John Patrick (agency: LUMANI 10.7 ) recently came as a fire man coach to the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg. The former Pac-10 Point Guard and 1992 Stanford University graduate has been 5 times Coach of the Year and won 3 Championships in the last 7 seasons in 4 different leagues. (Japan Super League, 2nd German Bundesliga, BBL, and FIBA Eurochallenge) His low-player-budget BBL teams qualified for European competition in each of the last four seasons. Last season, Wrzburgs inaugural season in the BBL after finishing 2nd in the Pro A (German 2nd league) the previous season, Coach Patricks team had the lowest scoring defense in the BBL, and knocked Alba Berlin out of the playoffs, before dropping 3 hardfought games to Thorsten Leibenaths RatiofarmUlm in the Semis. He psoke to eurobasket after the 79-73 win at home against ratiopharm Ulm.
Congrats on the 79-73 win against ratiopharm Ulm. Have the derbies against Tuebingen and Ulm in general been more intense then what you experienced in Goettingen and Wurzburg?
I dont think that the derbies here are more intense as the Wurzburg fans were very motivated against Munich and I still here Goettingen fans talking about games with Paderborn and Braunschweig. I think the only difference is that we have three derbies here with Wurzburg, Tuebingen and Ulm. The game against Ulm as against Tuebingen were sold out. It was amazing how loud the Ulm fans were in the arena. Already an hour and 15 minutes before the game started they were singing. This was a big win, but I dont want to get too euphoric about it. This was a special game for Lucca Staiger who grew up in the Ulm area. I am happy that we were able to beat the 2012 BBL finalist and 2013 Eurocup quarterfinalist Ulm. Our team and fans were very motivated tonight.
Ludwigsburg had a strong start with the 24-9 lead after one quarter. What was key for keeping the Ulm offense in check?
I have to admit that we were lucky that Ulm missed some open shots and we were fortunate to hit shots. We gave 100% effort and I have to give a lot of credit to John Turek and Eric Coleman for their job defending John Bryant and their defending the pick and role and pick and pop play. When you play against Ulm, you cant only worry about John Bryant, but they have a great offense and you have to help on the point guard, but still get back on Bryant. We were also a bit lucky that Bryant wasnt hitting all his shots. When he gets going then you can go home.
Ulm fought hard in the second half staying on your heels, but the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg were able to close out the game. What was key for getting the win?
We actually led by 20 in the second half. We led the whole game and it was important for our confidence and mentality that even when we made mistakes that we didnt hang our heads. Our new player Derrick Zimmermann was very important tonight especially his presence on defence. He is like a second coach on the floor and he did a great job keeping everyone on on defence. He has extremely quick feet and the box score doesnt tell the whole story on how he played. We did a great job beating Ulm on the boards and we were very determined to play and finish possessions something we have had problems doing in the past.
How important has it been for Eric Coleman being integrated quickly into the team?
He is a good guy. He played with Ben Jacobson and John Little at Northern Iowa and they always talked about him. He has a big heart and knows how to win. He really likes to compete. He is still getting used to the Beko BBL, but he arrived with a bang.
Is Derrick Zimmermann going to be the floor general that you hope will lead the team to many more wins this season?
He already is our floor general and he is cat quick. He is very long for a point guard at 190cm and his arms are 210cm. You cant take the ball from him and he has a great eye for the floor. He is a great ball handler. He could of scored 20 points tonight, but decided to keep passing and setting up his teammates. He is so athletic and is like a human highlight reel. He did a good job against Per Guenther.
The news headlines of Marquis Blakely have been unending in the last weeks. Can you see a news headline reading Marquis Blakely helps keep the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg in the Beko BBL?
After Westbrook got injured, I asked his agent if he would like to come back. He seemed to solve his personal problems in the States and decided to come back. He had only been with us for two weeks before he went to the States. He came back last Sunday and we saw that he needed practice time to learn some new plays. I dont know if he would get a headline at the end of the season, but I hope it is the case that he continues to help us. He played 35 minutes tonight. It was only his third game. He wasnt perfect, but he got the loudest round of applause from the fans. He gives a lot of energy and is a good athlete. He passed all the physicals and medical checks and it is sad how his name has been tarnished in the internet. What people may not know is that he is a very eloquent guy and his father is a lawyer. He may have made a mistake in his free time when he wasnt employed, but he is very serious about his basketball career. This is his first year in Europe and he is a great kid that is polite to everyone. I hope that he can help us. I am here to help him get better.
You came to the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg as a type of fireman to help save the team. Has this been your biggest coaching challenge in your career? No it hasnt. My first coaching job in Japan where I took over a team that was 0-5 and I ended up having a winning record. No risk no fun? I would not have taken this job if I hadnt wanted to compete and take it personal. I am not concerned what happened before now, but I am fully motivated here to keep the team in the Beko BBL. It really doesnt matter if I am coaching the U-12 or the Beko BBL team, I am here to make the team better.
How risky is it playing with an eight man rotation?
I dont know, ask Lucca Staiger, he played 40 minutes tonight. We have a very special situation here in that we have four guys that are in their last year of school and are now getting ready to take their exams. Many guys have school, play with us, the NBBL team and the PRO A team Kirchheim. Besnik Bekteshi played in Tuebingen and is also taking exams. Everyone is here to help us, but it is up to me who plays. With the team getting in better shape, we can play more guys with less risk. I am proud that these guys come to practice at night to play against the pros despite having to get ready for the exams. I dont think that there are many other BBL teams that have this type of situation.
Are the Neckar Riesen Ludwigsburg in the drivers seat now against the Fraport Skyliners who have three tough games against Berlin, Ulm and Bamberg?
No we arent. All that matters is who we have played and who we still need to play. Frankfurt still has to play Giessen and that speaks for itself. I think at the moment that we are even with Frankfurt. We still play against many of the same opponents that Frankfurt had with Munich, Berlin and Artland. Frankfurt had some big wins the last weeks against Tuebingen. Frankfurt has improved a lot and have two new players. They look good. The most important thing now is that we concentrate only on ourselves. We need every win.
What have you liked the most about living in Ludwigsburg?
I like the food especially the Spaetzle. The people are straight here. It has been a good experience here for me. This is an easy place to work. I can concentrate 100% on my job.
Chris Hass (ex Phoenix Hagen) signs at CEZ Nymburk - 24 minutes ago
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Defending champion CEZ Basketball Nymburk (NBL) landed 22-year old American swingman Chris Hass (196-86kg-94, college: Bucknell). He already started the season at Phoenix Hagen in German BBL league. In 11 games he averaged 11.2ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.4apg and 1.2spg this season. He received All-Patriot League 1st Team award in 2015 and 2016 at his college time. The previous (12-13) season Hass played at another team Bisons in U.S. semi-pro league NCAA1. But in 11 games he had just 1.8ppg. He helpe... [read more]
Defending champion CEZ Basketball Nymburk (NBL) landed 22-year old American swingman Chris Hass (196-86kg-94, college: Bucknell). He already started the season at Phoenix Hagen in German BBL league. In 11 games he averaged 11.2ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.4apg and 1.2spg this season. He received All-Patriot League 1st Team award in 2015 and 2016 at his college time. The previous (12-13) season Hass played at another team Bisons in U.S. semi-pro league NCAA1. But in 11 games he had just 1.8ppg. He helped them to win Patriot League Tournament. Hass just graduated from Bucknell University and it is his first season in pro basketball.
After departing from the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig yesterday, it didn't take German Jannik Freese (211-C/F-86, agency: Octagon Europe) long to find a new team as he has returned to an old stomping ground with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Freese is a 30 year old 211cm center that has 10 years of BBL experience having played with Braunschweig, Giesen, Oldenburg, Alba Berlinand Bremerhaven amassing a total of 250 games. He played with Oldenburg from 2011-2014 playing a total of 93 BBl game... [read more]
After departing from the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig yesterday, it didn't take German Jannik Freese (211-C/F-86, agency: Octagon Europe) long to find a new team as he has returned to an old stomping ground with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Freese is a 30 year old 211cm center that has 10 years of BBL experience having played with Braunschweig, Giesen, Oldenburg, Alba Berlinand Bremerhaven amassing a total of 250 games. He played with Oldenburg from 2011-2014 playing a total of 93 BBl games. This season with Braunschweig, he played 12 games averaging 6,3ppg and 3,3rpg.
"We are happy that we were able to get a big man like Jannik in a phase now where there aren't many options to get a big man. We don't want to have that situation again like we had in the playoffs against Ulm or Alba Berlin where we came into situations that we couldn't solve. Many will remember him from his days with Oldenburg. What convinced us was his game experience with his many teams.This has helped his deveopment again", stressed CEO Herman Schuller. "I am very happy to return back to Oldenburg. I am meeting many known faces again. It is means a lot to me to be able to play at home again. I know the coaches an dthat had a big influence for my return", stressed Jannik Freese.
Niklas Caner-Medley (203-F-83, college: Maryland, agency: BeoBasket) is a 33 year old 206cm power forward from Portland Maine that is playing his 11th professional season and first with AS Monaco Basket (France-ProA). He played the last two seasons with BK Astana (Kazakhstan-D1) and last season played VTB League: 17 games: Score-3 (18.2ppg), 7.9rpg, 1.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 58.3%, 3PT: 41.7%, FT: 85.7%; FIBA Europe Cup: 6 games: 14.5ppg, 8.5rpg, 1.7apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 44.0%, FT: 73.... [read more]
Niklas Caner-Medley (203-F-83, college: Maryland, agency: BeoBasket) is a 33 year old 206cm power forward from Portland Maine that is playing his 11th professional season and first with AS Monaco Basket (France-ProA). He played the last two seasons with BK Astana (Kazakhstan-D1) and last season played VTB League: 17 games: Score-3 (18.2ppg), 7.9rpg, 1.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 58.3%, 3PT: 41.7%, FT: 85.7%; FIBA Europe Cup: 6 games: 14.5ppg, 8.5rpg, 1.7apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 44.0%, FT: 73.7%. He has also played in countries like Germany, Italy and in Israel for top team Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv (Israel-Premier League). He played most of his career in Spain in the Endesa league for six seasons with teams like Malaga, Estudiantes Madrid Gran Canaria, Sevilla and Valencia. He also played at Maryland from 2002-2006 playing a total of 127 NCAA games reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2003. He spoke to eurobasket about basketball.
Nik thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. Welcome back to Germany. You played as a rookie in Germany for the Artland Dragons and have played in Germany over the years like against Alba Berlin in the Euroleague. With what kind of feeling do you have returning back to Germany? I have great memories of my time in Germany. Playing for coach Fleming was a great experience, he helped prepare me for the rest of my career in Europe. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and as a man, great guy and very hard worker. One of the things I remember most about my time in Germany was the fans. All of the teams had great support from their fans and it was really fun to be a part of such a passionate basketball culture.
It was 10 years ago where you were a rookie in Germany with the Artland Dragons. If someone had told you then that a boy from Maine would still be playing professional 10 years later and be living in Monte Carlo what would you have thought? I had big dreams and goals as a rookie. I have always believed with all of my heart that if you put in the time and dedicate yourself to your craft, you will find success. Over the past 10 years I have worked very hard and I am proud of the results. I am grateful to have played in some great places for some great clubs. If you had told me I would be playing in Monaco 10 years later I would have said I guess hard work truly does pay off.
You are playing your first season with AS Monaco Basket (France-ProA). You have played for top teams in Spain and Israel and seen it all, but how do your previous experiences with homes in Europe compare to where your living now in the glitz in Monte Carlo? Monaco is a beautiful place. I have been very fortunate to play in some amazing places, Madrid, Gran Canaria, Malaga, Valencia, Tel Aviv, Sevilla, some really nice cities. What makes here in Monaco so special is my teammates and the people in the organization. We have such a great group of guys and we all get along so well, our coaches, the management, our owner, they are such high character people on and off the court, when you combine that with how beautiful Monaco is, it has been a great experience so far.
Monaco is currently at the top of the France Pro A and despite keeping only four players and adding eight new one's have had little problems meshing. What do you feel has been key for the good start? It seems the team has a lot of experience also As I mentioned we have a great group. We have some veteran players who understand what it takes to win and how to prepare, as well as some young players who are very talented and coachable. Coach Mitrovic keeps our focus on defense and playing together, he is a great coach and that has helped our chemistry. Most importantly all of us are committed to winning. A lot of teams say they want to win but in reality most of the players are most concerned with their personal stats. We all talk about our roles with each other so its very clear to everyone and we are all on the same page. We have no selfish players in our locker room.
What is also interesting is that Monaco distributes minutes like a Euroleague team with no player playing more than 28 minutes. Plus the club is very deep. How beneficial will this become in the post season?
We play a lot of games and travel a lot. Coach keeps our minutes around 20 minutes to allow us to put maximum effort on defense and help keep us fresh when we have a tough schedule. We have an entire roster who is capable of having big impacts on the game and this is a huge asset for us. We are missing one of the top guards in Europe Jamal Shuler, and one of the best young bigs in Brandon Davies. Having this depth is very key right now and we need to fight for them because we know how bad they want to be back on the court.
AS Monaco has many valuable scoring options. Where are you fitting in this offense at the moment and what is your role?
We talk about how you know never who is going to 'get you' when teams scout us. We have a lot of guys who can make plays and that makes us difficult to defend. It obviously hurts us not having our leading scorer with Jamal out, but we have different guys who step up every game. Our scoring is very balanced and we play very unselfish as a team. We want to win a championship. Over the last 10 years I have played with and against some true winners and I have learned a lot from them. My role is whatever the game requires, rebounding is always important, making plays when we need it, or trying to take whatever team we plays power forward out of the game as much as possible. Overall I am committed to doing whatever it takes to help this organization and my teammates find success. My only goals for this season involve winning. I don't care at all about any personal goals, all I want to do is win championships. I want to see the younger players on this team have a successful season, they work hard and deserve it.
After some years of having solid years, you had a great season last year with BK Astana (Kazakhstan-D1): VTB League: 17 games: Score-3 (18.2ppg), 7.9rpg, 1.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 58.3%, 3PT: 41.7%, FT: 85.7%; FIBA Europe Cup: 6 games: 14.5ppg, 8.5rpg, 1.7apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 44.0%, FT: 73.7%. How refreshing was it having a season like this into your 30's? Feeling good as you get into your 30s is all about taking care of your body during the season and during the offseason. I had some up and downs physically in Astana, it was a big adjustment in terms of the travel and took a toll on my body. I learned a lot from that experience and I am very grateful for it. I learned a lot of ways to help prepare your body for long road trips and tough weather, all things that make you tougher physically and mentally.
You have played Euroleague and in the Endesa, but how far away is the VTB league from being in the same level class as them or is it?
The VTB has some tough teams and tough players. It is a very physical league and when you talk about teams like CSKA, UNICS, Zenit, Kuban, and Khimky you are talking about some top teams in Europe. I was impressed with the quality of the talent on the Russian teams. The players are tough, athletic, and they don't back down. They always come to fight. I see the VTB building a reputation as one of the toughest leagues in Europe.
You played in Spain in the best league in Europe for 6 years. In that time you also played NBA Summer League five times. Did you feel like you were at one time or another close to getting an NBA job?
I don't know if I was close to getting into the NBA. I thought I had a good shot at it after my career at Maryland and was hoping to get drafted. After that I played in the summer leagues not only to see if any NBA teams had interest, but to also improve my chances of getting good jobs in Europe. I wouldn't change a thing. My time in Europe has been dreams becoming reality. Where I am from not a lot of players have had the opportunity to play 11 years as a pro basketball player and I feel very blessed and grateful for every minute of this privilege, I had to work for this, none of this was handed to me, so I don't take it for granted.
You played two seasons with Asefa Estudiantes Madrid (Spain-ACB) and was teammates with ex Skyliner Tyrone Ellis who now after some years paying his dues as an assistant is head coach of the Arizona D-league team. What do you believe stood out most when describing his unique character? I told Tyrone the impact he had on my career. He showed me what a true pro is all about. Not only his approach at the gym but his discipline off the court as well. He is a great friend, teammate, husband, father, and now coach. I have the utmost respect for that man and I appreciate the time I had with him in Madrid and Sevilla
What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Germany where you knew that you were far away from home? But on the other hand Artland must have seemed as barren as Maine at times? Lol
When I was in Artland I was in the gym. I was coming back from an injury from summer league that caused me to miss most of my rookie season and that was tough. I had a chip on my shoulder and that was a time where I found that I was comfortable with putting in the work it takes to have a chance to be successful. I enjoy putting in extra time. I didn't have a problem with the small town vibe because all I wanted to do was play and work, I felt I had a lot to prove and I saw a lot of Americans in Europe having great careers and Artland is where I set my goals.
How important was head coach Chris Fleming for you in your first season overseas? What was the most important thing that you picked up from him? Coach Fleming was a hard worker. I respected how prepared he always was. He took his job very seriously and that motivated me as a rookie. I saw his attention to details and I learned a lot from his approach. I am not surprised at all with how much success he has had because he dedicates himself and he is a great guy.
Adam Hess was tearing up the German BBL when you were there? What do you still remember from his positive character that still stands out today? Hess was a fighter. He was very competitive and I admired that. He was a fun guy to be around and a great teammate. I mentioned playing with guys over my career that exemplified what winning takes and he is one of those guys. He was a winner, a hard nosed guy who always showed up to fight.
You never made it to the NBA, but did play against Kobe Bryant at the Rucker Park League in Harlem. What did you learn about Kobe the player and person that you hadn't known before having this experience?
The whole experience of playing at Rucker was a lot of fun. I always tell my friends when I was walking to the court in Harlem a guy across the street yelled 'hey mike!' 'Mike!!' 'Dunleavaaaaayy' He thought I was Mike Dunleavy and I thought that was pretty funny. Playing against Kobe was cool, I matched up against him once and he of course went at me and I just fouled him, I wasn't trying to be on the AND 1 mixtape that summer.
Who was the toughest player that you played against in the NCAA that made the NBA? The toughest player I saw in college was my teammate Steve Blake. This week a lot of people have been sending me the video when he got in a little scrap at a pick up game during the summer and that was a quick glimpse of what Blake was all about. He was so competitive, tough and hated to lose. He was a great senior to learn from when I was a freshman. He looked out for me and was a great leader.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose? My NBA Rushmore would be Jordan, Bird, Kobe, and Lebron. In my lifetime those are the legends that have had the biggest impact on my experience as a fan.
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 its all said and done you have to put Lebron in the top 5. The impact he has had on our generation of players is undeniable.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
From what I have seen KG has to rank as one of the toughest competitors of all time. He passion for the game is amazing and how he impacted the way people looked at the PF position is legendary. He was a 7 footer playing like a guard.
What was the last movie that you saw? Last movie I saw was War Dogs, it was good. I watch a lot of movies when we travel.
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