A Conversation With Sean Sonderleiter(Ratiopharm Ulm)

Sean Sonderleiter is a 29 year old 206cm center who is playing his first season in Europe for Ratiopharm Ulm. He has a quick first step. He is the kind of a penetrator who attacks with the dribble and is capable of thunderous dunks. He played at Iowa from 2000-2004. He played in Australia in 2007 and 2008. In 2008, he played for Perry Lakes Hawks (Australia-SBL): 20 games: 23.9ppg, 12.5rpg, 2.8apg, 1.0spg, 1.5bpg, FGP: 56.0%, 3FGP: 20.0%, FT: 68.6%. In 2008-2009, he played for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (D-League), left in Jan.’09, but returned shortly after leaving: 33 games: 4.0ppg, 3.1rpg, 2FGP: 41.5%, FT: 65.0%. Last season, he played his second season for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (D-League): 45 games: 11.0ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 49.0%, FT: 72.3%. Recently he played Summer League in Las Vegas (New Orleans Hornets). He took some time to talk to German Hoops about basketball.

What is your childhood Halloween memory?

I remember dressing up and trick or treating and  take pillow cases and return home with so much candy. I would trade candy with my friends. I have not dressed up in the past 10 years.

Ratiopharm Ulm started the season slow losing fives games, but then won two games in a row. What changed and made the team more successful?

I think that it took us a while to get into this offensive and defensive rhythm. Rocky Trice came to the team and ignited our fast break play. We also started scoring more points with good defensive stops. Our defense started to ignite our offense. Good teams win a lot better when the offense rubs off their defense.

Everyone knows that Ratiopharm Ulm can score, but how consistent will the defense be this season?

We are playing more together on defense and our rotations are more understood between the players. We are more on the same page as well. John Bryant has been rebounding very well and our three pointers are falling more. When we show a good mix of defense, rebounding and hit three pointers, we will be hard to beat.

What can Ratiopharm Ulm do in the standings this season.

I think that we can be a playoff team. We just have to take it game by game and hope that at the end of the season, we will be near the playoffs.

What is your early impression of German national player Robin Benzing?

Benzing brings a good work ethic. The young players look up to him and he helps them. He is a very hart worker in practice and often stays after practice to keep working.

Are you satisfied with your role coming from the bench?

I am ok with it. Of course as a player you always want to be a starter and get big minutes, but I am in Europe for the first time and still have to learn the game in Germany as well as getting a feel to how the refs call the game. We are winning, so I have no complaints. The most important thing is that we are winning.

How is your relationship to coach Mike Taylor?

Its good. I met him last summer and even before I arrived in Ulm. coach was emailing me keeping me updated with everything. He has a big love of basketball and so do I. I take his energy that he gives us and use it on the court.

What is  a strength in your game that isn´t always seen right away?

I always try to keep a level head. I never get too high on my emotions or get down when its going bad. If my offense isnt working then I pick it up on defense and rebounding or vice versa. I always try to have one part of my game to be working during a game.

Who were your NBA idols?

I loved the big three of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. I loved watching the old Celtics and Lakers videos. I think one can´t have any better idols then those three.

You played at Iowa from 2000-2004. What were your fondest memories from that time?

Going to the NCAA tournament was big. We won the in the first round, but then lost in the second round to Kentucky. I remember playing against NBA Allstar Tayshaun Prince and Keith Bogans. We lost to Kentucky in the last five minutes of the game. We also won the Big 10 tournament in 2000 winning 4 games in 4 days.

Who won a one on one at Iowa, you or Jared Reiner?

We traded games back and fourth. We were always very competitive and made each other better. I am looking forward to playing against him this season.

What did you do between 2004-2007 when you didn´t play professional basketball?

I was teaching basketball and skill development to kids of all ages and coach AAU teams. I was happy that I could stay in the basketball world at this time.

You played in the D league the last two seasons and played NBA Summer league 2010 for the Hornets. Is the NBA at 29 still a goal?

NBA has been a goal of mine since I became a pro. I will keep trying each year. I don´t know if I will play NBA Summer league next season since I have a two year contract at Ulm. Maybe I will rest after the 10 month season and it also depends if teams want to still see me.

How do you like Ulm?

I like the small community feeling. The people are nice as is the food. I also like the fan support here.

What was the most crazy shot that you ever made in a practice or game?

I made a half court shot with my back to the basket and I threw the ball over my head banking the ball in.

What were the most free throws that you made in a row?

30 or 40.

Who wins a one on one in practice? You or John Bryant?

We go back and fourth. He is a big guy that is tough to guard in the low post. I would try to beat him with my quickness and jump shot.

What was the last DVD movie that you saw?

Paranormal activity 1 & 2. I recommend anyone to see it.

Thanks Sean for the chat.

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