After reaching the Beko BBL playoffs year after year, it can quickly become a matter of course for a renowned organization like the EWE Baskets Oldenburg continuing to reach the post season each season as its is for NBA superstar Rajon Rondo to make at least one spectacular eyebrow raising pass each game. After four consecutive playoff appearances and winning the 2009 Beko BBL championship, the club missed the Beko BBL playoffs last season finishing in 10th place despite a very competitive roster. With the arrival of ex NBA player Bobby Brown last season, it seemed like a given that the team would not only reach the playoffs, but possibly reach the final, but the California native was unable to lead the club into the promised land in May. At the times the ex Sacramento King seemed more obsessed with his own scoring average than doing what was best for the team. His lethal scoring at times was so destructive it seemed that the best for the opponent could have been to blare out the famous Bobby Brown hit Dont be cruel in hopes that he might stop, but in the end his scoring wasnt even consistent enough to get the extra needed victories. Despite leading the Beko BBL in scoring last season and being in fifth place for best assist average, there were numerous games where his one on one play and ego got in the way in crunch time and he could have been wearing a Amare Stoudemire mask and no one would of noticed. This season new Oldenburg head coach Sebastian Machowski hauled in Lebron James friend Dru Joyce (183-PG-85, college: Akron) who is as much of a classical point guard as NBA legend John Stockton was back in the day. The Ohio native can score if needed, but in his four seasons in the Beko BBL with Ulm and Trier he has been second in assists twice and third once and would most likely choose the pass over a lay up on a 2-0. Oldenburg hopes that his non ego playmaking skills will lead the team back into the Beko BBL playoffs. Joyce knows what he can do and has the needed self confidence to be successful as a professional basketball player. I go out and try to be a good leader. I know that I am a pretty good playmaker that also likes to create and finish. Key for me also is to play good defense, warned Dru Joyce. One of the better and more underrated defenders in the Beko BBL is TBB Trier forward Nate Linhart who remembers Joyce well from Akron where they were teammates and from Trier. Dru has continued to develop his penetration and point guard skills the last years. He is a lot more physical and sees the court better. He has improved his pick and role play the most, stressed Nate Linhart. If the EWE Baskets Oldenburg reach the Beko BBL playoffs this season, then fans wont remember how cruel the offseason and long summer was.
Since their amazing 2009 Beko BBL title where they beat Bonn in a nail biting 5th game 71-70, the team has reached the playoffs the two following years, but missed them last year and for fans and critics have stayed behind their expectations losing in the quarterfinals of the playoffs each time. In 2010-2011, the EWE Baskets Oldenburg finished the season in sixth place with a record of 20-14. The teams biggest wins were sweeping the Artland Dragons and wins against Frankfurt, Bremerhaven and Goettingen, but were swept by Bamberg and Alba Berlin. Oldenburg had done a good job again with getting strong individual players, but had no real knowledge of team basketball. In the Beko BBL playoffs, the EWE Baskets Oldenburg showed a spirited fight against 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin coming back after being in the hole 0-2, they won the next two games including an exciting 80-79, win in game 4, but then had no power left in their thunderbird wings as they were destroyed 99-68 in the 0-2 arena.
After a serious house cleaning in 2010-2011, they were content to do it again last season as 10 players left. The first order of business was keeping 29 year old Rickey Paulding (12.8ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 53.6%, 3PT: 30.6%, FT: 79.5%)who will be playing his 5th season in Oldenburg, brought back 28 year old 207cm Serb Miljan Mastorovic who played in the ACB for Assignia Manresa playing 33 games: 6.9ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 32.9%, FT: 64.9% who was the three point killer who was instrumental in the 2009 championship for Oldenburg and 24 year old 208cm German /Dutch Robin Schmeulders (: EuroCup: 6 games: 5.3ppg, 1.8rpg, FGP: 55.0%, FT: 83.3%; German League: 17 games: 2.6ppg, 1.6rpg. They have brought in strong players again led by Bobby Brown who brought 108 NBA games experience. The club hoped some of his albatross magic from the 2008 Beko BBL title would still be with him and rub off on the Thunderbirds team. But no such luck rubbed off on Oldenburg.
With so much hype before the season, the EWE Baskets simply werent a consistent force in the Beko BBL last season. After starting off the season with a two game winning streak, they then lost three games in a row. They had two three games winning streaks, but simply too little to be able to compete with the Bambergs, Berlins or Ulms this season One of their biggest problems was their lack of being able to beat any top playoff teams. They lost the season series to the Artland Dragons where David Holston was able to lead his team clearly over ex NBA player Bobby Brown. The club was unable to beat Bamberg or Alba Berlin or ratiopharm Ulm. Their biggest wins were against FC Bayern Munich and Bremerhaven. The team continued to be an enigma. Losing in Wurzburg can always happen, but only scoring 42 points when it was averaging 80 points a game just forces the basketball follower to say WOW. In the next game, they score 89 points against one of the top defensive teams in the league with the Brose Baskets Bamberg. They finished the season with a 3-4 record and missed the playoffs finishing in tenth place with a record of 16-18. Long time head coach Predrag Krunich was let go near the end of the season as he was unable to reach his players anymore.
The goal of the EWE Baskets Oldenburg this season is reach the Beko BBL playoffs and will need to help support the new 6000 seat arena which will be ready for use in the Spring of 2013. The first order of business was getting a strong coach and that was done with ex German national player Sebastian Machowski. Machowski has had a very consistent and strong short coaching career winning a cup in his second season in 2009 with SKK Kotwica Kolobrzeg. He then moved to the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig taking their program to the playoffs for three consecutive seasons. With Braunschweig he also understood how to find the right mix of players to have success. With Oldenburg, he has made the next step going to a potential playoff team that has a higher budget than the Phantoms. Machowski is different to Krunich in that he seeks more communication with his players and doesnt rely on a standard system, but allows his players more freedom and that each player always has many options to be able to make their own decisions. Machowski did a good job keeping possibly more players than one might have expected with seven and getting four new components for the building of the winning team. Only one player is left from the 2009 title win and that is American Rickey Paulding who is starting his sixth season for the team and is the heart and soul of the team and can still hurt you with his offense. Adam Chubb remains who has become more of a beast under the boards this season simply because he needs to do more there. Power Forward Ronald Burrell returns who can still battle with the best of them and can be a deadly player that can make the extra pass. Ex Skyliner Dominic Bahiense De Mello returns for a second season and is looking for more minutes. The team also Jannik Freese who is an animal in practice, but is still searching for his Beko BBL breakthrough. The team also returns Robin Smeulders who is a solid role player from the bench and German Kevin Schmit. The team signed experienced American Julius Jenkins who has the most hardware on the team and gives that deadly scoring touch. The team brought in classic point guard Dru Joyce who is still developing as a player. Konrad Wysocki also returns back to the Beko BBL after three seasons in Poland. Wysocki can play the three four position and will give the team energy on both ends of the court. American Chris Kramer was also added wo is a work horse on offense and defense and sometimes one may think he likes defense more than offense. He led Wurzburg in scoring and can penetrate with the best of them. The biggest strength of the team is their experience and guys that have won titles. The team also is very athletic and will defend better than last season due to guys like Kramer and Wysocki arriving. With more freedom on offense, the team should have more joy for creativity in the offense. The team is very talented and can really only defeat themselves and not think too much about having to get back to the Beko BBL playoffs. With Chubb, the team only has one strong dominant center, so team rebounding will have to be on the agenda during every game.
Since the 2005-2006 season, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners have a weak 7-9 record against The EWE Baskets Oldenburg. In the 2005-2006 season, even five years later stick in the minds of many as in the 98-75 loss in Oldenburg saw Malick Badiane get ejected after kicking a chair and in the last game of the season, Frankfurt had to win to stay in the league and did 70-58 thanks to 22 points from American Kavossy Franklin. In the 2006-2007 season, won the season series with a 80-70 win in Oldenburg and a 76-70 win at home despite 30 points from Ricky Paulding.In the 2007-2008 season, the teams split the season series as Derrick Allen combined for 48 points in the two games. In the 2008-2009 season, the teams split the season series as Frankfurt totally crushed Oldenburg 84-53 at home, but lost 66-58 on the road. Oldenburg got the last laugh in the quarterfinals of the playoffs winning the series 3-1. In 2009-2010, Frankfurt lost a nail bitter in Oldenburg 63-61 and 75-69 at home despite 26 points from Derrick Allen. In 2010-2011, The two teams split the season series with Frankfurt losing a bitter 70-67 game which they led for most of the game, but let it slip away at the end while they won at home 76-71 fueled by 24 points by Dashaun wood. Last season, the two also split the season series and both teams met in the first game of the season as Oldenburg jumped all over Frankfurt 72-53 as Frankfurt had a horrible shooting day as Oldenburg was led by 17 points by Ronald Burrell. In the return game in Oldenburg, the Fraport Skyliners were going through their euphoric second half of the season and rode into Oldenburg with a lot of confidence winning 75-67 as the team held on to win a nail bitter. Despite 22 points from Bobby Brown, Skyliner Jermario Davidson out did him scoring 25 points, getting seven rebounds and making two blocks while Jimmy Mckinney contributed 16 points. On Saturday The sixth in the standings with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg meet 14th placed Fraport Skyliners. The EWE Baskets started the season hot winning four of their first five games winning in Munich and in Wurzburg two very difficult places to win at, but since then have a 3-4 record seeming to be in a early season funk. There only big highlight this season so far has been their immaculate unbeaten record in Eurochallenge play. This will be another tough game for the Fraport Skyliners as every game is a game seven for them this season as they might be short handed again and Oldenburg is a stronger team than Wurzburg and rebound very well. Oldenburg is one of the quality teams in the league and made big changes from last season. They have a good roster with good inside out play. Oldenburg is more talented than Wurzburg and we will have to work hard. We have to dictate the game with our defense and not let them run and make easy points, stressed Fraport Skyliners head coach Muli Katzurin. We have to come out aggressive on defense and execute on offense, added Quantez Robertson.
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg are led by Adam Chubb who is a 31 year old 208cm power forward/center from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that is a Very athletic big man, runs the floor extremely well. Sound fundamental player who has good hands, fine low-post presence and is a good passer to players who are open or cutting to the basket. Can defend a center in the low-post as well as a power forward perimeter player. He is playing his ninth professional season and seventh in Germany.After starting his professional basketball career in Korea in 2004, he then played in Germany for Giessen, Bremerhaven, Artland and Alba Berlin before getting some valuable experience in 2010-2011 for CAI Zaragoza (Spain-ACB): 34 games: 7.4ppg, 3.9rpg, FGP: 52.0%, FT: 69.4%. He won a Beko BBL cup for Artland and Alba Berlin. Last season for Oldenburg he played EuroChallenge: 12 games: 11.7ppg, 6.3rpg, FGP: 61.5%, FT: 73.7%; German League: 34 games: 12.4ppg, Reb-2 (8.5rpg), 1.7apg, FGP: 64.1%, FT: 77.2%. 31 year old 187 cm guard American Julius Jenkins is playing his first season in Oldenburg and has developed into one of the top players in the BBL after first being recognized in the 2004-2005 season as he averaged 27,1ppg in the second Bundesliga for Nurnberg. He played a season in Bree, Belgium getting ULEB Cup experience before coming to Berlin in 2006 where he since has become a household name. His best scoring season was 2007-2008 where he played 45 games: Score-3 (18.2ppg), 2.9rpg, 2.8apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 57.8%, 3FGP: 42.0%, FT: 81.4%. In 2009-2010, he played EuroCup: 14 games: 14.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 43.1%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 74.3%; German League: 35 games: Score-5 (14.8ppg), 1.7rpg, 2.5apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 44.3%, FT: 80.2%. He is an explosive scorer from the point guard or the shooting guard position; possesses the ability to score and create his own shot at anytime; Has very long arms and great leaping ability; unlimited range on the jump shot, which allows him to stretch the defense. You have to pray that he misses. You have to be physical with him and make sure the bigs hedge hard on ball screens, warned Omari Westley. With Berlin, Jenkins has won a number of awards such as Bundesliga All-Star Game -08 (MVP), Bundesliga Champion -08 (Finals MVP), Eurocup finalist 2010 and German Bundesliga Cup Winner -09 (FinalFour MVP). Last season in Bamberg he played Euroleague: 10 games: 10.4ppg, 1.4apg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 95.0%; German League: 37 games: 9.7ppg, 1.5rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 63.9%.
Ronald Burrell is a 29 year old 204cm power forward from Montclair, New Jersey playing hiss econd season for Oldenburg. After an NCAA career at North Carolina-Greensboro, he came to Europe in 2005 to France to play for Levallois SCB. He then came to Germany and played for Rhein Energy Cologne and the Telekom Baskets Bonn. He then played for Polish Euroleague team Asseco Prokom Gdynia winning 3 Polish titles and amassing 45 Euroleague games. In 2010-2011 in Poland, he played Euroleague: 9 games: 3.7ppg, 3.4rpg; Polish League: 34 games: 5.8ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 73.8%. Last season for Oldenburg, he played EuroChallenge: 11 games: 12.5ppg, 5.5rpg, FGP: 50.7%, 3PT: 48.0%, FT: 84.2%; German League: 29 games: 12.4ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 54.3%, 3PT: 39.5%, FT: 80.5%. Chris Kramer is a 23 year old 191cm from Huntington, Indiana that is playing his first season for Oldenburg. Kramer had a solid career at Purdue and in his senior year played 35 games: 6.5ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.3apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 56.5%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 74.7%. At Purdue, he won the Big ten tournament in 2009 and reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2010. He also was the All-Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.In 2010-2011 as a professional rookie, he played for Fort Wayne Mad Ants (D-League, starting five): 41 games: 13.8ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.8apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 56.7%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 81.9%. In June 2011, he signed at Mets de Guaynabo (Puerto Rico-BSN, starting five): 12 games: 8.8ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.9apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 69.8%. Last season for the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg he played 41 games: 11.2ppg, 4.1rpg, 2.0apg, Steals-2 (1.5spg), FGP: 55.3%, 3PT: 25.5%, FT: 73.9%. This past summer he played at the AirTran Orlando Summer League (Indiana Pacers): 3 games: 4.7ppg, 1.3rpg. Dru Joyce is a 27 year old 183cm point guard. He is the typical floor general who supplies leadership, court vision and points when needed. He returned back to the BEKO BBL last season to Trier after playing for Ratiopharm Ulm from 2007-2009. Each season, he was the second best assist man in the BEKO BBL. His best season in Ulm was 2008-2009 as he led the club into the playoffs playing 34 games averaging 10.1ppg, 1.8rpg, Assists-2 (4.5apg), FGP: 42.8%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 73.0%. He is best known for playing along side NBA superstar Lebron James at St Marys and winning three high school titles. He played at Akron from 2003-2007 as in his senior year, he played 33 games averaging 10.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 4.3apg, FGP: 41.3%, 3Pts: 39.6%, FT: 65.6%. In 2009-2010, he played in Poland forEnerga Czarni Slupsk (Poland-PLK, starting five), Polish League: 6 games: 4.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 3.0apg; in Nov.'09 moved to Anwil Wloclawek (Poland-PLK): 27 games: 7.5ppg, 1.6rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 41.0%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 75.9%. I played for two very good coaches. One was from Latvia and the other was from Belarus. It was a new situation for me since I had always played for American coaches. They both had different styles. I had some ups and downs in Poland, but I learned to always keep fighting when I was going through a rough time. You always have to be ready when called upon, stressed Dru Joyce. Last season for TBB Trier, he played : 34 games: 11.6ppg, 2.9rpg, 4.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 40.6%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 69.2%.
Konrad Wysocki is a 30 year old 201cm forward that returns back to the Beko BBL after three seasons in Poland. He started his basketball career in 2000 for Ivy league school Princeton where he played until 2004. He then turned professional playing for BG Goettingen and Erdgas Ehingen for moving to ratiopharm Ulm in January 2006 where he played until 2008. He helped Mike Taylor and ratiopharm Ulm reach the Beko BBL in 2006. In 2008-2009 he played for the Deutsche Bank Skyliners. Last season for PGE Turow Zgorzelec (Poland-PLK) he played Euroleague Qualifying Round: 1 game: 14pts, 6reb, 1ast, 1steal; EuroCup: 6 games: 9.5ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 57.7%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 64.3%; Polish League: 43 games: 9.0ppg, 3.7rpg, FGP: 60.7%, 3PT: 41.1%, FT: 74.3%. Rickey Paulding returns for a sixth season to Oldenburg. Paulding is a 30 year old 196cm guard/forward from Detroit, Michigan that is a exciting wing player. Natural position is small forward. Can play the 2 spot. Excels in the transition game, and is arguably one of the nation's most explosive leapers who can finish a play with highlight-reel ability. He played at Missouri from 2000-2004 with good friend Jimmy Mckinney. He reached the NCAA Final 8 in 2002. He was drafted by the by Detroit Pistons (NBA,2rd (54) in 2004. As a rookie, he played for Hapoel Jerusalem (Israel-Premier L.): ULEB Cup: 10 games: 9,2ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.6spg, FGP: 64.7%, 3Pts: 25.0%; Israeli Premier League: 22 games: 12.5ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.9apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 58.5%, 3FGP: 51.9%. In 2005-2006, he played for Adecco ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne (France-ProA): ULEB Cup: 12 games: 10.8ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.3apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 58.5%, 3FGP: 32.7%, FT: 70.4%; French League: 24 games: 9.7ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 43.4%, 3PT: 32.3%, FT: 69.8%. In 2006-2007, he played for BCM Gravelines Dunkerque Grand Littoral (France-ProA): FIBA EuroCup: 6 games: 16.3ppg, 4.0rpg, 3.0apg, 1.5spg, 2FGP: 65.8%, 3FGP: 37.5%, FT: 53.8%; French League: 33 games: 13.2ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 47.3%, 3PT: 35.5%, FT: 69.7%. Last season for Oldenburg, he palyed EuroChallenge: 12 games: 10.1ppg, 4.3rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 27.7%, FT: 78.3%; German League: 34 games: 12.4ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 53.9%, 3PT: 40.2%, FT: 83.6%. He is a four time Beko BBL Allstar. 25 year old 207cm forward/center Robin Smeulders who has the Dutch/German citizenship is playing his third season in Oldenburg. He started his basketball career in 2004 for SG FT/MTV Braunschweig (Germany-2.Bundesliga) where he played until 2006. He then played four seasons at Portland (NCAA) where he played a total of 95 NCAA games. Last season for Oldenburg, he played EuroChallenge: 7 games: 4.3ppg, 4.3rpg; German League: 25 games: 4.5ppg, 3.9rpg. He has been with the Dutch national team since 2010 and last summer played Qualifications to European Championships 2013 -12: 8 games: 14.3ppg, 8.3rpg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 76.7%. Dominic Bahiense De Mello is a 27 year old 190cm guard that is playing his second season for Oldenburg. He started his career in 1999 for the Telekom Bonn Cadet Team. He then played for Rhondorf from 2001-2005. He then played for the Frankfurt Skyliners from 2005-2011 playing a total of 188 Beko BBL games and 214 total games. Last season for Oldenburg he played EuroChallenge: 12 games: 7.3ppg, 1.0rpg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 43.1%, FT: 83.3%; German League: 34 games: 4.2ppg, 1.5rpg. . Freese is a 26 year old 211cm center. .He played many years in Braunschweig, but never getting a real chance to showcase his talent until he got to Giessen in 2008. In the three years in Giessen, he played 76 beko BBL games. Last season for Oldenburg he played EuroChallenge: 6 games: 2.2ppg, 2.2rpg; German League: 17 games: 1.6ppg, 1.2rpg.
Matthew Reid(185-PG-84, college: Cameron, agency: Octagon Europe) is a 32 year old 185cm guard that hast he German/American citzenship and is playing his tenth professional season and first with the Artland Dragons. He started his career with Cerritos JC (NJCAA) and then played two seasons with Cameron (NCAA2) and as a senior played 26 games averaging 20.2ppg, 5.4rpg, 3.3apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 46.1%, 3TP: 36.0%, FT: 81.0%. He turned professional in 2007 and played for the Schwelmer Baskets (Ge... [read more]
Matthew Reid (185-PG-84, college: Cameron, agency: Octagon Europe) is a 32 year old 185cm guard that hast he German/American citzenship and is playing his tenth professional season and first with the Artland Dragons. He started his career with Cerritos JC (NJCAA) and then played two seasons with Cameron (NCAA2) and as a senior played 26 games averaging 20.2ppg, 5.4rpg, 3.3apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 46.1%, 3TP: 36.0%, FT: 81.0%. He turned professional in 2007 and played for the Schwelmer Baskets (Germany-Regionalliga).He then played two seasons with Saarlouis before moving to SC Rasta Vechta where he played from 2010-2012. He then gained further experience with RSV Eintracht Stahnsdorf (Germany-ProB) and Herten (Pro B). He returned back to SC Rasta Vechta in 2014 where he played two more seasons before moving to Artland this season. He spoke to eurobasket after the big 95-69 win against SC Rist Wedel.
Matt thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. Congrats on the huge 95-69 victory against SC Rist Wedel. This was the highest scoring game of the Artland Dragons this season with 17 three's and 30 assists. How perfect was this offensive demonstration? Yes it was a great game for us behind the arc and lots of team-play with dishing out 30 assists. SC Rist Wedel played 2-3 zone defense the whole game and we did a great job noticing it early and our shooters had a great night behind the arc. Coach Dragan did a great job with video and practice to prepare us for SC Rist Wedel and their zone defense they frequently play.
The game was dead locked at 41-41. What did head coach Dragan Dojcin tell the team to do better in the third quarter which resulted in the team breaking away and scoring 29 points?
Coach just told us to continue to be aggressive and take the open shots with confidence and to keep pushing the ball and try to get more fast break points and to still be aggressive on the defensive end of the floor.
What did the Artland Dragons learn from the first half that enabled you to give up only 28 points in the second half? We learned that even if we are not making shots in the first half to still come out in the second half and not second guess ourselves and shoot the ball with confidence and stay disciplined in our defensive concept and stay together as a team on the offensive end.
You match up against very skilled point guards each game and how was the battle against the younger Will Barnes who had 10 points, five assists and six rebounds. He has a hard task leading a team full of Germans.
Will Barnes has had a lot of success in his career playing in Germany and despite the injuries in his past I am happy to see him overcome them and to be back on the court and helping lead his team of young talented German players. They have a good team and definitely will surprise some top teams this season especially with Will Barnes playing point guard who can score 30+ points on any given night.
The Artland Dragons seem to be Up and Down when playing road games this season. Has the team found a defined identity on the defensive end? We realize that we have to be more consistent for 40 minutes on the defensive end of the floor and especially when playing on the road and we all know that we are one of the top teams in offense but our goal is to be one of the top teams in defense as well.
The Artland Dragons have a very talented team with experience. Is the team playing and feeling like a team that is the favorite in the Pro B north?
Coach has done a great job with putting this team together, my teammates are a great group of guys and we get along great with each other and we understand that even with all the talent we have on our roster, to win and have success each and every one of us has to make a sacrifice and do what needs to be done to help our team win games this season. So as of us thinking about being the favorite in the Pro B North, we will let the fans decide that and we are just focused on taking it game by game and preparing ourselves for our next opponent Rostock this weekend.
You are still looking for your first professional title. How hungry are you this season to make this a reality with the Artland Dragons? Words cannot express how hungry I am for the title this season, but I think this is the right mentality for every player to have before season starts.
How do you feel did the BBL year with Crailsheim help Chris Frazier who has been a big spark for the team? Chris has been playing awesome this season and I am happy to be passing the ball to him and not having to worry about chasing him off screens. He has brought a lot of great qualities to the team from his experience in the BBL and just to point out one of them is his high level intensity that he has in practice and in the games as well. He has learned and also played in that BBL atmosphere and he does a great job in leading by example on our team.
How rewarding has it been working with point guard Philipp Lieser? That is a very solid point guard duo for Pro B standards.
Phillip is a great guy on and off the court he is always in the gym working on his game and we talk a lot on what we can do as point guards to help the team be more successful.
After getting limited minutes in the Pro A with SC Rasta Vechta, how good does it feel getting good minutes this season with the Artland Dragons?
I think I speak for all players when I say it definitely feels great to play good minutes on the floor but its also is a great feeling to be a part of a winning team and compete everyday against some of the best players in the Pro A last season and being a part of SC Rasta Vechta last season was an experience I will never forget and was able to learn a lot and also made some great friendships that will last a lifetime.
You have been a scorer pretty much your whole life, but this season with so many scoring threats, are you concentrating mostly of being the best playmaker that you can be?
Coach and I talked a lot before season started and it just has a lot to do with what is my role on the team and we came to the conclusion that for his systems to work and for us to be a top team that I will have to organize the game and make right decisions and reads without turnovers and when or if the time presents itself to look to create for myself or my teammates Coach knows I can score the basketball but he trusts me to be a point guard first and when the shot clock is running down he feels its a added bonus that I am able to create and score if needed to.
You are averaging 6,2apg at the moment which is the most in your career at the Pro B level. Is your playmaking made easier with the unending talent that the Artland Dragons have this season?
Before season started I realized how great of a team we have and so many individually talented players I knew right away that it could be possible to average between 7-10 assist per game and so far so good. My teammates do a great job of knocking down shots when they are open.
You played four seasons with SC Rasta Vechta. What was your most memorable experience you had on the court as a player and off the court with your teammates? My most memorable experience on the court was winning 25 games in a row last season and the most memorable off the court was also last season with my fiance in our new home and having my teammates with their family and also coaches come over and enjoy an unbelievable thanksgiving dinner that I cant take credit for preparing but all the credit went to the awesome wives and fiances who did a great job with preparing that wonderful evening.
Your one of those guys that has been around forever. It seems like you will play for many more years, but how much of a push did Derrick Allen give you last season to keep having that drive to play into your thirties? I dont think I have never played with someone so professional and experienced in playing high performance level basketball like Derrick Allen. He taught me so many things last season as to being a leader on and off the court, the type of attitude and winning mentality that a player should bring to practice and games without taking a day off and all the way down the list to even giving me the right insight to staying disciplined to what type of food to put in the human body after the age of 30 during season and off-season. I still call him from time to time just to talk basketball. Looking at him still playing at a high level in his mid 30's is definitely motivation for me to keep grinding.
In your last season at Saarlouis you averaged 23.8ppg, 6.9rpg, 6.7apg, 3.5spg, FGP: 62.9%, 3Pts: 29.5%, FT: 77.8%. You then made the jump to the Pro B and SC Rasta Vechta. How vital was head coach Pat Elzie in helping you make the jump and average 20,0ppg and be second in assists with 5,9apg? Coach Pat Elzie always believed in my abilities and gave me a chance to step up and play in a higher league and I will always be thankful for him giving the opportunities he gave me in Vechta. I wish him and his new team in Itzehoe a successful season and I am sure he will have his team ready when we play them this season.
You played two seasons with Saarlouis with the one and only Ricky Easterling. He was very dominating and you were also a big time scorer. Did it ever feel like you were a bit in his shadow? Ricky is a great friend of mine and we had two great seasons playing with each other. From day one Ricky and I had an understanding that for us to be successful we had to figure out how we can be that dynamic duo and still win games. I never felt like I was in his shadow but I was just a new point guard that Saarlouis had signed to help get Ricky the basketball in areas where he can more effective with scoring the basketball.
Easterling is still playing and has a few years on you. What is your most memorable experience that you had with him?
I think the most memorable was me visiting him in Baltimore and we spent the whole summer working out 2-3 times a day for 5 and even sometimes 6 days a week .
He could easily secure a patent on the mid distance shot, which he said he developed it in high school. Do you remember him working countless nights in the gym continuing to perfect the shot when you were there? Man I remember countless nights of us just being in the gym working on mid-range game and different ways to score the basketball. He is a hard-worker and it definitely shows every time he steps on the court.
You played your rookie season with Schwelm. What do you remember was your wake up call to being a rookie in Germany where you knew that you were very far away from home in the states? I think I had more than a few wake up calls, but I can remember my first day arriving at my apartment in Germany and me just turning on the TV and CNN was the only english speaking channel and that's when I knew I was definitely far away from home.
You played two seasons with Cameron (NCAA2) after playing at Cerritos JC (NJCAA). How often did you hear that you would never make it as a player, but are still playing professionally today. What was key for you to have had such a long professional career?
I never really heard that I would not make it as player when i was playing in college. I was fortunate to have a great support system from my family and friends and even my youth coaches had confidence in my ability to play basketball. But I think the key to my long career so far is just I am never satisfied and I am always working on my game to be a better player and teammate. The last 10 seasons I've only taken maybe 2-3 weeks off to rest my body after a season and immediately after I started to train and prepare myself for the upcoming season.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose? Magic Johnson - Lebron James - Kobe Bryant - Shaquille O'Neal
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
I think when Lebron gets done playing he will definitely be topic of conversation to being the greatest player of all time. But as of now he still remains the best player in the world.
Over the last years, the Fraport Skyliners have celebrated homecomings from ex players rather more laid back when guys like Robert Garett, Dashaun Wood, Anthony King or Jimmy Mckinney returned back to their old stomping grounds. Granted Garett did help win the 2004 BBL league title and was an important member for Frankfurt, but somewhat in the shadow of the Bermuda triangle with Pascal Roeller, Chris Williams and Tyrone Ellis and the rest didn't win a title, but left somewhat of an imprin... [read more]
Over the last years, the Fraport Skyliners have celebrated homecomings from ex players rather more laid back when guys like Robert Garett, Dashaun Wood, Anthony King or Jimmy Mckinney returned back to their old stomping grounds. Granted Garett did help win the 2004 BBL league title and was an important member for Frankfurt, but somewhat in the shadow of the Bermuda triangle with Pascal Roeller, Chris Williams and Tyrone Ellis and the rest didn't win a title, but left somewhat of an imprint to their stays in Frankfurt. However no homecoming in the last years was as anticipated, talked about and emotional as the return of Jordan 'I believe' Theodore who returned back to the Fraport arena on October 26th almost five months to the day where he played his last home game in a Skyliners jersey. In his one season in Frankfurt, if Theodore was smart, he could of snatched himself a good ghost writer to help him write a book, because his season was simply brilliant and almost cinderella like as the always hard luck player who had never won anything in Turkey or France before Frankfurt, but with the Fraport Skyliners he did like the Romans doing his best Englewood, New Jersey impersonation of Veni, Vidi, Vici of coming, seeing and conquering leading the organization to it's third ever title with the Fiba Europe Cup, to the top 4 of the cup and semi-finals of the playoffs. His stellar play, stats and accomplishments easily rank him in the top three best point guards of all-time with Pascal Roeller and Dashaun Wood. Theodore took his stellar game to Turkey and so far has a perfect record of 4-0 and a surprising 3-0 record in the Turkish league considering nobody expected the team to start off so rapidly beating top clubs Darussafaka and Galatasaray, but Theodore like in Frankfurt has been the center of attention bringing his ace playmaking capabilities to every game and not disappointing. Now he was pumped to return back to an old stomping ground where he stated, 'The Fraport Skyliners helped me get to where I am today' and rack in his his fifth consecutive win of the season. He entered the Fraport arena averaging an amazing 27,0ppg and 9,0apg through the first three Turkish league games where he was the mastermind and was back in a special lab that helped him achieve greatness last season and he wanted to relive some of that magic again against his ex team Fraport Skyliners. Theodore has been unstoppable all season long and he wasn't about to give his ex team any presents, but showed his A game which is simply automatic done unconsciously or from force of habit as he dropped 25 points and dished out six assists as he put on the Banvit show defeating his ex team 86-70. With a few minutes left in the game, Theodore was on the bench and his night was over, the first Banit fans rushed over to the bench to congratulate him and he coolly just signaled to wait until the end of the game and then it would be their time. About 30 minutes after the game and still drenched in sweat he finally had time for me. 'It was very exciting to be back in Frankfurt. I wish there would have been more fans, but I understand it was a Wed game with people having to work the next day. It was just great seeing my ex teammates, organization, you, the fans and simply everybody', stated Englewood native Jordan Theodore (182-PG-89, college: Seton Hall). Theodore and good friend and ex teammate Quantez Robertson were having some friendly ribbing concerning their Uno games and the Skyliner was happy to see his ex teammate even if he took them to school. 'It was fun to play against Jordan. We had been talking about this game all season long. He had a very good game. He was able to get to the rim very much and got them going in the second half', added Quantez Robertson. Frankfurt's point guards Max Merz and Kwame Vaughn had their hands full with the ex Skyliner. 'It is always nice playing against an ex teammate. He played a good game. We did a better job on him in the first half. You can't ever totally stop a guy like him, but we should of still done a better job on him in the second half', added Fraport Skyliner Max Merz.
Turkish team Banvit didn't waste anytime getting going in the first quarter as they blew open the game quickly taking the quick 6-0 lead as their offense was flowing quickly inside and out as 199cm swingman form Lithuania Gediminas Orelik drilled home a trey and then it was dej vu for many Skyliner fans as it was that well know finger tip lay in from Jordan Theodore (182-PG-89, college: Seton Hall) that got Frankfurt thinking more and more on the defensive end. Frankfurt then was benefited with some loose balls that went their way as rookie Shavon Shields connected on a floater and Florida native Mike Morrison made a tip to cut the Banvit lead to 6-4. The difference in the game at that points was that Banvit had a healthy offensive rhythm while Frankfurt didn't, but continued to get timely loose balls that led to easy buckets as Morrison got another dunk while Theodore again showed how automatic his drive is getting by Morrison. Even though Banvit had the better rhythm, Frankfurt hung in and stayed on the Turks heal as Mahir Agva gave his all battling against the big men and was successful making a turn around hook shot to cut the Banvit lead to 12-10. 'It was difficult playing against their bigs. I just tried my best to box out as best as I could and just learn as much as possible. I know that I still have to get bigger in hopes that one day I can move bodies out of the way as easily as they did', said Mahir Agva. After a Robertson coast to coast drive for two, it was Banvit again getting easy buckets as Polish national player Damian Kulig made a hook shot and Theodore beat Frankfurt again on a drive laying the ball extra high of the glass for the 16-10 Banvit lead. However Frankfurt stormed back closing out the first quarter on a 7-2 run to trail only 18-17. In the run, Frankfurt was fortified by their inside game and sparked by Robertson scoring on a lay in, Agva executed on a hook shot and new Skyliner Ekene Ibekwe made a lay in as Morison served up a sweet dime. Banvit had one play left and it was no surprise that Theodore got the call finishing high off the glass again as their continued to be no remedy on how to shut down his drive. 'The first quarter was a bit rough on both teams as it was back and forth. I liked the pace of Theodore and how he controlled the game. He had a great knack of getting his guys involved, but also getting to the rim', stressed Hebeisen White Wing guard Eugene Harris. Banvit was shooting 54% from the field and 20% from outside while Frankfurt was shooting 57% from the field and 0% form outside. Banvit had the 8-5 rebound edge, but three turnovers while Frankfurt had two turnovers.
In the second quarter, the game remained tight as no teams could clearly break away from the other. However the Fraport Skyliners did get off to the better start in the second quarter going on a strong 6-0 run to grab the lead back and lead 23-18. In the run, Frankfurt got offensive aid from Morrison who once again was the beneficiary of a loose ball that came his way getting an easy lay in, Agva scored inside as Ibekwe made the extra pass and then it was Robertson making the perfect alley-oop pass for the Morrison throw down. Banvit then took a time out and came back out upping their defensive intensity and going on an important 7-0 run to retake the lead at 25-23. In the run, Banvit halted five consecutive Frankfurt possessions and got a 20 footer from Kulig, and four points from 211cm Slovenian beast Gasper Vidmar who played at numerous European tournaments for his country and won two league titles with Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul (Turkey-TB). Now the game went back and forth until the break with four lead changes. Cincinnati natives Robertson and Chappell traded baskets and then it was Shields knotting the score at 28-28 with a runner. Vaughn gave Frankfurt the lead back with free throws, but Turkish national player and 2013 Eurochallenge finalist Can Mutaf drilled home a trey for the Banvut 33-30 advantage. But Frankfurt fought back and Shields after another lucky second chance nailed a three pointer to tie the game at 35-35 at the break. 'It was a game of runs. Frankfurt got off to the better start playing better defense, getting to the free throw line and getting a Morrison dunk. After a Banvit time out they came back better and defended better packing the paint and forcing Frankfurt to shoot more from outside', stressed Eugene Harris. Banvit was shooting 50% from the field and 33% from the three point line while Frankfurt was shooting 53% from the field and 25% from the three point line. Banvit had the 15-11 rebound edge, but six turnovers while Frankfurt had five turnovers.
The turning point of the game came in the third quarter as Banvit went on to win the frame 27-8 and led 62-43 after 30 minutes. The Fraport Skyliners got an early trey from Robertson to take their last lead of the game at 38-37, but then it was all Banvit as they silenced the Fraport arena rapidly going on a brutal 15-1 run to lead 52-39. In the run, Banvit got vital support from Chappell who nailed two three pointers with the latter getting a beautiful no look kick pass from Theodore. Theodore also scored on his usual coast to coast lay in and the team also got buckets from 2011 Eurochallenege winner with Krka Novo Mesto Edo Muric who connected on a 20 footer and Orelik made a step back trey. The Banvit fine tuned machine continued to run smoothly as they closed out the third quarter on a 10-4 run. They got more heavy support from their two Americans as Chappell nailed a three and made a tip in while Theodore as always created havoc in the paint with a lay in. Frankfurt couldn't get anything really going on offense. They did do a good job drawing fouls, but Morrison had difficulty connecting at a consistent rate. 'Key in the third quarter was defense. We were able to put up consecutive stops and we moved the ball well and outscored Frankfurt by 19 points. We didn't give Frankfurt any more easy lay ups, because they like to drive so we let them shoot from farther away', stressed ex Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore (182-PG-89, college: Seton Hall). 'Banvit had more energy than we did. We had too many turnovers as well. Theodore took over the game. We got down so much that it was difficult coming back', stressed ex Ehingen forward Mahir Agva. 'We didn't rotate well and had little communication on defense. We need to have fun on the court and come together more. We are a great club, but it's still taking time', warned Kwame Vaughn. Banvit was shooting 56% from the field and 41% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 47% from the field and 30% from the parking lot. Banvit had the 21-18 rebound edge and only seven turnovers while Frankfurt had 11 turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, the Fraport Skyliners rushed back cutting the Banvit lead to 13, but Banvit quickly pounched back on Frankfurt going on a 12-4 run to extend their lead back to 79-58 which soon then gave starters like Theodore their end to another normal day at the office as they took a seat on the bench to watch the last few minutes. Frankfurt started off the fourth quarter scoring 11 points to cut the Banvit lead to 67-54. In the run, Frankfurt was led by Kwame Vaughn that got aggressive and got to the free throw line twice, a 20 footer by Shields, massive Morrison dunk and an Antonio Graves trey. Frankfurt was doing a great job playing inside out basketball while Banvit missed some easy shots. However then it was time for Banvit to step back on the gas pedal sparked by the instant Theodore offense as he broke the back of Frankfurt with a trey and lay in as he stole the ball form center court from Agva and went coast to coast and all of a sudden Banvit was up by 19 points again. 'I was talking trash with Tez and Morrison all week long and didn't really know what to expect. I knew I was the focal point in their defensive set up, but I just took what the defense gave me. I opened up the game in the third and fourth quarters and I hit shots better. It all seems automatic now. I am playing at a high level and I feel like no one can guard me. I know that my team relies much on me so I just try to bring my game each night', warned Jordan Theodore (182-PG-89, college: Seton Hall). Jordan hit his last three pointer of the game giving Banvit the 84-62 advantage and then his night was over. 16 year old German wunderkind Isaac Bonga came in at the 3.33 minute and helped Frankfurt close out the game on a 8-2 run. Ibekwe got to the free throw line three times nailing all six shots and Bonga closed out the game with a beautiful athletic steal where his long arms were in full force as he went coast to coast for the easy lay up. If any Banvit players will remember who Bonga is in 5 years when he possibly is flying in the NBA is unknown, but there is time in the return game for them to make a note of the German. 'We always preach team basketball. We continued to move the ball well and hit shots', added Jordan Theodore (182-PG-89, college: Seton Hall). 'We came back with that Graves three, but Banvit continued to get offensive rebounds and hit shots and had momentum back and it was hard coming back', stressed Mahir Agva. 'We didn't fight anymore. We need to learn to step on the gas', stressed Kwame Vaughn. Banvit was led by Jordan Theodore (182-PG-89, college: Seton Hall) with 25 points and Gediminas Orelik added 16 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Kwame Vaughn, Mike Morrison and Ekene Ibekwe with 13 points a piece. Banvit shot 56% from the field and 41% from outside while Frankfurt shot 48% from the field and 36% from the three point line. Banvit won the rebounding duel 26-22 and had 12 turnovers while Frankfurt coughed up the ball 13 times.
Jeremy Chappell (191-G-87, college: Robert Morris) is a 191cm guard from Cincinnati, Ohio playing his eighth professional season and first with Banvit Basketbol Kulubu (Turkey-BSL). He started his basketball career with Robert Morris (NCAA) in 2005 and played there until 2009 playing a total of 124 NCAA games and as a senior played 35 games averaging.16.7ppg, 6.3rpg, 3.2apg, 2.5spg, FGP: 47.0%, 3Pts: 39.6%, FT: 84.3%. he started his professional career in 2009 with Znicz Jaroslaw (Poland-... [read more]
Jeremy Chappell (191-G-87, college: Robert Morris) is a 191cm guard from Cincinnati, Ohio playing his eighth professional season and first with Banvit Basketbol Kulubu (Turkey-BSL). He started his basketball career with Robert Morris (NCAA) in 2005 and played there until 2009 playing a total of 124 NCAA games and as a senior played 35 games averaging.16.7ppg, 6.3rpg, 3.2apg, 2.5spg, FGP: 47.0%, 3Pts: 39.6%, FT: 84.3%. he started his professional career in 2009 with Znicz Jaroslaw (Poland-PLK) playing 28 games: Score-4 (18.3ppg), Reb-2 (8.2rpg), 3.5apg, Steals-1 (2.9spg), FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 86.3%. In the 2010-2011 season he moved to Hoverla Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine-Superleague) and then played two seasons with Ferro-ZNTU Zaporozhye (Ukraine-Superleague). In the 2013-2014 season he played with Triumph Lyubertsy (Russia-VTB). He then played two seasons with Avtodor Saratov (Russia-Superleague) and last season played 32 games: 13.4ppg, 5.2rpg, 3.2apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 47.5%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 75.9%; Eurocup: 16 games: 15.5ppg, 4.6rpg, 3.4apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 53.5%, 3PT: 46.3%, FT: 83.9%. He spoke to eurobasket after the huge 86-70 Champions League win against the Fraport Skyliners.
Jeremy thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. Welcome back to Germany. This is your second time back to Frankfurt. Two seasons ago you played Eurochallenge with Avtodor Saratov (Russia-Superleague). What memories do you have of the 71-68 win in Frankfurt?
I remember that game well. We were down by three points late and Courtney Fortson made a clutch three to send the game into OT. It was a very hard fought game where everyone battled until the end. If Fortson hadn't made that shot, we surely wouldn't have won the game
Do you have a better idea about the Fraport Skyliners this time around in talks with Jordan Theodore who played there last season winning a title? Yes I did and it really helped. Jordan gave us information about the players that he had played with last season concerning their tendencies. He picked our brains and it definitely helped us on the defensive end.
Congrats on the big 86-70 victory against the Fraport Skyliners. What was key in getting the win?
Key for the win was that third quarter. We actually played some defense in the third quarter. We were a little soft on the ball in the first half. They played too much pick and roll and got easy baskets. They also seemed to get way too many tips on balls. We communicated better on defense in the second half and played our game which is play defense and finish off possessions.
Where would the team this season so far without Jordan Theodore?
It would be tough without Jordan. He is a great one on one player and just gets the team going. Banvit wouldn't be where we are now without Jordan Theodore.
You come from the same city as Fraport Skyliner Quantez Robertson. He is three years older than you. What dealings have you had with him over the years in Cincinnati? Tez is older than me. When I was a freshman, he was a senior. We never played against each other until two seasons ago in the Eurochallenge. Befoe I played against him, I had heard about him. I never saw him in the off season either, because I was never at home, but in Pittsburgh where my wife comes from.
After three seasons in Russia, did you feel the need to get to a nice and warm place like Turkey?
Yes you could say that I am finally in a warm place and it has it's advantages now. I always felt bad for my wife the last years when we were in cold Russia when her friends were saying how great life was and that they were wearing shorts. When October came in Russia, we were wearing coats already. I have two little boys and now in Turkey they can be outside more and run around. That wasn't possible as much in Russia where they were mostly indoors. Turkey is great for the family and we can live the good life.
After two seasons with Avtodor Saratov (Russia-Superleague), you made the jump to Banvit. It seems like you have always been a very consistent player wherever you have played, but what step do you see yourself in moving to Banvit at age 29? I am at a stage in my career where I just want to make my team better. In the Ukraine, I reached the semi-finals all three years and in Russia the final of the Eurochallenge and was never able to get over the hump. I got three Bronze medals in the Ukraine and now I just want to help my team get over the hump. Many may think it's all about the stats for me, but it isn't. Now I just want to make the right decisions on the court and make the game as easy as possible for my team.
The club is special because it has a good mix of players from various countries and many guys that have won titles and know how to win games. Is that a secret to the early success of the team?
Yes I think it is. The guys know the game and the coach also understands the game well which makes it a lot easier for us. The players don't need to do too much or things that they aren't accustomed too. We are able to put more energy on defense, because everyone knows what to do on offense.
Jordan Theodore said recently a big strength of the team is defense. How has the team been able to get on the same page so early in the season?
Coach told us from day one that if we don't play defense then we won't play. We have to play team defense, good 1-1 defense, help on rotation and close outs. Each player knows that they can give extra on pressuring the ball, because if they get beat, they know someone will be there to help. In Russia, Avtodor was an offensive minded team and I knew on defense that if I got beat there probably wouldn't be anyone there to help.
Banvit is a very special team that started off well. It only has two true Americans on the team with you and Jordan Theodore. What kind of bond have you built up over the first two months? We have a special bond. We are roommates and hang out a lot also. It's always nice to talk to someone when your away from family.
You have always been that kind of player that can do it all on the court and really fill up the stat sheet. How would you classify your role this season with Banvit?
My #1 thing is defense. I take a lot of pride on defense and get mad when I get beat. I am a vocal leader this season. In the past there were always older guys on the team, but this season I am the oldest. I give the team advice and make sure everyone knows what they have to do.
You played the last two seasons for Avtodor Saratov (Russia-Superleague) reaching the VTB quarterfinals and Eurochallenge final. How important were these two seasons in the development of your game?
When I came to Russia, I made the jump from the Ukraine and started to play against top teams like CSKA that were smart. In the Ukraine there was a lot of 1-1, but in Russia every club was team orientated. Just having this team concept and playing against elite teams helped my game very much.
You played three seasons in the Ukraine from 2010-2013. How was this time for you living in a war zone area? Did you ever feel the need to pack up and go home?
I got out just before it got bad. It got bad two months after I left. I actually had a few offers from Ukrainian teams, but it was a blessing that Triumph came and signed me. I am glad I got out, because I had wife and kids and the situation in the Ukraine would have been stressful.
How important was ex NBA player Derrick Zimmerman in your first season in the Ukraine with Hoverla Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine-Superleague). He had had some years in the Ukraine. Did he take you a bit under his wing in the early going?
Derrick took me under his wing. I still talk to him today. He is retired from basketball and is a teacher in Texas now. He is a very good guy. He just helped me understand the game better in terms of when to shoot and when to pass. I came from college where I was a number one scoring option to a team that suddenly had many scoring options like me. It wasn't easy, but he helped me understand the European game better and just tell me what I did right and wrong.
You won your first professional title in 2013 with Ferro-ZNTU Zaporozhye (Ukraine-Superleague) winning the cup. What made this team so special? We had resigned many guys form the year before and there was a lot of chemistry with guys like Randy Culpepper and Cameron Moore who recently passed away. Every player knew exactly what was expected of them. We had the type of team that could of won the whole thing, but we just couldn't get over the hump.
Your teammate was Randy Culpepper who led the Ukrainian league in scoring in back to back seasons and then did it in the competitive VTB league. Was there any way on offense how this guy couldn't score?
He was one of those players that when he got hot, there was no stopping him. You had to pick your poison. If you let him shoot, he scored and if you got too close, he drove by you and scored. He also was strong on the fast break.
As a rookie you played for Znicz Jaroslaw (Poland-PLK) playing 28 games: Score-4 (18.3ppg), Reb-2 (8.2rpg), 3.5apg, Steals-1 (2.9spg), FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 86.3%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home? The first few months were tough. I remember in my first few preseason games, I was hit with 3-4 turnovers each game with the traveling call. It took me some time to get used to it. I played in a small city and roomed with Keddric Mays who had a son at home while I had a wife who was pregnant. The only thing we had was Skype and the time difference was tough. My wife was still in school and I saw her for a week during the season and was home for 3 days during Christmas.
You played at Robert Morris (NCAA) from 2005-2009. What benefit did your development as a young player have having two coaches with Mark Schmidt and Mike Rice? It was perfect having both. In my first two years I had Schmidt who was offense minded and I learned what I needed on the offensive end. In my last two seasons, I had Rice who was a defensive minded coach. He told me that defense wins titles and it was just the perfect combo having them. It really got me ready for the professional level.
In the 2009 NEC tournament you scored 15 points in the final, earning tournament MVP honors and sending Robert Morris to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 17 years. Was this your biggest accomplishment in college?
It was my biggest accomplishment in school. The year before we had made some major upsets on the road, but lost in the semi-finals of the NEC and missed the NCAA tournament. It was tough going into my senior year not knowing if we would ever reach the NCAA tournament. Making the steal and basket to get to the tournament in the final of the NEC my senior year was great. I still get goose bumps thinking about it today.
What memory do you still have today of the 77-62 loss against Michigan State in the NCAA tournament? Would you have seen Draymond Green in the NBA one day over Raymar Morgan?
Not at all. They weren't really on our scouting report going into the game. Green was more of a role player coming from the bench. He wasn't a big key for them, but then he came off the bench and totally changed the game. I played against Raymar Morgan in high school and thought that he was the best in the country. I never expected that Green would make such an impact in the NBA. Injuries slowed Morgan down. Once you get that injury tag on resume, it's hard to break that barrier.
Who was the toughest player you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
That a tough one. There were so many. I will have to get back to you on that one.
Who wins a one on one on a playground court in Cincinnati, you or Quantez Robertson? It will be a long game. We are both defensive minded. We play like bull dogs and do so much that isn't seen on the stat sheet. We wouldn't want the other to ever score on each other. I think the game would take 3-4 hours with many fouls happening.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you choose? Jordan, Shaq, Lebron, Garnett (favorite of all time)
Lebron finally won the NBA title for the Cavs. Where does he stand right now in the debate with the best of all-time?
I used to be a huge critic of Lebron because the way he left the Cavs for Miami. He could of done it differently. But the way he came back last season down 3-1 to win it all was amazing against a 73-9 team. Lebron is #2 behind Jordan. Jordan won 6 rings. If Lebron can win a few more rings, then he may slide into #1.
Where does the legacy of Kevin Garnett stand right now with the best of all-time? Many players say he is behind Tim Duncan.
He is the best of all-time. They both played different type of games. Garnett poured out his heart every night. He didn't want to lose more than he won. He hated to lose. You could see it in his eyes. He played hard every possession and never played for the stats. He guarded 1-5 and I simply feel like he brought more to the table offensively and defensively than Tim Duncan. Duncan did win more rings and played for a great team that won 50 plus games each season, but for me Garnett was the overall better player.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Jason Bourne. I saw it shortly before the Frankfurt game. I enjoyed it.
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