The Deutsche Bank Skyliners want to start the new year 2011 with a win in Ulm, but will have to survive the always loud, zoo like pandemonium atmosphere of the Kuhberg arena, the same way actor Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will have to hide on the Seychellen islands from Paparrazi on account of their so called wedding taking place, the way Celtic lovers have to cringe each time a report filters about Kevin Garnett suffering a near injury and he is a player the team cant afford to lose, the San Antonio Spurs and Brose Baskets Bamberg having to be prepared each game because their opponents want them to shoot out their lights or German ski jumper Martin Schmitt who has been as unproductive as a cock roach in the last years having to keep getting good results despite having lost his girl friend and not having a strong form. The Kuhberg arena can be described as a tiny high school gym with the atmosphere of monsterous 14,000 patrons, yelling, cheering and influencing opponents free throws to die on the rim. It is a zoo like atmosphere that opponents would like to avoid and possibily rather stick their heads into a lions cage than having to enter the uncomfortable office of coach Mike Taylor. Alba Berlin was unable to escape the Kuhberg arena earlier in the season. Since Mike Taylor entered the BEKO BBL in 2006, he has a 49-26 record in the Kuhberg arena and no player likes to play there. “Well when I remember playing there it is just a tough place to play, the crowd is loud and it is a long trip to get down there as well. It is a tough arena to win in. The arena has a feel of its own. I have only played there one time while I was in Bremerhaven but we found a way to get a win, but it is a tough place to play in for sure”, warned ex Bremerhaven American John Bynum. “It is a tough place to play, because it gets loud and the fans get behind their team. It reminds me of a high school gym”, warned Phoenix Hagen guard Quentin Pryor. If an opponent is in any way able to block out the fans, then they still have to deal with a big menace patrolling the court and having the zone area be his feeding time where any one getting in his way might as well just avoid John Bryant from roaring them away. Bryant is the top center in the BEKO BBL scoring and rebounding in double figuers and has been about as difficult to stop as moving an elephant with your bear hands. Perhaps The Deutsche Bank Skyliners should place an electric fence around the rim to keep him away? “I think it could be vital for Frankfurt to put up an electric fence to survive. If that doesnt work then they may want to put up a police barricade at the edge of the zone”, joked Giessen 46er Jannik Freese. “With Dabbert gone, it will be more difficult to contain the big 130 kilo Bryant. I think the only way in which Frankfurt will be successful is if they put up a two man blockade in front of the basket to keep Bryant as far away from the rim as possible”, warned BBC Bayreuth forward Stefan Schmidt. “I am just glad I didnt have to guard him. He is a solid big guy and controls the boards, he is tough to keep off the glass and he is having an exceptional year”, stated TBB Trier guard John Bynum. “Bryant is a big problem down low. He isnt the most mobile, but he uses his strength well to get rebounds and cause problems”, commented Quentin Pryor.
It was not a surprise too any one that it would not be a cake walk for Ratiopharm Ulm in 2009-2010 after reaching their first playoffs the year before especially in the early part after the team lost so many strong players from 2008-2009 like fan favourite Mr Ulm Jeff Gibbs, calm point guard Dru Joyce, Mr comical Romeo Travis, defense specialist Keith Triplett, the human shark Sean Finn, the heart and soul of the team Emeke Erege and versatile Dan Fitzgerald. The team has had a slow start las season coming off the Allstar break with a record of 8-13. They had some big wins against Bamberg, Bremerhaven, BG Goettingen and Oldenburg, so they are showed that they could be a team that can beat any team on any night. ”Ratiopharm Ulm had many talented players that could go one on one and play to their strengths, could get up and down the floor,defend and be athletic. I remember in our win at home, our zone trap bothered them for a little in the first quarter, but once they settled, they jumped on us. They showed how explosive they can be as they got up by 16 points in the second half. We fought back and were lucky to win on the free throws by Chase Griffin”, stressed Quentin Pryor. “Ratiopharm Ulm was a good team with great guards and a solid big man with Coleman Collins”, stated ex Paderborn Basket Steven Wright. In the end Ratiopharm Ulm finished in 13th place with a record 13-21. After losing in Frankfurt in February last season, Ratiopharm Ulm finished with a record of 5-7 and the only really notable team that they defeated were The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. Ratiopharm Ulm was very weak on the road with a record of 3-14 and was never able to muster more than a two game winning streak all season long. A run was missing in the season as they continued to be inconsistent. “Being inconsistent goes back to their one on one play. Often they broke plays when they shouldn´t have or tried to make plays that weren´t there”, commented Quentin Pryor. Ratiopharm Ulm definitely could score points, but the offense seemed too be too one dimensional at times last season as the game revolved around American Christian Burns too much. Ratiopharm Ulm proved time in and time out that they were an offensive force that had to be on every teams radar, but the club was unable to get the defense on the same page. The team allowed 80 points or more 24 times.
This current season is a very important season for Ratiopharm Ulm as they plan to move into a new state of the art arena next season. The club was hoping to have 2,3Million as there budget, but at the end only had 1,65 million. Ratiopharm Ulm may not have a lot of money, but there isnt a better duo than Mike Taylor and Thomas Stoll who can get the best qualified players for the least money. The team kept a healthy core of players from last season including German national players Robin Benzing and Per Guenther. The team also returned German Sebastian Betz who has had the longest tenure in Ulm as well as captain Lee Humphrey who has won 2 NCAA titles at Florida and Mr GQ Coleman Collins. The team added some major force under the basket with the incredible hulk John Bryant from San Pablo, California and veteran American Sean Sonderleiter who gives the club stability from the bench. The team also added guard Travis Walton who played four years at Michigan State. “Their strength is that they have a huge front line with Bryant, Sonderleiter, Collins and Benzing. That is a lot of length under the basket”, warned Quentin Pryor.
Currently the club is in 12th place with a record of 7-9. “They have been up and down this season as are many teams, but they can compete with anybody. They are very tough with John Bryant in the middle as he is playing some tough ball”, stated 2011 BEKO BBL Allstar slam dunk contestant John Bynum. The club already has had a four and three game losing streak as defense seems to be their weak point again. “We have to improve on defense. We can improve many things like containing the dribble, ball screen defense, post defense and help side defense. Our offense has been getting better. We are one of the worst three point shooting teams in the league and have to improve that. We have to continue to rebound on a consistent level in order to keep up with teams like Bamberg, Berlin and Frankfurt. We have the right players to take the step”, added Ratiopharm Ulm guard Travis Walton. “Ulm started off struggling, but have found their groove in the last weeks. They are a very talented team”, stated Quentin Pryor. In their first 16 games they have allowed 80 or more points nine times. Despite not having the defense on par yet, this is probably the most talented team outside the playoff range that could get in. “I think that Ulm is a playoff team especially with their talent and personal. With the standings being so tight now anything is possible and they had a big win in Bremerhaven on the weekend”, warned John Bynum. “I think that we are also a playoff team. We try not to think to much about to add extra pressure. We all believe it, but just try not to talk about. Things will take care of themselves”, commented Travis Walton. However the sour play of their defense may not necessarily be a weakness. “I dont know if their defense is their weakness, but that is their style and they play more up tempo than most teams, but that is more of an advantage than weakness”, added John Bynum. “A weakness can be that at times you can catch them sleeping on defense”, warned American Quentin Pryor.
Ratiopharm Ulm are led by John Bryant who is playing his first season in Europe. Many basketball fans were a bit confused at the start of the season as there was a new John Bryant. Did Mike Taylor now have two John Bryants which would of made for a very interesting season, but he only got a new different John Bryant. The only similarities was that both were American. Bryant is a 23 year old 208cm center that was born in Berkeley, California and grew up in San Pablo. He played at Santa Clara university coming in in 2005 as well known players Doron Perkins and Kyle Bailey had just graduated. He played 124 NCAA games getting WCC Player of the Year in 2009. In his last three years, he was able to average double figures in points. In his senior year, he tore up the NCAA playing 33 games: 18.1ppg, 14.2rpg, 1.1apg, 2.5bpg, FGP: 59.6%, FT: 78.7%. In 2009 he was drafted by the Erie BayHawks (D-League,2rd(31) and played 48 games: 13.2ppg, 9.5rpg, 1.6apg, 1.5bpg, FGP: 49.3%, FT: 77.6%. This past summer, he played NBA Summer League in Las Vegas (Milwaukee Bucks). So far in the BEKO BBL, he is tearing up the league averaging 14,8ppg and 10,4rp, 1,3apg and 1,1bs and is leading the German league in rebounding. He is shooting 63% from the field. He has registered six double doubles and his best game was 26 points and 18 rebounds against The Gloria Giants Duesseldorf. He is a extremely mature player for his age and has the utmost respect from his teammates. “He has a great feel for the game. This is his first season and who would of thought that he would play sow ell? He stays with his strength and takes high percentage shots. He has a very high basketball IQ with scoring and rebounding. I think that he could compete at any level in the world.”, stressed teammate Travis Walton. .
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners will also have their third meeting with ex TV Langen player Robin Benzing who is a 21 year old 208cm forward who made such a giant leap as a player at the European championships in 2009 in the German National team, but many Frankfurt fans were unhappy that Frankfurt was unable to sign him. The reasons and speculation why Benzing was not able to put on a Skyliner shirt this season have been varied, but the idea that Murat Didin did not want him last season are false. “Who wouldn´t want a god given talent? We wanted him more than a German beer or champagne”, stressed Murat Didin. Benzing made his mark in the German National team training camp and reached the pinnacle of starting many games for Germany at The European Championships in Poland. In 6 games, Benzing averaged 5.5ppg, 1.7rpg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 91.7% after tearing up the PRO A in 2008-2009 averaging 22.2ppg), 5.0rpg, 2.0apg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 53.1%, 3PT: 40.5%, FT: 80.0%. For captain Pascal Roller, after seeing Benzing on TV and practicing with him in 2008-2009, he will play his third pro game against him. “Benzing made a huge jump with the National team. I didn´t really get to know him so well since he wasn´t at many practices, but from what I saw, he is a very mobile power forward and can shot from outside. If he has the goal to play international, then he has to get stronger”, added Pascal Roller. Last season, Benzing had a superb rookie campaign playing 33 games: 12.5ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 41.5%, 3PT: 37.6%, FT-3(84.7%). He already has the respect from the BEKO BBL “Robin is very talented. He is still young and I am sure he will improve his rebounding with time and work”, stressed Quentin Pryor. Benzing got his first taste of not being successful at every thing he does as he had a subpar World Championships in Turkey playing 5 games and averaging 4.6ppg, 1.4rpg. He is finding his mark this season as he is averaging 14,6ppg, 4,5rpg and 1,0apg. He has improved his rebounding, but his shooting is still not quite there shooting 36% from the field and 30% from downtown. The team brought back German national player Per Guenther who is a 22 year old 185cm point guard that was born in Giessen and grew up in Hagen. He has very good speed and can dribble with both his hands he is very good in shooting from the arc and he has very good organizational skills, he watches the court with one glance and can assist his team-mates on a blind method pretending that he will shoot. He has an inborn charisma of a leader from a young age so he leads his team without having any problem. He played for BBV Hagen from 2003-2006 and with Phoenix Hagen from 2006-2008. In his last season in Hagen, he raised eyebrows with his play playing 29 games: 14.5ppg, 1.9rpg, 2.4apg, 2FGP: 55.8%, 3FGP: 35.7%, FT: 80.1%. He has improved his play each season as last season he played 34 games: 6.6ppg, 1.8rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 80.3%. This season, he has become into a real scoring option, but still keeping his playmaking qualities in front of him. He is averaging 12,2ppg and 2,9apg. He got into three games at the World Championships last summer in Turkey. “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”, stated teammate Sean Sonderleiter.
The team brought back 26 year old 191cm forward Rocky Trice from Georgia that could probably make a living touring the world dunking, but is too versatile and valuable to basketball to do that. He was signed shortly before the season started and gives that extra push on defense and on the transition game. He has made a big splash in Germany tearing up the PRO A three years ago with Cuxhaven and two years ago with BG Goettingen leading the team into the playoffs averaging 11.7ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.5apg, Steals-1(2.6spg), FGP: 49.0%, 3PT: 26.7%, FT: 69.6% in 34 games. Last season, the South Carolina alumnist played 33 games averaing12.8ppg, 6.3rpg, 2.2apg, Steals-1(2.4spg), FGP: 49.0%, 3PT: 28.4%, FT: 75.0%. This season, the American is averaging 10,2ppg, 4,8rpg, 1,9apg and 1,4spg. He is shooting very well at 50% from the field and 50% from the three point line. The team also brought back 24 year old 206 cm American Coleman Collins who is a big man that runs the floor well and played in the BBL in 2007-2008 with ENBW Ludwigsburg averaging 10.6ppg, 4.1rpg, 2FGP: 58.3%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 70.1% in 33 games. He almost made the Phoenix Suns in 2008-2009, but played in the D League for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants averaging 11.2ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 48.4%, FT: 75.1% in 46 games. Collins played at Virginia tech(NCAA)from 2003-2007 playing 33 games: 7.8ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 50.3%, FT: 65.1%. This season, Collins is averaging 8,9ppg, 5,4rpg and 1,5apg. The team signed also signed Sean Sonderleiter who 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 together with ex NBA and BBC Bayreuth player Jared Reiner. 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). This season, he is averaging 7,2ppg and 4,9rpg in 19 minutes.
The team brought back 26 year old 188 cm guard Lee Humphrey, who is probably best known for breaking the netting in a college game on account of his fast shot. He played at Florida from 2003-2007 winning the NCAA title in 2006-2007. In his senior year, he played 40 games: 10.3ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 47.5%, 3Pts: 45.9%, FT: 69.2% In his first season with Ratiopharm Ulm, he played 36 games averaging 10.9ppg, 1.1rpg, FGP: 46.7%, 3PT: 43.9%, FT: 77.6%. When he is hot, he can be as efficient from three point land the same way Pascal Roller is from the free throw line. Last season, he played 33 games: 8.1ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 41.3%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 79.3%. This season, he is averaging 6,1ppg, 1,1rpg and 1,1apg. His shooting is coming around at 38% from the field and 37% from outside, but he will surely still pick it up in the second half of the season. 25 year old 200cm forward Sebastian Betz is a a young, hardworking wing who provides energy, defensive effort and consistent three point shooting. He started his professional basketball career in 2003 with Bamberg playing there until 2008. In five years, he was only able to play four games never being able to shake the Dirk Bauermann rotation. Mike Taylor scooped him up in 2007 and the German is playing his fourth season in Ulm. His best season so far has been 2008-2009 as he played 36 games: 5.2ppg, 1.5rpg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 54.9%. Last season, he played only 19 games: 3.2ppg, 1.8rpg. This season, he is averaging 3,9ppg and 2,9rpg in 16 minutes per game.
The club also brought in Travis Walton who is a 23 year old 187cm point guard from Lima, Ohio. He is playing his first season with Ratiopharm Ulm. He played at Michigan State from 2005-2009 where he served as team captain for three consecutive years, being the 3rd in history of Michigan State school to do that. Led the Big 10 in assist to turnover ratio 2.4 to 1 and broke Magic Johnson’s career assist record at Michigan State. Walton possesses great toughness, strength and leadership skills and is an exceptional defender. Last season he played shortly for Lugano Tigers (Switzerland-LNA, starting five), left in Dec.’09: 13 games: 8.9ppg, 1.2rpg, Assists-5(4.9apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 85.7% before returning back to Michigan State to help the coaching staff. Some achievements that he has received were Big Ten Tournament Semifinals -06, 08, 09, Big Ten All-Defensive Team -07, 09, NCAA Sweet 16 -08, Big Ten Regular Season Champion -09, and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year -09. This season, he has shown a worthy backup to German national player Per Guenther as he is averaging 2,5ppg, 1,3rpg and 1,7apg in 13 minutes per game. The club also signed Walt Baxley is a 25 year old 191cm guard that is playing his first season in The BEKO BBL for Ratiopharm Ulm. He played NCAA 2 ball at Mars Hill from 2003-2006. In the 2005-2006 season, he played 27 games averaging 28.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.7 spg, 42.9 FG%, 37 3P%. In 2006-2007, he played in Iran for : Shahrdari Gorgan Municipality. In 2007-2008, he played in Poland for JKKS Gornik Walbrzych (Poland-DBE), but left at the end of Dec.2007: 6 games: 4.7ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.3apg. In 2008-2009, he played for Kaiserslautern Braves (Germany-ProA, starting five), left in pre-season, in Nov.2008 moved to Winston-Salem Storm (ABA). Last season, he played his first full season in Europe for German team Kaiserslautern Braves playing 30 games and averaging 19.0ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 63.1%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 77.4%.. His claim to fame in the PRO A was scoring 50 points in a game. This season, he has only played 8 games and is averaging 1,5ppg and 1,0rpg in seven minutes per game. “A hidden strength in my game is passing and defense. I enjoy passing and making my teammates better. I also enjoy playing defense. I have worked on my foot speed this summer just to show that I can play on both sides of the court”, stated Walt Baxley. The team let Baxley go a few days ago. The team also brought back 26 year old 180cm guard Christian Grosse. He started his career at TUS uhrspring in 2000. He played for Ratiopharm Ulm from 2001-2007. In this time, he played 88 second league games and 22 BEKO BBL games. He then played for SOBA Dragons Rhoendorf (ProA): 23 games: 9.1ppg, 1.1rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 47.9%, 3PT-2(46.1%), FT: 76.7%. He then retired in 2008, but came back in 2009 to Ratiopharm Ulm. Last season he played only 7 games: 1.6ppg. The team also has 19 year old 208cm center Michael Wenzl. He played 4 BEKO BBL games averaging 1,0ppg and played for the Basketballakademie Ulm (Oberliga): 21 games: 13.8ppg. This season, he has a license also to play for BG Illertal/Weissenhorn (ProB). This season, he has played 13 games for ratiopharm Ulm averaging 2,57 minutes per game.
Omari Westley who won the 2008-2009 BEKO BBL scoring title might be thousands of miles away in Qatar earning his bread, but he still follows the BEKO BBL religiously Westley might consider becoming a scout or assistant coach after his playing days, because he has very much knowledge about the game and players for a 29 year old. Westley is earning his dough in Qatar and remembers Lee Humphrey, Per Gunther and Rocky Trice very well from his duels against Ratiopharm Ulm from last season and has some tips for The Deutsche Bank Skyliners about these three players. “You can´t give Humphrey any open jump shots, because that is his best shot and all that he does all day long just taking jumpers from all over the court. However Frankfurt should go at him on offense, because it is safe to say that he doesn´t play much defense. Gunther is a nice young guard who is very crafty and will penetrate looking to dish so I would make him finish at the rim. He doesn´t shoot a lot so I would let him shoot until he makes a shot and then guard him. Per and Lee are small guards so Frankfurt will have mismatches all day long and that is how Frankfurt should take advantage of them. Trice is a crazy athlete. If you don´t box him out then you will get dunked on. He has a good cross over and likes the mid range jumper. The mid range is his bet shot unless he is dunking. He can take the three, but isn´t a volume shooter. He is good at defense, because he is long and plays the passing lanes well like Lebron does and is gambling a lot so Frankfurt should slow him down on offense and make him work on defense”, warned Ohio native Omari Westley
In the last three years, Frankfurt has a 5-3 record against Ratiopharm Ulm, but are 2-2 in Ulm. They won in overtime 87-83 in 2007 with Murat Didin. The Eric Chadfield buzzer beater will for some reason always be stuck in the minds of people. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners have a positive 2-1 record in the Ballsporthalle. Last season, Frankfurt lost 74-69, but got a strong game form ex Skyliner Lorenzo Gordon who scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. In the first meeting this season, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners dominated the game and put on a scoring display led by 23 points by Seth Doliboa as the club prevailed 95-82.Frankfurt shot an astronomical 57% form the field and easily won the rebounding fight 34-25. Ratiopharm Ulm did a great job only having seven turnovers. In the return game in Frankfurt last season, Ratiopharm Ulm lost 84-77 as Skyliner American Seth Doliboa had another monster game pouring home 18 points and 15 rebounds.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners want to start 2011 on a good note with a victory in Ulm. Frankfurt announced last week that Joe Dabbert would not get his contract extended which will give Frankfurt more difficulty under the boards should not an adequate replacement be found in time for the game on Thursday. The team did announce that American Jimmy Mckinney could remain another two months with the club. Andre Barrett who played with FC Barcelona some years ago was the king of the NBA 10 day contracts back in 2005-2007 and Jimmy Mckinney may be getting that honor in the BEKO BBL as he got his third short term contract this season. Even though not exactly knowing what his fate will be down the road, the ST Louis native is a professional and keeps playing very well and showing the team that he deserves to stay. “I think that Jimmy should just continue to do what he knows how to do which is play basketball and if the team doesnt like it then it is their loss. Not knowing about his future is in the back of his mind, but he just has to continue to bring it every day and hope for the best outcome”, stressed John Bynum. “I couldnt play like that constantly having to worry about my job, but at the same time it could be motivation for him to get the job done when he is in”, added Quentin Pryor. Ratiopharm Ulm can score until the sun comes up and The Deutsche Bank Skyliners are known as a solid defensive team which they will have to show in the Kuhberg halle. “Frankfurt just has to push the tempo and let Wood do his thing, let him create and others finish when he creates for them. Ulm has to push the tempo as well and convert in the half court set as well. It should be an interesting game”, warned John Bynum. The main focus for Frankfurt will be John Bryant and forgetting about Robin Benzing could be disastrous. “We have to be aggressive on defense and rebound well. We have to limit them to one shot, execute on offense and hit our open shots. We have enough good big men to check John Bryant. ” Frankfurt has to find a way to control the Ulm front line. They are a bit short handed without Joe Dabbert. Ratiopharm Ulm has to take advantage of their bigs”, said Quentin Pryor. “We will have to do some different things on defense. If we can contain Bryant then we will have good chances to win”, warned Quantez Robertson. Fans will surely have John Bryant, Robin Benzing and Dashaun Wood in their focus, but a very entertaining match up could be Rocky Trice -Quantez Robertson. Sometimes just giving a direct answer can be as forceful as a John Bryant dunk. Robertson didn´t have to think long as too who can fly through the air longer him or Trice? “Me Tez can”, added Quantez Robertson. Ratiopharm Ulm host The Deutsche Bank Skyliners January 6th at 16:00.