Janek Schmidkunz is a 26 year old 183cm point guard that is playing his first season for the Giants Nordlingen. Last season as a rookie he played for the MLP Acaaademics Heidelberg. 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 84-59 win against Oldenburg in game one.
Janek congrats on the huge 84-59 win against Oldenburg for the 1-0 series win. How was the two week preparation different for this Pro B north team then it was for the Pro B south teams this season?
Thank you. I think the obvious difference was the time we had to not only prepare our game plan, but also get our rest from the long season. With a smaller rotation like ours that was definitely something that helped us.
How exciting was this game for you? It was your first playoff game as a professional. Was the two week wait very long for you?
Extremely exciting. We have a very special bond as a team and all the things we accomplished throughout the season so far were great memories, but eventually you will remember the way you end your season and we want it to be memorable in a positive way. The two weeks did feel long at times.
Did you have some nerves at the start of the game or was it a normal game for you despite it being your first post season game?
There was definitely a mix of emotions going into the game. We played an opponent we haven’t seen all year, so despite all the preparing, the first minutes of the game showed us what they are about and once we found our rhythm, the nerves definitely faded away.
At halftime Nordlingen had the overwhelming 49-23 lead. How much % of the game plan had the Giants successfully completed after the first 20 minutes?
Obviously when you look at the halftime score it is hard to deny that our game plan didn’t work. However, I think that we still need to analyze the first half and look closer to what worked and what didn’t, because they will adjust their game as well and we need to bring an even better effort next week to get a win in Oldenburg.
Nordlingen was defending great in the first half and had a good offensive rhythm going early. Was this Nordlingen basketball that the team was playing where everything was working?
The defense started everything for us. We rebounded very well despite the size disadvantage and once we stopped them we ran the floor. This is when we are at our best yes.
You led by as much as 34 points in the third quarter. Was it tough to focus at times in a big lead or was the big lead a benefit more by how they were playing?
Tough question, but I think we knew that if we push the lead to plus 30, the game would probably be over. So that was our goal and my feeling was that we remained focused till late into the 4th even.
Winning the rebound duel 35-34 may not seem like much, but Oldenburg has a huge size advantage over Nordlingen. How proud are you of the team that they were able to match up well down low?
Very proud, when we rebound the ball well we can play our game and that is when we can compete with anyone in this league. So it is one of our keys to winning. We have been undersized all year so the size disadvantage is nothing new to us.
How confident are you that when the big three score in double figures plus two more players with Leo Vrkas and Kwame Duku that you will go very far in the playoffs?
I mean, if you have 5 players scoring double figures, I believe you have a good chance of winning. I am confident that we can produce more performances like this, where winning is a total team effort and we don’t rely too heavily on individual performance.
You almost played 30 minutes How did you feel after 40 minutes? Did the two week break benefit your conditioning a bit?
I think this was one of the fewest minutes I played this season, which was also due to the high lead we held early. The two weeks benefited me in terms of resting my body. However, it can be hard to keep your rhythm over a 2 week stretch like this. I do think that we managed it very well.
You scored 22points, grabbing, two rebounds and dishing out five assists. You also shot very well picking your spots. Was this a normal shooting day at the office for you?
I tried to be patient and not force much. Also we wanted to share the ball and looking at 28 team assists, I can say that we did a great job at getting each other involved.
Nordlingen can wrap the series next weekend in Oldenburg. Nordlingen had 17 steals in game one. Will another defensive effort like in game one get you the win even if the offense isn´t as sharp getting 28 assists and more points in game 2?
If we defend like we are capable of, I am confident that we can win next week. Also we put Oldenburg in a do or die situation which puts the pressure off us and on them. Therefore, we need to have a good week of practice and bring the energy on the defensive end again, the offense will usually come on its own then.
Were you surprised by so many upsets in the NCAA March Madness? Is there more parity with NCAA schools than possibly in the past?
No, I am never surprised about the upsets in March, they call it Madness for a reason. I can’t say if mid-major schools are getting on a level with the big time programs, but I had a feeling over the whole college season that there won’t be that one team that is everyone’s favorite. It is one of the more open field that I have experienced.
What sleepers that are alive now do you see possibly making a run in the 2016 NCAA March Madness?
I like Gonazaga to advance to the elite 8 and even though they are higher seeds, I like Miami and Indiana’s chances.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Janek for the chat.