One thing that is always very interesting and exciting to observe is how a very young German player develops over the years after showing enormous potential at a very young age. In the last years there have been numerous talented players that have gone a healthy route in their development. Who could forget the daring comparison of Stephan Baeck of Tibor Pleiss to Dirk Nowitzki many years ago. Since then the 215cm lanky giant has gone an interesting direction having started with Rhein Energy Cologne where he already played ULEB Cup with 18 years of age. He then went to Bamberg where he won 6 titles, was drafted by the New Jersey Nets and now plays for Caja Laboral Vitoria (Spain-ACB) battling his way to 15 minutes playing time. Another promising German is Robin Benzing who first got some publicity playing for TV Langen and was able to practice with the Frankfurt Skyliners. Instead of playing for Frankfurt, he opted to go to ratiopharm Ulm where he continued to develop under Mike Taylor and was the top german scorer in the 2010-2011 season. Before even playing a single Beko BBL game, he made big strides at the 2009 European championships playing 6 games: 5.5ppg, 1.7rpg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 91.7%. He moved to German tradional team FC Bayern Munich where last season, he seemed a bit lost in a huge rotation, but this season since the arrival of Svetislav Pesic has been reborn and playing superb basketball being a main factor in both wins against Frankfurt. This season a player that has made the biggest strides so far is 19 year old Dennis Schroeder of the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig. Already last season, one could see the unending potential that was stuck in the 181cm point guard. This season he has leaped as it seems over the Swiss alps in his development and now instead of being a young talented bench player has become one of the most reliable players and is currently their leading scorer and is the best point guard behind German national players Per Guenter, Heiko Schaffartzik and Anton Gavel. His rise is simply amazing as he quickly replaced the experienced Miah Davis in the starting rotation. He had some strong games at the start with 16 points against TBB Trier and BBC Bayreuth, but since registering eight points in a 80-85 loss against Tuebingen on November 17th, he has scored in double figures in 10 of 11 games.In this span, he has averaged 15ppg and nearly 4,0apg. He recently scored 20 points in 29 minutes against the Brose Baskets Bamberg while shooting 7/10 from the field. He is making very wise decisions on the court while playing hard defense. When you see his play, he looks like an NCAA top kid ready to fly to the NBA. “Schroeder is getting playing time and getting important experience. As a result of his good play, NBA scouts are looking at him. The question is how well his social competence is in his development as a player. Frank Menz helped to discipline him and how to behave on and off the court. The club has much confidence in him. He plays very boldly and could be a factor for the German national team soon. He needs to keep defense as important as offense, but he is developing in a good way”, stressed basketball expert Steven Clauss. Schroeder who started many games this season as was top scorer in many as well came from the bench for the second straight game against the Fraport Skyliners, but put his stamp on the game in the second quarter scoring 13 points in six minutes turning a close game into a Sunday stroll in downtown Braunschweig leading the Phantoms to a 73-66 win as well as getting any more NBA scout doubters 100% on his side as scouts from the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers were present. After the game a defeated Quantez Robertson gave an emotionless comment about the 19 year German wunderkind. “Schroeder was a huge spark off the bench. His confidence and good shooting were impressive and they were able to keep the lead and win”, stressed Quantez Robertson. It seems also that no young German player in the Beko BBL has developed as quickly as he has in the last three months. “ I think that Dennis was already playing like this when I came at the start of the season. He does great things in practice and it shows in games. He is a leader at his position and always so competitive”, commented 2012 Olypmic competitor Eric Boateng. “Schroeder hurt us today the same way he did in the game when I was with Giessen. He attacked the high pick and role and has a real advantage against the big man. He reads the defense so well, stays low and knows how to draw contact. He has so much confidence when taking shots and his penetration opens it up”, expressed Ryan Brooks. Even young German Johannes Voigtmann of the Fraport Skyliners was in awe of his talent. “Schroeder has been top scorer in many games and just leads the team and his coolness on the court is amazing and when he drives to the hoop, he is always aggressive. He is solid on defense and with his long arms makes it very hard for guards”, added Johannes Voigtman.
The Fraport Skyliners came into the game desperate for a win as they were riding on a four game losing streak and were in 17th place of the standings. The only good news was that basketball history was on their side as they had won the last seven games in Braunschweig and in the last years had won in so many crazy ways like getting a come from behind win in 2010, Pascal Roller winning the game at the end with a jumper, Dashaun Wood winning the game in the last minute and last season getting a massive 26 point 13 rebound performance form ex NBA player Jermareo Davidson. The Fraport Skyliners entered the game knowing it was a must win, but like so often this season were unable to give a 40 minute performance in that they played well in some phases, but at the end when they cut the Braunschweig lead to five points were unable to make big plays when they w ere needed. “We didn´t come out with the energy that we needed and that has happened the last three games. We were fighting to come back, but we were in a hole fast. Then when we got back into the game, our execution wasn’t good, too much one on one and guys were standing around. We need an all around better flow. Our defense wasn´t on the same page in the first half. They did what they wanted to, hitting open shots and in your face shots. In the second quarter, we were more aggressive and forced them to scramble to take quick shots”, stressed ex LTi Giessen 46er Ryann Brooks. The New Yorker Phantoms were coming off a big 84-81 win at home against TBB Trier where Jermaine Anderson nailed a buzzer beater and their self confidence was high, but reality was that they were in 16th place and also needed a win against Frankfurt to distance themselves even more in the standings. Braunschweig hit very well all night long and were consistent enough on defense to keep the Fraport Skyliners at bay when they needed to. “Defense helped us get this win. We stuck together, stayed aggressive and executed. Every player contributed to the win. Jermaine Anderson kept us organized, Dennis Schoeder was big off the bench and Harding Nana hit big shots”, commented Eric Boateng.
A big problem this season for the Fraport Skyliners has been not having the needed energy out of the start block to match the intensity of their opponent, but in Braunschweig they didn´t let the Phantoms break out on a big lead, but kept the game close in the first 10 minutes. Boateng got Braunschweig on the scoreboard first with a lay in after getting a perfect lob pass from Immanuel Mcelroy. The Fraport Skyliners scored on their next two possessions as the ex Giessen connection of Zach Peacock and Ryan Brooks connected. Frankfurt held the tight lead as 30 year old Dawan Robinson did what he does best using his powerful body and scoring with a runner in the lane. Peacock then scored inside, but before Frankfurt could react, ex Bamberg guard Jermaine Anderson dropped a three pointer as the score was 8-8. Now both teams traded runs starting with a Sklyiner -0 run as Laquan Prowell tested his 50% three point shooting nailing from downtown and Super Tez going on the fast break and finding the trailer Peacock for a slam dunk. However Braunschweig responded with their own 5-0 run as Robert Kulawick hit a three pointer and Immanuel Mcelroy snuck back door getting slick pass from Harding Nana as the game was knotted at 13-13. Frankfurt then profited on a Boateng technical foul as Dawan Robinson made both free throws and Devin Gibson tested his 17,7% shooting from the parking lot with a jumper as Frankfurt led 18-13. “Frankfurt got their rhythm on offense quick, were in control on defense and had not allowed any offensive rebounds”, added basketball expert Steven Clauss. Despite the lead, the Phantoms caught Frankfurt sleeping in the last two minutes closing out the first quarter with an 8-2 run to lead 21-20. “The Skyliners found their rhythm fast. I was a bit surprised that Lubos Barton and Dennis Schroeder didn´t play. The only negative ething by the Skyliners was their turnovers. They had to take better care of the ball”, stressed basketball expert Steven Clauss. The New Yorker Phantoms were shooting 54% from the field and 54% from outside while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 53% from the field and 67% from outside. Frankfurt had the 8-6 rebound edge, but five turnovers while Braunschwieg had two turnovers.
In the second quarter Johannes Vooigtman showed his running qualities for a big man getting ahead of the pack on the fast break as Robertson found him for an easy lay up. However then entered Dennis Schrooeder off the bench and led the Phantoms on a 15-4 run for the 36-24 lead as he steered 13 points in six minutes. Schroeder showed a display of calmness and aggressiveness in one and showed how lethal he can be as a scorer. He scored twice with his quick first step and leaving a Gibson and Robinson in the dust. On one play he dribbled all over the court then decided to shoot and hit over Voigtman. He also nailed two three pointers and a pull up jumper and before the Skyliners knew what had happened, they were staring at a 12 point lead by the Phantoms. “They had some easy lay ups, uncontested three pointers and good looks at the rim. They made us pay”, said Quantez Robertson. The Phantoms kept up their furious offense and also had some luck as big 221cm Nick Schneiders missed a dunk, but the ball fell through anyway. Courtney Pigram who is playing his fourth professional season and had 12 NBA workouts as a rookie and came from Wurzburg after a short stint scored inside as Braunschweig led 40-25. Frankfurt found some momentum right before halftime going on a mini 4-0 run as Robertson secured an offensive rebound and did a putback and Gibson scored inside as Frankfurt trailed 44-33. After Pigram made two free throws, there were 4.6 seconds left and Gibson went coast to coast and scored changing the ball from his left to right hand as the Fraport Skyliners trailed 46-35. “The Skyliners fell apart somewhat. They were still shooting well, but their free throws were miserable. The 10 turnovers by Frankfurt were too much. Frankfurt did do a good job keeping Braunschweig to three offensive rebounds”, stressed Steven Clauss. The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were shooting 55% from the field and 33% from the three point line while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 46% from the field and 33% from the three point line. Frankfurt had the 20-15 rebound lead, but 10 turnovers while Braunschweig had three turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners were trailing by 11 points and one would of expected a totally different team, but instead of carrying over some of that momentum from Devin Gibson´s buzzer beater at halftime, the club came out flat letting the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschwieg jump out on a 10-2 run to lead 56-37. The phantoms continued to hit on a consistent rate as Mcelroy hit over Tez, Nana then nailed a three pointer, Boateng strolled into the lane leaving Peacock and Prowell asking for his license plate, and Nana then connected from downtown again. Frankfurt then halted the Phantoms run going on a 6-0 run to cut the Phantoms lead to 56-44 as Robertson got revenge on Mcelroy dropping a three pointer over the Texas native and Prowell and Robinson hit free throws. “Frankfurt was playing for together on offense and got three consecutive stops on defense”, expressed Steven Clauss. Both teams traded baskets in the stretch run of the third quarter as Schneiders hauled down an offensive rebound and made a put back and Nana connected on another three pointer while the Skyliners got support from a Gibson lay in and Voigtmann lay in, but after 30 minutes the Fraport Skyliners still trailed 63-48. “Frankfurt still had no real rhythm on offense, but were defending well. They still had too many turnovers and were taking too many quick shots”, added Steven Clauss. The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were shooting 53% from the field and 41% from the parking lot while the Fraport Skyliners were shooting 44% from the field and 27% from the parking lot. Both teams had 24 rebounds and Frankfurt 13 turnovers while Braunschweig had nine turnovers.
The Fraport Skyliners had one last gasp of energy in the fourth quarter going on a 12-3 run to cut the Braunschweig lead to 66-60. Frankfurt got a lot of support from Johannes Voigtmann who had two offensive rebounds and put backs, Robertson had a steal and lay in on the fast break and Ryan Brooks made a lay up with a hard penetration to the hoop. The Fraport Skyliners had the momentum, but the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were able to get their offense going to halt the Frankfurt run by going on a 5-0 run to put a claw through their throat to extend their lead to 71-60. Schroeder who had been quiet since his ravage outburst in the second quarter nailed a jumper and Mcelroy snuck inside for a lay. With two minutes to play, the Fraport Skyliners attempted their last comeback with a 6-0 run to cut the Phantoms lead to 71-66. Robertson pitched a seemingly 100 miles fast ball to an open Voigtmann who showed his soft hands and ended the play with a dunk. Gibson then made a jumper and Voigtmann two free throws. Braunschweig seemed a bit scared, but they held their nerves closing out the game in style as Peacock and Gibson missed shots in the last minute to help secure the victory for the Phantoms. “We were unable to convert tough shots and they got stops. On the last plays, we weren´t as organized on offense as we should have been”, stressed ex Temple player Ryan Brooks. “They made a run at the end, but we played good defense when we needed to and executed our offense. They hit us with full court press, but we still did a good job executing our offense”, added Eric Boateng.
The New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig were led by Dennis Schroeder with 18 points. Immanuel Mcelroy contributed 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Harding Nana produced 10 points and eight rebounds. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Devin Gibson with 13 points. Johannes Voigtmann contributed 12 points. Zach Peacock added 10 points and seven rebounds and Quantez Robertson produced 10 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Frankfurt shot solid from the field with 43%, but continue to shoot poorly from outside at 21%. Frankfurt won the rebounding 34-33 and both teams had 14 turnovers a piece. Frankfurt knows what they have to do better in the next game, but if they can turn off the problems is unknown. “We haven´t played bad in the last three games, but it shows it just wasn´t enough. We have to stop trailing early, because it hurts us and we use up too much energy. We have to play solid form the start”, warned Johannes Voigtmann. The next game is against the Walter Tigers Tuebingen and all the Fraport Skyliners can do is go back to the office and try try again, but not lose hope. “When you lose so much, it effects you mentally. We have to keep fighting. We have shown that we can play, but we have to show it for 40 minutes”, warned Fraport Skyliner guard Devin Gibson.