Over time the world has witnessed the grace and beauty of world class ballerinas like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Frederick Ashton or Erik Bruhn and Frankfurt basketball fans have had their very own hoops ballerina with Derrick Allen the last three years who made the zone his own pretty dancing area as he glided, cat stepped and side stepped around opponents with ease often letting his man look more like a lost puppy weeping for its mother than an aggressive defender trying to shut him down. As training camp has started in Frankfurt, the BCM facility is missing a touch of gracefulness in the zone as Derrick Allen is no longer around as he signed a contract with 8 time BEKO BBL champion Alba Berlin earlier this summer. This will be Allen´s 7th season in Germany and now has reached the big time going to a Euroleague calibur team. Allen played in Frankfurt for three years reaching the playoffs each season, but was unable to win a title as he lost a heartbreaker in game 5 of the 2010 finals to the Brose Baskets Bamberg. “. Losing game 5 was very tough, because we were so close and let it slip away at the end. It was a great playoff run that we had, and when you play a game 5 like that you dont want no team too loose, but we did, and congrats too Bamberg, but it has motivated me for this season”, warned Derrick Allen.
In his three years for the Deutsche Bank Skyliners, Allen played 128 BEKO BBL games averaging 15,1ppg, 5,9rpg and 1,6apg and shot 52,3% from the field. In the 2007-2008 season, he was the second top scorer in the league averaging 18,1ppg. He also played 20 international games. Many were hoping that D.A which everyone calls him except for ex coach Murat Didin who calls everyone Babba might return for a fourth season, but the Gadsen Alabama native decided to make the next step. “Leaving Frankfurt was tough, because of the great years I had with all of those guys. It was a place that was truly like home and a great family atmosphere. I will miss everything, from my apartment in Sachsenhausen too my teammates, organization and the fans just Everybody. But leaving Frankurt to go too Alba Berlin was the right move too make at the right time”, stressed Allen. After some strong scoring seasons early in his career in Karlsruhe and Leverkusen(2007 BEKO BBL scoring champion), it wasn´t until he came to Frankfurt that he was more recognized for his ability on the court from Eurobasket as he was Eurobasket.com All-German Bundesliga Forward of the Year in 2008, Eurobasket.com All-German Bundesliga 1st Team 2008 and 2010 and Eurobasket.com German Bundesliga All-Imports Team 2008 and 2010.
At the age of 30, Derrick Allen now enters a new phase in his basketball career as he is playing for top European team Alba Berlin. Alba Berlin last won the BEKO BBL league title in 2008 and have a lot to prove this season. It is no secret that Alba Berlin form rosters each season as strong as Fort Knox, but for some reason it wasn´t talent holding back the 8 time BEKO BBL team last season. “My experience playing against Berlin and talking to other guys who’ve played them is that they rely on their talent to win, but dont really play hungry or with emotion which is why they don’t win in the playoffs”, stated ex TBB Trier forward Ernest Scott. Allen knew coming to Berlin that his basketball life will change 180 degrees and with so much talent things might not always go the way he wants from what he experienced in Karlsruhe, Leverkusen and Frankfurt. “The opportunity too play for such a big name club not only in Germany, but in Europe is truly a blessing and I am very grateful for the opportunity that Alba has given me”, expressed Allen. Allen is in his prime and for Ernest Scott possibly not even at the height of his basketball career yet. “You hit your prime at ages 28-34, that’s when you have the best combo of experience, physical condition, and skill. I’ve been around Derrick in the summer. He’s a gym rat so he’s always getting better, and he takes care of himself. I think he will play like he has something to prove. I also think he is underrated in that, he has the ability and the way he plays he should be a Euroleague level guy. A good season in Berlin will definitely open high level European doors for him”, warned Scott.
Alba Berlin met up weeks ago in Berlin and polished their skills in Slovenia recently far away from the O2 World arena only a short distance from the wall that once divided the city. One thing hasn´t changed for Allen. The intensity of practices that he witnessed under Murat Didin and now Serb legend Luka Pavicevic that belonged to the glory days of Split winning three consecutive Euroleague titles in the late 80s. “Training camp was good. We were in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. Its a nice place, quiet with the mountains around us. We practiced very hard. And the team is really pushing ourselves too get ready for the German league and for European competition also. Both coaches are the same kind of with the style of coaching. They are both very intense during practice and expect a lot from their players. Coach Pavicevic is really focused from start too the end of practice and Murat would be more loose during practice”. Stated Allen. In the early going it seems like Pavicevic and Allen have found the same basketball wave length. “Our relationship is very good so far. I like the way he coaches. His game style on offense and defense is very good. He gives you the confidence too go out and play your game which I like a lot”, commented Allen. Allen also has impressed his new teammates. “Derrick has been fitting in well. He has shown his athletic ability, running up and down the court and done what coach has told him”, elaborated Immanuel Mcelroy.
Wherever Derrick Allen has played, he has mostly been the go to guy. As a rookie in Iceland in 2003 for Keflavikur, he averaged 23,4ppg, 10.5rpg in 22 games. Then he played for BG Karlsruhe averaging 34 minutes from 2004-2006. In the 2006-2007 season, his minutes dipped to 27 in Leverkusen, but he was still the go to guy and very efficient leading the BEKO BBL in scoring with 16,5ppg. In his first season in Frankfurt, he was the workhorse averaging 36 minutes per game and averaging 19,7ppg in the regular season. In 2008-2009, his minutes dipped dramatically to 26 minutes per game as did his scoring to 13,0ppg. This was the first time in his professional career where he got less minutes and had to accept the new role on a team that had many scoring options like Keith Simmons, Titus Ivory or Ilian Evtimov However Allen took it like a professional and played to win and not for his stats. Last season, he was slightly under 30 minutes averaging 14,4ppg. Now he is playing for a team that has a potent 12 man roster. Could it be possible that he might play less than 20 minutes and will he be primarly a power forward or center? Power forward is his natural position, but he can play center. The position four is crowded with Sven Schultze and Tadija Dragicevic while the center position has veteran and former Euroleague winner Patrik Femerling and German National player Yassin Idbihi that was one of the last cuts for The World Championships and will want to prove something quickly in Berlin. “My role with Alba, will be too play the 5 and some 4 position. And just play my game, score points in the paint, rebound, defend, and get easy baskets. I just want to give them something that the team didnt have last season. Since I will be playing a lot of 5, I will have too continue too work on my post up game, and my mid range jump shots and be ready when my time comes during the games”, warned Allen. “He would be a great 4, with his skill set. I think he would be limited at the 5. He has improved his jumper and still plays well with his back to the basket”, stressed Ernest Scott.
Allen already got an introduction to less playing time by his ex coach Murat Didin in Frankfurt in the 2008-2009 season as his minutes got shaved drastically. Allen will play no 30 minutes in Berlin and he knows that. Basketball players can be egotistical, but Allen is the complete opposite as he often showed last season withdrawing from presenting his slick ballerina moves out of the post and firing a quick pass to the open man. Allen knows that he will spend more time on the bench with Alba Berlin than any team that he has ever played for as a professional. “.I am ok with that. Teams like Barcelona dont have a player that plays more that 22-23minutes per game. So I would be ok with playing 20mins a game. I will just have too be productive and play my game during that time. Having a deep team, helps you during the playoffs. With the 4 and 5 positions being crowded, I think guys have to just come in a work hard, and earn their minutes and I am willing too do that”, stressed Allen. 2006 BEKO BBL champion with Cologne Immanuel Mcelroy also knows that Allen has only one goal and wont worry about his minutes. “We have a lot of talented players at the position 4 and 5. If Derrick can bring what he did in Frankfurt than we will be fine. The most important thing for him is winning not his minutes”, added Immanuel Mcelroy.
This will be the fourth season for Alba Berlin coach Luka Pavicevic and so far he has had three successes in Berlin winning the BEKO BBL title in 2008, BEKO BBL cup in 2009 and reaching the Eurocup final in 2010. However in Berlin there is always pressure to win as much as possible. On paper, the 2010-2011 Alba Berlin team is one of the early favorites with the Brose Baskets Bamberg to win some serious hardware in 2011. In the last two years, Alba Berlin had a lot of talent, but not the right mesh of player personalities. This years team seems to have the right mix early “The guys are all working very hard. I mean we have a good mix of Americans, Germans, and we have a couple of Serbian players. And we are all getting along well, talking too each other. We are getting to know one another which I think is a great thing right now. But the character of this team is great. Everyone comes in and works everyday”, said Allen. The missing link that the team might have been missing the last two seasons in terms of the perfect character to hold the team together might have been a Derrick Allen type of player. “Derrick will give them more intensity. He always goes hard and plays with heart. I don’t think he’ll let them lose”, stressed Ernest Scott. “Derrick will be very important for us because of his strong character. If we can stay healthy, get it together and get on the same page than I think we can win the title”, warned Immanuel Mcelroy.
For Allen who is a devoted Indianapolis Colts fans, it might not be a compliment about having ballerina moves, but god gave him a very special gift and his play in the zone just happens to look extremely graceful and many players would die to have his talent. His teammate Mcelroy is very happy to have Allen on the team and knows he wont moonlight as a ballerina later in life. “He will really help with his moves in the zone. I am positive that he will never be a ballerina. He will stick to basketball always”, joked Immanuel Mcelroy. A few years ago, ex Skyliner Lorenzo Gordon supposedly burned his hands on the stove cooking and was unable to play basketball for a while. If Allen ever has the misfortune of not having the use of his hands then one might find him on the indoor track on a rainy day in Berlin. Last season in pre season in Frankfurt, Allen ran a 10,7 for the 100 meters and was already trash talking in the direction of Usain Bolt in a playful way. So far Allen hasn´t found the track in Berlin, but is still confident about his sprinting talent. “. We dont run the 100 meters here in Berlin so I cant tell you right now, but I could be at 10.3 right now I think”, joked Allen. Allen´s friend Ernest Scott apparently had no idea about his hidden talent. “I am impressed by the 10.7. I don’t know, Usain can probably back pedal that time. But get Usain in the post and it’ll be just as bad of a mismatch”, joked Scott. Right now Allen might be dreaming of beating Usain Bolt in the 100 meters, but his main focus now is basketball and winning and he will continue to dance around opponents in the BEKO BBL arenas this season doing what he does best and just outworking everyone else.