Chris Babb is a 26 year old 196cm shooting guard from Arlington, Texas playing his third professional season and first with ratiopharm Ulm. He started his basketball career in 2008 with Penn St. (NCAA) playing a total of 63 NCAA games. He then moved to Iowa St. (NCAA) where he played from 2011-2013 and as a senior played 33 games: 9.1ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.2apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 74.5%. In 2013 he started his professional basketball career with the Boston Celtics (NBA) playing 14 games: 1.6ppg, 1.2rpg, also played at Maine Red Claws (D-League) playing 33 games: 12.0ppg, 6.1rpg, 3.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 44.1%, 3PT: 35.4%, FT: 78.8%. Last season he played for the Maine Red Claws (D-League) playing 47 games: 15.4ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 78.3%. He spoke to German Hoops before game three against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg.
Thanks for taking some time to talk to German Hoops. Congrats on the 2-0 lead against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Many had Oldenburg favored, but how vital has the mindset of ratiopharm Ulm been for having the 2-0 lead?
Our mindset has been good. We had been battling injuries, but now everyone has been healthy. We just have been very focused going into the series with Oldenburg and in the first two games. We have done a good job sticking to the game plan moving the ball well and playing good defense.
Ratiopharm Ulm stole the first game in Oldenburg 90-81, but the home team played you very tough. How key was containing the paint area in game one where Oldenburg had their difficulties?
That was huge. Their big man Brian Qvale is great at finishing on the pick and roll. We did a good job as a team taking away the paint from Oldenburg. Paulding has been shooting well, but we still did a good job picking our spots and playing the best defense that we could and not let them get out on transition.
In game two ratiopharm Ulm defended their home court in a stellar way winning 85-80. How strange was this game where Paulding and Duggins combined for 46 points for Oldenburg and Guenther and Morgan combined for 63 points. Did at times feel like it was just time to sit back and watch these 4 guys go to work?
No it didn´t seem like that. Paulding and Duggins are great scorers and Duggins is a great one on one player. Oldenburg did a good job not letting me have good looks which opened up the floor for Per Guenther to get good looks. Raymar Morgan also is always a match up problem. Any guy on our team can be the leading scorer in any game.
In game two ratiopharm Ulm dominated the boards 37-23 and had seven possessions more, but what really has been the difference in this series so far?
That is hard to say. I feel that we really have been focused and just been playing very hard. We have defended well and just played scrappy on every 24 second possession and for 40 minutes. I think our good play so far in this playoff series has come down to how hard we have worked getting here the last weeks
Ratiopharm Ulm can bring out the brooms in game three. What will be key to getting the win and moving on to the semi-finals?
I think game three will be a tough road game. They have their backs to the wall and have to win. We know that Oldenburg will come out in game three with their guns blazing. We just will have to stick to what we have been doing well shooting, playing defense and getting rebounds.
Are you able to pick up things from a guy like Ricky Paulding on the court who has played in the BBL since 2007 or is it the biggest priority just to stop him?
Absolutely. Anytime you are competing against a veteran like Paulding, you can always learn something. He is shooting something like 70% from the two point range and 50% from outside. That is what he has been doing his whole career. It is always a good match up playing against him.
Ratiopharm is a very talented team, but also a very special team with many very unique characters. What do you feel is the biggest strength of the team at this point of the season?
We have been very focused in this playoff series. It has helped that our core guys are all healthy and we have been able to lock in. Also coach has done a good job making adjustments. We are all clicking as a team at the moment.
You are playing your first season in the Beko BBL and have no problems adjusting. What have you learned most about the Beko BBL?
I have learned quickly that there are a lot of talented guys playing in this league. Also the league is very physical and you need every player on the team to win. You also see many different top scorers from game to game.
When you arrived in Ulm in November, the club had injury problems and you came in and helped the team to winning 13 of 14 games. Do you feel like something of your play also rubbed off on your teammates?
I think that after we won our first few games, it was an overall confidence thing that helped the team in the winning streak. Guys started to fall into their roles and we learned what it took to win games. Raymar Morgan has been playing great the last weeks and Da Sean Butler has been a real spark off the bench and has been real good on the offensive and defensive ends.
What have you been able to learn from experienced German national player Per Guenther in the last 6 months on the court that quickly gave you much respect for the diminutive guard?
Per is a very scrappy player. He has been here for a while and always got better and is a great shooter. He is the apitomy of putting in hard work and reaping the benefits. He deserves a lot of respect for staying in Ulm for such a long time and not bouncing around from team to team. I have a lot of admiration for our captain for doing that.
A strength in your game is your shooting as you demonstrated against FC Bayern Munich hitting 29 points on 7/10 shooting, but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get recognized right away?
I am not sure. I know that since I have turned professional that I have been a player that any coach has been able to trust on the court. Wherever I have played, I usually led my team in minutes and am able to make the right plays and make good decisions. I feel like I am an extension of the coach on the court and can do the little things to help make the team successful.
You played your first two professional seasons in the States. What was your wake up call to playing in Europe this season where you knew that you were very far away from Arlington, Texas?
I think the biggest wakeup call that I had coming to Europe was the time difference. I have been away from home since going to college in Iowa and then playing in New England, but the time difference now is very much.
Last season you played for the Maine Red Claws playing 47 games: 15.4ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 78.3%. Were you disappointed that you didn´t get into games again with the Boston Celtics even though you were on the roster for the playoffs against the Cavs?
Yes I was. As a competitor I was frustrated to be in a suit at the end of the bench watching. I have always been a team guy and always want to be out on the court. Coach Stevens told me that he needed me to be a good practice player and watch the game and give my view point to players on the court, but also to be ready at any time to come if needed. Even if I didn´t get into any games, it was a great experience for me being there.
As a rookie you started the season in the D-league before getting called up by the Boston Celtics. How important was then Maine head coach Mike Taylor in your early rookie development in Maine?
The Maine Red Claws was my first professional experience and coach Mike Taylor was huge. I feel that I learned very much from him especially in the first few months. When I got there, I was the sixth man, but then a player went down with an injury and coach Taylor put me in the starting lineup and just trusted me that I could do the job. He just had a lot of confidence in me from the start. It is a huge step going from college to the pro´s and there can be days that are just frustrating. Even on days that were tough for me, Taylor had very much patience in me. He made me become more coachable.
How was that whole early NBA experience as a roomie playing with guys like Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo. What do you believe was the most important thing that you could soak up in that time?
I had a great experience with both guys. In my first NBA minutes, Rondo made sure to run the first plays for me so I could get up some shots and get confidence. Green took me under his wing from the start. We played the same position and I could always go to him for advice. It was important for me to be able to watch him play and pick up the little things. It was just a huge experience for me to be able to watch him play.
What was the most spectacular pass that you remember Rajon Rondo making in a game or practice that just had you dazzled?
There were so many. But I remember one pass in a practice where he was at the top of the key on a ball screen and he made an amazing over the head bounce pass in the lane to the big man who got it and dunked. I still don´t know how he got the ball to the big man. You can´t really realize how well he sees the court until you are actually on the floor with him. His court vision is at the top in the NBA.
Do you see yourself going the NBA route again this summer or could you imagine focusing on a European career?
I think that there is a possibility to go back and try the NBA route. My goal is obviously always to try to get back to the NBA, but I won´t force it. If the opportunity presents itself, I will definitely consider it. I could see myself making a career in Europe, but I am not counting out the NBA yet.
What memories do you have early in your college career at Penn State with Taylor Battle. Was he one of those guys that showed you the ropes early on?
Battle showed me the ropes early on at Penn State. He was only a year older and we were roommates in my second year. I learned a lot from him. He was a real competitor. A lot of that competitiveness rubbed off on me.
You played at Iowa State from 2011-2013. How did head coach Fred Hoiberg give you that extra push and help you get ready for a professional basketball career?
He was one of the first that gave me the confidence that I could play professional after college. He told me that the two biggest things for me would be how well I defend and space the court. He really helped me with my defense, picking my spots and making shots from the corner.
What will you never forget from your last college game against OHIO State where you bowed out of the NCAA tournament 78-75?
I remember getting hurt in the first half with my ankle and having to watch the rest of the game that wasn´t easy. It was tough watching our guys working so hard and then losing. A Will Clyburn layup got waived off at the end due to a charging call. That shot probably would have won us the game. It was frustrating losing that last college game.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
Ben Mclemore of the Sacramento Kings. We had some good matchups in college. I remember him saying in interviews that I was the toughest defender that he faced.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The Hateful 8.
Thanks Chris for the chat.