The area of the 12,881 population of frog town Quackenbruck may not be large, but there is still interesting things to do like following the 3,1km Froschpfad to observe the historic sites, chowing down on yummy Buchweizenpfannkuchen a speciality from there, spending a day in the many beautiful parks or in the past seeing a jubilant Darius Hall showcasing his big smile while bicycling from home to practice, but nothing is more exciting than following the basketball team Artland Dragons. The team has stood for success since they arrived in the Beko BBL in 2003 reaching the playoffs 5 times out of 8 times and missing three times on account of a 9th place finish. In the last two seasons the team has had extra suspense as they have had top point guards Tyrese Rice and this season David Holston. The point guard position is the most important position on the floor and with Rice the team had the second best scorer and fourth best assist man. There was a bit of uneasiness at the start of this season if Holston could fill the shoes of Rice, but so far the smallest player in the league from Detroit at 167m, he is second in scoring, assists and steals. Holston has been a big reason for the success as he has scored in double figures every time this season in the Beko BBL except for against BBC Bayreuth who have held him in check. He scored 29 points against Giessen, 26 points against Tuebingen and won both head to head duels against top guards Je Kel Foster and Bobby Brown. Who could forget his four three pointer in overtime against FC Bayern Munich giving Dirk Bauermann a long uncomfortable trip back to Bavaria.” I think Holston has fit in nicely with the team and been able to be one of the leaders on the court. He’s able to score, set up his teammates, and control the game so he’s a really solid PG”, warned ex MBC center Velimir Radinovic. One has to wonder how Stefan Koch knew they were the right players or if a special basketball frog gave him the right slip of paper and name during the summer? “I think he probably has a certain mould that he would like his point guard to fit, and recruits players that fit that profile. Rice and Holston are both capable of controlling the tempo of the game and running the team, but they can also drop 30 on you so you can never relax when defending that type of player. I think Rice had more of a scorer’s mentality and maybe not a pure PG. He was maybe looking to shoot first, pass second.”, added ex Ohio State center Velimir Radinovic.
But come the playoffs in May 2012, which player will have helped the Dragons most? “They are both very quick and can get to the basket, but I would say that Rice would maybe shoot himself out of games sometimes. Holsten is 5’8 (on a good day) so his size is maybe a bit of an issue, however he’s shown the ability to get his shot off over people and get to the basket and finish”, added Velimir Radinovic. It seems, like winning a title will answer the question as to which point guard will have won this duel. After winning their first BEKO BBL title with the cup in 2008 against EnBW Luwdigsburg in Hamburg in 2008, it seemed like the Artland Dragons were on a positive way with possible future hardware, but instead the club might secretly have been dreaming of the glory day in Hamburg where Darius Hall was in the middle of a swarm of Artland fans celebrating the win, because ever since that big title, the team has been looking for another success and missed the playoffs two seasons in a row. The Artland Dragons have been about as unlucky not reaching the playoffs the two seasons as a Formula one driver is racing the race of their life and then dropping out because the engine dies in the last lap as German Sebastian Vettel recently had to accept or poor cute lovable polar bear Knut who is being shunned by three female bears including his mother who can´t remember he is her kid.
In 2009, they had to win the last game and did crushing Frankfurt 90-69, but not reaching the playoffs because Paderborn won on the last day against BG Goettingen and in 2010, they made a last comeback winning the last four games, but losing their last game 82-80 to the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven a game they had to win missing the playoffs again. “I think that in 2010, Artland was lacking a guard who could control the team until the end. Ross was more of a scoring guard and Price could of done job, but he came to late in season to turn it around. The chemistry was lacking too and it seemed like players had their own agenda”, stressed Quentin Pryor. Last season, The Artland Dragons finally reached the Beko BBL playoffs again after a two year drought where they should of made it finishing the season with a record of 23-11 and landing in fourth place. They went the distance in the Beko BBL playoffs in the quarters beating a feisty Braunschweig team where the yhad to come from 2-1 down to win and in the semi finals gave a very hard fight against 4 time Beko BBL champion Brose Baskets Bamberg bowing out 83-55 in game five. During the season, they had three three game winning streaks and one five game winning streak. They finished the season strong heading in to the Beko BBL playoffs winning eight of their last 10 games. They were unable to beat Bamberg in the regular season, but lost twice only by a combined score of 8 points. They were able to beat Alba Berlin once, the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven and BG Goettingen. One thing that The Artland Dragons improved on was not getting lost on defense. we didn’t lose our defensive focus when we weren’t scoring on the offensive end. Earlier in the year, when we would miss shots, our defensive intensity would go down. Later we are able to move on to the next play, without thinking about our past mistakes”, stressed Artland Dragon guard Bryan Bailey.
“Last season their strength was their speed and ability to score at a high pace. If you allowed them to play this then they can score 80 points plus. A hidden strength is that they were a very confident team and feel and play as if they were the best team in the league”, warned Kyle Hines. “Another strength of the team was their depth, they were deep at each position and continued to get better. The weakness if there had to be one is just being consistent but they were doing that late in season”, said John Bynum.
After the strong season last year, the Artland Dragons would be crazy not to want to equal or better their accomplishment from last season. The team got rid of eight players including Tyrese Rice who fled to top team Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius. However the club was able to keep a core of six players from last season with top center Darren Fenn who seems to get better with age, sharp shooter Adam Hess who has found a second home in Quackenbruck, versatile forward Nathan Peavy, the heart and sould of the team and defense Bryan Bailey , German veteran Johannes Strasser who can always hurt an opponent with his timely scoring and the glue who keeps the team together from the bench Florian Hartenstein. The team brought in David Holston who had two strong seasons in Turkey and quickly has made the name Tyrese Rice forgotten. The team also got Anthony Hilliard who had a strong season in Belgium and is a strong rebounder for his height, mr muscle Anthony King who has developed fine in Cyprus the last years and is ready to make the next step and make an impact in the Beko BBL, German veteran Guido Grunheid who has won 7 German titles and German Christian Hoffmann. Recently the club brought in insurance at the guard position with experienced guard Goran Jeretin and high scoring Brandon Thomas.
This season, the Artland Dragons started the season slowly losing two of their first three games including a shocking 110-109 loss in Giessen. However since that less than satisfactory start, the Dragons have cruised in sixth gear winning eight of their last 10 games. Their biggest wins of the season have been against FC Bayern Munich where David Holston won the game in overtime hitting four three pointers and recently outdueling the EWE Baskets Oldenburg and putting the Dragons as the most closest opponent to Bamberg and Alba Berlin. “. Artland has been able to put up a lot of points on several occasions, and they have several players averaging double digit points, so they’re offensively very dangerous. It’s very much like Bamberg’s attack, leading the league statistically but they can all get the job done. They are playing very well as a team. Artland has a lot of weapons, I think their X-Factor is Peavy, he can post you up and draw fouls to get to the line, and shoot from outside.”, added ex Tuebingen player Velimir Radinovic. A strength for years with the Dragons has been their depth and that continues to be true, but a weakness is that they can tend to give up more points than what Stefan Koch may like, injuries has hurt the team in the first months as they have never had a full squad to practice and have been delayed in forming that top chemistry as guys have gotten injured and new guys have come in with Jeretin and Thomas who need to be integrated and the club surprisingly lost the maker of the success of the team manager Marko Beens who left to become the CEO of the German Vollyball league. With the Beko BBL getting stronger each season, is it possible for an Artland to disrupt the triple title threat of Bamberg? “I’m not sure if Artland can win it all but I think they’re definitely a threat. The league is wide open, I don’t see Bamberg dominating like the past years but you can never count them out”, stressed Velimir Radinovic.
The Frankfurt Skyliners have had unfond memories to playing The Artland Dragons having a 7-8 record since 2005 and during 2005-2007 losing all four games including being outscored in the Artland arena 172-129. However, the tide turned for the better from 2007-2009 as The Deutsche Bank Skyliners had a 3-1 record. Three years ago, they celebrated a very big emotional win 87-75 winning in overtime as captain Pascal Roller sparked Frankfurt to the win with 26 points. two seasons ago on the last day, Frankfurt lacked spirit and were beaten in every phase of the game losing 90-69. Last season, the team lost a thriller 77-76 in Artland as Frankfurt staged one of their famous comebacks despite a late Pascal Roller three pointer, it was enough as they lost. Frankfurt was able to win at home 77-65 as Pascal Roller scored 20 points. However Frankfurt is 3-4 in Quackenbruck since 2005. Frankfurt won their first show down last season on the road winning 82-56 coming out of half time with a 24-8 run to easily win. Frankfurt was led by AJ Moye with 18 points and six rebounds and fans will remember a crashing dunk by ex NBA player Roger Powell. Frankfurt also won their home encounter 83-72 as Dashaun Wood had a Derrick Rose type of game making 29 points, 9 assists, five rebounds and four steals. The team lost a meaningless cup game in Bamberg against Artland where both teams played for third place and Frankfurt was without Dashaun Wood. The Fraport Skyliners want to end 2011 on a winning note, but will have their hands full against The Artland Dragons. The Fraport Skyliners have been defending very well as of late and will need to continue to play at a very high level of intensity on the defensive end and hope for an off day on defense from the Artland Dragons. The Fraport Skyliners have only won one game at home and need to show the Artland Dragons who is boss in their own living room and start getting some wins at home. The Artland Dragons have a 3-3 record on the road, coming off a big road win in Oldenburg. “The Skyliners have to go out and play up to their potential. They’ve had some disappointments this season, but if they can get out and run, and get their mobile bigs some easy buckets on Pick&Roll and keep Artland guessing on defense they’ve got a shot to win”, added Velimir Radinovic. After the big win in Goettingen, the Fraport Skyliners are well aware of the challenge they will have against the Artland Dragons. “They are one of the top teams and deserve to be there. We have to continue to stay strong on defense. On offense, we have to let the ball move and create good shots”, warned Marius Nolte. Mckinney had his usual demenour after the game and is already focusing on the Dragons. “We have to execute on offense and defense and not let them get easy baskets and get out on transition”, warned Jimmy Mckinney. Jacob Burtschi remembers many Artland Dragon players from last season and has erased the 35 minutes of good play from his memory bank. “We have to play excellent for 40 minutes, because they have sound roster from point guard to center. They have no real flaws. We have to leave it on the floor and give all we have”, warned Jacob Burtschi.
The Artland Dragons are led by David Holston who is a 25 year old 167cm point guard from Pontiac, Michigan.
He is playing his first season in the Beko BBL and he played at Chicago St. (NCAA) from 2005-2009 and in his senior year played 32 games: 25.9ppg, 3.7rpg, 6.4apg, 3.0spg, FGP: 42.6%, 3Pts: 37.2%, FT: 82.4%. He played his first two professional basketball seasons with Pinar Karsiyaka SK Izmir (TBL): Turkish League: 32 games: 14.8ppg, 2.6rpg, Assists-2(6.0apg), Steals-2(2.2spg), FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT-2(92.5%); EuroChallenge: 16 games: 14.1ppg, 2.6rpg, 4.2apg, Steals-5(2.1spg), FGP: 41.4%, 3PT: 35.2%, FT: 84.8%. He is a two time Turkish Allstar.
The Artland Dragons recently brought in Brandon Thomas for a one month contract to help fill the void at the guard position. He is a 26 year old 198 cm shooting guard/small forward who started in 2009-2010 with MEG Goettingen, but left, because he was supposed to play a position that he was not used to playing. Even though, he only played sparingly at UMASS in his senior year averaging 4,0ppg and 1,1rpg in the 2006-2007 season, he came to Europe in 2007 and exploded in the leagues in Norway and Austria. In Norway, he led the league in scoring with Fog Naestved averaging 24,5ppg, 4,6rpg, 3,2apf, 2,0spg and 1,0bpg. He was the Danish player of the year in 2008 and was MVP of the 2008 Allstar game. In 2008-2009, in Austria, he played for Kraftwerk Wels averaging 20,2ppg, 3,2rpg, 2,5apg. He has a great basketball IQ, can defend anyone and likes to finish around the rim. In 2009-2010 for Braunschweig, he played 40 games: 10.6ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 57.4%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 74.6%. Last season for the Phantoms he played : 37 games: 14.3ppg, 4.6rpg, 2.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 60.5%, 3PT: 41.2%, FT: 78.7%. This season he played in Italy for Vanoli-Braga Cremona averaging 4,1ppg and 2,7rpg.
American Nathan Peavy is a 26 year old 201 cm forward from Dayton, Ohio that is playing his fifth season in Germany and third with the Artland Dragons. He comes from a sports family as his father, Terry, played basketball at the University of Pittsburgh and was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1979 and mother, Nila, was a swimmer for the University of Pittsburgh, a native of Puerto Rico, Nila was a member of the Puerto Rican national team and swam in the Pan-American Games. Peavy also has the Puerto Rico citizenship. Last season for the Dragons, he played 33 games: 10.8ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 51.4%, 3PT: 38.1%, FT: 72.2% .“He can move very well and is very athletic. He is very versatile and can hurt a team inside and out”, stated Giessen center Jannik Freese. He played at the University of Miami at Ohio and played for Paderborn from 2007-2009. Last summer, he played for Vaqueros de Bayamon (Puerto Rico-BSN, starting five): 7 games: 13.7ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.6apg, 1.9bpg, FGP: 57.1%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 81.1%. He played at the World Championships in Turkey 1or Puerto Rico in 2010 playing 5 games: 9.6ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 41.7%, 3PT: 57.1%, FT: 66.7%.
Darren Fenn is a 31 year old 208 cm center from Tonawanda New York who is playing his seventh season in Germany and fourth in Quackenbruck after having also played in Bremerhaven and Bamberg. “He is also very versatile. He can score from outside, but also can post up and he is very strong”, stressed Jannik Freese. Fenn was one of the most dominating players in the German BEKO BBL over the last five seasons. He was the 7th most efficient player in German BBL for the 2009/10 season. He finished the 2008/09 EUROCUP season as the 6th best scorer with 15,8 ppg. He is an unstoppable inside player with a lot of skills and post up moves and is a high percentage 3-pt. shooter with range. His two seasons playing in Bamberg under Coach Bauermann, he improved his defensive and rebounding skills. He is a all-rounder who can post up, hit the jump hook, take the midrange jump shot, fill the lane on the fast break, score on a put back after the offensive rebound, or hit the 3-point shot. He can defend both inside positions, plays always with great intensity and has great quickness for his size and a strong lower body. Last season, Fenn played 38 games: 11.8ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 41.0%, FT: 70.6%.
Anthony King is a 26 year old 206cmpower forward/center from Durham, North Carolina. He is back in the Beko BBL after playing in Cyprus and Greece the last two years. He gives the team an additional scoring threat in the post as well as rebounding, is a physical performer who doesn’t mind mixing it up down low and gives the team added toughness in the paint. He played at Miami, FL (NCAA) from 2003-2008 playing 34 games in his senior year averaging 7.1ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.3apg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 43.1%, FT: 68.9%. He played for the Deutsche Bank Skyliners in his rookie season. In 2009-2010, he played for InterCollege Etha Engomis (Cyprus-Division A, starting five): Score-5(236 pts), Reb-1(148 rbs), Blocks-2(24 blocks). Last season, he remained with InterCollege Etha Engomis (Cyprus-Division A, starting five): Cypriot League: EuroChallenge: 8 games: 17.0ppg, 8.4rpg, 1.1apg, Blocks-1(2.0bpg), FGP: 53.6%, FT: 76.2%; Cyprus League: 16 games: 14.3ppg, Reb-2(10.0rpg), 1.1apg, 1.3spg, Blocks-2(1.8bpg), FGP: 54.1%, 3PT-3(50.0%), FT: 76.8%; Playoffs: 10 games: 14.2ppg, 10.4rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 51.4%, FT:80%, after winning the championship moved in Apr.’11 to Aris Thessaloniki (Greece-A1, starting five): 9 games: 8.1ppg, 5.8rpg, FGP: 50.8%, FT: 57.9%. He was won the double in Cyprus with InterCollege Etha Engomis.
The team also added Anthony Hilliard who is a 25 year old 193cm shooting guard/small forward from Fayetteville, North Carolina. In his last three seasons in the NCAA2, he averaged 11,0rpg. He played at Elizabeth City (NCAA2) from 2005-2009 and in his senior year played 28 games: 22.9ppg, 11.0rpg, 2.5apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 47.4%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 68.6%. In 2009-2010, he played for VOO Verviers-Pepinster (Belgium-D1): 32 games: 13.1ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 46.4%, 3PT: 42.3%, FT: 73.0%. Last season, he played for Generali Okapi Aalstar (Belgium-D1, starting five): EuroChallenge Qualifying Round: 2 games: 11.5ppg, 7.5rpg, 1.5apg, 2.0spg; Belgian League: 38 games: 14.2ppg, Reb-4(7.3rpg), 1.9apg, FGP: 53.5%, 3PT: 28.0%, FT: 62.5%.
Adam Hess started his third tour of duty for the Artland Dragons last season and is back for another season. The trend the last years has always shown that Hess can´t stay away for more than two years as he played the first time with the Dragons in 2006 and the second time in 2008. Hess is a 29 year old 201cm forward from Michigan. He is a quick forward with not so great athletic skills, but very effective at the scoring department. He’s a tough player, however, and knows how to battle inside for a rebound and he defends well and has a great attitude. He played at William & Mary and also has gained experience playing in Italy, Czech Republic, France and Spain. In the Czech republic he won the league title twice with Nymburk and the Czech Rep. League All-Star Game -05 (3-Points Shootount Winner) in 2006. In 2009/2010, he played for C.B. Tarragona 2016 (Spain-LEB Gold, starting five): 34 games: 14.8ppg, 5.6rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 45.4%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 88.1%. He had much success in the Czech Republic winning the league title in 2005 and 2006 and showing his shooting ability winning the 2005 Allstar game three point shooting contest. Last season, Hess played 44 games: 8.6ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 50.9%, 3PT: 43.1%, FT: 76.3%.
29 year old 190cm combo guard Johannes Strasser is playing his second season with The Artland Dragons. He is a very strong point guard that can hit the open three pointer at any time, penetrate and finish or find the open guy and is a pest on defense. He started his basketball career at Rhondorf in 1999. He had a very successful time with Rhein Energy Cologne from 2001-2007 winning the 2006 BBL league title and three cup titles in 2004,2005 and 2007. He played with the Telekom Baskets Bonn from 2007-2010 reaching the BEKO BBL title twice. His job is to come from the bench and help out at the point or hurt opponents with his deadly three pointer. Last season, he played 40 games: 6.4ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 87.2%.
Guido Grunheid is a 29 year old 209cm forward from Jena that is playing his first season for the Artland Dragons. He is an in-betweener forward with the height (but not the size) of a 4 and the quickness (but not the ball handling and the shot) of a 3. A good rebounder and a hustler. He played for Alba Berlin from 2001-2005 winning three BEKO BBL titles and two cup titles. He then moved to Rhein Energie Koln in 2005 where he won his fourth BEKO BBL title in 2006 and another cup in 2007. He got added experience playing in Holland for Hanzevast Capitals Groningen . He also has gained valuable experience playing for the German national team as he was a member playing at the 2006 World Championships in Japan and at the 2007 European Championships in Spain. Last season for MBC, he played 33 games: 7.3ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 58.9%, 3PT: 23.0%, FT: 44.7%. Bryan Bailey is a 31 year old 185cm guard who comes from New York and played in Quackenbruck from 2004-2007 and is back for his fifth season.He is a team leader both on and off the court. He possesses a diverse game, with an ability to stroke the long-range jumper, penetrate to the rim or distribute the ball and is solid on the defensive end of the floor as well. He is a fierce competitive drive rubs off on his teammates. Bailey played at Bucknell and has gained experience having played in Holland and Poland. He reached the playoffs three times with Artland form 2004-2007 and the cup final in 2007. Last season, the American played 41 games averaging 11.5ppg, 2.4rpg, 3.2apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 77.2%.
Florian Hartenstein is a 34 year old 206cm center that was born in Mainz, Germany and played at the University of Oregon before turning professional and playing at Giessen from 2001-2009 playing 227 games. He is starting his 11th professional season in Germany and third with the Artland Dragons. He is a competitor and tough defender and an important player for the team not only on the court but also off the court keeping the team together. He runs the floor very well and likes contact underneath the basket and has a unique shooting technique. Last season, he played 17 games: 1.6ppg, 1.1rpg. “My man Flo is a good defender, is tough and is an important part of the team”, stressed ex teammate Jannik Freese.5ppg, 2.4rpg, 3.2apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 52.2%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 77.2%.
The team recently signed Goran Jertin who is a 32 year old 192cm guard from Montenegro. He plays a physical game; defends hard, looks for the contact when he’s at the offensive side; knows a lot of ways to score; the fans love him, the opponents not so much. He played for : KK Crvena Zvezda Beograd from 2003-2006. In 2006-2007, he played for Dynamo St.Petersburg (Russia-A Superleague): the team went bankrupt in Oct.’06, then signed at BC Buducnost Podgorica (Montenegro-1A, starting five): Adriatic League: 18.1 ppg, 2 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.6 spg., in Jan.’07 moved to Maccabi Elite Tel-Aviv (Israel-Premier League): Israeli League: 17 games: 5.0ppg, 2.1apg; Euroleague: 10 games: 5.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.0apg, 2FGP: 56.3%, 3FGP: 31.8%, FT: 80%. In 2007-2008, he signed with ALBA Berlin (Germany-1.Bundesliga): ACL injury before the season and never played. In 2008-2009, he played for BC Kyiv (Ukraine-Superleague): Ukrainian League: 19 games: 6.2ppg, 1.6rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 66.7%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 78.3%; EuroChallenge: 8 games: 6.4ppg, 2.1rpg, 1.8apg, 1.0spg; Eurocup Qualifications: 2 games: 6.0ppg, 1.0rpg, 2.0apg, left in Feb.09, then moved to Proteas EKA AEL Limassol (Cyprus-Division A), EuroChallenge: 4 games: 5.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 2.5apg; played only in EuroChallenge, not in Cypriot League. In 2009-2010, he played for BC Buducnost Podgorica (1A): Adriatic League: 25 games: 11.2ppg, 1.9rpg, 3.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 51.0%, 3PT: 35.9%, FT: 84.3%; EuroChallenge: 11 games: 12.2ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.9apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 31.5%, FT: 81.1%, in Mar.’10 moved to Turk Telekom Ankara (Turkey-TBL, starting five): 8 games: 7.5ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 80.0%. Last season, he played for : Lokomotiv Kuban (Russia-PBL): EuroChallenge: 15 games: 4.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 2.8apg, 1.0spg; Russian League: 35 games: 6.1ppg, 1.5rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 41.3%, 3PT: 38.6%, FT: 82.1%. This season, he started with Lietuvos rytas Vilnius (Lithuania-LKL): Euroleague Qualifying Round: 3 games: 5.3ppg, 1.3apg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 25.0%, left in Oct.’11, in Nov.’11 moved to Artland Dragons Quakenbrueck. He has won four titles in his career and played at the European Championships in Lithuania -11: 5 games: 10.4ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.6apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 42.9%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 84.2%.
The Fraport Skyliners host the Artland Dragons on December 30th.