Who could forget Darius Hall partying with the 3000 fans in Hamburg after the big 74-60 cup win against ENbW Ludwigsburg in 2008 looking like rapper Joseph Bruce of Detroit rap group Dark Lotus giving a concert. That was the first and last title of the Artland Dragons. That 2007-2008 team was simply so special as Chris fleming finally was rewarded with his hard work and dedication with his first title, American John Goldsberry continued to develop as a point guard and by leading the Dragons to that title helped pave the road to joining Euroleague team Brose baskets Bamberg where he has been since 2008 or American EJ Rowland who after playing in lower leagues in Australia and Latvia was able to continue to chip away at his game then landing in Bonn and almost helping them to a title in 2009 and then moving up to top leagues in Italy and Spain. Every season the club is able to bring in top talented players, but in return are incapable of bringing extended pandemonium to the small 12,000 village with hardware. The list of top players having played in the Artland has been as unending as the Cleveland Cavaliers losing streak of 26 games in 2010-2011 or Psy having to utter the magic words of Gangnam Style since the innovative track became a world wide hit in 2012. Guys that have played there the last four years have been ex NBA player Toby Bailey, NCAA Final 4 player Hollis Price, top European point guard Tyrese Rice, diminutive point guard David Holston who has the heart of Simba in the Lion King, or Nathan Peavy. Especially this season the team was cherished with ex NBA player Dennis Horner and now Ryan Gomes. The team recently made a coup picking up Ryan Gomes (481 NBA games) who was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2005 and his claim to fame is being shipped to Minnesota for Kevin Garnett in 2007 and the rest is history.Horner didnt stay long in Artland and is now of dreaming of getting back to the NBA displaying his skills with the Springfield Armour. He didnt have much to mention about his short stay in Quackenbruck, but didn remember some one one duels with American Anthony King in practice. This seasons team may be the most talented team ever and Stefan Koch has the chance to win his second title in Germany. It continues to be a mystery why titles seem as rare there as a traffic light in Quackenbruck, but if there is one guy who can bring a title then its Koch. He has to shape the roles and chemistry the way Svetislav Pesic has in Munich. Maybe Toby the dragon should heat up his dungeon more under the arena so the team has more of an advantage to win big games at home. The guard play of Mallett, Haynes and Taylor are an excellent guard combo. However I think that their inside game doesnt fit together. Maybe they will get a new big man to make it work better. I think that the Artland Dragons have underachieved so far this season. Sometimes players chosen for a season just dont fit together, but I feel that Stefan Koch can turn the season around. If this team clicks then they can be very dangerous. I think that they will finish around 6th or 7th place. They can be a very dangerous opponent in the playoffs, warned basketball expert Steven Clauss. It seems like basketball expert Steven Clauss had some kind of premonition as Gomes returned back to the States and the team picked up ex Skyliner Bradley Buckman (203-F-84, college: Texas). The Texas native has played superbly in Turkey the last two seasons at times averaging double double stats and will help the team. Buckman may not be a star, but sometimes non stars can get the job done better than those who all are talking about. After winning their first BEKO BBL title with the cup in 2008 against EnBW Luwdigsburg in Hamburg in 2008, it seemed like the Artland Dragons were on a positive way with possible future hardware, but instead the club might secretly have been dreaming of the glory day in Hamburg where Darius Hall was in the middle of a swarm of Artland fans celebrating the win, because ever since that big title, the team has been looking for another success and missed the playoffs two seasons in a row. The Artland Dragons have been about as unlucky not reaching the playoffs the two seasons as a Formula one driver is racing the race of their life and then dropping out because the engine dies in the last lap as German Sebastian Vettel recently had to accept or poor cute lovable polar bear Knut who is being shunned by three female bears including his mother who cant remember he is her kid. In 2009, they had to win the last game and did crushing Frankfurt 90-69, but not reaching the playoffs because Paderborn won on the last day against BG Goettingen and in 2010, they made a last comeback winning the last four games, but losing their last game 82-80 to the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven a game they had to win missing the playoffs again. "I think that in 2010, Artland was lacking a guard who could control the team until the end. Ross was more of a scoring guard and Price could of done job, but he came to late in season to turn it around. The chemistry was lacking too and it seemed like players had their own agenda", stressed Quentin Pryor.
Last season, the Artland Dragons reached the Beko BBL playoffs for a second straight season after missing them twice with successful ratiopharm Ulm head coach Thorsten Leibenath in 2009 and 2010. Last season the Artland Dragons finished in fourth place with a record of 24-10. They were led by David Holston who was only 167cm, but played with a huge heart and like he was a big 195cm guard not being intimidated by the bigger players. The club played pretty solid the whole season having two five games and four game winning streaks in the season. Their biggest wins of the season was against FC Bayern Munich at home 86-83 at home where David Holston had an eye to eye shooting clinic with Je kel Foster that was only out done by the famous Larry Bird-Dominique Wilkins shoot out in the 1988 NBA playoffs. The Artland Dragons also swept the season series with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg and the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg. Koch once again formed a very competitive team around Holston with guys like David Fenn, Nathan Peavy, Brandon Thomas, Adam Hess and Bryan Bailey. In the palyoffs, the Artland Dragons squashed the title dreams of FC Bayern Munich winning in five games. Who could forget the spectacular win in Munich where they had no David Holston who had been suspended for a game. In the semi finals, they lost 3-0 to the Brose Baskets Bamberg who just rolled over the Quackenbruck team winning by more than 74 points. It seemed like the spanking of the holy mighty FC Bayern Munich had been their highlight and they just ran out of gas against the Brose Baskets Bamberg in the playoffs. After two consecutive seasons in the Beko BBL playoffs the only goal for the Artland Dragons is a return, annoying the other top teams and possibly sneaking into the Beko BBL final. The two biggest loses for the team were David Holston and Nathan Peavy. It is still difficult to understand why they didnt try to hold Holston who went back to Turkey where he had started his professional team, but Koch possibly already had mallet in mind to bring that extra needed experience to the team. Peavy left to join 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin. He had played consistently in his time with the Dragons and will be dearly missed. The club also lost players like Bryan Bailey, Adam Hess, Darren fenn and Brandon Thomas. Despite so many going, the Artland Dragons have presented the league another very strong team this season. Joining Mallet in a top basketball ensemble will be Bryce Taylor possibly the second most important signing after Mallet, because of his offensive and defensive versatility, unending energy and never losing mentality. Andrew Drevo is back in the Beko BBL and will present mismatches at the position four with his stretching the defense. Koch also brought in Kristaps Valters for the injured Mallet who played two seasons with Don Beck in Oldenburg and has been a consistent performer in Europes strongest league ACB in Spain. He also brought in talented youngsters Marquez Haynes who played in the ACB who will bring athletic power to the guard position and Sergio Kerusch who is starting his second professional season after having played in Greece last season. Petar Popovic is a rugged big man that has oodles of experience and will bring physical stability to the boards. The team also brought in German Ben Spoeler. The team kept ex Skyliner Anthony King, versatile guard Johannes Strasser and Germans Guido Grunheid and Acja Njei. The biggest strength of the 2008 cup winner again will be their deep roster and unlimited offensive power. If the Artland Dragons can combine that with a willingness to defend then they will be able to beat any team on any night. The only thing that could stand in the way of the Artland Dragons is underachieving. They are so talented, but will need to bring it to the table every night. Koch is known for forming formidable chemistry in his teams and will do it again with this gang. Stefan Koch has done a good job again finding the right players. He always finds the right players. He knows how to find well functioning teams. Bryce Taylor was a very important pick up. The Artland Dragons will be a top team and play at the top, stressed basketball expert Steven Klauss. The Frankfurt Skyliners have had unfond memories to playing the Artland Dragons as both having a 7-7 record since 2005 and during 2005-2007 Frankfurtlosing all four games including being outscored in the Artland arena 172-129. However, the tide turned for the better from 2007-2009 as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners had a 3-1 record. Four years ago, they celebrated a very big emotional win 87-75 winning in overtime as captain Pascal Roller sparked Frankfurt to the win with 26 points. two seasons ago on the last day, Frankfurt lacked spirit and were beaten in every phase of the game losing 90-69. In 2009-2010, the team lost a thriller 77-76 in Artland as Frankfurt staged one of their famous comebacks despite a late Pascal Roller three pointer, it wasnt enough as they lost. Frankfurt was able to win at home 77-65 as Pascal Roller scored 20 points. Frankfurt won their first show down in 2010-2011 on the road winning 82-56 coming out of half time with a 24-8 run to easily win. Frankfurt was led by AJ Moye with 18 points and six rebounds and fans will remember a crashing dunk by ex NBA player Roger Powell. Frankfurt also won their home encounter 83-72 as Dashaun Wood had a Derrick Rose type of game making 29 points, 9 assists, five rebounds and four steals. The team lost a meaningless cup game in Bamberg against Artland where both teams played for third place and Frankfurt was without Dashaun Wood. Last season, both teams played a defensive classic in Frankfurt as Artland won 49-44. Frankfurt returned to Artland winning 66-60 as Jimmy Mckinney led the scoring with 15 points and ex NBA player Jermario Davidson had 13 points, six rebounds and six blocks. The Artland Dragons have been up and down and in the last 12 games have had two three game winning streaks and three game losing streaks and the Fraport Skyliners have nice memories to their first meeting of the season in Artland winning 89-80 as the Larry Wright cindrella story continued as he led the team with 21 points showing that the PRO B player can play in the Beko BBL. The Fraport Skyliners got a lot of support from Dion Dowell, Quantez Robertson, Zach Peacock and Johnathan Jones. It was the best offensive game of the team in the season. The Fraport Skyliners are looking to start the second half of the season with a win. After a six day training camp in Tenerifa the team will have to make some changes in their game to be successful. Frankfurt will always have a chance to win if they defend well and can get their offense going and score more than 70 points. Ou never know how offense will be if they defend well. The problem is that Frankfurt doesnt have a dominat five man. It is fine if Frankfurt plays small ball, but if they dont rebound well or play defense then it will always be tough to win, stressed basketball expert Steven Clauss. The Artland Dragons are led by Demond Mallet. Mallet is a 34 year old 186cm guard from Louisiana that has the distinction of being a cousin of Shaq. He played at Mcneese State and turned professional in 2001 and played for Braunschweig leading the team to the playoffs. With his scoring ability, he quickly went to Bamberg where he was able to become one of the top Americans playing in Germany at that time. He won the Beko BBL title with Bamberg in 2005. He then went to Cologne helping them win the cup in 2007. His biggets success was winning the 2008 ULEB Cup with Joventut Badalona with German Jan Jagla. In the last years, he has played in Turkey, Belgium and Israel. Last season he played for Belgacom Spirou (Belgium-D1, starting five): 26 games: Score-3 (15.1ppg), 2.7rpg, 2.8apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 84.0%; Euroleague: 12 games: Score-4 (16.6ppg), 2.3rpg, 3.1apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 49.5%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 71.0%; in Dec.'11 moved to Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv (Israel-Premier League): Israeli League: 4 games: 3.8ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.8apg, 1.3spg; Euroleague: 10 games: 4.6ppg; Adriatic League: 12 games: 6.3ppg, 1.2rpg, 1.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 31.7%, FT: 87.5%, He is a five time Beko BBL allstar winning the MVP in 2007. He was the Beko BBL player of the year in 2002 and 2003 and was the Belgium league MVP in 2011. The team also brought in 26 year old 196cm shooting guard Bryce Taylor last season who hails from San Diego, California. He is the son of former NBA player Brian Taylor. He is a great sharpshooter with an aggressive dribble drive and has a keen understanding of the game. He played at Oregon from 2004-2008. In his senior year at Oregon, he averaged 12.8ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 46.1%, 3Pts: 38.2%, FT: 82.3% in 30 games. Three seasons ago, he turned professional and played in Italy for Premiata Montegranaro playing 30 games: and averaging 13.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.6spg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 82.6%. In 2009-2010 in Bonn, he played 6 Eurocup games: 18.5ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.0apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 56.3%, 3PT: 36.4%; German League: 34 games: 12.5ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 81.4%. In 2010, he played NBA Summer league for the Indiana Pacers. In 2010-2011 for Alba Berlin Taylor played EuroCup: 11 games: 7.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 16.7%, FT: 83.9%; Euroleague Qualifying Round: 5 games: 0.8ppg; German League: 49 games: 7.8ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 27.5%, FT: 76.0%. Last season for Alba Berlin he played Euroleague Qualifying Round: 2 games: 9.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.0apg; EuroCup: 12 games: 9.8ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 45.9%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 80.0%; German League: 36 games: 11.8ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 53.5%, 3PT: 42.6%, FT: 82.4%. The team also brought in experienced 33 year old 211cm Petar Popovic from Serbia. He is a very experienced center, who knows ho to play back-to-the basket and has good fundamentals. He isn' t an explosive leaper, neither a shot-blocker, and probably he grabs less rebounds than expected, but he' s a good inside presence defensively and has enough soft hands to score in double digits any night.. He already got experience at age 22 joining top team Hemofarm Vrsac playing there for four years. In the last years he has played for teams like Benneton Treviso, MMT Estudiantes Madrid, and Spartak St.Petersburg. Last season, he played for Crvena Zvezda Beograd (A League, starting five): Adriatic League: 25 games: 11.2ppg, 5.3rpg, FGP: 54.4%, FT: 77.2%; Serbian League: 21 games: 11.1ppg, 4.0rpg, FGP: 55.0%, FT: 58.5%. He has won five titles in his career the biggest being the 2008 ULEB cup with Demond mallet at Badalona Joventut. He also played at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. The club also signed 25 year old 191cm guard Marquez Haynes from Irving Texas. He played at Boston College from 2005-2007 and finished his NCAA career with Texas Arlington in 2010. In his senior year, he played 30 games: ScoreNCAA-3 (22.6ppg), 4.3rpg, 3.7apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 40.9%, FT: 74.6%. As a rookie he played together with ex Skyliner Ilian Evtimov for ES Chalon-Sur-Saone (France-ProA, starting five): 33 games: 14.3ppg, 2.2rpg, 3.9apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 73.1%. Last season, he played for C.B. Gran Canaria 2014 (Spain-ACB, starting five): EuroCup: 8 games: 11.1ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 50.0%; Spanish League: 34 games: 10.9ppg, 2.2rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 47.4%, 3PT: 28.5%, FT: 79.1%. Recently he played NBA Summer league with AirTran Orlando Summer League (Oklahoma City Thunder): 2 games: 2.0ppg, 1.0apg. He reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2006, won the French cup in 2011 with Chalon and is a member of the Georgian national team. Sergio Kerush is a 23 year old 195cm forward from Memphis, Tennessee that also has the German nationality. He played at Western Kentucky. As a senior he played 32 games: 15.6ppg, 7.9rpg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 30.7%, FT: 64.4%. Last season as rookie he played for Aris Thessaloniki (Greece-A1): EuroCup: 12 games: 7.4ppg, 5.8rpg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 66.7%; Greek League: 26 games: 7.5ppg, 4.4rpg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 61.2%. The team also brought in 24 year old 206cm German Ben Spoeler. He started his basketball career in 2oo3 with herten. He then played for the Bayer Giants Leverkusen from 2004-2010 getting into five Beko BBL games. He played two seasons in Paderborn and last season played 24 games: 6.1ppg, 2.6rpg, FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 65.6%. Anthony King is a 27 year old 206cmpower forward/center from Durham, North Carolina. He is back in the Beko BBL after playing in Cyprus and Greece the last two years. This will be his second season for the Artland Dragons. He gives the team an additional scoring threat in the post as well as rebounding, is a physical performer who doesnt mind mixing it up down low and gives the team added toughness in the paint. He played at Miami, FL (NCAA) from 2003-2008 playing 34 games in his senior year averaging 7.1ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.3apg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 43.1%, FT: 68.9%. He played for the Deutsche Bank Skyliners in his rookie season. In 2009-2010, he played for InterCollege Etha Engomis (Cyprus-Division A, starting five): Score-5 (236 pts), Reb-1 (148 rbs), Blocks-2 (24 blocks). Last season, he remained with InterCollege Etha Engomis (Cyprus-Division A, starting five): Cypriot League: EuroChallenge: 8 games: 17.0ppg, 8.4rpg, 1.1apg, Blocks-1 (2.0bpg), FGP: 53.6%, FT: 76.2%; Cyprus League: 16 games: 14.3ppg, Reb-2 (10.0rpg), 1.1apg, 1.3spg, Blocks-2 (1.8bpg), FGP: 54.1%, 3PT-3 (50.0%), FT: 76.8%; Playoffs: 10 games: 14.2ppg, 10.4rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 51.4%, FT:80%, after winning the championship moved in Apr.'11 to Aris Thessaloniki (Greece-A1, starting five): 9 games: 8.1ppg, 5.8rpg, FGP: 50.8%, FT: 57.9%. He was won the double in Cyprus with InterCollege Etha Engomis. %. Last season, he played EuroCup Qualifications: 2 games: 3.0ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.0bpg; EuroChallenge: 14 games: 10.8ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 62.0%, FT: 81.8%; German League: 36 games: 9.9ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.1apg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 57.0%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 80.2% 30 year old 190cm combo guard Johannes Strasser is playing his third season with The Artland Dragons. He is a very strong point guard that can hit the open three pointer at any time, penetrate and finish or find the open guy and is a pest on defense. He started his basketball career at Rhondorf in 1999. He had a very successful time with Rhein Energy Cologne from 2001-2007 winning the 2006 BBL league title and three cup titles in 2004,2005 and 2007. He played with the Telekom Baskets Bonn from 2007-2010 reaching the BEKO BBL title twice. His job is to come from the bench and help out at the point or hurt opponents with his deadly three pointer. In 2010-2011, he played 40 games: 6.4ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 87.2%. Last season, he played : EuroCup Qualifications: 2 games: 8.5ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.0spg; EuroChallenge: 14 games: 4.2ppg, 1.2rpg, 2.6apg; German League: 42 games: 5.9ppg, 1.2rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 37.8%, FT: 84.1% Guido Gruinheid is a 30 year old 209cm forward from Jena that is playing his second season for the Artland Dragons. He is an in-betweener forward with the height (but not the size) of a 4 and the quickness (but not the ball handling and the shot) of a 3. A good rebounder and a hustler. He played for Alba Berlin from 2001-2005 winning three BEKO BBL titles and two cup titles. He then moved to Rhein Energie Koln in 2005 where he won his fourth BEKO BBL title in 2006 and another cup in 2007. He got added experience playing in Holland for Hanzevast Capitals Groningen . He also has gained valuable experience playing for the German national team as he was a member playing at the 2006 World Championships in Japan and at the 2007 European Championships in Spain. In 2010-2011 for MBC, he played 33 games: 7.3ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 58.9%, 3PT: 23.0%, FT: 44.7%. Last season for Artland he played : EuroCup Qualifications: 2 games: 8.5ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.0spg; EuroChallenge: 14 games: 4.2ppg, 1.2rpg, 2.6apg; German League: 42 games: 5.9ppg, 1.2rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 37.8%, FT: 84.1%. The team also retain Christian Hoffman and Acha Njei. Hoffmann is a 25 year old 187cm guard from the Tegernsee in Bavaria. He started his basketball career in 2003 for FC Bayern Munchen (Regionalliga) where he played until 2007. He then got some Beko BBL experience form 2007-2009 playing 44 Beko BBL games with TBB Trier. He then played another season with FC Bayern Munich and Science City Jena before coming to Artland last season. Acha Njei is a 27 year old 190cm guard that started his basketball career in 2004 with Vegesacker TV (2. Regionalliga). He then played fort eh Bremen Roosters from 2005-2009. He then played for 2009 Beko BBL champion EWE Baskets Oldenburg from 2009-2011 playing seven Beko BBL games and three Euroleague games. Last season for Artland he played EuroCup Qualifications: 1 game: 0pts; EuroChallenge: 9 games: 0.6ppg, 1.0rpg; German League: 15 games: 0.7ppg.
Vaughn Duggins (190-SG-87, college: Wright St.) is a 29 year old 190cm guard from Pendleton, Indiana that is playing his sixth professional season, fourth in Germany and second with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Last season with Oldenburg he played 36 games: 14.7ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 83.5%; Eurocup: 18 games: 11.9ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 83.7%. He started his basketball career in 2006 with Wright St. (NCAA) where he played until 2011 paying... [read more]
Vaughn Duggins (190-SG-87, college: Wright St.) is a 29 year old 190cm guard from Pendleton, Indiana that is playing his sixth professional season, fourth in Germany and second with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Last season with Oldenburg he played 36 games: 14.7ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 83.5%; Eurocup: 18 games: 11.9ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 83.7%. He started his basketball career in 2006 with Wright St. (NCAA) where he played until 2011 paying a total of 130 NCAA games and as a senior played 33 games averaging 18.0ppg, 3.8rpg, 2.2apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 44.7%, 3PT: 31.1%, FT: 82.2%. In 2011, he started his professional basketball career in Germany with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen where he played until 2013 and in his second season played 33 games averaging 14.0ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 52.8%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 82.0%. He then played two seasons in France with Le Mans Sarthe Basket (France-ProA): 31 games: 10.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 48.4%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 85.9%; Eurocup: 10 games: 10.5ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 43.1%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 79.2% and Sluc Nancy Basket Pro (France-ProA, starting five): 32 games: 14.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 79.3%; Eurocup: 12 games: 11.1ppg, 1.6rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 49.3%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 78.6%. He spoke to eurobasket about basketball recently during holiday time..
Vaughn thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. Where are you and how have you enjoyed the Christmas time in Germany this season?
I'm currently at my apartment in Oldenburg. The Holiday season in Germany is always amazing. Now that I'm able to share it with my wife and son, it makes it even more special. My mom, Paula, came to visit as well so I have gotten to spend a lot of time with all of them.
You have experienced some Christmas markets over the years in Germany, but where did the Christmas market rank in my all-time favorite city of Hamburg?
The Hamburg Christmas market is high level, and it is always great to experience what each city does differently. It is definitely in my top 3, but Tuebingen's Christmas market has always had a special place in my heart and, together with Oldenburg's, is my favorite.
You had surgery on your ankle recently. How did that go and how has it been the last weeks not being able to play?
Surgery went amazingly well. I was in great hands with foot/ankle specialist Dr. Preis in Wiesbaden. I am feeling better every day and God-willing, I will be on the court faster than anticipated. The last few weeks not playing has not been fun. I am very competitive and not being able to be on the court with my teammates hurts.
You have been pretty injury free your whole career except your junior career with Wright State. With time and experience does a player gain the ability to know how to play wiser knowing how to get around sustaining dumb injuries that could have been avoided on the court?
Haha I wish that were the case. The longer you play, you get to know the 'dirtier' players and you try not to get caught in a situation where a dumb injury can occur. Injuries are going to happen regardless of how wise you become, and sometimes, if you actively try to avoid injuries, the more likely they happen.
Up until your last game in Frankfurt, you were playing very consistently averaging 13,0ppg,3,3rpg and 3,0apg. How much of a pain was it physically playing on a bad ankle?
I have been in pain almost all season and it has definitely affected my play, and it even affected my mentality at times. I wasn't as aggressive and did not have the explosiveness and power that my game commands. I could not help the team like I was used to and It was very frustrating at times.
Last season you averaged 14.7ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT: 35.0%, FT: 83.5%; Eurocup: 18 games: 11.9ppg, 1.7rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 46.9%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 83.7%. Your scoring is down this season. Has your role changed a bit this season with more scoring options?
No, my role has
not changed at all. Up to my last game at the end of November, I have not
played to the level I played at last season. I do believe I can play a lot
better and will try to prove that when I get back on the court.
How much fun is it playing possibly with the best small forward Rickey Paulding and best center Brian Qvale in the BBL? How much easier do they make your job on the court?
I love playing with Rickey and Brian. I have gotten to know them over the last year and a half of being teammates and as good a players as they are, they are even better people off the court. They do so much for the team. Rickey is our leader and and sets a great example for everyone. Brian is an unstoppable force on the block and our defensive anchor.
The EWE Baskets Oldenburg have been up and down with a 8-8 record. How confident are you that the club will have a big turn around in the second half of the season?
I am 100% confident that we will turn up the heat and start playing how we did the second half of last year. We have too many good players and our team chemistry is too good for us not to make a second half push and a deep playoff run.
The club had some good defensive games against Braunschweig, Tuebingen and BG Goettingen earlier in the season. But overall the team has been allowing too many points. What area on the defensive end does the team need to make improvements in the second half of the season?
We just have to execute the defensive plan a little bit better. Our defense could be a lot worse, but if we want to challenge the Top 4, we need to have the same focus every defensive possession and to have constant communication. Just a little bit of talking on that end would fix a lot mistakes we make by having each other's backs.
The club is 6-4 in Champions League play and holding it's own, but it could be 8-2 having lost some close games. What has been the biggest challenge the team has had being successful in this competition?
The Champions league has proved to be a very competitive league in only its first year in existence. The challenge has been in bringing the focus and motivation to every game. We don't have as many fans attending the games home or away as in the BBL and the travel is much more intense also. It is important that we control only what we can control and that is our effort, focus, and mentality every night.
Last season Olden burg had an unwanted departure in the quarterfinals against a very nasty but potent Ulm team. Do the EWE Baskets Oldenburg have the character to be a championship team or just be a strong team that will make the playoffs, but not do damage?
Ulm has not looked back since that series. They are showing their class with their amazing start this year. Of course we believe we have the character, talent, and team chemistry to win a BBL championship. Why else do we play the game? We can beat anyone at any given time, but we have to take it one practice and one game at a time if we want to make it to that level.
I was impressed by the 16 point game by Belgium national player Maxime Zeeuw in Frankfurt. Has he been the solid role player from the bench that you envisioned when he was picked up?
I played against Maxime in Eurocup when I was in Nancy and he was in Rome, so I knew him as a player and his athletic ability and intensity still surprised me. He has high work ethic and can affect the game in many different ways on the court.
Chris Kramer once scored a bucket sitting on the floor at Purdue. You have seen him now everyday for the second season. What has been the most amazing thing you have seen him do on the court in a game or practice?
Chris is the definition of 'machine'. He is a work-horse that is always making amazing plays on both ends of the court. As many tomahawk dunks as he's had in his career, the most incredible things I've seen from him are his chase down blocks. He comes flying out of nowhere when you least expect it.
You are 29 years old and in your sixth season. Would you say that you are in your prime now? Do you see yourself heightening your game in the next few seasons?
Yes, I believe I am in my prime physically, but I always feel there is room to improve, especially from a mental perspective. I have no idea what God's plans are for me and my game, but I am always striving to get better and I want to play the best basketball I can for as long as possible. I will control what I can, but I am just along for the ride.
You played two seasons with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen.and Reggie Redding. Did you know then that he would become a Euroleague player with Alba Berlin and Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (Turkey-BSL)?
I knew Reggie was incredibly talented and could play at a very high level, but you never know what is going to happen. He definitely belongs at that level and proves that day-in and day-out. He is a great guy and I want nothing but the best for him.
You also played a season with American point guard Cameron Wells. How refreshing is it for you to have seen his development with the Giessen 46ers into a very fine BBL player?
It is awesome to see the way Cam is playing. The situation in Tuebingen was a tough one for him. He has reinvented himself in Giessen as a leader and a go-to guy and he has really thrived in that role. He has a bright future.
As a rookie, you told me this about Dashaun Wood. '! Dashaun beat me 9 out of 10 times on one on one. I was a young puppy out of high school and he was the horizon league player of the year. I don't remember him having any weaknesses other than he was smaller than me so I could post him up. How would that older puppy do against him today?
Haha well Dashaun will for sure disagree with me,, but I think I could take him now. He is one of those guys that is best in a competitive trash talk situation. He raises his level and can play with ANYONE, but I think my strength and athleticism would outlast him. It would be interesting to see that go down. We might have to schedule a closed 1 on 1 game soon.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
Michael, Magic, Larry and Wilt. And there is no debate!
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?
That is a great question and I'm sure many fist fights have been started by it. I could argue that the last Championship was his greatest of the 3 and it puts him into the top 5 all-time greats. His resume needs a lot more work to crack the top 3, but he is definitely capable of that.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game? He is number 4 in my personal opinion. Tim Duncan is #1, Karl Malone, is 2, James Worthy is 3 and then KG, but that sure is debatable too.
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
It is one of the most amazing scoring displays of all-time. It is close behind Wilt's 100 and Kobe's 81. I was very surprised that he didn't demand to stay in the game. He was 'en fuego' and who knows how many times that type of feeling will happen throughout his career.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
Yes, he absolutely is. The numbers he puts up on a nightly bases are out of this world. He is responsible for almost every creative decision on that team and its crazy that he has that high of efficiency with the speed and intensity he plays with.
What was your most memorable Christmas experience in Indiana when you were a kid?
Our family had a long tradition of driving to Fort Wayne, Indiana and going to (what we thought) was the best Mexican restaurant in the U.S. We would eat there Christmas Eve with my Grandparents and then drive to their house, which was 30 minutes away, to stay and open of presents Christmas morning. We did that for 15+ straight years and it always puts a smile on my face when I think of those times.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Disney's Moana with my wife, Maria, and my 18 month old son, Gianni.
Giesen 46ers head coach Denis Wucherer is battling week by week in presenting the best prepared team for every new EasyCredit BBL opponent, but he does have some space in his basketball mind concerning next season and upholding the potent team chemistry and has kept the German boys Benjamin Lischka (204-F-89) and Marco Voeller together as they have agreed to contract extenstions. Lischka will stay until 2019 and Voeller until 2018. Lischka is a 27 year old 204cm forward that is currently... [read more]
Giesen 46ers head coach Denis Wucherer is battling week by week in presenting the best prepared team for every new EasyCredit BBL opponent, but he does have some space in his basketball mind concerning next season and upholding the potent team chemistry and has kept the German boys Benjamin Lischka (204-F-89) and Marco Voeller together as they have agreed to contract extenstions. Lischka will stay until 2019 and Voeller until 2018. Lischka is a 27 year old 204cm forward that is currently playing his fourth season with the Hessen team and made a fine debut in the BBL last season playing 31 games: 5.1ppg, 2.3rpg, FGP: 51.3%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 78.7%. This season he has played 18 games averaging 3,6ppg, and 2,1rpg while shooting 38,9% from outside. He recently had a 14 point game in 15 minutes in a win against SC Rasta Vechta. The German who also gained experience with Crailsheim and Kirchheim in the Pro A is elated about staying in Giessen. "I am looking forward to the next years. It is a great feeling that I can play in my home. I want to thank Heiko Schelberg that allowed this to happen", stressed Benjamin Lischka.
Marco Voeller is a 28 year old 199cm forward that celebrated his birthdayrecently and is playing his first season in Giessen. It took him a while in his career until he was able to make his debut in the EasyCredit BBL as he was 27 years old with Giessen. The German who is the son of German football legend Rudi Voeller played in locations like TV Langen, Hanau and Gotha where he developed slowly, but also stuck to his trade and now is playing in the best league in Germany. This season Voeller has seen action in 17 games averaging 3,2ppg, and 1,4rpg. The German is also content about remaining in Giessen. "I am looking forward to playing anotehr season in Giessen. I feel comfortable here and it is fun to play in this environment, so making this decision was easy", added Marco Voeller.
According to eurobasket sources Pro A team Hebesien White Wings have added Isaiah Sykes(198-G-91, college: Cent.Florida) to the roster to help bolster their rotation in the scoring and rebounding categories.Isaiah Sykes is a 25 year od 198cm guard from Detroit, Michigan playing his third professional season. He started the season in Israel with Hapoel Gilboa Afula (Israel-National League) where he played four games averaging 11,5ppg, 11,5rpg and 2,8apg. Last season he played for Maccabi H... [read more]
According to eurobasket sources Pro A team Hebesien White Wings have added Isaiah Sykes (198-G-91, college: Cent.Florida) to the roster to help bolster their rotation in the scoring and rebounding categories. Isaiah Sykes is a 25 year od 198cm guard from Detroit, Michigan playing his third professional season. He started the season in Israel with Hapoel Gilboa Afula (Israel-National League) where he played four games averaging 11,5ppg, 11,5rpg and 2,8apg. Last season he played for Maccabi Hod Hasharon (Israel-National League) playing 25 games: 19.9ppg, Reb-2 (14.3rpg), 4.9apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 59.9%, 3PT: 21.4%, FT: 34.5%.
Skyes started his basketball career in 2010 with Cent.Florida (NCAA) playing 32 games: 4.0ppg, 3.2rpg. In his second season he played 32 games: 12.5ppg, 6.6rpg, 2.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 56.4%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 54.3%. As a junior he played 31 games: 16.0ppg, 7.5rpg, 4.5apg, 2.3spg, FGP: 47.7%, 3PT: 32.0%, FT: 61.7%. As a senior in 2013-2014 he played 30 games: 17.2ppg, 7.2rpg, 3.5apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 54.0%. He started his professional career in 2014 with U.S. Basket Recanati (Italy-A2 Silver) playing 28 games: 17.2ppg, 8.2rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 12.5%, FT: 55.2%; A2 Gold Playoffs: 3 games: 17.3ppg, 7.0rpg, 3.0apg. Awards and achievements in his basketball career have been C-USA Tournament Semifinals -12, All-C-USA 1st Team -13
C-USA All-Defensive Team -13, NABC Division I All-District 11 1st Team -13, All-AAC 2nd Team -14, AAC All-Tournament Team -14, Eurobasket.com All-Italian LNP Silver 2nd Team -15, and Eurobasket.com All-Israeli National League Honorable Mention -16.