It is never easy to start from scratch after a successful era has ended. Likeable point guard Tim Black had left in 2008 going to Belgium breaking free from the three musketeers leaving only Steve Esterkamp and Marius Nolte. In the summer of 2009, the three remaining parts coach Doug Spradley, Steve Esterkamp and Marius Nolte that had built the club Paderborn into a second league powerhouse, reaching the BBL and crowning their stay with the teams first ever playoff appearance taking Alba Berlin to five games in the Quarterfinal playoffs left. The commander from the sidelines coach Doug Spradley went to Bremerhaven taking Steve Esterkamp with him and Marius Nolte went to The Deutsche Bank Skyliners. Even though so many positive parts to their past have left doesn´t necessarily mean the end of the world.
“It is always tough to rebuild, because a team has to change many things and get used to new things, but sometimes change have been positive for teams”, added American Ricky Hickman.
Now the team needs to find a new identity and success quickly.
“It is never easy to find a new identity. Everyone knew before the season, that we would be playing against relegation. Unfortunately we are at the bottom. We have no big stars and need to play as a team. If we can gain some kind of self confidence, that would be so important. We need to work on playing better defense and just fighting as a team. The team is talented and the guys have to learn and understand that they can win as a team”, stressed Paderborn Baskets assistant coach Artur Gacaev.
The Paderborn Baskets are one of the youngest teams in the BEKO BBL and nobody expects the club to reach the playoffs at the start of a new era. With coach Olaf Stolz, the team have an energetic coach who likes to work with young talent and showed that he could be successful with Rhoendorf of the PRO B. He didn´t have much of an budget to work with and got a mix of American rookies and guys that had played in Europe. A plus was getting Malik Moore who at 32 has the most experience and is the only real experienced player on the team. It didn´t help the team that they had a nine game losing streak at the start of the season.
“The team has a young coach and the team has been very inconsistent. There are many young players and many need to find responsibility. It didn´t help the team starting with a big losing streak. I hope the team will catch itself. It won´t be an easy season. With Giessen starting to win and I see Duesseldorf as stronger, it won´t be easy for them to get out of the bottom”, said Skyliner center Marius Nolte.
The poor start doesn´t necessarily have to do with the talent level.
“Paderborn has a good team with some good players. I played against Deandre Haynes and Sefton Barrett and they are good players. Malik Moore can play and Matt Terwillger helps inside. Paderborn just has to put it all together”, stressed ex Paderborn guard Steven Wright.
“I have never been on a team that has lost nine games in a row. It has been tough not being able to play and help the team. We are a young team and inexperienced. When we get down in games, we tend to take shots that we normally don´t take to get back into games. We have been working on our defense principles and perfectioning our offense system”, warned Paderborn center Nathan Gerwig.
“The Paderborn Baskets are a very athletic team, can take you off the dribble, but aren´t a good shooting team”, said Giessen 46er guard David Teague.
Marius Nolte had a reunion playing against his old team and following the game and despite the Paderborn loss, he was cheered on by their fans and was swarmed by autograph seekers long after Derrick Allen and co had entered the locking room. It was a big game for the friendly 28 year old German and was able to give his parents a win who once again made the trip for an away game.
“It was a great game and it was a great experience to play against my old team. I am happy that it worked out well and we won the game”, stressed Marius Nolte.
One also quickly noticed that the Paderborn fans had no hard feelings that Nolte had left, but moreover still had him in their hearts and felt like he was still a Padorborner especially as he was shooting free throws.
“They were chanting while I was throwing free throws and saying ‘Marius is a real Paderborner boy’. I shot four for four from the free throw line and thanked them afterwards for their support”, laughed Marius Nolte.
After a slow start in the first half, Nolte reappeared in the third quarter reborn and on a mission to turn Murat Didin´s expression from a frown to a wide smile.
“Greg Jenkins was unlucky and got his third foul which took us out of our rhythm. But Marius Nolte came in and did his job getting rebounds and scoring. This was one of his best games this season”, stressed Skyliner Sport director Kamil Novak.
Nolte always brings energy, but it doesn´t always work positive.
“I wasn´t in the game in the first half. I brought energy and intensity in the third quarter and it worked well. In some games, my energy is there despite fouls and missed shots, but tonight I hit shots and my confidence grew which allowed me to be successful”, stressed Marius Nolte.
The Paderborn Baskets are a team that definitely have talent, but there are some chief ingredients missing which is keeping the team from being anywhere else then near the bottom of the BEKO BBL standings. Guys like DeAndre Haynes and Sefton Barrett have a lot of talent and showed it in the Ballsorthalle. The inside game has potential and 24 year old BBL rookie Kevin Langford from Texas Christian University played with a lot of confidence and anything like a rookie. Ohio State alumnist and 2006 Big Ten player of the year Terrence Dials can play and needs to use his body to his advantage at all times, but has disadvantages on defense on the pick and role. The team has little experience except for Malik Moore who is their leader, but coach Olaf Stolz doesn´t have the power to insert some kind of power booster on to his back to win games.
“A guy like Malik Moore has experience and can play, but he can´t win the game by himself”, stressed Paderborn Baskets assistant about Malik Moore.
Ex Ohio State player Matt Terwilliger has a lot of potential and can play inside and out, but is too inconsistent. The team is very inexperienced and a coach with Olaf Stolz still needs to learn the ropes. All in all, the team has many interesting parts, but they all don’t seem to fit together like a puzzle.
The biggest disappointment this season for The Paderborn Baskets has been 25 year old 191 cm guard Lawrence Borha from New York. He is only averaging 4,0ppg and 1,2rpg in 15 games after averaging 11.7ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.5apg in his senior year at Utah. He has one big problem that he can perform, but only at 50% of the time and not when it counts most in games.
“Lawerence Borha is a very good player. He shows it in each practice. He shoots very well and defends well, but then when he is in game, he is unable to carry it over. It is a mental problem. He has a good attitude and wants to win. He needs to click in games. He needs a very good game to help his confidence”, stated Paderborn Baskets assistant coach Artur Gacaev.
After the 78-67 loss to The Deutsche Bank Skyliners, Bortha hung around in the Ballsporthalle waiting for his teammates to get dressed for the bus ride home and seemed pensive about the loss and his own performance. His stat line was more like the icy temperatures outside than the hot temperatures in the Caribbean as he had 0 points on 0/2 shooting, one rebound and one foul in 12 minutes.
“It has been such an up and down season for me. I have had so many opportunities to do well. It is really hard when you only play 10 minutes. If I have a bad start, than I know that I probably won´t play much. I know that coach still has confidence in me and all I can do is continue to work hard in practice and do the best that I can in games”, stated Lawrence Borha.
26 year old 198cm forward Canadian Sefton Barrett left a lasting impression in the Ballsporthalle finishing as the Paderborn top scorer with 18 points, five rebounds and three steals. He reminds one a bit of Ratiopharm Ulm American Rocky Trice with his athletic ability and weaving inside the lanes. He is an explosive athlete with a long wingspan, great slasher who gets in the lane when he wants to, finishes above the rim but also can pull up for the mid range jumper. He is very difficult to stop because of his quickness and athletic ability, is able to create his own shot, possesses good ball handling skills, can defend all outside positions and is a very effective player who brings lots of energy to the team when he is on the floor. He showed his spin moves a few times and made some Skyliners dizzy and really hurt Frankfurt in the lane. After playing at Central Michigan and in Poland the last two seasons, he will attempt to win his second Allstar Slam Dunk contest in Bonn in 2010 after winning last season in Poland. It was also no surprise which player he respects the most.
“I really look up to Michael Jordan, but I have also always liked Mr Air Canada Vince Carter. He has an all around game and does a bit of everything like I do”, commented Sefton Barrett.
When thinking about who might be the early season MVP of the Paderborn Baskets, then one would probably mention 32 year old American Malik Moore, but who is the teams unsung hero who has done a lot, but not received the credit for it?
“DeAndre Haynes has really helped the team. He had good games against Duesseldorf, MBC and Frankfurt. His biggest asset is that he makes really good decisions. He does not think a lot, but just makes the right plays if it means shooting, going to the hoop or passing. He has a good shot and a good technique. We don´t really have a guy like Haynes who can make such good decisions”, stressed Paderbron Baskets assistant coach Artur Gacaev.
Haynes is an excellent distributor of the basketball and also is the team’s best on-ball defender and possesses tremendous quickness and continues to improve as a jump shooter. Currently he is averaging 9,1ppg, 2,9rpg and 2,3apg. His game is on fire at the moment as he has scored in double figures in the last four games and will be a vital piece to the success of Paderborn down the stretch.
24 year old 203cm forward Kevin Langford from Fort Worth Texas has played well as a BEKO BBL rookie scoring in double figures eight times and registering two double doubles. He has gotten better as the season has progressed and can be a very dangerous duo down low with Terrence Dials and Matt Terwilliger.
“Langford has developed very well. He has done a very good job under the basket. He has a clear head and stays calm on the court, which is not always present with a rookie. He can make the big points and has made some important baskets for us this season”, stressed Paderbron Baskets assistant Artur Gacaev.
Three years ago, 22 year old 191cm guard Nicolai Simon was on his way to making a name as a German for top team Alba Berlin as he played a strong rookie season playing 33 games and averaging 2.4ppg, 1.0rpg and being rewarded with the BBL rookie of the year. However in 2007-2008, he suffered a severe injury and played only five games thus limiting his development. Last season, there was no room for the German A-2 National player so he uncharacteristically took two steps back into the PRO B and played for Ergas Ehingen averaging 16.7ppg, 4.3rpg, 3.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 71.4%. He got an offer from The Paderborn Baskets last summer and was promised that he would get playing time. Coach Olaf Stolz held his word as Simon has averaged 20 minutes this season averaging 5,1ppg, 1,2rpg and 1,1apg. He has been splitting time at the point guard position with Malik Moore and Deandre Haynes. A team like Paderborn is the perfect situation for Simon since he can get playing time and develop further with less pressure than playing for a top team. The only negative thing is that the team has pressure to win which puts added pressure on him. He played solid against Frankfurt nailing a three pointer and Paderborn seems content with his development, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
“Nico has a lot of potential. He is a very intelligent player. An advantage in his game is that he makes the game safe and keeps our offensive controlled. He can still improve a lot and we think that he can get very good in the future”, added Paderborn Baskets Assistant coach Artur Gacaev.
Since the nine game losing streak, The Paderborn Baskets have played better winning two of five games and still have a chance to get out of the bottom standings and find a spot in the middle field of the standings.
“We really needed those wins against Ratopharm Ulm and MBC and we have been playing better the last weeks. The team has been playing longer together and the guys know who has to score. We have a young team that had never played together before and the guys didn´t understand their rolls. Now everything is slowly starting to fall into place”, stated Paderborn Baskets assistant coach Artur Gacaev.
The season is still long and one advantage that Paderborn has is that they can play basketball and stay with teams. They now have to learn to be strong in the fourth quarter and put games away. That is easier said then done, but Paderborn has solid players and just need to engrave the phrase “We can win in this league” in their mind and just believe it.
“A big problem is that when we are down in a game, too many different guys try to take the game into their hands and we lose that togetherness that is always needed on the court. If we are down, we tend to fall apart. We have to get all players into the game better and get our transition game stronger if we want to stay in the league”, warned Paderborn Baskets assistant coach Artur Gacaev.
The worst thing for any team to do is hang their heads and to give up to soon like Paris Hilton did in her hit TV series “The Simple Life” as life on a farm was nothing like the hot tubs of Beverly Hills and to sound the alarm bells to early especially as there is still more than half the season to go.
“A positive thing in our loss to Frankfurt was that we stuck together and we need to keep this attitude in the second half of the season to get out of the bottom”, warned Paderborn Baskets American DeAndre Haynes.
“We have to keep believing in ourselves, keep playing defense and not let up and we will come out of the bottom”, stressed Paderborn baskets forward Sefton Barrett.