EJ Rowland(Vanoli): Darius Hall Has Been My Favorite Teammate In My Career

EJ Rowland is a 27 year old 188cm guard from Palma, California that was born in Frankfurt, Germany. This season he is playing his second season in Italy for Vanoli Cremona. He is a good point guard who always find the open man. Very intelligent ball player and good athlete. A tireless defender that steals lots of balls to the opponents. Rebounds well because of his size. Can guard both guard positions in defense, at the offensive side is better penetrator than shooter but can knock down the open shot. He played at St Marys from 2003-2005. In his senior year, he played 34 games: 11.0ppg, 3.8rpg, AssistsWCC-3(3.9apg), 1.6spg, FGP: 38.2%, 3PT: 30.7%, FT: 69.2%: Finished two-year career at St. Mary’s ranked tenth all-time in total assists (263) and fourth in assist per game average (4.2). In 2005-2006, he started his professional basketball career for the Florida Flame (D-League, starting five): 44 games: 5.6ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.0apg, FGP: 47.4%, 3PT: 25%, FT: 61.8%. In 2006-2007, he played for Sydney Kings (Australia-NBL), in Nov.’06 moved to Townsville Crocodiles (Australia-NBL, starting five): Australian League: 21 games: 12.9ppg, 5.2rpg, 4.8apg, Steals-1(2.0spg), FGP: 48%, 3Pt: 35%, FT: 71%; in March ’07 signed at Barons/LMT Riga (Latvia-LBL, starting five): Baltic League: 6 games: 10.7ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.8apg, 1.3spg, 2FGP: 40.7%, 3PT: 16.7%, FT: 70.0%; LBL: 17 games 15.2ppg 4.9rpg 4.2apg 1.9spg. In 2007-2008, he came to Germany and played for the Artland Dragons Quakenbrueck (Germany-1.Bundesliga): ULEB Cup: 14 games: 7.6ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.3apg, 1.0spg, 2FGP: 51.4%, 3FGP: 14.3%, FT: 58.1%; German League: 37 games: 7.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.2apg, 2FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 60.9%. In 2008-2009, he played for The Telekom Baskets Bonn (Germany-1.Bundesliga, starting five): German League: 45 games: 13.6ppg, 3.4rpg, 3.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 65.4%; Eurocup Qualifications: 2 games: 11.5ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.5apg, 1.5spg; EuroChallenge: 14 games: 10.6ppg, 3.0rpg, Assists-5(4.1apg), 1.6spg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 61.0%. Last season, he played his first season for Vanoli Cremona (Italy-SerieA, starting five): 30 games: 13.8ppg, 4.3rpg, 3.6apg, Steals-3(2.9spg), FGP: 56.9%, 3PT: 37.7%, FT: 73.8%. He won the 2008 BEKO BBL cup in 2008 with The Artland Dragons. He is a member of the Bulgarian national team and played at the European Championships in Poland 2009 playing  3 games: 17.7ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.0apg, 1.3spg. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.

What was it like playing against big Serb point guard Stefan Markovic?

He is a young good player. He sees the floor well and it is hard to crowd him, but as a smaller guard, I have an advantage since bigger guards have more problems with small defenders. I pressured him a lot.

You are playing your second season in Italy in the Serie A. How have you been able to be so successful on the court so quick?

I simply have had good people around me. I got a lot of experience on the fly which quickly gave me confidence. It also has helped since I have been aggressive and learning from mistakes quickly.

The Italian Serie A is very tight like the BEKO BBL. Do other Italian teams have the chance to move by Montepaschi?

I think many teams are capable of doing this. Every team is talented and you always have to come to play. If you don’t you will lose. Montepaschi have had tough close games against many opponents, so I think that many team should get by them.

I guess you aren’t home sick from the BEKO BBL since you there are ex players like Blagota Sekulic, Jasmine Perkovic and Je kel Foster playing with you.

It is cool having them as teammates. I think the transition has been easier for them because they have had a history with each other in Germany.

Is Vanoli Cremona a playoff team?

I think we have good chances of making the playoffs. The top places are all tight and if we win a few more than we will be right near the top.

What was your nicest memory winning the BEKO BBL cup with The Artland Dragons in 2008? Maybe seeing Darius Hall interact with the fans?

Yes Darius celebrating with the fans was great. He has been my favourite teammate in my career. I loved how he interacted with the fans and loved his antics during the season.

For The Artland Dragons, you averaged 7,5ppg, 3,1rpg and 2,5 apg, but in Bonn your game rose as you averaged 13,6ppg, 3,4rpg and 3,4apg. How were you able to increase your game so well?

With Artland, I came from the bench as a type of defensive stopper that pushed the ball. In Bonn, it was a total new situation for me. It was my team and I ran the show.

What do you miss the most from Germany?

I miss the people. The fans were great in Artland and Bonn. I miss very many things including the athletic league. Germany has been one of my favourite places to play.

Who was the toughest player that you had to defend in the BEKO BBL?

Julius Jenkins was always tough to guard. He seemed to never get tired and had so much energy coming off the block and making his shots.

What is a strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed?

People tend to see my speed and athletic play as my strength, but I also am very good at reading situations and controlling the game.

Who were your NBA idols?

Michael Jordan, Penny Hardaway, Magic Johnson and Allen Iverson.

Was there a NBA player that you didn’t like?

No there wasn’t a player that I didn’t like. I always enjoyed going to the games and enjoying to see how the players did.

You played in the NCAA 2 and NJCAA before going to St Marys in the NCAA. Were you a late bloomer as a player?

I was short and skinny as a kid and didn’t grow until I was 19. I always knew that I would grow since my dad was 6.7. As I grew my game started to develop.

You played for the Bulgarian national team at the Eurochampionships in 2009. You averaged 17,7ppg in the tournament. Will you continue to play for Bulgaria and isn’t it difficult playing for another country besides USA?

Bulgaria still has to qualify for the 2011 European championships. It is strange hearing the Bulgarian national anthem, but all in all it is not so strange playing for Bulgaria because wherever you play in Europe the excitement is big. I am used to playing in Europe and playing for Bulgaria is no different than playing somewhere else.

Before you came to Germany, you played in Australia for the Townsville Crocodiles. What will you never forget from playing in Australia?

I will never forget the weather. We were playing when it was 40c which was never the case in Germany.

Do the Artland Dragons and The Telekom Baskets Bonn have a chance to win a title this season?

I think that they are capable of winning a title. In the playoffs anything can happen. That is when the season really starts and teams start to really scout. It looks like Bamberg is really dominating and no one has an answer for them.

Who wins a one on one game you or John Goldsberry?

Me! Well John is very tough and is very passionate. We had many battles in practice. I would like to say that I went out on top in the majority of our games.

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

70 or 80

What was your most crazy shot that you made in a practice?

I was falling out of bounds behind the basket and made the shot.

How tough is it playing against Je Kel Foster?

Foster is very tough. He is very competitive and has a lot of speed. There aren’t many guards that are to bump me and keep me away, but je Kel is so strong for his size and is able to do this.

What goal do you still have as a player?

I hope that I can play for a Euroleague team. I have to keep playing well and lead my team to wins.

What would you like to do after your basketball career?

I am not really sure yet. I hope I have a long career. Maybe coaching or get into some type of business.

How do you see the NBA this season? Will the Lakers repeat? Can the Boston Celtics win again and what will the Miami heat do?

The Celtics were looking very tough until they sustained some injuries. How well the Celtics do will depend if Kevin Garnett comes back. The Lakers have been struggling, but they are the Lakers and will be there in the playoffs. Miami is starting to figure out their season, but they will have to get by the Boston defense. I see Boston/Miami in the final against the Lakers.

What was the last DVD movie that you saw?

Takers with Paul Walker.

Thanks EJ for the chat.

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