The Dachau Spurs knew what they would get, when they decided to sign Omari Knox (188-G-86, college: Bloomfield) for the 2012-13 season: A versatile, hardworking athlete with an open-minded character who will excel on both ends of the floor, a scoring threat and a player who shows terrific rebounding abilities for a guard.
They knew because it would be an encore. From 2009 to 2011 Knox and his compatriot Anthony Pettaway (203-C-87, college: Defiance) emerged as a highly productive duo in the 1. Regionalliga South-East and guided the Spurs to their greatest success in recent years, finishing the 2010-11 season in third place. While Pettaway would move on to Pro B team SC Rist Wedel that year and put up impressive numbers in the higher league the following season as well, Knox experienced the downside of professional basketball. The 26-year-old was still a free agent when the 2011-12 campaign kicked off and eventually would sit out a year, despite all the success that he had while playing in Dachau, despite earning Eurobasket.com All-RLSO Second Team honors and scoring almost 23 points a game. Thus, the Spurs knew what they would get bringing back Knox last summer, but would he be able to pick up where he had left off? "I have to admit, it was very difficult to get back into game shape after sitting out a year", Knox said. "Even though I had been practicing with the high school players I was coaching, it didn't really compare to the type of workout I would put myself through when training for my own upcoming season. I started working out last February, not sure of whether I would even have a contract for the following season. I'm happy to say that the hard work is definitely paying off." Instead of playing, he taught the game of basketball at the Dwight Englewood School in Englewood, NJ. Knox said: "I was the head coach for the Freshmen team and assistant forboth theJunior-Varsity and Varsity teams. I enjoyed the experience very much. Dwight Englewood is a very prestigious school academically, and does not get a large pool of athletic talent. However, the head coach there, Eli Goldberger does a great job getting the kids to play hard for him. Last season we were able to continue the school's winning ways and finished with a record of 22-5, losing to nationally #1 ranked St. Anthony's in the third round of the state tournament. Coaching last season was quite an experience for me and I think it also helped with my growth as a player. It is definitely one of the things that I want to pursue when I am finished with my playing career."
Averaging 24.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.8 steals a game this season the Brooklyn, New York, native is back in production mode and simply indispensable on a somewhat pressured Dachau team. "At 4-9we have definitely been struggling this season. Our team is pretty young and lacks experience. We don't have a hugefrontcourtand have had to try and find different ways to make up for it. We always play hard which is why we have been able to compete and be in close games, losing only by a few points. However, having a thin roster has also been a major problem for us", Knox told Eurobasket.com.
Being short of bigs and without notable presence in the paint Dachau coach Florian Kroepelin is happy to have the best rebounding guard of the Regionalliga on his team. Standing only 6'2'' tall does not affect Knox's proficiency in clearing the boards. "I've always tried to be a good rebounder from the guard position", Knox said. "Even in college I was pretty good [he averaged 7.1 and 6.7 rebounds per game respectively in his last two years at NCAA D2 school Bloomfield]. Many guards don't really make the effort to go after the rebound. On the offensive end it gives you the opportunity to score more points. On the defensive end, it takes some of the pressure off of the big guys when the team has a guard who can help rebound. Not to mention, I don't have to wait for an outlet pass, and can start the break right away."
Those fast breaks will often end with Knox slashing to the hole, while outside shooting is not that much of a factor in his game as it used to be at an earlier stage of his career. In 13 games played this season, Knox hit a solid 39.2% (20/51) from beyond the arc, but due to his role in Dachau he is scoring less from the perimeter compared to his college days at Bloomfield, when he ranked amongst the top shooter in all of NCAA D2, nailing 91 of his 227 three point attempts as a senior. "I was actually thinking about this while working out at my old college over the Christmas break", Knox said, who continued: "When I first got to college, I worked on my three point shooting regularly because it was a weakness in my game. I eventually became a good shooter. When I got to Europe I felt like I needed to become more of a threat. I felt like I needed to be much more than a three point shooter, so I've worked on other aspects of my game. One of the areas I've worked heavily on improving is my mid-range game, which has really been beneficial this season."
Taking on the Dachau Spurs, any opposing team in the RLSO will focus on giving Knox a hard time to be as efficient as he usually is. And his teammates will look for him, when the game is heating up. Is there a way of learning how to become a difference maker and a clutch player? Knox said: "I think that being a go-to-guy is something that you can learn over time, and not necessarily have to be born with. I think it depends on a number of things like talent and work ethic, but most importantly the player has to be tough mentally."
Currently in his third season with the Spurs, the Brooklyn native has "grown to love it in Bavaria" and relishes the "pretty quiet and relaxing" city of Dachau as well as being close to the Bavarian capital: "Whenever I want to get out and enjoy myself I am only 15 minutes from Munich", he said. But though Dachau feels like home away from home, making the transition to a league above the RLSO for next season after dominating this competition for three years, sounds like an appealing challenge without a doubt as Knox said: "I wish there were a few more Bundesliga teams in Bavaria because I would love to stay in the area, but of course I would like to play at a higher level as well. Hopefully, I attract the interest of some of them this year."
Ratiopharm Ulm (BBL) inked 25-year old American guard Devon Baulkman (193-91kg-91). He just graduated from Tennessee (NCAA). In 34 games he averaged 9.5ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.8apg and 1.0spg last season. As mentioned above Baulkman is just out of the college and it will be his first season in pro basketball. He received All-Panhandle Conference 1st Team award in 2014 at his college time. Ratiopharm Ulm roster for 2016-2017: Guards: Per Guenther Karsten Tadda Chris Babb Braydon Hobbs Taylor Brau... [read more]
Ratiopharm Ulm (BBL) inked 25-year old American guard Devon Baulkman (193-91kg-91). He just graduated from Tennessee (NCAA). In 34 games he averaged 9.5ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.8apg and 1.0spg last season. As mentioned above Baulkman is just out of the college and it will be his first season in pro basketball. He received All-Panhandle Conference 1st Team award in 2014 at his college time.
Except for a short four month stay in Turekey, Kenny Frease (212-C-89, college: Xavier) has called Germany home for most of his four year professional career and will remain in Germany joining Science City Jena. Frease is a 26 year old 212cm 129 kilo center from Massilion,Ohio that has a big body in the paint who can score, grab rebounds and block the opponents' shots. A true center who can make his teammates better thanks to his great impact inside at both sides of the court. He has play... [read more]
Except for a short four month stay in Turekey, Kenny Frease (212-C-89, college: Xavier) has called Germany home for most of his four year professional career and will remain in Germany joining Science City Jena. Frease is a 26 year old 212cm 129 kilo center from Massilion,Ohio that has a big body in the paint who can score, grab rebounds and block the opponents' shots. A true center who can make his teammates better thanks to his great impact inside at both sides of the court. He has played in Germany for teams like the Walter Tigers Tuebingen, Artland Dragons and last season played for the Basketball Loewen Braunschweig (Germany-BBL) playing 34 games: 9.1ppg, 6.3rpg, 2.4apg, Blocks-2 (1.4bpg), FGP: 51.8%, FT: 42.6%. "Kenny replaces Behanan, but is a totally different player than him. We need to be stronger and more dominant at this position. He has mass and quality and experience in Germany. He will be able to be integrtaed quickly into our game thanks to his passimng qualities", stressed head coach Bjoern Harmsen. Last season he scored in double figures 16 times including three double doubles. His best game was a 22 point 15 rebound effort against Phoenix Hagen.
Frease started his absketball career in 2008 with Xavier (NCAA) where he played until 2012 playing atotal of 137 NCAA games. As a freshman he played 34 games: 5.4ppg, 3.7rpg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 46.0%, 3Pts: 28.6%, FT: 48.4%. In his second season he played 35 games: 5.1ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 50.7%, 3PT: 0.0%, FT: 52.0%. As a junior h eplayed 32 games: 11.7ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 54.9%, FT: 70.2%. As a senior he played 36 games: 10.2ppg, 6.1rpg, 1.1apg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 51.4%, FT: 56.9%. He started his professional basketball career in 2012 with Walter Tigers Tuebingen (Germany-BBL): 34 games: 11.0ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 54.8%, FT: 56.3%. In the 2013-2014 season he moved to the Artland Dragons (Germany-BBL): Eurocup: 8 games: 9.5ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 54.0%, FT: 66.7%; German League: 40 games: 7.1ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 55.7%, FT: 49.4%. In the 2014-2015 season he started with Yesilgiresun Belediye (Turkey-TB2L): 16 games: 13.8ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.1apg, 2.2bpg, 2FGP: 59.7%, 3FGP: 66.7%, FT: 44.4%, in Jan.'15 moved to Artland Dragons (Germany-BBL) playing 16 games: 8.6ppg, 4.4rpg, FGP: 63.5%, FT: 61.5%. "It feels great to return back to Germany. I am happy to write the next chapter in my career with Science City Jena. I was only once in Jena, but could feel the passion of the fans. I will do my best to find my rhythm and get integrated as quickly as possible. I can't wait until the season starts", expressed Kenny Frease. Awards and achievements in his basketball career have been Atlantic 10 Regular Season Champion -09, 11, Atlantic 10 Tournament Semifinals -09, 10, Atlantic 10 Regular Season Co-Champion -10, NCAA Sweet 16 -10, 12, All-Atlantic 10 Honorable Mention -11, Atlantic 10 Tournament Finalist -12, German Bundesliga Semifinals -14, and Eurobasket.com German Bundesliga All-Defensive Team -16.
Around this time of year most BBL coaches are in their offices already scoping together new plays and contemplating which roles each player will perform except for Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert who is still looking for a few players to complete the new roster. Even tougher this season is that the Canadian isn't even at the practices as he has taken a leave of absence recovering from back surgery and given the coaching reigns to assistant coach Klaus Perwass. In the last year... [read more]
Around this time of year most BBL coaches are in their offices already scoping together new plays and contemplating which roles each player will perform except for Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert who is still looking for a few players to complete the new roster. Even tougher this season is that the Canadian isn't even at the practices as he has taken a leave of absence recovering from back surgery and given the coaching reigns to assistant coach Klaus Perwass. In the last years the Fraport Skyliners haven't been complete as their preseason schedule has started and it was no different this season as like last season the club faced German pro A team RheinStars Cologne in a neutral area Koblenz and this season in another unusual spot in Wiesbaden, Germany. Eight year BBL veteran and identity figure of the Fraport Skyliners Quantez Robertson has had his share of photo shoots and checking out runways with a basketball at Frankfurt international airport, but for a change he would also be stepping foot on another airbase in Wiesbaden only 26 kilometers away from Frankfurt international airport as the Fraport Skyliners met the RheinStars in an out of the ordinary place. As part of the Basketball Aid international tour, both teams were taking part in a very good cause to help kids stricken with the horrible disease cancer as all proceeds were going to this charity. The Basketball Aid international Tour had received a blow recently as previously invited touring team Northeastern (NCAA) cancelled their 10 day trip on account of the terrorism in Germany, but Basketball Aid organizer Hans Beth and his crew had done a fine job in a very short period of time finding replacement teams for the Huskies from Boston. It is typical that in the past American players tend to visit American airbases to get that extra special US feeling as well as cleaning out the food markets where they can buy and munch on Pop tarts, Oreo's or Twizzlers candy and much more, things they would never get in a normal German supermarket. In the past ex Skyliners and two thirds of the then Bermuda triangle Tyrone Ellis and Chris Williams minus Pascal Roller would venture out to Wiesbaden to take in the flair of American culture or a Jimmy Mckinney would make the trip to Heidelberg to visit the army heliport. On a very hot day that had temperatures in the 90's everyone was relieved to be in the gym at Clay Kaserne as it was air conditioned nicely and after 40 minutes of hard fought pre season basketball, it was no surprise that BBL club Fraport Skyliners had been victorious gliding by the Pro A RheinStars Cologne 77-59. Basketball Aid international tour chairman Hans Beth was pleased with how the first event of the tour went. 'It was a good atmosphere and a good game. It was a good start for the tour. The fans saw many young players competing and both general managers of the teams were present. It was obvious that the fans enjoyed the game. I hope to see them at Fraport Skyliner games', stressed Hans Beth.
For both teams, this exhibition game was just another test for the rigorous upcoming season that both clubs will experience in their respective leagues, but the game also had a deeper meaning as it was in support of the organization Basketball Aid that support children with cancer and the game also gave the American players time to reflect on this cause as well as playing a game on an American army base. 'Playing in Wiesbaden was like having a piece of home. I have a German mother and American father and to be able to see the Americana and German flags side by side reminds me of the partnership of both countries coming together as one. This was a very nice gym. Any enjoyment that I can provide while playing for military families is great. I can imagine that their life is stressful at times, but it is nice if they could enjoy a Thursday afternoon relaxing and watching basketball. Win or lose, we did a good thing today and we could leave with a good taste', stressed RheinStars forward Alex Foster. Fraport Skyliners center Mike Morrison (205-F-89, college: George Mason, agency: Interperformances) was as usual his laid back self after the win, but when asked about his thoughts about the game and deeper meaning behind the cause of Basketball aid, the Florida native became sentimental. 'This was almost like being on American soli. It was cool seeing so many American families in the stands. Being able to help the basketball aid cause is very important. Everybody was a winner today and it was a great day', stressed Mike Morrison (205-F-89, college: George Mason, agency: Interperformances).
Both teams were missing key ingredients to their teams as the Fraport Skyliners were without Mr Canada Philip Scrubb and new player Shavon Shields who had arrived that morning and was battling jet lag while the RheinStars were without the services of big men Amric Fields and 217cm monster Dennis Heinzmann as their inside game suffered without them. The Fraport Skyliners started with their heart and soul with Americans Quantez Robertson and Mike Morrison (205-F-89, college: George Mason, agency: Interperformances) and Germans Max Merz, Stefan Ilzhoefer and Niklas Kiel. The RheinsTars started with David Downs, Robin Christen, Andreas Wenzl, Alex Foster and Hugh Robertson. The Fraport Skyliners dominated from the get go getting their offensive sets going while getting their staple defense established early as their aggressiveness was a few gears too much for the RheinStars as they trailed 15-3 after six minutes. Frankfurt got their inside out game going quickly as their big men Morrison and Kiel got easy buckets inside while their shooting didn't lack any fine tuning early on either as Max Merz and Stefan Ilzhoefer connected from downtown. The Frankfurt aggressive defense also led to easy transition baskets as well. At the 4.15 minute mark, huge German talent Isaac Bonga made his professional debut, but before he could make any waves on the court, Cologne got a quick mini 4-0 run with baskets from Lennart Steffen and Tim Van De Velde to cut the Frankfurt lead to 15-7. Frankfurt closed out the first quarter with a Robertson dunk and Garai Zeeb three pointer as the Fraport Skyliners led 22-9 after one quarter. Isaac Bonga was controlling the boards in the first few minutes when he was on the floor. 'Frankfurt hit us hard in the first quarter. We weren't prepared well and need to be mentally focused better. We were unable to meet their aggressiveness on defense with offensive intensity', stressed Alex Foster.
In the second quarter, both teams continued to sub their players in and out giving everyone their opportunity to work on their game as well as further team chemistry and harmony being developed. The Fraport Skyliners continued to have many more options on offense, worked on their inside out game and didn't allow the RheinStars much opportunity to get anything going inside. Frankfurt Got a three pointer form Max Merz and a hook shot from Mahir Agva while the RheinStars got trey's from Downs and Bendict Van Laack. Cologne then got their first solid bucket inside from Steffen who snuck inside finishing with his left hand as Frankfurt led only 27-17. Bonga was back in the game and the 16 year old who measures in at 205cm continued to help on the boards, but his athleticism and quickness was impressive as he showed it on both ends of the court making a quick block from behind on Hugh Robertson and then strolled into traffic and in midair made a no look pass to a streaking Morrison in the lane who finished with a routine lay in as Frankfurt led 31-17. Every once in a while Frankfurt would get careless and the RheinStars capitalized with buckets from a Downs who snuck inside, but overall Frankfurt always came back and had an answer on offense. After the Downs basket, Frankfurt went on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 41-22. In the run, the Fraport Skyliners got production from Ilzhoefer who had a totally new stroke of confidence and really had the green light in this game as he had that go to guy mentality brewing and connected on another trey, Merz scored inside, Tez Robertson made a steal and dunk on transition and Morrison finished inside for an easy two. In the last two minutes, Cologne got some needed offensive aid form Downs who dropped two trey's and Robertson scored inside, but the Fraport Skyliners led at the break 44-30. 'We were missing Fields and Heinzmann in the low post. It was the first game for Wenzl in 3 years. We have 100% belief that he can become the best center in the Pro A. He was a bit rusty today, but he will be a great player', added Alex Foster. After 20 minutes the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 59% from the field and 41% from outside while the RheinStars were shooting 39% from the field and 36% from outside. Frankfurt had the 17-12 rebound edge, but 11 turnovers while Cologne had 10 turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners started the third quarter with a few turnovers and the RheinStars capitalized on it getting a Robertson bucket and Wenzl lay up playing pick and roll with Downs to cut the Frankfurt lead to 45-34, but the RheinStars would never be able to cut the lead under 10 points. However it didn't take the Fraport Skyliners long to get out of their offensive mini rut as they went on a 9-3 run as the German kids executed nicely with Agva and Bonga to extend the Frankfurt lead to 54-36. Agva was working on becoming that Skyliner beast inside as he scored twice and Bonga connected on a three displaying a smooth stroke in progress. After 30 minutes the Fraport Skyliners led comfortably 54-38. 'We stepped up our defense in the third quarter, because we didn't want to fold. I think that the game was pretty even for three quarters. It was just that first quarter that hurt us. We had more open looks and came together better as a team. Hugh Robertson also hit some big shots', explained Alex Foster. The Fraport Skyliners were shooting 47% from the field and 32% from the three point line while the RheinStars were shooting 38% from the field and 24% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 29-20 rebound edge and both teams had 14 turnovers a piece.
Both teams found their scoring touch again better in the fourth quarter, but Cologne couldn't make any ground as they were still outscored by Frankfurt 23-21. The fans also got to see some Tez/Morrison show time as they connected on the alley-oop twice with Robertson being the perfect flicker while Morrison was as tame as a Florida kitten tapping home the ball twice and saving the hard throw downs for the regular season. Hugh Robertson who played last season with Helios Suns Domzale (Slovenia-Telemach League) and can decide a game by himself did his best hitting big shot after big shot cutting the lead down to 60-47, but the Frankfurt bench was too much for Cologne as they stepped up and executed as well. The difference was that in this phase, the RheinStars only had a Robertson who was hitting shots while Frankfurt went on a 7-0 run as Pro B player German Konstantin Schubert hit a 20 footer and a lay it and Quantez Robertson made a three pointer as Frankfurt led 67-50. The game was decided and in the last few minutes Alex Foster did some work for his stat line hitting a three and then making a beautiful off balance shot high off the glass. Frankfurt got last baskets from Agva and Ilzhoefer to secure the win. 'We were a bit tired in the fourth, but not physically. It was more mental. The two alley-opp's were mental break downs. Frankfurt played very physical. We have to emphasis to play harder defense in practice so we can be ready for teams like Frankfurt. Frankfurt played their defensive concept the whole game and we shied away from it. We couldn't stretch and challenge their defense. This game was part of the process to get ready for the season. I feel we made a good step in the right direction', stressed Alex Foster. '. 'The game went ok. We still need to correct many mistakes on defense. We found our rhythm on offense today. I feel that we have picked up on many things in two weeks. Coach Perwas has done a good job making things clear to each player what he has to do', added Mike Morrison (205-F-89, college: George Mason, agency: Interperformances). The Fraport Skyliners were led by Stefan Illzhoefer with 15 points. Mike Morrison (205-F-89, college: George Mason, agency: Interperformances) added 14 points while Max Merz had 10 points and eight assists and Quantez Robertson supplied 10 points, four rebounds and four steals. 16 year old Isaac Bonga played 23 minutes scoring six points, hauling down six rebounds, dishing out three assists and getting one steal The RheinStars were led by Hugh Robertson with 19 points while David Downs had 11 points. The Fraport Skyliners shot 52% from the field and 31% from outside while the RheinStars shot 43% from the field and 37% from outside. Frankfurt won the rebound battle 33-24 and had 18 turnovers while Cologne had 21 turnovers.
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