This season, the BEKO BBL has so many strong teams, but not every club has a deep roster. The three clubs with the deepest rosters have to be Alba Berlin, Artland Dragons and The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. MEG Goettingen reached the playoffs last season, but lost top players Kyle Bailey, Rocky Trice and Charles Lee. This season, the team is not as strong as last season on paper and have no superstar presently, but have one in the making with American Chris Oliver. The team has many young players, but the club has found the right page early in the season winning games in the BEKO BBL and their first two games in the Eurochallenge. Many teams have had bad experiences with MEG Goettingen this season especially The Paderborn Baskets who got routed 97-70.
“It is so hard to prepare against MEG Goettingen who pressure you non stop for 40 minutes. I didn´t think it would be like them when we played them, but it felt like we were playing 8-5, because they were everywhere on the court. A team should prepare by playing 7 or 8 on 5 in practice or just have patience and break their press. Once you beat their pressure then you will be ok and then you have to try to execute the offense”, warned American DeAndre Haynes of The Paderborn Baskets.
Even though that MEG Goettingen has no real star, they have 12 guys that can play.
“MEG Goettingen plays well as a team. You can´t prepare for just one player, because every guy is a threat at any given time. They have so many players that can score 15 points, so its hard to prepare for that”, stressed ex Giessen 46er guard Ricky Hickman.
A team has to be mentally tough and be smart on the court when playing MEG Goettingen.
“A team really has to let their mind wonder how they have to stop this team, since you can´t focus on just one player. A team has to test their mental toughness with MEG Goettingen. If Frankfurt doesn´t focus and put the team away early, then they can cause trouble late in the game”, warned ex Nordlingen forward Omari Westley.
The return of MEG Göttingen back to the big show two seasons ago in the BBL was a positive surprise as the team had not smelt BBL air for 19 years. Before the deregulation in the 80´s, Göttingen had always had a top Basketball tradition that marked its climax in the 80´s as they won three BBL titles in 1980, 1983 and 1984 under the legendary American coach Terry Schofield. In a country, where Soccer is by far the #1 sport, it is all the more curious when a sport like Basketball is still #1 in Göttingen after 19 years of not being in the BBL.
”It is great for me too see how much Basketball has developed in the last two seasons in Göttingen. When we won the second division north league two years ago, the people didn´t really notice so much. Back then we played in a small gym, but now the support is so big in the Lokhalle. I get stopped all over the place for autographs. Now it is a big deal”, said Kyle Bailey.
“Göttingen stands for tradition in Basketball”, stressed Skyliner coach Murat Didin.
Last season, MEG Goettingen were the big surprise team of the season leading the standings for many months as teams were unable to adjust to their 40 minutes of basketball hell. They lost in the first round of the playoffs against The Brose Baskets Bamberg without Kyle Bailey and Charles Lee. Don’t let the current 13th place position of MEG Goettingen fool you, because they have a 7-3 record and are the top scoring team in the BEKO BBL averaging 85 points per game without a star name like a Julius Jenkins, Derrick Allen, Immanuel Mcelroy of Rickey Paulding and unless they have massive injury problems or the swine sickness attacks Goettingen, then this team should be a playoff team come May 2010.
“They are in 6th place(Eurobasket standings) and I don’t see them changing their style. If they continue to put pressure on teams then I think that they will make the playoffs”, stressed DeAndre Haynes.
The team is currently riding on a four game winning streak and their biggest wins of the season have been against Bamberg and Bonn and they are 5-0 in the Lokhalle. The two back bone players of the team are Americans Chris Oliver and Ben Jacobson and BEKO BBL rookie Taylor Rochestie is making a name for himself and is a viable candidate for rookie of the year. The team is further filled with a few rookies and solid role players. The team also has some experience from last season, keeping five players. The team is not as strong as last season on paper, but have the advantage that the team has found their chemistry very early into the season. They are still a run and gun team, but not as strenuous as last season. They like the quick play, but also have a working set play and have an improved inside game with Chris McNaughton and Jason Boone and Chris Oliver helping out form the position four.
The conductor of the success in Goettingen the last two seasons has been American mastermind John Patrick. He went to Stanford and played professionally in Japan and Germany before becoming a coach in 1999. He coached some years in Japan and won the 2006 Superleague title with Toyota Alvark and won coach of the year. This will be his fifth season coaching in Goettingen. He led the team into the BBL in 2007. His biggest strength has been incorporating this wild and annoying 40 minutes of terror basketball, where the players are still able to concentrate in the offense and take good shots. Another big plus is that he knows how to lead the team and keep his players happy on and off the court.
“John Patrick is a players coach and doesn´t limit his players to play like robots. He lets them make mistakes and doesn´t act like it’s the end of the world. One of the reasons why Chris Oliver didn´t go was because he enjoyed the relationship with the coach. It is always a plus when players like playing for a coach”, commented Omari Westley.
Patrick is not only a plus with motivating his players, but also has a potent offense to go with the aggressive defense.
“Patrick is a good coach, because of his defensive philosophy and how hard he gets his players to play for him. He lets them play freely on offense and demands that they give 100% on defense. Most players would dream to play for a team like that”, expressed North Carolina native Ricky Hickman.
Everyone remembers the 40 minutes of hell that MEG Goettingen showed from last season and some opponents had mentioned that their wild kind of play still existed, but The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were not really confronted by this aggressive and annoying full court guard terror press, but were mostly beat in the half court defense.
“We practice more than a full court press defense in games. We have half court principals with trappings and rotations. We did cause a number of turnovers and we disrupted the flow of their offensive strategy”, stressed MEG Goettinge guard Cody Topper.
This defensive strategy seems to be working wonders for MEG Goettingen this season as the in your face defense is present in the full court and half court pressure.
“Goettingen was very aggressive, and didn´t have this normal full court press, but used the same tempo. They were very unpredicitable in the half court, causing traps and having no set rotation which was hard to play against”, added Skyliner American Seth Doliboa.
The MEG Goettingen play was close to 100% guard terror last season, but this season, they can afford to drastically cut back on the full court pressure and still be very successful.
“We were missing two guards and mostly played contain defense and were not aggressive as usual. We played great team defense. We played around 30%-35% full court press and the rest this contain type of defense where each guy knows exactly what they are doing”, commented Goettingen American Chris Oliver.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners didn´t see the extreme 40 minutes of hell from last season, but still had problems running their plays and finding a healthy flow which they never found in the 90-78 loss. How much of the style from last season has stayed from last season and what is different from last season?
“I don´t think that the style is that much different from last season? We have many new players, but it was hard to make a new team with three talented guys like Kyle Bailey, Charles Lee and Rocky Trice leaving. John Patrick did a great job making a new team that plays like a real team. We started well into the Eurochallenge. Jason Boone has developed nicely this season and we finally have a real center with Christopher McNaughton who has shown that he can play”, stated MEG Goettingen CEO Marc Franz.
This season MEG Goettingen has a record of 8-3 and teams continue to have problems with their aggressive style and the success is a combination between the players and the community of Goettingen.
“There is a special spirit in the team. Goettingen is a small town, but there still is a big euphoria in the city. The players get noticed in the city and are treated like stars. A big part also has to do that the players have accepted the community and are a part of the city. It helps that the players all have solid characters”, added Marc Franz.
Veteran Michael Meeks was recently signed as insurance for the Eurochallenge competition. A guy who was the fourth leading scorer in the 2000 Olympic games, played with NBA superstar Steve Nash at the World Championships and played in many countries in Europe, he has taken his limited role in stride and shown that his ego is put on the back burner.
“Meeks can help a lot off the court. He won´t get a lot of minutes, but him giving experience and talking to the younger guys is so valuable. He has European experience and is like an assistant coach”, commented Marc Franz.
Eisbaeren Bremerhaven coach Doug Spradley has a team full of stars now and had an easier job in Paderborn with shaping the egos, and John Patrick has a team with no superstar and might not be jealous of Spradley having his hands full in Bremerhaven.
“We have no superstars, but good players who are fighting for each other. Not having a superstar can be an advantage. We have many shoulders that carry the load on the court. We are more unpredictable than last year”, warned Marc Franz.
In Frankfurt, there was the Bermuda triangle with Pascal Roller, Chris Williams and Tyrone Ellis that won the BBL title in 2004 and were runner up in 2005 losing to Bamberg, while in Oldenburg, there is the FGP (field goal percentage) trio of Ricky Paulding, Jason Gardner and Je’Kel Foster who play as well together as Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin Mchale did in the 80s and were recently rewarded with the BBL title in 2009. MEG Goettingen has the trio of JOR. The first three letters don’t tell much, but most people would think of the first three letters of Michael Jordan´s last name, before coming upon the idea that the three guys meant are Ben Jacobson, Chris Oliver and Taylor Rochestie. This is a dangerous trio that are looking to do damage not only in the regular season, but in the playoffs. MEG Goettingen has three rookies with Dwayne Anderson, Chester Frazier and Taylor Rochestie. The biggest surprise has been Rochestie who has played like a season veteran currently averaging 14,3ppg, 2,0rpg and 3,0apg. He has scored in double figures nine times and took command against The Deutsche Bank Skyliners taking over for the sick Ben Jacobson playing 36 minutes and scoring 22 points and dishing out nine assists. Rochestie scored in so many ways including hitting the most difficult three pointers off the dribble and showing a rare confidence not seen often in the BBL. His most memorable basket was a drive to the hoop spinning and shovelling the ball around a Skyliner and off the glass and in. MEG Goettingen is extremely pleased with his play so far.
“Rochestie played Summer League for The Los Angeles Lakers with ex Goettingen player David Monds. He shows a lot of character on the court. He plays for the assist and wants to get guys involved. He takes a lot of responsibility and we are happy with his development”, stressed Marc Franz.
MEG Goettingen coach John Patrick didn´t hesistate at all for getting Taylor Rochestie involved into the offense and is happy how he has developed from a totally different system at Washington State to the MEG Goettingen system.
“When I was looking for a guard, I was told about Taylor Rochestie. He had played at a slow style at Washington State, but was told that despite this, he is able to make quick good decisions on the pick and role. He is improving all the time. He is a great shooter and fits perfectly to our system. He is more athletic than Dan Dickau. He looks like Beever Clever”, joked John Patrick.
His teammates also have been impressed with his strong play so early in the season.
“Taylor Rochestie is an important piece of our puzzle. His minutes are going up, because of the injury to Ben Jacobson. Taylor is always making guys better and is always looking to dish. He shoots well”, added MEG Goettingen guard Cody Topper.
Rochestie is one of the early favorites for BEKO BBL rookie of the year.
Chris Oliver is quietly the fourth best scorer in the BEKO BBL at the moment and would probably not get recognized anywhere outside Goettingen in Germany. He is averaging 17,7ppg, 6,3rpg, 1,2apg and 1,3spg in 28 minutes per game. He is the go to guy and took apart The Deutsche Bank Skyliners all over the court and the question is how much longer it will take until he will be mentioned in the same breath with the Pauldings, Jenkins, and Mcelroys of The BEKO BBL. MEG Goettingen is very happy that they have such a rare diamond on their roster.
“We give him a lot of confidence. John Patrick supports him very much and he has developed well. He is turning into a diamond on the court. He takes criticism very well and he has no star attitude at all and sees that all players have the same role”, said Marc Franz.
The biggest attribute of Oliver is surely that he has stayed grounded, which might come form his upbringing in North Carolina.
“I like recognition, but I think more for the team then for myself in terms of having success. It is nice to have individual successful, but at the end of the day it is more important to have success as a team than as a person. The most important thing is that the team is winning”, stressed Chris Oliver.
With the positive combination of mind and skill on the court, Chris Oliver is not only on the right road to stardom in the BEKO BBL, but could possibly flourish in higher leagues down the road.
MEG Goettingen doesn´t seem as strong as last season on paper, but the team works as a unit and that should translate into a successful season, but just how far can they go?
“It all depends how well we do in the Eurochallenge and if we stay injury free. The playoffs would be a great thing. We had a lot of fun last season in the playoffs. The team knows that that is the time when the real new season starts. We will do everything possible in getting there again this season”, warned Marc Franz.