Hansbrough Watch – Nov 27

Review

In the last edition of Hansbrough Watch, I predicted a close game between FC Bayern and ALBA and a Bayern loss by a margin of 7 to 15 points. I also predicted another DNP-CD for Ben Hansbrough. My first prediction wasn’t too far off the mark. Bayern lost by 6, but was in the game right up to the end.

My other prediction, however, was wrong. Hansbrough played for 11 minutes and 9 seconds, his longest in the last nine games. Rejoice!

But what happened? Why did Coach Bauermann decide to throw Ben into the deep end of an extremely high-profile and close-fought game all of a sudden? There are two main reasons:

1. Bauermann wasn’t happy with the play of his starting PG Steffen Hamann at the start of the third quarter. Hamann’s defensive lapses helped ALBA star DaShaun Wood score 9 points in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the quarter. Not long after that, Hamann committed one of his signature turnovers when he drove the lane, couldn’t find anyone to pass the ball to and blindly threw it away… right into the waiting hands of DaShaun Wood, leading to an uncontested ALBA fast break.Bauermann immediately yanked Hamann. On his way to the bench, Hamann didn’t look at Bauermann when he passed him, just gave him a dismissive wave with his hand. Bauermann was not amused. He chased Hamann to his seat on the bench and berated him, his face as red as the hardwood floor in the lanes of FC Bayern’s Audi Dome. To see Bauermann and Hamann go at it and to hear Bauermann angrily ask Hamann “What the fuck are you doing, Steffen?” was well worth the 550 euros for my season ticket behind the Bayern bench.

2. When Bauermann took Hamann out, he called Ben’s number. Jonathan Wallace, Hamann’s regular backup, was busy riding a stationary bike behind the bench. Apparently, he had suffered a minor groin injury in his eight minutes of floor time (in which he looked somewhat overwhelmed at times, turning the ball over on two consecutive possessions against defensive pressure in the backcourt).

So, Hamann was benched, Wallace was injured, Hansbrough stepped on the floor with 6:11 to go in the third quarter. Bayern’s next possession ended with a fastbreak dunk. Hansbrough wasn’t involved in the play, but pumped his fist in celebration. You could tell he was happy to be on the court. That quickly changed when ALBA guard Heiko Schaffartzik drilled back-to-back three-pointers right in his face (although it should be mentioned that Schaffartzik is known for his quick release and his penchant for making absurd threes; and that the first of the two treys came after a pick and roll where Hansbrough and his teammate took just a tad too long to switch/switch back). Somewhat surprisingly, Coach Bauermann kept Ben in the game …

Over the next ten minutes or so, you could tell that Ben was lacking confidence after seeing so little action in the past few weeks – he passed up a few opportunities to shoot or drive to the hoop.

You could also tell, however, that he deserves to be on the court more. He showed good court vision, penetrating and kicking out the ball to guys on the wing or in the corner several times. Once, he drove to the hoop and was fouled, his layup rimming out on an unlucky bounce. He drained both free throws. He dove after a lose ball. He went up for a rebound against three bigger guys, catching the ball before being tumbled over by a teammate – but saving the ball by dribbling it sitting on the court.

He collected an assist on a fast break. He played good defense after Schaffartzik’s two threes, proving that he is indeed able to grasp defensive concepts (an ability Coach Bauermann said he was lacking a few weeks ago) when he was a very active part of the triangle in a Triangle and Two defense designed to slow down Schaffartzik and Wood. He drove to the hoop and dished a nifty pass to Jan Jagla for an easy bucket. He drove again after a nice little headfake, was fouled and had his basket waved off by the referees even though it probably should have counted.

On the negative side, he failed to get a shot off in time after Bayern inbounded the ball with 7 seconds left on the shotclock. He accepted the blame … even though I didn’t see the coaching staff signal him while he was waiting for the inbound. It was probably more of a collective oversight than just Ben’s mistake. On another possession, he ended up with the ball with only two seconds left on the shotclock and had to take a rushed shot that turned into an air ball.

One thing that Coach Bauermann criticized could indeed be seen: Ben was sometimes a little too static without the ball, remaining standing when he was playing off the ball. He also flirted with a turnover at least three times when he stopped right after center court and came to about an inch of an over-and-back violation. At least one of them should probably have been called.

Hansbrough was taken out of the game again with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter. I would have liked to see Coach Bauermann finish the game with Hansbrough and leave Hamann on the bench after their run-in earlier, but that was probably too much to ask. Bauermann put Hamann back in, setting the stage for Hamann to rob Bayern of a chance to tie the game or take the lead when he played a bad pass with 9 seconds to go. (Although that wasn’t the only reason they lost the game. You simply cannot give away three offensive rebounds on one possession in the last minute of a 1-point game.)

Ben’s final stat line doesn’t look too impressive, but he still had a good game. He changed the tempo of Bayern’s game – in a good way – and made the team less predictable. Coach Bauermann said after the game that he was very happy with Ben’s performance. Schaffartzik said Ben changed Bayern’s rhythm. Wood said in an interview with German Hoops: “When he came in he really changed the game. We had control, but lost it a bit as he drove very well to the hoop and found his teammates. I have been following his NCAA career at Notre Dame and was nice that he could show his talent in a big game like this. I am sure that he will get going.”

So, things are looking up for Ben, it seems. But “what’s next”, to quote President Bartlet?

Preview

Bayern are playing St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) in Eurocup competition on Tuesday. Jonathan Wallace will probably not play because of his groin injury, so Ben Hansbrough’s chances of seeing some floor time are not too bad.

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