Brose Baskets Bamberg-Eisbaeren Bremerhaven 2011 Playoff preview 3-0

The cities Munich and Bamberg in size are about as similar as Hollywood actress Emma Thompson and Diva Paris Hilton have in their acting ability, but when it comes to basketball this season, both clubs dominated their respective leagues losing only two games. the only difference is that The Brose Baskets Bamberg are playing for their fourth beko BBL league championship and FC Bayern Munich are still dreaming of their first. However this duel could become reality in the next years, but first Bamberg has to overcome their first hurdle in the quarterfinals of the playoffs against The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven. The Brose Baskets Bamberg dominated the league this season winning convincingly most of the time and with a straight ahead urgency to mow down the competition the same way Mike Tyson did his opponents back in the day, that one may have wondered that each member of the team had been promised some incredible wish by manager mastermind Wolfgang Heyder or might have taken a chapter out of the BG Goettingen secret by creating their own bat cave under the Stechert arena where the team could plot and continue to get better keeping their development a mystery. Bamberg was as dominant this season the way Skyliner MVP Dashaun Wood takes apart defenses, the way Boston Celtic Rajon Rondo can be when he wants to especially in game 3 against The New York Knicks or the way Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowizki played at the 2005 European championships almost guiding Germany to a gold medal with his scoring from all over the court. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven on the other hand come into the playoffs in compariosn to Bamberg a full 180 degrees as they ended the season in seventh place having to win their last game in Ulm. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven want to improve their bitter semi final game 5 loss to the Deutsche Bank Skyliners  last season, but can they beat the Los Angeles Lakers of the beko BBL Bamberg in a five game playoff series? Some the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven have that Frankfurt loss in the back of their minds and will want to do it right this time around. Bremerhaven will have Upset engraved in their minds and will have to be as alert against Bamberg like a young and naive sea gull landing on a strange looking white piece of ice that is really a polar bear ready to stomp on its prey, the way ex NBA player Jason Williams was when he made beautiful crossover against Gary Payton or Kemba Walker possibly having to have to hire a personal assistant to answer all the calls from NBA general managers. Last season the top four teams were ousted in the quarterfinals as upsets were a normal procedure like putting on sun block in the summer time in Dubai, but would anyone bet their home sweet home on the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven against Bamberg?

The Brose Baskets Bamberg only lost two games all season and had a huge advantage over most of the other 17 BEKO BBL teams in that they have kept a core of their team. This season Bamberg has kept many teams off guard with not just one style of play. “We can play a multitude of different styles. We have players on our roster that can do everything. The style we play depends on our opponent and style of game they play. We will always be able to tailor our game to match the opponent”, added Bamberg forward Kyle Hines. It seems like Bamberg have no weak spot at any position. “We are a strong team and have depth at every position with a number of players being able to play multiple positions”, said Kyle Hines. But the biggest strength of the Brose Baskets Bamberg is something that every team in basketball any where on earth strive to have. “We simply play team basketball. We have developed a chemistry in a short time. There is no player on this team that is looking for individual stats. Each guy is interested in trying to do what is best for the team to have success”, warned Kyle Hines. The Brose Baskets Bamberg started off the season so hot winning their first 17 games in a row that it seemed like talk of an undefeated season was not a far fetched idea. However the Gloria Giants Duesseldorf proved that anything is possible in the BEKO BBL as they upset Bamberg 72-69. “A season is long and tough and it is really tough to go undefeated at anything. One should not forget that Bamberg played very many games already”, stated John Bynum. They have blown away most of the competition with ease holding teams to under 70 teams 26 times. They average 81 points per game and have only built on the strong team chemistry that was already present early in the season. “Bamberg seem to get better with each game that they have played. The Euroleague games also have helped them get better”, added John Bynum. You would have thought that teams would have an easier time the second time around, but that wasn´t the case. “In the second half of the season, teams are able to see more of a pattern of play of their opponents and know more about each individual player by film and other things that they didnt have in the first half. After playing a team once, you are better at evaluating things better and you can also see them play against teams before you as well”, said John Bynum. But Bamberg lost only once in the second half of the season in Goettingen and won each home game.
The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven finished the season in 8th place catching the last playoff spot on the last game day finishing with a record of 18-16. The biggest problem that coach Doug Spradley had during the season was having that solid and stable point guard duo for a whole season. A big part of the success of Bremerhaven last season was point guard Lou Campbell that carried the team the whole season and his departure was felt quickly this season. It was no easy task for ex Paderborn coach Doug Spradley to find the adequate replacement for such an important player like Campbell. Spradley showed in preseason that he wouldn´t settle for anything but the best as he brought in a few point guards with Americans Jamar Butler and Dominic Waters, but wasn´t totally pleased or overwhelmed with their skills that he sent them away again. Shortly before the season started he got American Donald Copeland who seems to have struck the right Spradley taste buds and has taken over for Campbell. Copeland was solid averaging 7,1ppg, 4,1apg and 1,7rpg, but no Lou Campbell. Spradley never really seemed happy with his point guard play that he brought in American Tyrone Brazelton who played had played in Poland last season including Euroleague with Asscom Prokom, but he only played 8 games averaging 7,9ppg, 2,4apg and 1,6rpg. He then got injured again and Spradley was playing Lotto again with the hope of landing a strong point guard and we seems to have done it grabbing two along the way with Terrell Everett who is a 26 year old 193cm combo guard has been around the block having played in France, Czeck Republic, Greece, Cyprus and in the D-League. He is a slasher, but can play the point, possesses great court vision and is a great passer. He is averaging 12,2ppg, 4,2rpg and 3,8apg. The other player that Spradley brought in was experienced ex NBA player Jamison Brewer that played for the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves from 2001-2006. He is a tall 193cm point guard that defends well, can post up and sets up his teammates. He is the only player in division one history to lead his team in rebounds and assists as a point guard at Auburn where Skyliner Quantez Robertson played. Both guys average half of the teams assists and since their arrival the team has a record of 6-4 and the team is stronger with their arrival.
Their 18-16 record seems a bit deceiving since the team is loaded with talent, but have lost 10 games. “They have been up and down this season, but they have a talented team that could compete with anyone in the league”, stated John Bynum. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven have been up and down this season having two four game winning streaks and three three game losing streaks. The club seems to be one of those teams that can serve up a basketball masterpiece and the next day stink up the arena with rotten basketballs. “I just think they have to find consistency like other teams in the league as well. They have a lot of talent on the team but they cant seem to put on a run but you cant underestimate a team of there caliber either”, commented John Bynum. Bremerhaven has had some big wins against The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig, Artland Dragons, BG Goettingen, Oldenburg and TBB Trier, but are unable to put a dent in the games of the top three teams Bamberg, Frankfurt and Berlin. “I’m not sure what it is but I think it could be experience but at the same time, if a couple of balls bounce their way they could easily have had a different record as well. They obviously miss guys like Campbell and Gibbs but I’m sure they miss other guys who helped them achieve there success last season as well”, said John Bynum. Their defense is also a question mark. Sometimes they come on the court and defend as if its their last game keeping a very talented offensive team with BBC Bayreuth to 56 points, but other days seem to be with one foot on the court and the other somewhere in the Bremerhaven aquarium as they let up 100 or more points five times this season to teams like Phoenix Hagen and Ratiopharm Ulm. It also didn´t help the team that they lost leading scorer Torrell Martin to injury as he has missed 12 games, but the team played solid posting a 7-5 record.
When breaking down both teams position by position, one has to give the huge edge to The Brose Baskets Bamberg at the guard position despite Bremerhaven acquiring Everett and Brewer. Bamberg have the absolute top guard trio in the beko BBL with Johns Goldsberry, Brian Roberts and Anton Gavel. All three of them bring something different to the table. Goldsberry(4,3ppg, 4,4apg, 1,7rpg, 1,3spg) might only shoot if Fleming tells Kyle Hines to sit on him if he doesn´t, but the Ohio native doesn´t need to shoot. He is about as pure an unselfish point guard that one will ever see. He may be the best floor general in the beko BBL. He is a unrelentless defender that is in your face until you have to slap him away. He once got 10 steals with Leverkusen. Anton Gavel(10,1ppg, 2,4rpg, 2,0apg) is a solid combo guard that might have  a competition with Brian Roberts as to who can score the most points in the shortest time. His shot isn´t pretty, but he makes the clutch shots and defends like a pit bull to pit bull brother Goldsberry. Brian Roberts(10,1ppg, 2,2rpg, 3,3apg is the third guard in the trio that can decide games at an instance and will put up bombs from anywhere on the court no matter how well he is covered and make them often. He is also an aggressive defender that keeps developing well in his third season as a professional and he is a guy that could land at a top Euroleague team. Bamberg coach Chris Fleming also has the option of bring young German Karsten Tadda(3,5ppg, 1,3rpg, 1,0apg) that brings added energy to the defense and will score when needed. Maurice Stuckey(2,7ppg, 1,0rpg) got more playing time this season and also helps with his athletic play and can score. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven have a solid core with Everett, Brewer and Brazelton, but they lack the togetherness that the Bamberg guards have. The Bamberg trio have a huge advantage in that the new Eisbaeren duo of Everett and Brewer have never witnessed the forceful defense of Goldsberry, Gavel and Roberts and will have their hands full. If they can´t get into a groove against them, then it will be very difficult for Bremerhaven too win.
The forward edge also goes to the Brose Baskets Bamberg. A team can´t go wrong when you have a trio of Predrag Suput(12,6ppg, 4,2rpg, 1,7apg) who is a beko BBL MVP candidate every season so it seems, Casey Jacobsen(12,2ppg, 3,5rpg, 3,0apg) who has 279 NBA games under his belt and might be the most professional player in the beko BBL and Reyshawn Terry(10,0ppg, 5,2rpg) who won the NCAA tournament with North Carolina and gives the club athletic energy from the bench and just does so many things to help the team. Suput may be about as far away from making an athletic move the way Shaq is, but Suput is one of top power forwards in the beko BBL. When he gets the ball in the post, an opponent can mostly just pray that he misses. He scores in bunches as well as a Dashaun Wood. If a Pleiss somehow gets boxed out and the guards aren´t near the hoop, then usually a Terry will come flying in to make the big play. Terry is his best on transition which when he scorers raises the decibel level of the Stechert arena to its fullest. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven have an effective bunch with small forwards Philipp Schwethelm(9,8ppg, 3,9rpg, 2,1apg and John Allen(9,6ppg, 3,7rpg, 2,6apg and power forwards Andrew Drevo(9,8ppg, 4,8rpg, 1,2apg and Craig Callahan( 15,0ppg, 4,4rpg, 1,0apg). Schwethelm has played a very consistent season continuing to develop scoring in double figurers 17 times and twice had double doubles showing he can give stability under the boards. He is a good defender and likes to set up his teammates. Bremerhaven is the perfect team for Schwethelm as he has a certain freedom for Spradley, but the FC Bayern Munich rumors of him going there next season seem to be there. Allen is continues to show his swingman qualities  as he can be a huge problem for lots of defenses; can deliver some driving dunks and also display a deft shooting touch from the perimeter; this double dimension make him a very tough player to guard. Drevo has had an up and down seasons coring in double figurers 17 times, but then again had games where he didn´t find his touch. he did finish the season on a good note with good games against Alba Berlin and Ratiopharm Ulm. He has good size and can run the floor while adding a solid presence in the paint. He is an all-around player, can pass well inside and has the ability to step outside the arc, which will create match up problems for opposing defenses. Callahan has had a strong season having to step up even more in the scoring department since the injury to Torrell Martin. Callahan will have to bring his A-game in every game against Bamberg for his team to be successful.
The center position edge also goes to Bamberg with German national player Tibor Pleiss and American Kyle Hines against the Bremerhaven duo of Canadian national player Sean Denison and Maksym Shtein. One should not forget that Doug Spradley can insert Callahan at center if he wishes. Pleiss who was drafted by the New Jersey Nets last summer and picked up by the Oklahoma Thunder is another player that has performed for Chris Fleming. Pleiss is averaging 9,4ppg, 6,8rpg and the second best shot blocker in the league at 1,8 per game. With his 214cm, Pleiss is there to grab any ball near the hoop and scoring isnt as necessary with all the scorers in the team, but he showed time in and time out that scoring out of the low post is something that he can do on a consistent basis as he scored in double figurers 17 times. His big strength lies in the defense as his height gives opponents problems shooting around the bucket. Kyle Hines is averaging 10,1ppg and 4,4rpg and would be a starter on any other team, but with Bamberg comes into the game late in the first quarter. He is a powerful player who loves to attack the basket. Has a good 1-vs-1 game and likes to go inside. He is undersized to play the power forward, but his great wingspan (7-1) allows him to guard taller players and to intimidate. He’s also a great leaper and reads the opponent’s game well. “My game is similar to Chuck Hayes or Paul Millsap”, added Kyle Hines. For the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven,  Sean Denison is averaging 7,9ppg and 3,9rpg. He has a great post-up game, runs like a deer and has a tremendous shooting touch for a big man. Maksym Shtein most likely wont see much playing time, because Spradley will play with Drevo and Callahan at the same time having two power forwards in at times to bring the unpredictable and three point shot surprise.
The Brose Baskets Bamberg enter this playoffs series as the big favorite and going home for an early summer vacation is about as unlikely as a polar bear hanging out in a hot sauna. The Brose Baskets Bamberg won the season series winning at home 75-66 and on the road 73-58. Bamberg belong to the top offensive teams in the league, have six of the top seven team scorers that shoot 40% or better from the field and from the parking lot, are the best defensive team, get the least fouls, and have 6 players in the top 10 plus-minus stats. Bremerhaven not only has to have an unbelievably incredible day on the court on offense and defense, but might also want to do some praying before each game, because last year or years past, this would have been an interesting series, but Bamberg has grown as a team in the 12 months and are simply a class above the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven in every aspect of the game.  The most important thing that Bremerhaven have to do is not let Bamberg get in a rhythm which already is nearly impossible and just be as disruptive as possible and just mix it up as much as possible on defense. Bremerhaven will have to find success against the uncomfortable aggressive Bamberg defense. Bremerhaven has to play their game and not let Bamberg take them out of their sets and start from 25 feet and out. Bamberg pressures the ball so well and deny the lanes all the way out to the half court. Bremerhaven needs to execute on offense and take Bamberg out of their offensive sets. But the key will be controlling the Bamberg guards. Bremerhaven has to attack them at all times because they are very tough. They have to be aggressive and attack their guards at all times. Dont let them get in a flow, but disrupt them. On offense, Bremerhaven should try to attack Suput, because he is their weakest defender and get Roberts involved on the pick and role as they are a bit suspect there and get Pleiss to come out more to get some room in the lane for the Bremerhaven guards. If Bamberg gets off to a 10-2 or 12-4 start as they often do and then just play their game, then they will win. The Brose Baskets Bamberg host The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven in game one Saturday April 30th.

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