For six years Sebastian Wild was the only European head coach in NCAA basketball. The 33-year-old ended his tenure at the helm of the women's basketball team at Lees-McRae College this year and returned to his German home, the city of Rostock. Earlier this summer he accepted the job as a head coach of EBC Rostock and plans to take his team and the entire organization to new heights. In an interview with Eurobasket.com Coach Wild talked about the up and coming season in the 1. Regionalliga North, the EBC organization and his journey from Rostock to North Carolina and back.
Moving up to the 2. Bundesliga Pro B has been set as a midterm goal of EBC Rostock. Can you talk about how and when that goal should be achieved and why EBC Rostock would be a good organization to join the Pro B? Sebastian Wild: At this point that is the goal we as an organization have set for ourselves. With that being said; we are a long ways away from achieving that. I've always been convinced that you have to set lofty goals and construct a plan to reach them. For us here in Rostock that goal is to join the Pro B league within the next 5 years. A lot of positive things have happened here over the course of the past 8 years since I left. We are playing in a state-of-the art arena, there is tremendous support from our fans, and most importantly we have started developing a youth league network in the region that designed to develop talented youngsters to support our team. It's really an exciting time here in Rostock, but with that being said, we will have to move step by step without overexerting ourselves - which means everything will take a few more years.
The summer signings that have been made by the RLN teams so far, including numerous imports from the US and Eastern Europe, bode well for an exciting season in the 1. Regionalliga North, but also for an intense fight for the top spots in the league. Will EBC be in the mix for that? Wild: I'm obviously not very familiar with the make up of the RLN, but peeking over to some of the other squads in the league, it is obvious that we are up against some fierce competition. Unfortunately we are not even close to competing with those teams in terms of our resources just yet. The quality of our team, as far as I can evaluate it right now, is nowhere close to where it needs to be for us to compete this year. We have lots of work to do. All of our players are working tremendously hard and every single one of our practice sessions thus far has been very spirited - we are getting better no doubt. This year it is all about 'survival' for us. Our only goal is to hopefully collect enough Ws to stay in the RLN. We have lost some key contributors for last year's sixth place team, and up to this point we have not been able to replace them. I do expect us to complete our roster and add some quality within the next few weeks though. All I know is: We will not be outworked! Not in the front office and not on the court.
You kicked off pre season practice some weeks ago: How has team practice been thus far? Wild: We started practice about 4 weeks ago. However we have only worked in an Individual Skill-work type environment up to this point. That gave me a great opportunity to get to know all the of our personnel much better. In addition our players received a lot of one on one attention and we could spend a great deal on fundamental skill work. I couldn't be happier with how our guys have responded to the 'new intensity' that is demanded of them. They are really embracing the challenge and compete on a daily basis. You can see them improving by the minute. So I really enjoy this 'small group setting' in those workouts. It's what I'm used to since you have about 7 weeks for individual work in the NCAA before you start team sessions. I strongly believe that it is a critical stage of the season, since you lay the foundation and everyone gets so many more repetitions. In the mean time we are still working on our roster for the coming season and hope to be able to start our intense team sessions within the next two weeks.
Many of the players who shaped the face of the EBC Rostock team over the years have crossed or are approaching the 30 years mark: How much of your job includes adding fresh blood to the roster? Wild: That is absolutely critical. We will need to add some younger pieces in the coming years. Rostock is a beautiful city right at the shore of the Baltic Sea with a highly respected University. We hope we can use that to attract some talented, young players that really want to develop and get a quality education. Some of our key players are at the peak of their basketball careers right now. Many of them have a few more years left, performing at an exceptional level. We want to use those years to build around them and the leadership they bring, with younger contributors to ensure a solid foundation here at the EBC for years to come.
As mentioned most of the ambitious RLN teams have signed one or more import players. Will EBC Rostock do the same or do you think it's possible to be successful in the league playing without the help from outside? Wild: Great Question. As far as I can tell after only a few weeks, it will definitely be difficult to compete without 'outside help'... Especially with the new regulations in place in the higher leagues. Even teams in the Bundesliga and Pro-A will have to play with more German talent now. I'm convinced that this will drain some of the young, promising 'home grown' talent out of the lower leagues like the RLN. Some of those kids that would have played in our league are getting called up to play a league or two up. This obviously leaves teams at our level with a void. The 'quick fix' would be to bring in Foreign players for a year and go from there. I'm not a big believer in that strategy. We will have to be very creative in our quest to ensure long term success, especially with our slim budget. However, I do have a ton of contacts to high level NCAA coaches all over the U.S. that have become valued friends of mine over the past 8 years and I'm in touch with a ton of proven U.S. talent that were absolute key players on NCAA Tournament-teams and are beyond hungry for an opportunity to play over here, just in case we feel like we want to go into that direction.
Can you talk about your journey as a basketball coach. How you ended up being appointed the head coach of Lees-McRae College and how all these years with the Bobcats have affected your style of coaching and your way of developing players? And what made you return to Rostock? Wild: I'm not sure how to answer all of that without writing a book. Let's just say I've been very very fortunate over the past 12-13 years. I've been able to establish myself as a young coach here in Germany in the early 2000s, while spending a lot of time in the U.S. back then. I worked a ton of summer top 100 camps on the East Coast and made a lot of connections in the process. I never thought it could lead to a position as a coach at the NCAA level, but I was presented with an opportunity to join a coaching staff in for the 2004 season, which was an absolute dream come true. Two years later I was named the only European Head Coach in all of NCAA basketball. I guess I can say I was very lucky, having been able to live my dream for the past 8 years. On the other hand: Luck is when Opportunity meets preparation. I did work very hard to get to that point and I still do now. It's my passion. The time in North Carolina did mold me a lot; as a person and as a coach. Being able to learn from and compete with some of the top college programs in Nation is a Luxury. I spent countless hours at places like Duke, UNC, Wake Forest, Clemson, NC State, Tennessee, Davidson, the Memphis Grizzlies, Charlotte Bobcats and so on watching practices and meeting with coaches. I loved that time. As you can imagine, you do learn a lot if you approach every day with an open mind. Why EBC Rostock? My Visa was close to running out and I knew that Rostock was probably the only place I would return to, since my family and a ton of friends are still here. There were plenty of inquiries from high level clubs, but I still felt connected to the EBC here, since they opened a lot of doors for me early in my career. I believe the coming years here will be a great challenge for us. There is always tremendous reward in building something special from the ground up - that's what I will try to be a part of here. It won't be easy, that's for sure, but I love challenges.
Obviously there is a huge difference between coaching at the college level and working for a Regionalliga team in Germany. But what can you carry over from your tenure at Lees-McRae to your daily work at EBC Rostock? Wild: As you probably know there is a huge difference... I'm still having trouble adjusting to it. I guess I am a little spoiled. I do feel like I can instill a different level of professionalism and bring a whole new level of intensity and drive to our program here in Rostock. And at the end, it is just basketball. Many of the on-court aspects will carry over in a way. As coaches you always adjust to personnel and situation anyway... always... so you have to be flexible. I'm still convinced a lot of my unique experiences from the past 8 years will help me a great deal in the process.
How has EBC Rostock developed and grown as an organization throughout the years that you spent in North Carolina? Wild: Everything here has become a lot more solid. There is tremendous support here now; great crowds. It is a ton of fun to be part of it now. People in leading positions here have done a phenomenal job creating a concept that is very sustainable. We want to continue to grow in a healthy way. Step by Step. The foundation has been created, now it is our job to continue to build. The main thing we do need here is financial support. Literally everything else is in place. We are hoping to find more partners that want to be part of our journey and grow with us.
EBC Rostock is pretty much the one and only basketball club in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern that is commonly known and the only ambitious program in the region, regarding men's, women's and youth basketball. Does that help or hurt EBC Rostock's cause? Wild: It is not ideal. Competition is always good and I'm convinced the lack thereof has slowed our development in recent years quite a bit. If you look closely though, there a number of clubs in the regions now that have started quality youth programs. It'll take a while to develop, but it's the right approach. We are looking forward to partner with those clubs and help take basketball in our region, not just our city to another level.
Preston Medlin(193-G-91, college: Utah St.) is a 25 year old 193cm guard that is playing his third professional season and first with the Kirchheim Knights in the German Pro A. He started his basketball career in 2009 with Utah St. (NCAA) where he played until 2014 playinga total of 102 NCAA games. As a senior he played 32 games averaging 12.4ppg, 2.7rpg, 4.1apg, FGP: 41.1%, 3PT: 42.4%, FT: 78.0%. He started his professional basketball career in 2014 with BK Saldus (Latvia-LBL): 29 games:... [read more]
Preston Medlin (193-G-91, college: Utah St.) is a 25 year old 193cm guard that is playing his third professional season and first with the Kirchheim Knights in the German Pro A. He started his basketball career in 2009 with Utah St. (NCAA) where he played until 2014 playinga total of 102 NCAA games. As a senior he played 32 games averaging 12.4ppg, 2.7rpg, 4.1apg, FGP: 41.1%, 3PT: 42.4%, FT: 78.0%. He started his professional basketball career in 2014 with BK Saldus (Latvia-LBL): 29 games: Score-4 (14.7ppg), 3.1rpg, 3.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 42.7%, FT: 75.8%. Last season he had limited duty with Enosi Kalathosfairisis Kavalas (Greece-A1): 3 games: 3.7ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.3apg. Eurobasket talked to Preston after the tough 90-72 loss in Trier.
Preston thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. You came into the game with Trier with a 11-1 record and had won 8 times. As a professional basketball player does a time come when one has won a lot that you just think it will go on and on? Going into the Trier game we felt like we were rolling and nothing could touch us and we got a reality check, which I think in the long run, will be good for us.
A tough 90-72 loss to Trier who had lost four of their last five games and were reeling for a win and got it. Did this game and result give you another reality check that the German Pro A is a very competitive league?
I think we know how competitive this league is; we got complacent and Trier played a great game and took advantage of that situation.
After the third quarter, Trier was only up by five points, but really opened up the game in the fourth quarter pounding home 28 points. What was key for Trier ending Kirchheim's eight game winning streak?
Trier just came out and wanted the game more than we did, you could tell their backs were up against a wall and they were fighting for their lives. They out played us and that's why we lost.
Kirchheim shot 26 more free throws, but otherwise shot poorly while Trier shot out the lights. Was it just one of those days that happen or was the team defense more than suspect?
I think it was a combination of both we let their shooters get going early and then they got hot and by then it was too late for us to do anything.
The team is still awaiting to play Crailsheim and the next opponent is MBC. They came down form the BBL and what to get back there. What will be key for getting the win?
Our next game we play against MBC who has a great team but we are looking forward to the challenge this week.
It has been a very strong season for Kirchheim so far as it is fourth in scoring averaging 80 points per game and ninth in defense giving up 76 points. Do you feel like Kirchheim could be a team that could keep teams to 70 points a game as the season progresses? What do you feel is still an area that needs to be improved on?
Yes it has been a good year for Kirchheim, I think it is the best start in the history of the club. That is all great but the season is not close to over so we have to stay focused and keep playing hard every day in practice and improving as a team so we are playing our best ball at the end of the season. I think we have the talent to keep teams to 70 points but we just need to make sure we bring our best effort every night. As a basketball team you should always be improving as the season goes on we just have to work on playing a full game of basketball for 40 minutes.
Kirchheim also play with a very thin rotation. Do you feel like the club will be able to withstand a long season like that and not get worn down?
We might not have the deepest rotation but when we need guys to step up they have and I think that is one of the biggest reasons we are having so much success.
The team is very young. Who has established himself as the leader in the early going? German Tim Koch probably has the most experience in Germany
We have some young guys on our team but we also have some guys with a lot of experience so we have a good balance. I feel like we have a lot leaders on the team and it seems to be a different guy from practice to practice.
How much fun has it been playing with rookie Carrington Love. What do you feel has been his secret for making the solid transition from the NCAA to the Pro A?
Love is great to play with, he makes the game a lot easier for everyone on the court because he is so quick and a great passer. I think his transition has been solid for him because he is a great defender and for the most part he plays his game and doesn't let anyone else make him doing something he is not comfortable with.
Your having a very solid third professional season in Germany averaging 8,8ppg, 1,9rpg and 3,0apg. What is the biggest challenge for you in general in each Pro A game that you play?
I feel I am having a solid year but most importantly my team is having a good year. The biggest challenge for me this year is being a consistent scorer every night.
Your shooting 39% from outside? Do you feel like you can develop into a solid 40% plus three point shooter this season?
I do feel that I can be a 40% threepoint shooter and I have been my whole career and I don't thing this year will be any different.
What have you learned to appreciate most about Germany so far in your first few months here?
I have learned to appreciate how friendly and helpful German people are. Also it is nice how well people can speak English here. But my experience in Germany has been amazing so far.
Kevin Garnett has retired. Where do you rate him with the best power forwards of all-time that played in the NBA?
t was a sad day when KG retired but not as sad as when Tim Duncan retired. Tim was my favorite player to ever play the game but KG was a monster and probably top 5 PF of all time.
The talk is usually about Lebron or Steph Curry, but one has to mention that Russell Westbrook is averaging triple double stats with points, rebounds and assists. Where do you rate him at the moment just with sheer stats and how he is doing it form the point guard position?
Russell Westbrook is a monster and he plays with everything he's got every night. If he ends the season averaging a triple double it will have to go down as one of the best seasons of all time.
What do you feel will be the journey of the Golden State Warriors this season? Will they be able to win the title again and with 65 plus games?
When you have the players that Golden State has you will always have a chance to win the NBA finals but we will see if they can beat Cleveland this year.
Struggling Pro A club Dresden Titans have reacted to the injury of American Jervohn Pressley and brought in Tafari Toney (202-C/F-86) Toney is a 30 year old 202cm forward that was born in New York, but has an english mother. He has much experience having played in the NCAA with Houston and is playing his tenth professional season. The club announced that the big man will play the remaining three games in 2016 as Pressley will return to the court in January. Last season Toney split time wi... [read more]
Struggling Pro A club Dresden Titans have reacted to the injury of American Jervohn Pressley and brought in Tafari Toney (202-C/F-86) Toney is a 30 year old 202cm forward that was born in New York, but has an english mother. He has much experience having played in the NCAA with Houston and is playing his tenth professional season. The club announced that the big man will play the remaining three games in 2016 as Pressley will return to the court in January. Last season Toney split time with Abejas de Guanajuato (Mexico-LNBP): 16 games: 10.8ppg, 6.3rpg, 2.2apg, 2FGP: 48.8%, FT: 81.4%: 15 games: 10.8ppg, 6.3rpg, 2.3apg, 2FGP: 47.5%, FT: 80.7%, in Dec.'15 moved to Jean D'Arc Vichy Clermont Metropole (France-ProB): 7 games: 8.7ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.1spg, FGP: 51.2%, FT: 68.0%.
Dresden Titans head coach Liam Flynn is content about the vocal support that Toney will bring the team. "He is very loud on the court and that had been missing with us. Only when there is communication can one have success", added Fylnn. Toney started his basketball career in 2004 with San Jacinto College (NJCAA) and then played two seasons with Houston (NCAA) playing 61 NCAA games. He played his first three professional seasons in England with teams like Newcastle, Sheffield and Liverpool and six years in France in the third and second divisions and two in Mexico. Toney knows exactly what his duties will be with the Titans. "I am the oldest player in a young team and am supposed to lead them", expressed Tafari Toney
Awards and achievements in his basketball career has been Ranked among the Top 100 junior college players in the nation -06, JUCO Honorable-Mention, All-Region XIV selection -06, C-USA Tournament Finalist -07, British BBL Cup Semifinals -09, British BBL Regular Season Champion -09, 11, British BBL Champion -09, 11
British National Team -09, British BBL Cup Winner -10, Eurobasket.com All-British BBL Center of the Year -10, 11, Eurobasket.com All-British BBL Defensive Player of the Year -10, Eurobasket.com All-British BBL 2nd Team -10, Eurobasket.com British BBL All-Domestic Players Team -10, 11, Eurobasket.com British BBL All-Defensive Team -10, 11, British BBL Semifinals -10, British BBL Regular Season Runner-Up -10, British BBL Cup Finalist -11, Eurobasket.com All-British BBL 1st Team -11, French NM1 Play-Offs Champion -12, Eurobasket.com All-French NM1 2nd Team -12, Eurobasket.com French NM1 All-Bosmans Team -12, 14, Eurobasket.com All-French ProB Bosman Player of the Year -13, and French NM1 Play-Offs Semifinals -14
Chris Hass (ex Phoenix Hagen) signs at CEZ Nymburk - 20 hours ago
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Defending champion CEZ Basketball Nymburk (NBL) landed 22-year old American swingman Chris Hass (196-86kg-94, college: Bucknell). He already started the season at Phoenix Hagen in German BBL league. In 11 games he averaged 11.2ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.4apg and 1.2spg this season. He received All-Patriot League 1st Team award in 2015 and 2016 at his college time. The previous (12-13) season Hass played at another team Bisons in U.S. semi-pro league NCAA1. But in 11 games he had just 1.8ppg. He helpe... [read more]
Defending champion CEZ Basketball Nymburk (NBL) landed 22-year old American swingman Chris Hass (196-86kg-94, college: Bucknell). He already started the season at Phoenix Hagen in German BBL league. In 11 games he averaged 11.2ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.4apg and 1.2spg this season. He received All-Patriot League 1st Team award in 2015 and 2016 at his college time. The previous (12-13) season Hass played at another team Bisons in U.S. semi-pro league NCAA1. But in 11 games he had just 1.8ppg. He helped them to win Patriot League Tournament. Hass just graduated from Bucknell University and it is his first season in pro basketball.
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