Some things happen for a reason that are easier to understand than other things like German football legend Lothar Matthaus apparently going to tie the knot for a fifth time, ex Alba Berlin center Miro Raduljica passing up a second NBA season with the Milwaukee Bucks and fleeing to the Shandong Flaming Bulls in China where their bucks may have been more appealing than those of the NBA team, or another domestic violence episode happening in the life of a NFL football player simply because they have become as normal as a hardcore Brasilian football fan never forgetting July 14th, 2014-7-1 where the German national soccer team ruined their whole summer. However then again other things happen which are much harder to explain for example the tough luck of two teams the Buffalo Bills and German Beko BBL team ratiopharm Ulm. For NFL fans the hard luck story of the Buffalo Bills has been engraved in Buffalo sports history almost as much as the Cubs not being able to win a World Series in Chicago. At the start of the 90s, The Buffalo Bills had their own version of the Utah Jazz Malone and Stockton show with the Kelly and Thomas movement as they led their team to four consecutive Super Bowls, but were unable to win a single one. Their best chance was in the first attempt losing 20-19 as Scott Norwood missed a 47 yard field gioal with 8 seconds to play. The last three finals were less eventful as they were slaughtered twice by the Dallas Cowboys and once by the Washington Red Skins. Probably the most memorable scene in those three finals out of the perspective of the Bills was huge Leon Lett celebrating to soon as quick footed Don Beebe did his best Michael Johnson impression sprinting back and stripping the ball and ruining the Lett party. The club is still looking to find the success of 20 years ago as they are the only team that hasn´t made the playoffs in the 21st century. What do the Bills have to do with ratiopharm Ulm. Well the comparison isn´t quite as severe, but one hast to notice that in the last few years, ratiopharm Ulm was in a final 4 times, but lost each one. They surprisingly reached the final in 2012 losing to Bamberg and lost to Bamberg at the Super Cup and the last two seasons to Alba Berlin in the Beko BBL cup. With the Beko BBL getting more and more competitive each season and FC Bayern Munich doing their best to get a dynasty until Svetislav Pesic son Marko is his age, it seems more likely that ratiopharm Ulm will have their best chances to win a title via the cup route. Especially the last two seasons hurt so much as their heart was there, but not their nerves in those moments where big plays had to be made. Ratiopharm Ulm has put together another strong team that might have the most experience ever so their season goal besides the playoffs will be to win the cup competition. „It is always vital on the daily form of a team who will leave the court as the winner. In the playoffs it is very important to have home court advantage and in cup play the daily form o the team. I think Ulm has realistic chances like some other teams to win a title. However everything has to be perfect for hat team to be able to win the title“, warned Telekom Baskets Bonn guard Andrej Mangold. One thing is for sure, no Ulm player has a bigger heart that German national player Per Guenther who has slipped on their jersey since 2008 and his incentive to finally sip some champagne will be as huge as it is for some fans to slip their hands through his soft curly hair.
Who would have thought that ratiopharm Ulm head coach Thorsten Leibenath would have such a successful rookie campaign where he led the team to second in the standings during the regular season and made the final? With the success there in Ulm, it seems like having achievement is becoming an expected thing. So perhaps with demands getting higher, pressure did succumb a bit the last two seasons as the team finished third in the standings in 2013 and reached the semi finals in the playoffs and last season dropped to sixth in the standings and lost in the first round. Besides reaching the Cup final, the club had reason to be overjoyed by reaching the quarterfinals of the Eurocup. Scoring continues to be their biggest strength as they scored over 80 points in 22 games last season. Their defense continues to be suspect, but they did improve it last season in the second half as they gave up 80 points or more in only four games in the second half while they did it 10 times in the first half. If one looks at the team this season, it is clear to see that it is deeper and more experienced, but like last season where they had strong individual players, it wasn´t enough to go deeper in the playoffs. When looking at the roster, the club will play a quick style and with the exception of ex NBA player Tim Ohlbrecht have very mobile big men that will give Ulm a very interesting inside out game. The club held guys like Per Guenther who skipped the German national team this summer to get fit and shooters Adam Hess, the Ulm version of Quantez Robertson with Will Clyburn and Mr energy Philipp Schwethelm. Ratiopharm Ulm may have lost their most effective player last season with Daniel Theis, but Leibenath did an excellent job filling up the back court with Tim Ohlbrecht, NBA Draft pick Maarten Leunen and Mr sturdy Boris Savovic who they swiped from FC Bayern Munich. This back court could compete with teams like FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin. CJ Harris came from Ludwigsburg and will be responsible for shooting out the lights while Jaka Klobacur will give the team needed versatility at the 1-3 positions and take his 2014 World championships experience in Spain with him. The x-factor could be Tommy Mason-Griffin who hasn´t played the last two seasons. Ratiopharm ulm always believed in him and let him work his way back even if he had some road blocks along the way. He was definatly missed the last two seasons and could be a huge impact player off the bench. It is never easy to predict where a team will end up before the start of a new campaign, but ratiopharm Ulm isn´t only a huge favorite to make the playoffs, but to be a top four team. They kept very experienced team players and brought in a very good mix. Leibenath will be starting his fourth season in Ulm as coach and his expereince has been growing as fast as grass behind the old Kuhberg gym. If the club can withstand injuries, defend even better than last season and get a better team basketball intact than this team will have home court in the playoffs and even annoy a top team that begins with the letter B.
Ratiopharm Ulm meet the Fraport Skyliners today and since ratiopharm Ulm entered the Beko BBL in 2006, the Frankfurt Skyliners have a positive record against them. They won in overtime 87-83 in 2007 with Murat Didin as head coach. The Eric Chadfield buzzer beater will for some reason always be stuck in the minds of people, which had an eerie similarity to the buzzer beater of Justin Gray against the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg two seasons ago. In 2008-2009, Frankfurt lost 74-69, but got a strong game from ex Skyliner Lorenzo Gordon who scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. In the first meeting in 2009-2010, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners dominated the game and put on a scoring display led by 23 points by Seth Doliboa as the club prevailed 95-82.Frankfurt shot an astronomical 57% from the field and easily won the rebounding fight 34-25. Ratiopharm Ulm did a great job only having seven turnovers. In the return game in, ratiopharm Ulm lost 84-77 as Skyliner American Seth Doliboa had another monster game pouring home 18 points and 15 rebounds. In 2010-2011, Frankfurt lost a 87-82 nail bitter in the Kuhberg arena, but returned home to win 74-67 as Dashaun Wood poured in 17 points and 12 assists. In the first meeting of 2011-2012 the Fraport Skyliners lost a winnable game 81-75 in the old Kuhberg Halle where Dane Watts made the two big buckets at the end showing NBA player Jon Leuer that guys from Missouri can play basketball. Ratiopharm Ulm had five guys in double figures, shot better and rebounded better. Frankfurt was led by Justin Gray with 14 points. The Fraport Skyliners got revenge in the return game in Frankfurt winning 77-64 in their strong second half of the season. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Michael Thompson with 16 points while Jacob Burtschi had 15 points. In the first meeting last season, the Fraport Skyliners pulled off a massive upset in their living room winning 78-62 as they were able to control the game and play a solid effort for 40 minutes. Frankfurt was led by Zach peacock with 18 points and American Devin Gibson played his best game of the season producing 17 points and dishing out six assists. Ratiopharm Ulm won the rebounding duel, but the Frankfurt defense was at their best forcing Ulm to cough up the ball 23 times. In the return game, the Fraport Skyliners made their debut in the new ratiopharm arena that fits 6000 people and lost a tight game 74-66. Ratiopharm ulm was led by John Bryant with 19 points and 12 rebounds and Per Guenther added 18 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Dawan Robinson with 21 points while Ryan Brooks added 12 points and Zach Peacock 10 points. Two seasons ago the Fraport Skyliners celebrated one of their most spectacular wins in their history winning the classic three OT game in Ulm shortly before Christmas 108-102. Frankfurt was led by Andrew Rautins with 24 points. Jarred Dubois added 19 points and Danilo Barthel 18 points. Ratiopharm Ulm was led by Edgar Sosa with 21 points. Adam Hess chipped in with 16 points and Daniel Theiss with 15 points.Last season Frankfurt swept the season series winning the classic triple OT game in Ulm 108-102. Frankfurt was led by Andrew Rautins with 24 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Danilo Barthel chipped in with 18 points. Edgar Sosa led ratiopharm Ulm with 21 points while Adam Hess had 16 points. Frankfurt also won at home 71-67 as Ramon Galloway led Frankfurt while ratiopharm Ulm was led by Cameron Long with 18 points while Per Guenther contributed 16 points.
Taking a closer look at the roster, ratiopharm Ulm held on to four players. The most importnat player they held on to was Mr Ulm per Guenther who is starting his seventh. Per Guenther is a 26 year old 185cm point guard that was born in Giessen and grew up in Hagen. He has very good speed and can dribble with both his hands he is very good in shooting from the arc and he has very good organizational skills, he watches the court with one glance and can assist his team-mates on a blind method pretending that he will shoot. He has an inborn charisma of a leader from a young age so he leads his team without having any problem. He played for BBV Hagen from 2003-2006 and with Phoenix Hagen from 2006-2008. In his last season in Hagen, he raised eyebrows with his play playing 29 games: 14.5ppg, 1.9rpg, 2.4apg, 2FGP: 55.8%, 3FGP: 35.7%, FT: 80.1%. Last season for Ulm he played Eurocup: 17 games: 8.3ppg, 3.2apg, FGP: 42.6%, 3PT: 44.2%, FT: 83.9%; German League: 38 games: 11.0ppg, 1.5rpg, 4.5apg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 40.9%, FT: 84.0%. The club also held Wil Clyburn who is a 23 year old 201cm forward from Detroit, Michigan. He is a Beko BBL second year man and played at Utah(NCAA) and as a senior at Iowa St. (NCAA, starting five): 35 games: 14.9ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 76.8%. He possesses very much athletic ability, can shoot. Last season for Ulm he played Eurocup: 18 games: 8.5ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.4apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 52.3%, 3PT: 23.8%, FT: 78.6%; German League: 38 games: 8.9ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 48.7%, 3PT: 27.5%, FT: 75.0%. This past summer he played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Los Angeles Clippers): 5 games: 3.6ppg, 1.6rpg, FGP: 27.6%, 3PT: 18.2% Adam Hess started his third tour of duty for the Artland Dragons three seasons ago, and moved to Phoenix Hagen two years ago. The trend the last years has always shown that Hess can´t stay away for more than two years from Artland as He played the first time with the Dragons in 2006 and the second time in 2008 and the third in 2011-2012. Hess is a 33 year old 201cm forward from Michigan that is playing his second season in Ulm. He is a quick forward with not so great athletic skills, but very effective at the scoring department. He’s a tough player, however, and knows how to battle inside for a rebound and he defends well and has a great attitude. He played at William & Mary and also has gained experience playing in Italy, Czech Republic, France and Spain. In the Czech Republic he won the league title twice with Nymburk and the Czech Rep. League All-Star Game -05 (3-Points Shootount Winner) in 2006. In 20092010, he played for C.B. Tarragona 2016 (Spain-LEB Gold, starting five): 34 games: 14.8ppg, 5.6rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 45.4%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 88.1%. He had much success in the Czech Republic winning the league title in 2005 and 2006 and showing his shooting ability winning the 2005 Allstar game three point shooting contest. In 2011-2012 for the Artland Dragons he played EuroCup Qualifications: 2 games: 3.0ppg, 1.5rpg; EuroChallenge: 11 games: 10.2ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 57.7%, 3PT: 51.3%, FT: 84.6%; German League: 39 games: 6.2ppg, 1.9rpg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 86.5%. Two seasons ago for Phoenix Hagen he played for 37 games: 11.3ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 48.7%, 3PT: 40.1%, FT: 84.3%. Last season for Ulm he played Eurocup: 18 games: 6.4ppg, 3.1rpg, FGP: 62.5%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 71.4%; German League: 35 games: 5.4ppg, 2.5rpg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 31.7%, FT: 75.7%. The team also held %. Phillip Schwethelm who is a 25 year old 201cm forward that is playing his third season in Ulm being loaned from FC Bayern Munich. He started his basketball career with Cologne in 2004, where he played until 2009. He played Euroleague at the age of 17. He helped Cologne win the Beko BBL title in 2006. He played for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven from 2009-2011 and in 2010-2011played 36 games: 10.0ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 44.9%, FT: 72.9%. He has been a member of the German national team since 2010.In 2011-2012 for FC Bayern Munich he played EuroCup: 6 games: 1.3ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.3apg; German League: 30 games: 3.2ppg, 2.2rpg. This past summer, he played Qualifications to European Championships 2013 – 7 games: 4.1ppg, 2.7rpg.Last season for Ulm he played Eurocup: 16 games: 7.0ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 40.0%, 3PT: 49.2%, FT: 87.5%; German League: 34 games: 6.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 37.8%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 75.7%. Good news is also that after two seasons recuperating from injuries, Tommy Mason-Griffin is finally back. Mason Griffin is a 23 year old 180cm point guard that played one season at Oklahoma (NCAA, starting five): 31 games: 14.1ppg, 2.9rpg, 5apg, FGP: 39.8%, 3PT: 42.4%, FT: 81.3%. After a short D-league gig as a rookie in 2010-2011 at Sioux Falls Skyforce (D-League) he came to Ulm. He has only played one complete season with Ulm in 2011-2012 playing 37 games: 7.6ppg, 1.9rpg, 3.0apg, FGP: 43.5%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 80.6%.
Ratiopharm Ulm brought in seven players including a very potent front court with Tim Ohlbrecht maarten Leunen and Boris Savovic. Ohlbrecht is only a 26 year old 210cm power forward/center that is going into his 12th professional season. He started his basketball career in 2003 with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen where he played until 2006. He then made the next step to Bamberg playing there until 2009, but never making the breakthrough. He then took a step backwards playing for the Telekom Baskets Bonn until 2011. He then played for the Fraport Skyliners form 2011-2012. The last two seasons saw him clawing his way through the D-league with teams like Rio Grande and Ft Wayne, but he did play 3 NBA games for the Houston Rockets. Last season he played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (D-League): 32 games: 12.4ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 58.3%, 3PT: 25.6%, FT: 78.0%, in Mar.’14 signed at Fort Wayne Mad Ants (D-League): 19 games: 9.9ppg, 6.4rpg, FGP: 60.7%, FT: 82.5%. This past summer he played NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando (Detroit Pistons): 4 games: 4.8ppg, 4.0rpg, 0.3apg, FGP: 87.5%, FT: 55.6% and in Las Vegas (Denver Nuggets): 3 games: 0.7ppg, 2.3rpg. He has German national team experience having played at the 2009 and 2011 European championship and World championships in 2010. His biggest experience was playing at the Olympics in 2008. The club also hauled in Maarten Leunen who is a 29 year old 206cm forward from Redmond Oregon that is playing his 7th professional season. He played at Oregon(NCAA) from 2004-2008 and as a senior played 32 games: 15.2ppg, 9.2rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 55.9%, 3Pts: 49.2%, FT: 78.9%. He was drafted by the Houston Rockets (NBA,2rd(54) in 2008. AS a rookie he played in Turkeyand the last five seasons played in Italy for Cantu and last season played 33 games: 7.2ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 41.7%, 3PT: 38.8%, FT: 81.4%; Eurocup: 16 games: 9.4ppg, 4.5rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 65.9%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 88.9%
This past summer he played NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando (Houston Rockets): 4 games: 9.5ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.8apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 36.4%, 3PT: 40%, FT: 80%. He also played NBA Pro Summer League in Las Vegas (Houston Rockets) Finalist: 8 games: 3.9ppg, 2.0rpg, FGP: 37%, 3PT: 37.5%. New player Boris Savovic is a 27 year old 206cm power forward from Serbia that is playing his second year in Germany. Last season he played for FC Bayern Muenchen (Germany-BBL): Euroleague: 21 games: 4.7ppg, 3.2rpg; German League: 35 games: 7.2ppg, 4.0rpg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 29.0%, FT: 76.6%. Savovic is a player that plays with energy and good effectiveness at the 4 position. Can grab lots of rebounds and spend some time even at the 5 position. He played seven seasons at KK Hemofarm Stada Vrsac. CJ Harris is a 24 year old 191 point guard from Winston-Salem, North Carolina that played at Wake Forest. He is like a basketball version of Neil Patrick Harris who was known as Being Tv´s Doogie Howser who had a genius intellect and was the youngest licensed doctor in the country at age 14 that couldn´t buy beer, but prescribe drugs. Harris may not be the total equivalent of what TV doctor Harris was as a doctor, but so far as a rookie, he has had a very strong season where at times his genius play on the court is superior to other players of his age. He has scored in double figures 20 times and had a stretch at the start of the season where he scored 20 or more points in three straight games against Frankfurt, Oldenburg and Ulm. Who could forget his 26 point shooting clinic in Frankfurt where he took over the second half like ex Skyliner Dashaun Wood in his former Frankfurt days and without his production his team wouldn´t have won. He has been in a little slump as of late, but those are always meant to be broken with hard work. His development as a rookie is credited to John Patrick. “I have learned that you have to play tough every night whether your playing the best or worst team in the league. Every team will come at you and you have to be ready. He takes no game for granted and he preaches good preparation for each game”, stressed CJ Harris. The American also has the praise of teammate Grant. “Harris has been our unsung hero player. He is shooting over 50% and just does his job each day”,added Keaton Grant last season. Last season for Ludwigsburg he played 36 games: 10.5ppg, 2.2rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 40.6%, FT: 83.6%. Jaka Klobacur is a 27 year old 198cm swingman form Slovenia that is playing his 12th season and first in Germany. He played for Krka Novo Mesto (Telemach League) the last three years and last season played Slovenian Telemach League: 19 games: 11.8ppg, 3.8rpg, 3.4apg, Steals-1(2.3spg), FGP: 51.9%, 3PT: 25.9%, FT: 75.8%; EuroChallenge: 12 games: 11.1ppg, 3.8rpg, 2.5apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 78.3%. He won 6 titles in Slovenia and has vast experience with the national team playing at the 2007, 2009 and 2011 European championships and at the 2010 and 2014 World Championships. This past summer he played World Cup in Spain -14: 7 games: 5.3ppg, 1.6rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 69.2%. The team also brought in Isaiah Philmore who is a 25 year old 203cm forward from Fallston, Maryland that is a rookie. He played at Townson(NCAA) from 2009-2011 and then transfered to Xavier where he played from 2012-2014. AS a senior he played 33 games: 9.3ppg, 5.0rpg, FGP: 56.1%, FT: 70.6%. The club also added youth with David Kramer from Austria and Soren Fritze who played at Phoenix Hagen.