Janek Schmidkunz is a 24 year old 183cm point guard that is playing his first season for the MLP Academics Heidelberg (ProA). He started his basketball career with Central Hoops Berlin (Regionalliga) in 2008. He then also got further experience at ALBA Berlin II (Regionalliga). He then went to the states and played at Amer.Internat. (NCAA2) from 2010-2014 playing a total of 86 NCAA games and as a senior played 26 games: 10.9ppg, 2.1rpg, FGP: 38.5%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 61.5%. He spoke to German Hoops after the big 91-72 win against BG Karlsruhe.
Congrats on the huge 91-72 win in Karlsruhe. How big was the revenge factor after losing to BG Karlsruhe at 74-59?
I think the revenge factor wasn’t necessarily in our minds during and after the game. We have become a different team since that home game against Karlsruhe early on. We are confident to beat anybody on a good day. I believe that we have earned a win like that for our hard work and commitment.
The Giants Nordlingen had some big wins this season, but was this the biggest win of the season?
I would put this slightly ahead of our road win in Ehingen. I want to call this the biggest win of the season so far and hope that we can top it in the near future.
How was the bus ride back home? Was there big time celebrating or is the team more subdued knowing that there is still work to be done?
No celebrating really. Of course the atmosphere was great and everyone was all smiles. Yet, there is more work to be done. We know that made another big step towards our number one goal, which is reaching the playoffs. Hopefully, when it is all said and done we can celebrate by reflecting on a great season.
The game was pretty tight for 30 minutes, but Nordlingen exploded for 29 points in the fourth quarter. Coming into the fourth quarter, did you think that the team could have this much energy on offense and defense to win by 19 points?
Coming off the court at the end of the third quarter I had a feeling that the momentum has shifted our way and confidence built up to a level where all of us were clicking. But to have a quarter like this was definitely not something I was thinking of.
The club got needed support from Brandon Lockhart with 13 points and you added 9 points. Did Lockhart grow in explosiveness in the fourth quarter?
He carried us with big plays finding the right mix between creating for us and scoring himself. Karlsruhe didn’t really have an answer for us that night.
Did the team self confidence grow throughout the game knowing that you could play with the first ranked team which led to that big 29 point fourth quarter?
It grew, but it was already a good level of confidence that we brought into the game. When we realized that the game plan we had was working, our confidence level probably increased even more.
The usual BG Karlsruhe scorers Marcus Smallwood, Rouven Roessler and Paul Brotherson supplied punch, but how key was it keeping American Hayden Lescault in check and disrupting his play as he can create well, but coughed up the ball six times?
That was one of the goals we had going into the game. Defensively, we held him in check and I do believe that we made it hard for the other main scorers as well. You can only take away so much from a quality team like Karlsruhe and I think that we played a good game defensively as well.
Brandon Lockhart was close to a triple double. Was this a new side of him that was born tonight?
Well to my knowledge he is still waiting for his first career triple double. So one can say it is a new side, but honestly the guy is a very versatile scorer with great passing abilities. I am sure that if he rebounds the ball a few more times, we will see him accomplish that.
The trio of Talbert, Lockhart and Schmidkunz combined for 69 points. How much fun is it playing together and how good a reason is this consistent play to warrant thinking about staying together for the future?
It is a lot of fun and we all know that. I cannot speak for the two, but I believe what makes this even more special is the fact that we are unclear about the future and that is why we cherish this particular part of the season as we do. I believe thinking or worrying too much about it could cause us not to live this situation to the fullest.
How proud were you of Leo Vrkas. In the last two games he is 9/18 from outside while in the three games before that he was 1/20. He is feeling it at the moment.
He has been real big for us all year. His defensive abilities have stopped a lot of good scorers in this league with Lescaut being the latest addition to his accomplishments. Obviously, him having good shooting performances help the team enormously considering what he brings to the table on defense every game.
How has Vrkas grown throughout the season and can he become that consistent fourth scorer the team could really need?
I mean joining the team mid-season without having a pre season where we found together as a team, he has done a great job integrating and finding his role. He has a crazy work ethic and commitment to this sport that I am not surprised that he has grown throughout the season as he has. I am confident that he will have many more great games.
The team is now 3-0. What happened to the team since that 78-56 loss at home against Frankfurt which head coach Mario Matic really took to heart?
Nothing happened, we were the hottest team before the Frankfurt game and taking out the Frankfurt game we continued that streak. We have won 9 out of the last 11 games I believe. I see the Frankfurt game as unfortunate because we played a bad game and were unfortunate to face such a strong Frankfurt squad. But I don’t that there was a particular lesson that we learned from it.
The club has given up 74 points on average in the last three games. In what area has the team improved most on in the last three weeks?
I would connect that to my previous answer. I’d consider what we have done over the past 11 games and what we improved in that period the most is for one our defense, our rebounding and not turning the ball over limiting easy opponent baskets. Those are keys to our game and if we continue working on those areas, I am sure we will be where we want at the end of the year.
You stopped a tough Scanplus Baskets, contained Ricky Easterling and now beat BG Karlsruhe. What is next for the Giants Nordlingen? Suddenly Nordlingen has become a playoff team and in third place?
I considered us a playoff team since the beginning of the year as it was our goal. I wouldn’t say that we have become one suddenly, but that we were always in contention and took care of our tasks. So what is next? I believe earning home court advantage should be the next logic goal for us.
Who will win the Superbowl Denver or Carolina?
Carolina. But I am paying for dinner regardless, as I have already lost my NFL Playoff bet to Jordan or Brandon!
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Janek for the chat.