It is no secret that basketball fans in Bayreuth are very passionate about the game they love so not having won a BBL title since the late 80´s, the club has been starving for success again and after many long years in the second Bundesliga, the club finally moved up to the BBL in 2010 and witnessed six long years of never reaching better than 13th place, but last season every fans´s birthday, Christmas, and first sex came back all over again as the club finally had a spectacular season finishing fourth and reaching the playoffs and making the biggest headline story in the last 7 years of the speculation that Kevin Durant would wear a Bayreuth jersey in 2011 seem trivial and long long forgotten. A big reason for the success of head coach Raoul Korner who was able to find the right team chemistry as well as bringing in the right ingredients of new players with Trey Lewis and Kyan Anderson who were a big reason why the club was able to win so many games as their consistent scoring and team play was a guarantee for success last season as they combined for 27 points of the medi Bayreuth 84 points per game. Of course the club had other important key players like Nate Linhart, Assem Marei and Demon Brooks who filled out most of the rest of the bulk combined averaging 33ppg. However as is so often the case, players move on because of better offers that medi Bayreuth just can´t compete with. Lewis and Anderson moved to greener pastures with ratiopharm Ulm and Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (France-ProA). The club looked long and hard and found Gabe York who had a stellar NCAA career at Arizona developing a scoring gene and continued it as a rookie with the Erie Bay Hawks (D-League) playing 44 games averaging 15.8ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 51.4%, 3PT: 36.1%, FT: 83.7%. New point guard James Robinson is the Kyan Anderson replacement and like York is in his second professional season after having a solid NCAA career at Pittsburgh (NCAA) averaging 5,0apg in his last two seasons and last season as a rookie made his professional breakthrough with BC Igokea Aleksandrovac (Bosnia-Division I) playing 16 games averaging 15.1ppg, 4.3rpg, 3.8apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 61.1%, 3PT-2(48.8%), FT: 75.8%; In the Adriatic League he played 24 games averaging 12.8ppg, 3.5rpg, 3.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 32.9%, FT: 86.3%. The 23 year old 190cm point guard is from Mitchellville, Maryland and describes his toughest foe at the NCAA level to be Portland Trailblazer CJ Mccollum is motivated about making the next step in Germany with his new team medi Bayreuth. “I have known Trey Lewis for a couple of years now going back to our college days so I followed the team last year during their impressive season. When Coach Korner called me with interest for me to join the team I was excited and knew I would be going to a great situation. I have followed Brad Wannamaker´s professional career since he left University of Pittsburgh and saw the success he has had not just in the BBL but in all of Europe”, warned James Robinson. The American is a guy that can fill up the stat sheet and will woo Bayreuth fans with his versatile play. “I like to think of myself as an all around player that can contribute and affect the game in multiple ways, on both ends of the court. I would not say I mold my game after any one player but I like to take aspects of multiple players games and use those aspects to my advantage”, warned James Robinson. One guy who will be keeping a close eye on him is his ex teammate at Dematha high school Kameron Taylor who is playing for Pro B team Dragons Rhondorf and is looking to one day reach the EasyCredit BBL like his buddy Robinson. “James is more of a brother to me. I have a lot of respect for James, he has earned everything he has and probably deserves more. We are constantly pushing each other to become better players in the off season. I continue to learn something new every time we work out. We both will continue to raise our game and work our way up the ladder”, warned Kameron Taylor. Just how well Raoul Korner´s choice for his point guard James Robinson pans out will be revealed in May if medi Bayreuth make a second straight playoffs, but with Robinson´s rookie season track record of two titles in Bosnia and Herzegovina, his leadership skills will come in handy this season with medi Bayreuth as he looks to be the perfect Kyan Anderson replacement.
Despite ratiopharm Ulm having the huge season last year in the regular season winning almost everything, the big surprise team was medi Bayreuth that emerged on the scene winning ten out of their first 11 games including 10 in a row having huge wins against top team Alba Berlin and playoff teams EWE Baskets Oldenburg and the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. They weren´t as dominant the rest of the way, but were still able to string along a three game win streak and beat three more playoff teams including FC Bayern Munich 74-72. In the playoffs which they hadn´t reached in 21 years, they ran out of gas losing a hard fought four game series to the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. With a few more breaks here and there and they could have made it a five game series, but their defense couldn´t withstand the Oldenburg offensive weapons as they gave up an average of 94 points per game. Their biggest strength was their offense last season that averaged 84 points per game and shot a strong 40% from outside. Without this potent offense, they wouldn´t have had such a good season, because on the defensive side they allowed 80 points per game and just didn´t have a more consistent defense presence. In the regular season, they won six games where they allowed the opponent to score 80 points or more and they also had nerves of steel as they knew exactly how to win those exciting close crunch-time games as they won six games by three or less points difference.
A big key to success for any team is being able to hold a solid foundation of the team to keep that team chemistry intact and then add those new pieces and build on it. Head coach Raoul Korner did a super job keeping seven players with Americans Nate Linhart and Demon Brooks, Egyptian Assem Marei and Germans Bastian Doreth, Steve Wachalski, Andreas Seiferth and Robin Amaize. Nate Linhart is possibily the best player that the organization has reeled in since returning to the BBL in 2010. The 30 year old 201cm small forward played at Akron(NCAA) and via Trier, and Umana Reyer Venezia (Italy-SerieA) reached the big time with Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv (Israel-Winner League) and played a season in the ACB with Zaragoza. Last season with medi Bayreuth he played 36 games averaging 10.5ppg, 5.1rpg, 3.5apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 49.4%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 86.0%. The point forward is the leader of the team and is the ultimate team player that holds the team together. Demon Brooks is a 25 year old 201cm forward that played at Davidson(NCAA) and made a name for himself in the Italian Serie A-2 averaging 16,0ppg and 7,orpg in his two seasons there with Givova Napoli Basket and Orsi Derthona Basket Tortona. Last season with medi Bayreuth, he played 36 games averaging 12.1ppg, 3.4rpg, FGP: 58.9%, 3PT: 29.5%, FT: 87.0%. He energizes the team with his will and finishes in style and has a nice mid distance game. He will continue to be a consistent scoring option. Assem Marei is a 205 year old 206cm center and was one of the big BBL surprises last season. He always had to prove his basketball worth as he played in the NCAA 2 with Minn.St.-Mankato and as a senior averaged 19.3ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.3apg, 1.8bpg, FGP: 62.6%, FT: 59.2%. As a rookie he played with BC Siauliai (Lithuania-LKL) playing 37 games averaging 12.1ppg, Reb-2(7.5rpg), 1.2apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 54.4%, FT: 53.6%; In the FIBA Europe Cup, he averaged 12.5ppg, 10.8rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 62.7%, FT: 64.7%; and in the Baltic League averaged 12.3ppg, 7.6rpg, 1.0apg, 1.0spg, Blocks-5(1.1bpg), FGP: 58.3%, FT: 68.3%. He made the next step last season with medi Bayreuth averaging 11.9ppg, Reb-2(7.2rpg), 1.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 62.8%. His hard working attitude as rewarded him year after year and he will continue to be a menace in the paint area as his athleticism gives him big advantages over other centers.
Bastian Doreth is a 28 year old 182cm point guard going into his sixth BBL season. He played three seasons with FC Bayern in the Pro A, gained early experience with Brose Bamberg, played with ex BBL teams Trier and Artland and belonged to the German national team for years and played at the 2013 European championships in Lithuania. He won´t score much, but knows how to run a team and get his team in the best scoring opportunities and is a great defender. Steve Wachalski is a 202cm forward and might be 34 years old, but he is showing no signs of slowing down. He was a late bloomer as he didn´t debut in the BBL until age 27 after toiling three years in the Regionaliga and two years in the Pro B. It was Bayreuth that gave him his BBL chance in 2010. He got two more years of BBL experience with the Telekom Baskets Bonn and is playing his fourth season with medi Bayreuth and last season averaged 6.3ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 63.4%, 3PT-1(53.3%), FT: 92.3%. His bred and butter is his shooting and if left wide open, he will hurt you almost always. He was one of two players that last season belonged to the elite BBL 50/50/90 group. He is the ultimate shooting weapon from the bench. Andreas Seifert is a 28 year old 209cm center that made his debut in the BBL at age 20 with Alba Berlin and played in the BBL since 2009 playing with teams like TBB Trier, Artland Dragons and FC Bayern Munich. This will be his third season with medi Bayreuth and last season the 2013 German European championships member averaged 6.9ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 56.8%, FT: 64.9%. He is a guy that will get you points and rebounds in the paint and is a solid back up center. Amaize is a 23 year old 188cm shooting guard that already made his BBL debut at age 18 with Giessen. He has had a slow ride up the basketball ladder as he couldn´t make his breakthrough with Braunschweig where in three seasons he played only 21 games. Korner liked his game and brought him to Bayreuth and last season he made his BBL breakthrough averaging 6.2ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 58.6%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 79.2%. He is an athletic guard that will dunk, but also can shoot from outside. He has all the qualifications to make another step this season as his minutes should increase.
Besides James Robinson, the team also added two new imports with Gabe York and John Cox. York is a 23 year old 190cm guard that has the task of having to fill the shoes of the departed Trey Lewis. York played at Arizona and demonstrated his scoring and shooting qualities at Arizona(NCAA) averaging 15,0ppg as a senior and shooting 41% from outside in his last two seasons. Last season as a professional rookie he played with Vanoli Cremona (Italy-Serie A) averaging 4.3ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.5apg, left in Nov.’16, later that month moved to Erie Bay Hawks (D-League) averaging 15.8ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 51.4%, 3PT: 36.1%, FT: 83.7%. He is an excellent shooter that will have to prove that he can rebound from his short stay in Italy and become an impact player in Germany and will get the fullest trust from head coach Korner. Cox was a bit of a surprise reeling in a 36 year old, but when looking at his resume can still play at a high level. He is the son of former USF star Chubby Cox and cousin of Los Angeles Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant. He is going into his 13th professional season and has had knack of playing in France and he played every season there for 7 different teams winning the cup with Paris-Levallois in 2013. The Venezuelan national player also has had experience winning a gold with at the FIBA Americas in Mexico and played at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) averaging 9.0ppg, 2.2rpg, 1.6apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 26.7%, 3PT: 21.4%, FT: 80.0%. He is a physical guard that likes to score in the paint and take the mid distance, but also won´t shy away from the parking lot as his stats last season prove with Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (France-ProA) averaging 15.0ppg, 5.3rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 44.6%, 3PT: 41.4%, FT: 75.0%.
So where will the journey of medi Bayreuth end this season? The big strength is keeping seven players and having a tad more experience with the guidance of John Cox. The club has all the pieces to be another very strong offensive team, but will they be a better defensive team than last season? The key for medi Bayreuth to reach a second consecutive playoffs will be if James Robinson and Gabe York can successfully replace Kyan Anderson and Trey Lewis and make the next step in the higher league BBL. The signing of John Cox could be the the clubs biggest plus simply because he will have the capacity to bring valuable minutes from the bench should a Robinson or York have an off day. The club also needs to stay healthy and having a Robin Amaize make another step would be refreshing. Medi Bayreuth has started off fantastic at 4-1 in the BBL and 2-0 in the BCL and will finish the regular season somewhere between 5-11.