The Walter Tigers Tuebingen Breathe Near Playoff Aroma, But Will It Ever Become A Reality?

Chicago Cubs Fans have been wishing for a World Series win since 105 years  and have had to hear the heckling of White Sox fans since 2005 why they can´t win, kids dreaming of meeting a Messi or Ronaldo or just getting an autograph or for any unknown actor to be able to work with legendary actor Robert De Niro. Well it hasn´t been 105 years, but in the pretty country town of Tuebingen hard core basketball fans have been waiting  to see basketball in May and just taste that playoff atmosphere since entering the league in 2004. Tuebingen is your typical small city with 89,000 people living there, has the beautiful Neckar river, unending nature to observe in the many parks, a high abundance of scholars and the basketball club Walter Tigers Tuebingen. There isn´t too much to do in Tuebingen, but it is always a momentous experience taking in a game in the Paul Horn arena seeing the breathtaking atmosphere and wondering if Tiger mascot Walter ever cringes in his sleep about the blinding pink in the arena. The Walter Tigers Tuebingen since their arrival in 2004 have never been more than a foot note in the Beko BBL, but in the last years the club has made a nice development and have made more of a name for themselves.

The Walter Tigers Tuebingen have been known in the past few years as being one of those Beko BBL teams that doesn´t have the biggest budgets, but still have the power to haul in talented and interesting players within their budget that offer themselves to better teams with strong seasons in the Swaben city. In the past years, players like AJ Moye, Michael Haynes, Branislav Ratkovica or Jermaine Anderson have used The Walter Tigers Tuebingen as a place to tone their skills while also enjoying some juicy meat at the OX US steakhouse after practice or games. Tigers head coach Igor Perovic came on board in 2009 and has done a fine job keeping the team in the middle pack of the standing and sometimes grazing on the boundry  of the playoff places like a famished cow on the pasture always hungry for more while having talented players according to their budget. Perovic was responsible for bringing in somewhat established players like Romeo Travis, Michael Jenkins, Chris Oliver and Dane Watts who have all moved on to bigger and better things on the basketball map. Especially in 2011-2012, the Serb head coach had the right feeling bringing in Josh Young from the PRO B, Vaughn Duggins and Tyrone Nash from the NCAA and Reggie Redding from Cyprus and all four players eclipsed expectations and didn´t follow the trend of past years and fleeing to snatch the bigger bucks somewhere else, but already got contract extensions during their rookie seasons. It isn´t a secret that finding the right mix of players can have a huge impact on team chemistry and how a team does in the standings.

Already early in their existence in the Beko BBL, Tuebingen had some good seasons leaning on the back door of the playoffs finishing the 2006 season in 12th place and 2007 season in 10th. The 2008 and 2009 seasons weren´t as spectacular, but since head coach Igor Perovic came on board in 2009, the team has played more consistent and the season ending standings placement tell the story. In 2010, they finished in 12th place having a six game winning streak in the second half of the season including a buzzer beater ally op score and win against Bamberg from Romeo Travis, but losing consistency in the last months losing eight of the last 13 games. In 2010-2011, they finished in 11th place but a six game losing streak in March hindered any playoff appearance and in 2011-2012, the Tigers finished in 12th place with a much needed winning streak being absent at the end. Perovic is a players coach that knows how to get the best from his players. He has a very high reputation in the Beko BBL. He will never win a shouting duel on the sidelines with Sasa Obradovic as he is more reserved, but he knows his xs and os and gets the most out of the talent that he has.

The Walter Tigers Tuebingen have never been as close to the playoffs as they were  last season. It has been another very positive season for the Tigers as everybody saw them as a team that would be living in the middle of the standings last season. The team chemistry last season was heightened in that Perovic was able to keep many players from last season. Perovic who has been known for having the right touch finding the correct players from the NCAA to help his team in the best way possible the same way a Rick Pitino does for his Louisville team. Perovic brought in Kenny Frease who gave more stability under the boards and possibly his unorthodox gum chewing may have been a secret weapon to intimidating opponents. He also had the right feeling bringing in talented German Johannes Lischka who carried the team and stepped up in many games last season. Perovic did have one misfire with Dale Douglas who was unable to make the jump from the NCAA to the Beko BBL being released early in the season, but he had another strike with American Cameron Wells who brought consistency to the guard position. With one game left in the regular season, the Beko BBL remained as exciting as ever with a bunch of teams seemingly wrapped together in sticky spaghetti trying to break free to get the last playoff places. It remained very exciting for Phoenix Hagen, the Telekom Baskets Bonn and s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg, and also for Tuebingen. The only way Tuebingen could have reached the playoffs was with a win in Ulm and getting much help from  MBC, Bamberg and FC Bayern  Munich. It was a pity for the diehard Tiger fans that it just didn´t want to be again as they lost in Ulm, but the Tigers are getting closer and closer each season. All in all it was another successful season for Tuebingen and the club continues to make strides in their growth as they finished in 10th place. Everybody talks about the exceptional work of coaches like Sebastian Machwoski and Ingo Freyer, but a Igor Perovic deserves to be mentioned with them. Tuebingen would not be where it is now without the guidance of the Serb. It will be interesting to see what happens in the offseason and if key players can be kept like a Vaughn Duggings, Kenny Frease or Tyrone Nash. Reggie Redding probably will be gone and deserves to play for a Euroleague team. Perovic already has gotten busy dabbling with NCAA talent signing Ben Simons and hauling in experienced Nils Mittmann. Perovic also brought back his friend Aleksandar Nadjfeji as an assistant coach/player. Possibly this Serbian duo can bring that playoff magic in the future? The trend in Tuebingen is up and the next step is for the Tigers to munch on Beko BBL teams in the playoffs even if they have to keep playing a sort of basketball lottery each off season.

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