For many Beko BBL teams, road trips in Germany are nothing unusual and become a normal occurrence, of bus trips, hotel, eating, sleeping, game and back home sometime in the middle of the night where at times one can hear the sparrows giving their first sign of life at 4.15 AM singing when the bus door opens when the road trip has ended back at the practice facility. This road trip schedule can become tedious, but for many the road trip of the year is when its time to play the Artland Dragons. The Artland region is a beautiful area in north west Germany where one can walk kilometers along fields and pastures seeing no humans and really getting to know the cows that are grazing and ask where the best grass is and just let your thoughts flow free. Besides the breathtaking scenery and beauty of nature there is a well known German hotel that is classified in the romantic style hotels especially for love couples. This is a luxury hotel that is perfect for any basketball team to help in its preparation for a tough battle against the always feisty Artland Dragons. This season, opposing Beko BBl teams can look forward to a second visit to the hotel, because only 26 kilometers away from the home of the Artland Dragons is the small town of Vechta that is twice as big as the duck town Quackenbruck with 30,000 inhabitants and they also have joined the Beko BBL this year for the first time. Quackenbruck is about 20 kilometers left from the A1 autobahn while Vechta is about 10 kilometers right from the A1 autobahn that takes one north to Bremen. The Vechta basketball story is like a Cinderella story. The team was founded in 1979 and the name Rasta was named after the very popular album Rastaman Vibration from Reggae legend Bob Marley at that time. The team lived in the German Regionaliga for centuries it seemed and the club had some fortune getting a free spot in the German Pro B in 2009. After three seasons in the Pro B, the club moved up to the Pro A in 2012 and last season won the Pro A in amazing fashion. The club has many amazing stories this season like the rebirth of German big man Dirk Madrich who seems like he has been around for 20 years being passed around from team to team like a water bottle, but is only 30, the fantastic emergence of Richie Williams who played in the Pro B with Hannover two seasons ago and this season is a top 5 point guard in the Beko BBL, the arrival of athletic Brandon Bowmann who could be the missing puzzle piece between a return back to the Pro A or a second season in the Beko BBL and clever mastermind Pat Elzie that overtook a low division team in 2009 and had a straight ahead vision and always believed in his prospect of having long term success. Elzie has coached teams like Paderborn, TV Langen, BC Hamburg, Tubingen and Kirchheim. The 53 year old who lights up an arena with his wide smile is a basketball teacher is a players coach. He can relate to players on many levels because he’s played the game before. On the court he allows you to be a basketball player by giving you freedom and play free minded. Giving players a little freedom is instrumental to their growth. In the last ten years teams like ratiopharm Ulm, Paderborn, BG Karlsruhe or Science City Jena, but only Ulm has stayed as the rest have come and gone and not returned back to the Beko BBL. It will be interesting to see where the journey of Sc Rasta Vechta will end this season. “ We have a team full of confident players that will grind out every game to make sure it happens that we will remain in the league. We will survive because I will make sure we survive“, warned Richie Williams. Williams may have very confident words, but if there is one guy who lets his play talk then its Williams. He is the first SC Rasta Vechta player that will leave his jersey on the floor before he leaves in a loss.
Since departing the German Regionaliga, the rise of SC Rasta Vechta has been immense finishing 2010 in 12th and then the next two seasons in third place and then last season in first place in the Pro A. Pat Elze surely won´t forget how the 2012-2103 Pro A season started with a three game losing streak as just looking ahead game to game and winning the next battle was their focus and any ideas of what the Beko BBL basketball life could be like was about as distant as it is for the Duesseldorf Baskets at the moment. But as is the case in basketball, the club got a big win in Nurnberg and from then on won 14 of the next 15 games and suddenly were in first place and dreaming just a little bit about the Beko BBL were starting to transform. The club finished the Pro A season strong with a five game winning streak including a 129-88 crushing of the Uni Riesen Leipzig. In the playoffs, they started by sweeping German talent school Erdgas Ehingen and then had to battle down 2-1 in games against BG Karlsruhe winning the last two games including game five 86-74 as Corey Hassan scored 24 points. In the finals, they played against Duesseldorf winning both games by identical scores 84-78. Often in the past, you have seen a team move up to the Beko BBL and then get a bigger budget and bang the organization exchanges players as swiftly as American prankster Jack Vale brings out new videos. But Elzie didn´t do that and rewarded many players exactly seven by keeping them and letting them have that Beko BBL experience. The SC Rasta Vechta budget is estimated at 1,4 million 10 times smaller than that of the the big mighty red FC Bayern Munich. But as Pro B TV Langen forward Martinis Woody explained after a win where they played against many up and coming Beko BBL players, it isn´t always about the quality on the court, but how well the talent on the court plays team basketball and stays together. SC Rasta Vechta may not have the best talent, but they have a coach who understood what mix fits and has groomed a team that appreciates team basketball. Many players came and went already in the first months like Faisal Aden, Steven Esterkamp and Marcus Neal, but that just shows that head coach Pat Elzie is trying to get the right fits and wants to fix the holes early before later when it might be too late. SC Rasta Vechta may only have won three games, but it is still early and one can´t forget that they are new to the league. They were able to win big games in Trier and Tuebingen and finally won their first home game against Bayreuth. They could have had three wins more as they lost three tight games to Phoenix Hagen, Artland Dragons and MBC combined by not more than 6 points. SC Rasta Vechta plays their own style of basketball with scrappy defense and high power offense. This team can beat almost anyone on a great day and will upset more Beko BBL teams this season. Sc Rasta Vechta enter the Fraport Arena in 17th place and a three game losing streak, while the Fraport Sklyiners have a two game winning streak and have a playoff place. Frankfurt knows that they will have to be as fully awake as is a guard dog guarding Paris Hilton´s sunglasses collection. “Vechta is very unpredictable an dhave talented players like Richie Williams and Dirk Madrich. They may not be the most talented, but they play hard and work together. We will have to be ready”, stressed Jacob Burtschi. “The most important thing is that we can´t underestimate them”, warned Danilo Barthel.
The club kept seven players and the biggest surprise has been German Dirk Madrich. Madrich is a 30 year old 212cm center that is the top German scorer at the moment in the Beko BBL. The German was always seen as a solid basketball player, but a guy that was never able to become a consistent solid Beko BBL player. He won a Beko BBL title with Bamberg in 2005 and also got experience in France with SIG Strassburg, but never was able to get that breakthrough in the Beko BBL. Three seasons ago he played in Giessen and in the summer of 2011, had no offers, but Pat Elzie wanted him and Madrich had to take two steps back to the Pro B, but he kept his cool had nothing to lose and now has the laugh last as he isn´t having his second basketball life, but possibly his fourth. He won a cup in 2008 with Artland and in the 2008-2009 season Artland coach Thorsten Leibenath gave him a chance in Eurocup: 11 games: 9.8ppg, 3.5rpg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 45.8%, FT: 83.3%. It will be interesting to see how much more he can develop during the season. His versatile game of inside out and experience has helped his rise this season.
Richard Williams is a 26 year old 177cm guard from Spring Valley, California that is playing his fourth professional season. He is a guy that loves to fill up the stats and great at pushing the break. Can score by shooting the three or using his explosiveness to beat his man. Gets to the basket and scores in traffic. A specialist in steals that uses his quickness to intimidate on defense. Great ball control. Gets the whole team involved when playing the point but can takeover a game at any time. He played at San Diego State(NCAA) and two years ago started his career in Germany in the pro B with Hannover. Last season he was very instrumental in SC Rasta Vechta moving up playing 38 games: 15.6ppg, 5.2rpg, Assists-1(6.7apg), Steals-1(2.5spg), FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 35.2%, FT: 79.9%. He is content that the Beko BBL will see a triple double from his this season. The team also held on to Jakob Doerksen who is a 26 year old 199cm power forward from Canada. He is undersized, but that doesn´t hinder or limit his immense fighting qualities in the paint. He will always give you scoring punch. He played at the University of Victoria (CIS) and Trinity Western University (CIS) before turning professional in 2011. He was a teammate of Richie Willimas two seasons ago and also came from the Pro B and is playing Beko BBL. Last season for Vechta he played 34 games: 13.7ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.2spg, FGP: 64.5%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 62.7%. Flavio Stuckemann is a 28 year old 187cm point guard that is also one of those German talents that never really panned out at the Beko BBL level until possibly now. He started his basketball career in 2002 with the TSV Quakenbruck junior team. He then was in the Braunschweig organization from 2003-2008 playing mostly for their farm team, but was lucky in the 2004-2005 season as a 19 year old to play 10 Eurocup games. In 2008 he moved to the Artland Dragons where he also was unable to crack the roster playing only 35 Beko BBLgames and getting little limits. After a solid Pro A season with BG Karlsruhe in 2010-2011, he also took a step back in 2011 as Elze wanted him and went to the pro B to Vechta. Last season for Vechta he played 40 games: 7.6ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.9apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 66.7%. He doesn´t really do anything fancy, but is the typical point guard that has valuable experience knows how to organize a game and keeps the team calm in hectic situations. The club also kept AJ Rudowitz who is a 25 year old 198cm forward that is playing his third season with Vechta and is one of the rare players like Jason Boone and Devin Uskoski that went from the Regionaliga to Beko BBL. The New Jersey native played at Stonehill(NCAA2) from 2006-2010. As a rookie he played for ASC Theresianum Mainz (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 25 games and averaging 20.2ppg. Last season for Vechta he played 40 games: 11.3ppg, 5.8rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 48.9%, 3PT: 19.6%, FT: 70.2%. H eis the favorite player of Elzie and a guy that does everything right and knows how to anticipate well on the glass. The team also kept Germans Daniel Krause and Axel Jarchow who combined have worn the Vechta jersey for seven seasons. Both come from the Artland Dragons. Krause is a 25 year old 195 cm guard that can shoot the ball well and if needed help out at the point guard position. Last season he played 27 games averaging 3,8ppg. Jarchow is a 24 year old 191cm guard that three Beko BBl games for Artland and one Eurocup game. Last season he played 24 pro A games.
The team brought in seven new players including Brandon Bowmann recently who could be the missing piece for the club staying in the league instead of moving back down to the Pro A. Bowmann is a 29 year old 204cm forward from Santa Monica, California that played at Georgetwon from 2002-2006 reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2006. He is a very versatile player who can spend time in either forward slot. Good shooter and quick runner, can score in traffic or create his shot from the dribble. Goes well to the offensive rebounds, has a great leaping ability. Above all, he’ s a very good defender on every kind of opponent, with a relentless mentality that makes him a very good player for the European leagues. He was very close reaching the NBA twice playing in NBA training camps with the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. He is no unknown face in the Beko BBL playing for Bonn in the 2008-2009 season reaching the Beko BBL final. He has much experience in the D-league and has played in countries like Italy, Bulgaria, France, Serbia and Israel. Last season he played for Dongbu Promy (Korea-KBL): 4 games: 13.3ppg, 5.8rpg, 2.5apg, 1.0bpg, in Oct.’12 signed at Seoul Samsung Thunders (South Korea-KBL): 4 games: 13.3ppg, 5.8rpg, 2.5apg, 1.0bpg, in Jan.’13 moved to Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa (Israel-Winner League): 4 games: 5.0ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.3spg; Balkan League: 2 games: 10.5ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.5apg, 1.0spg. The club also signed Dylan Talley that is a 24 year old 196cm guard from New Jersey that is a rookie. He played at Binghamton for two seasons and then two years at Nebraska (NCAA) and as a senior played 33 games: 13.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 38.7%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 74.1%.The club also brought in Isaac Butts who is a 24 year old 208cm center from Georgia that is playing his second professional season. He played at Appalachian St. (NCAA) form 2007-2012 and as a senior played 28 games averaging 7.6ppg, 6.6rpg, FGP: 64.4%, FT: 61.5%. As a rookie last season he played for the Moncton Miracles (Canada-NBL Canada) playing 36 games: 15.0ppg, Reb-1(11.1rpg), 1.4apg, Blocks-3(1.6bpg), FGP-1(60.3%), FT: 54.9%. He likes to bang under the basket and wont shy away from any player. Urule Igbavboa is a 26 year old 204cm center from St Paul, Minnesota that also has the German passport.He played at Valparaiso (NCAA) from 2005-2009 and is playing his fifth professional season. He has played in Iceland, Greece and the last two seasons in Sweden. Last season he played for LF Basket (Sweden-Basketligan) playing 35 games averaging 14.3ppg, 7.1rpg, FGP: 54.3%, FT: 73.5%. The club also brought in German Max Weber that is a 28 year old 201cm swing man that is playing for his ninth professional team in Germany.He already played four Uleb cup games in the championship season of Bamberg in the 2004-2005. He played for the Frankfurt Skyliners from 2006-2009. He also has played for teams like Giessen, Kasierslautern, Goettingen and Ludwigsburg. He is the ultimate team player that brings much energy in every play. Recently the club added Rashad Bishop that is a 25 year old 198cm forward from New Jersey. He is a very big and strong for a young player, loves to play defense, is a prototypical slasher from the wing and does the little things to make the team better. He played at the same school as Immanuel Mcelroy at Cincinnati (NCAA) from 2007-2011 and as a senior played 35 games: 8.4ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 41.4%, 3PT: 37.2%, FT: 82.1%. Last season he played for Tijuca Tenis Clube Rio de Janeiro (Brazil-NBB) played 16 game averaging 12.0ppg, 3.9rpg, FGP: 58.6%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 70.0%. Oliver Makeldanz is a 23 year old 212 cm center that puts 113 kilo on the scale. Last season he played for Cuxhaven BasCats (ProA) playing 34 games: 3.2ppg, 2.6rpg. He recently played in the second Regionaliga and now is playing in the Beko BBL, a trend that has been popular with SC Rasta Vechta players.