Will The Fraport Skyliners Be A Grab Bag Team This Season?



Back in the day even at the most boring children´s birthday parties like at the local pizza place munching on soggy pie, trying to find humor at the bowling alley while trying to hit a strike and stay clear of the gutter, riding lame donkeys up and down the tiny backyard in your home or playing boring board games while counting each second to when it was time to go home, there was almost always a constellation prize for kids when the party was over with the traditional grab bag or party favor. This going home present was a way to say thanks for coming and by the way here is a gift for you.  Gifts range from tiny toys, candy and pencils. Once you are of a mature age and are able to visit a wedding, there a person has the chance to get a more sophisticated gift like classic favors that can go from the classic sugared almonds or  delicious chocolates to candles and scented soaps. Modern gift trends include CDs with the most desired music of the bride and groom, shot glasses filled with colored candy or beautiful picture frames with a photo of the couple. So what does all this grab bag jibber jabber have to do with the 2013-2014 Fraport Skyliners? Well this is a team that has been constructed in a way that it will be hard to make a real defined prediction what this team will be able to achieve and is sort of like getting a grab bag served at a function and not knowing what is inside it. Guessing how many wins the Fraport Skyliners will achieve this season is no different than having had to predict how many cheese balls legendary comedian Chris Farley could have eaten in the cheese ball machine in a minute, how many times Allen Iverson would utter practice in a practice 2 press conference or how many goals soccer god Lionel Messi will hammer into the goal this season as he already got off to a good start in the first win of the season netting two goals for FC Barcelona. Just the notion of not knowing what this club is capable to achieve makes this season so interesting and exciting in the Beko BBL.

The Fraport Skyliners have returned 2004 BBL champion Gordon Herbert back to Frankfurt for a third tour of duty. In the last years as is the case for most Beko BBL teams except for TBB Trier, Americans are as abundant on rosters as are NBA players on the French national team. Since the 6/6 ruling, there has been more of a need for German players to be on Beko BBL rosters. And since that is the case why have German players rotting on the bench when one can give them minutes and let them develop in a more healthy way. The Fraport Skyliners have usually always lived with their Americans, but already last season showed their interest in getting young Germans playing time. This season the club has only five  imports with Quantez Robertson, Dawan Robinson, Jacob Burtschi, Aziz N’Diaye and raw gem shooter with a golden pistol Andy Rautins.The club this season has displayed a desire to implement more Germans and possibly have fans chant “Here come the German Skyliners. The club has six German players younger than 22 years of age. The team kept Konstantin Klein, Johannes Voigtmann and Danilo Barthel from last season and these guys most surely will get even more minutes this season. The club also added two more Germans with U-18 German national player Stefan Ilzhoefer who was a very interesting pick up that will also get extra playing time with the Pro B team. He comes from the Ludwigsburg system and recently played the European Championships U18 Division B in Strumica (FYR Macedonia) playing  9 games and averaging 6.3ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 61.5%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 40.0%. The club also hauled in Kevin Bright who is a 20 year old 196cm swing man from Mannhiem. He comes from the Ehingen program and left  a lasting impression from his rookie season in the NCAA with  Vanderbilt (NCAA) where he played 33 games averaging 6.9ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 41.8%, 3PT: 40.6%, FT: 58.8%. He was the leading rebounder on the team and few will forget his buzzer beater winner against Georgia. It seems like more and more teams are trying to follow the TBB Trier route of developing young Germans. “I like this new concept of the Skyliners. It is an interesting mix of German talents. The club has kept them for the long term which gives the club planning security and allows the Germans to develop calmly”, stressed ex Basketball player and Lumani agent Jan Rohdewald. The club hopes that all players will develop in their own way, but seeing who develops the best and fastest is also has a type of grab bag effect. “Voigtmann, Klein and Barthel already got their minutes last season and they will profit from it this season. It is really very hard to say, who will develop the best, but all three will make a step forward, plus a very good player with Kevin Bright has joined them. I think that Johannes Voigtmann is very talented, but he needs to get even fitter and use his potential more. He is an intelligent player that already last season had good games.  I think that he will get even more consistent this season”, warned Jan Rohdewald.

Gordon Herbert is a diehard basketball freak that stands for focusing on grooming the tactical measures on the court with his players. In the last two seasons, the Fraport Skyliners had difficulty scoring averaging under 70 points a game and survived many games simply by letting up fewer points and just buckling down and defending for 40 minutes as if it was their last game ever. Relying on top defense surely will be a goal for Gordon Herbert this season as one doesn´t meet more bull dog like defenders than Quantez Robertson and Konstantin  Klein. So making big defensive plays and getting out on the break leading to easy points is something that the team will need to have function. The team may not have the consistent scorers that can individually decide a game even though Quantez Robertson has improved his scoring and Jacob Burtschi can have big games on any night, so the team will have to play as a team each night and need output consistently from each guy 1-12 on the roster. It also won´t help the team if they start out slow like they did the last two seasons under Muli Katzurin because the heroic like second half they had two seasons ago where they had NBA players like Jermareo Davidson and Tim Ohlbrecht to save the day won´t be present this time around. The Fraport Skyliners will also have to get off to a good start and some of the young players will have to take over responsibility.There is no fear that the big German three Klein, Voigtmann and Barthel can do that and a Kevin Bright could be the big surprise, because he had the best experience for his age last season playing against the best in the NCAA. One should never underestimate a Gordon Herbert in that he is known for getting the best out of his players so why shouldn´t he be able to do that from his young players. How well Dawan Robinson will be able to follow up his amazing play from last season is still to be seen as he began contact practice in mid September If he returns to be the old sweet Philly from last season, then this team could surprise many folks. Making a prediction is difficult, because the Beko BBL is so competitive and that is why this grab bag team will be so endearing to watch. “It is difficult to make predictions. All teams made steps forward. Last season, one thought that certain teams would make the playoffs after the first half, but in the second half were near the bottom. Having consistency will help against that. Tez, Burtschi and Robinson are a foothold. Perhaps the young Germans will give the extra added pep that the team needs. I think that Kevin Bryant could be the x-factor with his effort and defense. It will be exciting to watch this team and they will reach an identity with this team”, warned Jan Rohdewald. The addition of Rautins could make the difference between a grab bag season or nipping at the end of the playoff places.  It could be a grab bag season until the end for the Fraport Skyliners and who knows with Gordie at the helm who has had success all over the place, letting fans unveil a ticket to the Beko BBL playoffs from the grab bag would be a party treat and if not just watching the young Germans getting playing time and mature will make the Fraport Skyliners a more experienced team next season and then they will be able to blow up the grab bag and let it pop. Andy Rautins however is that special player that just could let that grab bag pop with hot shooting all season long.

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