Travis Smith is a 24 year old 190cm guard from Johns Island, South Carolina that is playing his second professional season in Germany. As a rookie he played for RSV Eintracht Stahnsdorf (Germany-ProB) playing 27 games: 17.6ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.7apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 87.9%He played his last two years of college at Mercer and as a senior played 36 games: 13.9ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 47.2%, 3PT: 43.3%, FT: 89.8%. As a senior he reached the NCAA 2 Sweet 16 and was a A-Sun Regular Season Champion and
A-Sun Tournament Finalist in 2013. This season he started with MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel (Germany-ProB) where he played six games averaging 9,0ppg, 2,0rpg and 2,8apg and now has moved to the TG Wurzburg Baskets Akademy(ProB) and spoke to German Hoops during the Pro B play downs.
Travis thanks for talking to German Hoops. You are playing in the playdowns for the second straight season. What do you remember from your experience with Stahnsdorf last season?
Well of course the goal at the beginning of the season is to make the playoffs, so there is some disappointment when you don’t achieve it. The main thing that that I remember from my experience in the play downs from last season is to win early to make sure you stay ahead and are safe on the table. I feel like our team has found a good rhythm and has done a great job at staying positive even though we fell short of original goal.
Wurzburg went into the Pro B play downs having beaten playoff teams Leipzig and Nordlingen. How important were these two wins for the super 2-0 start for your team?
Those were very important wins for us as far chemistry and rhythm goes. Both Nordlingen and Leipzig are strong teams, so defeating them gave us a good foundation of confidence going into the play downs.
Wurzburg has a 4 game winning streak. Does it feel a bit strange having to fight to stay in the league despite playing very good basketball at the moment?
It really doesn’t, I feel like as a team we are finally understanding how to play together successfully for 40 minutes. We have a lot of talented players and unfortunately we were unable to figure out how to use each other’s strengths sooner or else may have been able to play in the playoffs.
Wurzburg gave up the fewest points this season in the 55-48 win against Lich. What did the club learn from this win on the defensive end that they maybe didn´t know at all this season?
We were proud of our defensive performance that game especially being on the road against an opponent that beat us previously. A lot of the credit goes to our coach for preparing a great game plan. We realized that we can be a tough team to score against if we play team defense and stick to the principles that our coach taught us.
In the 98-84 win against Saarlouis, Wurzburg showed a very strong offensive performance. Despite scoring only 55 points last week, does the overall team confidence to be able put points on the board at anytime outweigh any doubt that could ever arise during a down phase of a game?
Like I mentioned earlier, we have a good rhythm as a team and have found a way to play successfully for 40 minutes. We have gone through so much this season that we can withstand any type adversity throughout the course of a game.
How important was this off weekend for Wurzburg? How important is the short break at this point of the play downs mentally?
Honestly we treated this week like any other week. Our coach wanted to stick to the same practice times and schedule as usual and mentally I believe everyone on the team knows what needs to be done to continue winning games.
Wurzburg next battle the BIS Baskets Speyer twice. Wurzburg swept the series this season without problems. This will be your first time playing them. How excited are you to be taking on the challenge?
I am always excited for a chance to compete. I watched my team play against Speyer earlier this season when I first arrived in Würzburg but was not yet on the roster. Speyer is a good team that has been winning recently and is making a serious push to stay in the league. It should be a good game.
Wurzburg didn´t have any problems with Speyer this season playing consistent defense and holding them to 68 points a game and dominating the boards. What else will be key for getting the wins?
Overall the key for us is just being a team, playing together and communicating on offense and defense. When we play together we are a hard team to beat.
You have been a force since coming to Wurzburg in December averaging 14,8ppg and shooting 44% from outside. How do you think that your offensive game has benefited most in the new system with Wurzburg?
It took me a while to figure out my role on this team. When I arrived mid season I noticed there were a lot of talented guys with good skills on the team, and I just wanted to add my strengths to help the team perform better. At times I feel like I can do more but as a team our current rhythm and chemistry is good and that is the most important thing.
How do you feel your game has profited with Wurzburg that you weren´t able to do previously with WolfenbuetteL?
Defensively my mindset to be aggressive, especially on the ball, is the same no matter where I am. Offensively I had two very different roles with each team and the stats can attest to that. In Wolfenbüttle the team needed me to be more of a point guard, organizer, and a creator for others. While I was there I had more assists but I scored less and shot less threes. In Würzburg they need me to be more aggressive as a scorer and to be more of a shooting guard. Because of this, I have less assist but my scoring average has increased. I am a combo guard and I know that throughout my career depending on the team I am on and the players I am with my role will be different. The most important thing to me is winning games; anyway I can use my versatility to accomplish that for my team is all that concerns me.
Some of the older NBA players that played at different times are having a hard time giving Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors credit for their success saying they might not have had that success 20-30 years ago. Are these former players just jealous or why can´t they just give credit where it´s due?
The things Golden State are doing this season is amazing, no doubt. It is a new era, with a different style of play, and slightly different rules. Every era believes that their time was the greatest. I just think the former players are having a tough time admitting to the success of this new style of playing.
Recently ESPN made a top 100 greatest NBA players of alltime poll putting Lebron at #3 before legends Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and BIll Russell. Do you see that as being justified?
It’s tough to say especially right now because his career is still in progress. All of these guys are legends so you can really make an argument for any of them being in that spot.
Who will win the 2016 NCAA tournament and will Buddy Hield be the #1NBA draft pick?
I think North Carolina will win the championship this year and as far as the #1 pick in the draft, goes I think it depends on which team has the first pick.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The Revenant, it was a very inspiring movie.
Thanks Travis for the chat.