It is always a highlight when two professional sports teams can play against each other in a short span of time. Frankfurt and Ulm may be 290 kilometers apart in distance and more like an ICE train series then a subway series, but who could forget playoff series of the the shuttle series of the 90s between The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, the 80s west coast Hollywood-east coast beantown duels between the Los Angeles Lakers and The Boston Celtics or the subway series between The New York Yankees and New York Mets? The BEKO BBL has given the fans an early taste of what the 2011 playoff atmosphere might be like as teams have faced off against one another twice quite frequently recently as 8 time BEKO BBL champion Alba Berlin sweeped the MBC wolves right off their den patio within 72 hours, Phoenix Hagen and Alba Berlin meeting each other within 96 hours this week and The Deutsche Bank Skyliners will meet Ratiopharm Ulm for a second time within 218 hours. The many gatherings by separate BEKO BBL teams seem as frequent as Lionel Messi had to say gracias this week for being named best player 2010 or Peyton Manning have to hear the last days “why did it end already this season for the Colts”? MBC didn’t learn from their loss in Berlin and will it be an advantage for Frankfurt to play so quickly against Ratiopharm Ulm again? “It should be an advantage for Frankfurt. Frankfurt is aware what Ulm did well and you also know what they didn’t do so well in the short time span and can adjust better. It also gives the coaches a better way of preparing when there is such a tight span of time in between”, stressed TBB Trier guard John Bynum. You cant really call Frankfurt-Ulm a special distance name besides possibly the ICE series, but you could also call Alba Berlin-New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig an ICE series, but John Bynum has his special series favorites from back home. “It was always fun watching the Sacremento Kings-Los Angeles Lakers or Miami Heat-New York Knicks and you could never go wrong watching the Lakers and Celtics, but there are not too many more close distance rivalaries going on unless your talking college sports”, explained John Bynum.
The Deutsche Bank Skyliners are seeking revenge on Ratiopharm Ulm after losing 87-82 in Ulm last week. This was a game that Frankfurt could of won in crunch time despite a very poor team rebounding effort losing the paint battle 39-28. Ratiopharm hit some big shots at the end including a huge Robin Benzing bomb from the parking lot after he had been in a drought after hitting his first two shots early in the first quarter. One man who really hurt Frankfurt was big 208cm center John Bryant that produced 22 points and 12 rebounds in 25 minutes. He is the top center in the BEKO BBL currently and has scored in double figures in 13 of 18 games. He had a poor game against The Brose Baskets Bamberg mustering only 5 points(2/9), nine rebounds in 29 minutes. It is not to often that the California native will slip twice on the floor. One must not forget that Frankfurt was playing without Joe Dabbert and that new center. Frankfurt got a new player with 30 year old Chris Moss, but he is a 204cm forward who is an excellent rebounder and defender and most importantly a player that is physical something Frankfurt had been missing. Moss had some strong seasons in Europes strongest league the ACB and will have a real test in his debut against Moss. His best season was 2006-2007 for Vive Menorca as he averaged 13,4ppg and 7,0rpg in 34 games “Moss might have to pull out his incredible hulk mask in order to make both the hair on the head and neck of Bryant stand on end”, laughed Houston Native Marcus Sloan who plays for the Geneva Lions this season. Frankfurt started off very sluggishly against The EWE Baskets Oldenburg trailing 19-13 at halftime on the boards, but picked up their rebounding in the second half increasing their defensive intensity and contesting their shots more keeping them in bad position to rebound. Frankfurt will have to give an effort like that again to be successful under the boards especially when the very efficient shooting Bryant is roaming around in the zone. “Frankfurt has to control Bryant and make a collective effort on the boards. Guards will have to come back and help out and it will have to be a team effort. They have to play Bryant very tough and hope that he misses or send double teams from different positions to change it up and confuse him and double him early. Force him to get the ball out of his hands quick”, warned John Bynum.
Currently Ratiopharm Ulm is in 12th place with a record of 8-10 “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 15,0ppg and 10,8rp, 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 15,0ppg, 4,4rpg and 1,2apg. 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 12,7ppg, 1,1rpg 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 9,8ppg, 5,3rpg, 2,0apg 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 8,4ppg, 4,8rpg and 1,3apg. 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 6,8ppg and 4,8rpg 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 7,1ppg, 1,0rpg and 1,0apg. His shooting is coming around at 40% from the field and 39% 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 3,8ppg 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 2,4ppg, 1,2rpg and 1,8apg 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 recently. 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 5-4 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 last 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% from 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 improve their 2011 record to 2-1 and go into the 2011 BEKO BBL Allstar break with a good feeling. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners have a new big man with Chris Moss who still has to find his rhythm and be integrated, but he will be able to show his toughness right away and Roger Powell finding his groove again against Ratiopharm Ulm. The biggest ace that Frankfurt has in their deck is a beautiful arena called The Ballsporthalle. They are 10-0 this season and are giving the league that “Don’t come into our living, because we don’t want any company at the fireplace” feeling as they are showing that dominating presence that BG Goettingen displayed last season in their old rail road LOK Halle. Not only rebounding will be key for winning, but not having the three points field goal percentage below freezing. “Frankfurt has to shoot better and make their open shots. They also should get into transition and they really have plenty of options and as always it all starts with Dashaun Wood and Pascal Roller”, warned John Bynum. If Ulm can get around the electric fence around the glass, then they will be a good step in the right direction of maybe putting a dent in the Frankfurt Ballsporthalle unbeaten streak. “Ulm has to play their game and control the boards like last week. It will have to be a collective effort, but anything is possible”, stated John Bynum. If one had a dime for each time a player said our defense gets our offense going, then one would very quickly have seen the last of the Abraham Lincoln face. “We have to play very aggressive on defense and feed off the crowd. I hope that we are able to play better against Ulm this time”, added Quantez Robertson. All Gordon Herbert really needs to do is make a quick 3 minute highlight film of the third quarter against Oldenburg and play it over and over. The more that amazing third quarter is in their heads, the more confidence they will have and remember what the club is capable of doing on their home court. “We have to play better under the basket and take the play and momentum of the third quarter against Oldenburg and take into the Ulm game”, warned Skyliner forward Kimmo Muurinen. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners host Ratiopharm Ulm January 15th at 18:30.