes by where he isn´t asked more than one question about his ex high school teammate and buddy Lebron James and probably even would get the one or other question posed by a closet spider if he were to be accidently locked in there, but in spite of that has stayed grounded and performed solidly since becoming a professional in 2007. He helped a young and determined ratiopharm Ulm team make the playoffs in 2009 and did again two years in a row in Oldenburg despite having a predecessor who left the team a bit in shambles. After four consecutive playoff appearances and winning the 2009 Beko BBL championship, the club missed the Beko BBL playoffs in 2012 in 10th place despite a very competitive roster. With the arrival of ex NBA player Bobby Brown, it seemed like a given that the team would not only reach the playoffs, but possibly reach the final, but the California native was unable to lead the club into the promised land in May. At the times the ex Sacramento King seemed more obsessed with his own scoring average than doing what was best for the team. His lethal scoring at times was so destructive it seemed that the best for the opponent could have been to blare out the famous Bobby Brown hit “Don´t be cruel” in hopes that he might stop, but in the end his scoring wasn´t even consistent enough to get the extra needed victories. Despite leading the Beko BBL in scoring and being in fifth place for best assist average, there were numerous games where his one on one play and ego got in the way in crunch time and he could have been wearing a Amare Stoudemire mask and no one would of noticed. Despite this forgettable season, Brown went on to win the Italian league the next season with Montepaschi Siena and then played some seasons in China with DongGuan New Century Leopards making big bucks and averaging 30 and 31ppg both seasons and nailing 74 points in one game. Sometimes a player and a team don´t mesh the way they should on the court as Brown displayed and sometimes they do. However in 2012 new Oldenburg head coach Sebastian Machowski hauled in Lebron James friend Dru Joyce who is as much of a classical point guard as NBA legend John Stockton was back in the day. The Ohio native can score if needed, but in his seven seasons in the Beko BBL with Ulm,Trier, Oldenburg and last season Braunschweig was in the top five in assists four times and would most likely choose the pass over a lay up on a 2-0. Oldenburg was fortunate that his non ego playmaking skills led the team back into the Beko BBL playoffs. Joyce knows what he can do and has the needed self confidence to be successful as a professional basketball player.

“I go out and try to be a good leader. I know that I am a pretty good playmaker that also likes to create and finish. Key for me also is to play good defense”, warned Dru Joyce. One of the better and more underrated defenders in the Beko BBL is TBB Trier forward Nate Linhart who remembers Joyce well from Akron where they were teammates and from Trier. “Dru has continued to develop his penetration and point guard skills the last years. He is a lot more physical and sees the court better. He has improved his pick and role play the most”, stressed Nate Linhart. The Beko BBL gets more competitive each season and last season Joyce almost was able to lead Braunschwieg back into the playoffs playing 33 games averaging 12.3ppg, 3.2rpg, Assists-2(6.0apg), FGP: 41.9%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 79.6%. Now with Wurzburg he is on a team that is back in the BBL after a season in the Pro A where they dominated. He was unable to lead a TBB Trier into the playoffs, but nobody expected that anyway. IN Wurzburg, the majority aren´t either making any bold predictions, but who was thinking it back during his Ulm days. Joyce has a nice bunch of teammates and there is always one or two or three teams a season that make a surprise and Wurzburg could be it. Wurzburg know what they got in Joyce and definitely got a point guard who knows the league and is a winner. He already got off to a good start leading Wurzburg to a big win against Playoff caliber team ratiopharm Ulm and dished out seven assists and followed that up with a 24 point 12 assist game in a 104-101 win at home in OT against Giessen and is nearly averaging 10apg. The season is long and with the uncomfortable atmosphere in Wurzburg and the club always hungry to make an upset on the road, this team will be annoying to play this season.

Last season a strong regular season of 28-2 record and almost sweep through Hamburg and Gotha, the club met a hungry Giessen 46er club that swept them in the two game final series losing only by a combined score of three points. The enormous gratitude of reaching the Beko BBL after only one season in the Pro A pretty quickly evaporated the disappointment of not winning the Pro A title and finishing second to Giessen. The team had a great cast of scoring players like Carlos Medlock, Darren Fenn and Jason Dourisseau, but their biggest strength was their defense which head coach Doug Spradley installed and was adhered to all season long as consistency was its middle name as the team gave up less than 70 points 23 times including 44 points to Chemnitz, 48 to Hamburg and 49 points to Paderborn.

One might have thought after such a strong season that the club would reward some of the imports by carrying them into the BBL season, but guys like Darren Fenn retired and Carlos Medlock moved on to SC Rasta Vechta. Head coach Doug Spradley is back in the BBL and for the second time has led a team into the BBL like in 2006 with Paderborn. He coached the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven for some years and what he couldn´t get done on defense there, he did last season in Wurzburg and will take that hard aggressive defensive concept into the BBL this season. The club won´t back away from anyone and be one of those teams that will fight for 40 minutes each night. Can we await a BG Goettingen reloaded form the John Patrick days. Probably not, but they will throw everything at you on defense and cause havoc and on offense throw a solid inside out game while being much more athletic than the season before.

The club held on to only four players all Germans. The most experienced is Sebastian Betz who is a 30 year old 198cm forward that brings 9 years of BBL experience with six in Ulm, two in Wurzburg and one with Bamberg. He is reunited with Dru Joyce again where they were teammates in Ulm. Last season with Wurzburg he played 34 games: 8.8ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 50.9%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 71.8%. He is an energizer and can hurt you with his three point shooting at any time. The team kept Ruben Spoden who is a 26 year old 202cm forward that brings 5 BBL season experience and 115 BBL games with Tuebingen and Wurzburg. He started his basketball career at MTV Kronberg and also played with Eintracht Frankfurt and Ehingen. Last season with Wurzburg he played 30 games: 9.7ppg, 4.4rpg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 31.7%, FT: 64.6%. He has a huge will to win and good inside out game. The team also kept young Germans Max Ugrai and Constantin Ebert that have been playing with a double license the last years. Ugrai is a 20 year old 202cm forward that started his basketball career in 2009 with SCH Wuerzburg Baskets junior team and last season played 37 games: 4.2ppg, 3.0rpg, also a license to play for Take-Off Wuerzburg Blue Baskets (Pro B) playing 10 games: 12.0ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 67.3%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 62.5%. His physicality is his bread and butter when coming to scoring. Ebert is a 19 year old 185cm point guard that also started his basketball career in 2009 with the SCH Wuerzburg Baskets junior team. Last season he played for the s.Oliver Baskets Wuerzburg (ProA): 14 games: 1.0ppg, also a license to play for Take-Off Wuerzburg Blue Baskets (ProB): 15 games: 6.8ppg, 2.1rpg, 3.7apg, FGP: 27.3%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 77.1% and at U19 team (NBBL). His quickness is what stands out as well as his good understanding of the pick and roll already.

The club brought in 8 new players and besides Dru Joyce, they also added Cameron Long who played in the BBL with ratiopharm Ulm in the 203-2014 season playing Eurocup: 16 games: 10.7ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.1apg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 37.7%, FT: 75.0%; German League: 34 games: 11.3ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 76.8%. The Florida native played at George Mason from 2007-2011 playing a total of 132 NCAA games and as a professional played in Lithuania and France. He has the complete offensive package and will be one of the key options in this offense. Lamonte Ulmer is a 29 year old 198cm forward from Hamden, Connecticut that is playing in his sixth professional season. He played at Rhode Island (NCAA) and has experience in the D-league, Luxemburg, Finland and Romania. Last season he played for KTP Basket Kotka (Finland-Korisliiga) 47 games: Score-5(17.5ppg), 8.8rpg, 1.7apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 57.1%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 79.4%; EuroChallenge: 6 games: 20.2ppg, 10.8rpg, 1.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 55.1%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 80.0%. Like Long is offensively very strong and will be another one of the main offensive options as he can score in many different ways. William Coleman is a 26 year old 206cm power forward from Glenwood, Georgia that is playing his fifth professional season and is a high flyer, dynamic and explosive, he is a very tough match up for all defenses. After two seasons at Miami Dade community college, he played his last two seasons at Memphis. As a professional he has experience in countries like France, Greece and Macedonia. Last season he played with Hapoel Holon (Israel-Winner League): 5 games: 5.8ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.0bpg, 2FGP: 47.6%, FT: 75.0%, released in Nov.’14, later that month moved to Panionios ON Telecoms Athens (Greece-A1): 19 games: 14.1ppg, 7.1rpg, FGP: 64.1%, FT: 72.7%.

Seth Tuttle is a 23 year old 203cm forward that is a rookie and played at N.Iowa (NCAA) and as a senior played 35 games: 15.3ppg, 6.9rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 63.3%, 3PT: 43.2%, FT: 76.4%. Last summer he played NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando (Miami Heat): 4 games: 4.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.0apg and NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Miami Heat): 5 games: 2.2ppg, 3.2rpg, FGP: 31.3%. He is a modern day forward that can bang inside, hit the mid distance and three pointer. Brendan Lane is a 24 year old 206cm center from Rocklin, California that is playing his second professional season. As a rookie he played for Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins (Japan-NBL): 52 games: 12.8ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 35.4%, FT: 73.4%. He played three years at UCLA(NCAA) playing 79 games and as a senior moved to Pepperdine (NCAA) playing 29 games: 13.2ppg, 7.4rpg, 1.2apg, 2.4bpg, FGP: 56.6%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 62.4%. His shooting and defense stand out in his versatile game. Maurice Stuckey is a 25 year old 187cm guard that returns back to Wurzburg where he played from 2012-2014 and has six years of BBL experience. Last season he played for the EWE Baskets Oldenburg (BBL): 32 games: 5.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 29.6%, FT: 82.1%; Eurocup: 7 games: 5.4ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 90.9%, 3PT: 23.5%, FT: 85.7%. His penetration and speed is something that will help Wurzburg every time he comes into the game from the bench. Joshiko Saibou is a 25 year old 188cm guard that has BBL experience with Alba Berlin, TBB Trier and Crailsheim. Last season with Crailsheim he played 33 games: 7.7ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.2apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.1%, 3PT: 29.9%, FT: 72.0%. He has good passing skills, dribbling and can create his own shot and is a pest on defense.

The Fraport Skyliners have fond memories from the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg winning both games in the Wurzburg rookie season in 2011-2012. The Fraport Skyliners squeaked out a 80-78 win at home as American Justin Gray won the game with a buzzer beater. Justin Gray led the Skyliners with 18 points while NBA player Jon Leuer chipped in with 17 points. Chris Kramer had 16 points while Ivan Elliot and Ricky Harris contributed 13 points each. In the return game in Wurzburg in early January, the fans witnessed a gruesome hard fought battle in the trenches as no team wanted to give the other teams any gifts as Frankfurt prevailed 56-51. Frankfurt was led by Quantez Robertson with 12 points, Devin Gibson added 11 points and Jermario Davidson produced 10 points. The s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg were led by Ben Jacobson with 15 points. In the 2012-2013 season both teams split the season series 1-1 as both games combined were decided by not more than seven points. Last season the Fraport Skyliners lost round two of the battle of the trenches after winning round one in Wurzburg last season at home last December 59-55. Frankfurt only mustered 21 points in the first half, but had a strong fourth quarter scoring 21 points. The club was sparked by Zach Peacock with 18 points and Quantez Robertson added 12 points, nine rebounds and five steals to the win. Wurzburg was led by Dwayne Anderson with 11 points and Jason Boone had 10 points. In the return game in Wurzburg, The Fraport Skyliners squeaked out a 60-57 win as defense and loud fans dominated the game. Frankfurt was led by Zach Peacock with 18 points and Quantez Robertson added 12 points. The s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg were led by John Little with 15 points, Dwayne Anderson had 11 points and Jason Boone steered 10 point. In the 2013-2014 season both teams split as Frankfurt won at home 89-78 with 28 points form Andrew Rautins and 22 points from Dawan Robinson while Wurzburg was led by Tweety Carter with 24 points. In the return game in Wurzburg, Frankfurt lost 80-71 as Ramon Galloway with 19 points and Quantez Robertson had 18 points.Wurzburg was led by Jimmy Mckinney who had 17 points sinking all five three pointers. The Fraport Skyliners go into the game on Sunday after the bitter 82-80 loss in Oldenburg where Johannes Richter was denied overtime with his bucket while the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg come into the Fraport arena on a high with a 2-0 record with big wins in Ulm and at home against the Giessen 46ers. Frankfurt continues to have a long walking wounded list as the big three of Barthel, Voigtmann and Klein are out while Wurzburg has a long rotation to work from. It doesn´t matter who is there or not, Frankfurt will defend until the last second, while Wurzburg´s defense will be tested by Jordan Theodore who has quickly gotten used to the style of the Beko BBL. However the deeper and more experienced rotation of Wurzburg could be the key to the game.

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