Rich Melzer is a 32 year old 203cm forward/center from Minneapolis, Minnesota that is playing his first season for the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig. He played at : Wisconsim-River Falls (NCAA3) from 2000-2004. In his 8 year professional basketball career, he has played in countries like New Zealand, France, Israel and Australia. He had his first tour of duty in Germany in the 2007-2008 season with Artland Dragons Quakenbrueck (Germany-1.Bundesliga): ULEB Cup: 2 games: 5.5ppg, 2.0rpg; German League: 1 game: 11pts, 2reb, 1steal. In his rookie season, he took part at the Washington Wizards training camp. Last season he played for Hapoel Holon (Israel-Premier League, starting five): 30 games: 16.8ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 48.6%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 75.3%. He spoke to German Hoops before game one against ratiopharm Ulm.
How excited are you about starting the Beko BBL playoffs against ratiopharm Ulm. Is there anything better to do in May than play playoff basketball?
Its exactly where we wanted to be when the season started this year. In the playoffs, competing at the highest level of basketball in our region is what you work for for 9-10 months of the year. Its here now and its very exciting for all of us.
Braunschweig is coming off a loss against Alba Berlin. The Phantoms had a lot of injury problems this season and have lost Stephen Dennis, but now are pretty healthy. How good is the team currently physically and mentally?
Physically we’re probably as healthy as we’ve been since the beginning of the season. That game against Berlin may not have meant much but its burned a memory in my mind personally because I felt it was a game we could have easily won had everyone been on the same page. It would have been a great opportunity for us to beat a high-caliber team heading into the playoffs with additional confidence. But as I said before, its about togetherness, and when you get one or two guys who don’t completely and fully buy into the “selflessness” of it all nothing will get accomplished. I pray to god we can all be on board when the post-season begins Saturday.
The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig lost all three games this season. How big is the revenge factor in the team to get back at ratiopharm Ulm?
To this day, I think we all feel we should have at least won the game at home for certain, and yes, there is a bit of a revenge factor in there for us. However, we also have a match up with a team that we may not have beaten yet, but we are absolutely certain we can and will.
ratiopharm Ulm has a very strong roster and have been consistent all year long. Is controling John Bryant and Isaiah Swann 70% away from getting the win?
I think our bigs are significantly more mobile than theirs and we’re deeper in our bench in terms of guys who actually play regularly on our team. Hopefully, these are factors we’ll utilize to our advantage. Our guards are bigger and both I-Mac and L. Greer are exceptional post players for guards. Granted Bryant and Isaiah are the catalysts to their success, so stopping both of them on any night is a challenge in itself. I think making it very difficult for them everytime they step on the floor though however is something that is very possible and will take a team effort.
Is this the series where one could see the Beko BBL break through of guard Igor Milosevic?
Igor has played at levels higher than this before. Wheather he’s played significant minutes or not I don’t know but he’s familiar with stress and pressure. He’s also come a long way with our team in the last month even. He’s made really big strides to improve as a floor-general as of late and continues to make big plays under pressure here and make better decisions. The coaches see it obviously, our teammates see it clearly that its there for him to thrive, and he’s continuing to prove to all of us that he can continue to make good decisions when we need him to.
You got a first hand look how success comes playing for Chris Flemming with the Artland Dragons. Does head coach Sebastian Machowski have the extra gusto to lead this team to heroic moments?
You know, those two really have to many different approaches to the game to speak of. My memories with coach Flemming and the things I learned from him and Arnie during that season are things I’ve carried with me throughout my career and will certainly continue to do so. Mind you, I was injured most of that season so I had a different view to watch and observe how cerebral and informative his approach was to the game. There’s no curiosity why he’s had the success he has. Coach Sebastian as well has had success early in his career and I believe he will continue to do so. He gives his players the freedom and space to make things happen on the basketball court. I will say this as well, coach Machowski predicted many weeks ago we were going to win the games necessary to make the playoffs, and then go onto face Ulm in the first round. He said it with such certainty at that time that when it happened it made you realize that maybe as players we don’t facilitate things as much as we thought we did , lol. Its been a treat to play for him this season and I feel he really believes in us.
AMARE STOUDEMIRE injured his hand after a post game loss tirade. Are you surprised that this could happen to a player like him?
Not as surprised as I am saddened for him and the team and just disappointed. He’s one of my favorite players in the NBA. I love his charisma and athleticism and for that to happen to him is really not a good look for him and very unfortunate for the team. What can you do?
With Rajon Rondo missing a game and the team down 1-0, will the Boston Celtics soon have summer vacation?
I think they just lit a fire under Rondo that the Atlanta Hawks are going to later wish they hadn’t. You talk about Chris Paul, and Derron Williams and Derrick Rose, but to often Rondo gets overlooked. In my eyes he’s clearly the best PG in the league. I’d predict that when he comes back, he plays his best basketball of the season and the series goes to 7 games.
NBA commissioner David Stern suggests that this summers London Games may be the last Olympics that will see the league’s top stars. He has hinted future teams may only have under 23 players. Is this something that will hurt or benefit?
I don’t play in the NBA so I can say this and not worry about getting fined, But David Stern isn’t all there as of late. What about Turkey, France, Ukraine, Germany, and Spain and all the other top countries that want to put their best and most skilled veterans up against the states? We’re just going to throw our U-23 team in there and leave our veteran All-Stars home on the couch? I don’t think the players will go for that. They all want to compete against the best in the world just like everyone else. To do that would really hurt not only the game of basketball itself as an international sport but it would hurt the Olympics. David Stern should’ve been replaced around lock-out time. He’s not one of us.
Thanks Rich for the chat.