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 after the 101-79 loss in Ulm.
A tough 101-79 loss in game one in Ulm. How much is the new arena in Ulm become a type of sixth man against opponents?
Its certainly a great venue to play in for not only them, but for the opposing teams as well. There’s nothing quite like silencing a crowd of 6 thousand with a swoosh or a jaw-dropping play as an opponent to get things going on the road. Unfortunately for us, we weren’t able to do it frequently enough and the momentum of the crowd continued to carry the Ulm team into a frenzy of difficult baskets and enthusiasm. Its obviously an advantage for Ulm, but it doesnt have to be if you match their intensity.
The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig had the 21-16 lead after one quarter, but ratiopharm Ulm had a 31 point explosion in the second quarter. What type of adjustments did they seem to make?
I give them credit, make no mistakes about that. However, I don’t think it was as much as what they did as it was how we executed ourselves. We made pivotal turnovers, committed foolish fouls, and when we made rotations, the readiness and the ability to commit to the speed and intensity of the game just wasnt there for some of us. Me, along with Visser spent most of the game being double-teamed and denied the ball inside for most of the game, which forced us to loft jumpshots for 40 minutes. It was a combination of all of these things that put them in the drivers seat. We have to adjust for Thursday to see to it that they’re forced to match our speed and intensity and force them to make adjustments to us if we want to be in the drivers seat at home.
How tough is it in general to defend when you have a hot Per Guenther penetrating and scoring and Isaiah Swann doing his thing?
Per went 5 for 5 from the field, most of which were lay-ups and even an and-one on my part. This can’t be allowed to the smallest guy on the court. Give him credit, he’s very crafty and skilled and you can’t take that away from Per. However, we have to make it more difficult on them. We’re not considered a “tough” team I believe and its unfortunate because we have “tough” players and skilled veterans here. Maybe more so than any other team in the league. We’re not going out to injure or harm anyone, that’s not our scheme. But we do have to make a statement that it won’t be easy to come into the paint and score, it won’t be easy to make a contested shot, it won’t be easy to just cut through the lane and get to where you want to go. Its going to be a team effort to stop those two…nothing more, nothing less.
A must win in game two. Are there any positives that the Phantoms can take out of game one and what will be key in getting the win at home?
For us its all upside and positive. We got a first hand look at exactly what Ulm is trying to do and take away from us in our first playoff meeting. There were several surprises for us and unfortunately we didn’t make the appropriate adjustments quick enough. Nonetheless, we’ll have almost a week to prepare and work on what’s necessary for us to counter whatevers being thrown at us by them. The coaches here are making sure to put us in a position to succeed with our own protocols and schemes. After that, its up to us as players to perform at a high level with intensity and heart to turn the table and have Ulm try to match our eagerness and our readiness as they’ve done before us.
Rajon Rondo has seven play off triple doubles in his career. Do you think he could eclipse the NBA playoff record of 30 by Magic Johnson?
Its certainly possible. We’ve talked about him prior. There was no doubt in my mind he’d return with a lions fury after being suspended and he’s done so thus far. With that said, even if he were to make the playoffs the next 5 years in a row which I’m sure he will, he’d have to have triple doubles almost every game in the post season from now on. Very unlikely, but I still think he’s up to the challenge and falls into that category later on upon his own retirement should he continue making the progress he already has.
Is the 4-0 sweep of the Thunder against the Mavericks a real big surprise or did you await more resisitence from Nowitzki and co?
I was surprised to see Dirk call out his teammates in the press conference and state “they don’t have enough weapons.” I think he has a great rapport with his teammates and everything, but to say that really has to have some validity and honestly, I think it was unfair of him to some degree. Granted they’ve lost the best defensive player in the league in Chandler. I still think that despite that he could have carried them farther. Perhaps he should’ve taken more upon himself to continue encouraging his teammates to continue making plays as they’ve done during the regular season than to take the entire load within himself in the post-season. But what do I know? You have to give the Thunder credit as well. Probably the most athletic back-court in the league next to Miami, so naturally, they’re going to give teams fits as well. I’m a big Dirk fan, so it would have been nice to see them make a series out of it.
What is your favorite food that you like to take in in a post game win at home?
Nothing says “Victory” like a medium-well done steak. I’m a meat an potatoes type of man and throw a nice side salad in with that and the kid couldn’t be happier. I’m hoping to enjoy that cusine several more times this season should everything go our way.
Thanks Rich for the chat.