TBB Trier head coach Henrik Rodl has had an illustrious basketball playing career that not many from Germany can master besides a Dirk Nowitzki and new Alba Berlin forward Nils Giffey can compare which NCAA ring is more pretty. In German basketball circles he will be best remembered for helping Germany win the 1993 European title or in Berlin his 11 titles while on the hallow basketball grounds of Chapel Hill in North Carolina of his assistance in winning the school´s NCAA title in 1993 now one of surprisingly only 5 titles in their history. Even as a head coach The German has gained the ultimate respect having formed Alba Berlin youth teams where a guy like Giffey developed and made the next step to a role player with Uconn and since 2010 has been the man in charge with TBB Trier that last reached the playoffs in 2004 and won their last title of only two in 2001. At times it seems like Rodl has had to break out the food stamps to afford a player whereas a Marko Pesic can dabble with the Gold card with FC Bayern Munich. Rodl has had to scrape from the TBB Trier budget ever since 2010, but as always he has that rare talent of always bringing in the best possible players with the money that he has. As a result TBB Trier has always been somewhere in no mans land the last years and even were near the Beko BBL playoffs in 2011 at #10 in his first season. Rodl has brought forward German big men Maik Zirbes and Andreas Seiferth and this season has another very young roster and Mathis Monninghoff seems like his next project for further stardom. He has a majority of players that were born in 1991 or later and a few guys in the 87-89 year zone and of course two veterans on the team that are as vital for Rodl as Big Macs might have been for ex Tar Heel Sean May that tipped the scale at 270 pounds once. Rodl was already introduced to Canadian basketball at North Carolina in his first two years as Rick Fox who later played for the Boston Celtics was pivotal for the Tar Heels run to the 1991 NCAA Final Four as he averaged 16,9ppg and 6,6rpg as a senior. Rodl has incorporated two fine Canadian players that not only hold the team together but also help put some points on the board and not let the club lose their nerves in crunch time. 31 year old Canadian Jermaine Bucknor is playing his third season with TBB and 31 year old Jermaine Anderson his second. They have two similarities in that both have been teammates with the Canadian national team and also have Jamaican roots. Bucknor who played many years in France, but also found a home in Frankfurt and Wurzburg has improved his scoring, rebounding, assists, field goal and three point shooting percentage each season in Trier while Anderson like Bucknor also has had ample experience in the BBL having played for Bamberg, Tuebingen and Braunschweig. Both guys are exceptional players, have the right attitude and that special heart for basketball. For TBB Trier to function this season, they have to function and Rodl knows that. The only thing missing in Trier would be to have a reunion with Rodl and Fox and not only talk about the good old days but script a movie with Fox who has dabbled in cinema and add Bucknor and Anderson to the storyline. This could keep some boring days in the middle of winter more interesting and even if it doesn´t Bucknor and Anderson could entertain their teammates with good old fashioned Jamaican Reggae after a big TBB Trier victory.
It is always a challenge for Henrik Rodl to lead TBB Trier each season with the limited budget, but once again his team had no business staying at the end of the standings. They finished the season in 13th place and they were incapable of beating one of the top three teams, but beat ratiopharm Ulm and swept the season series from the Telekom Baskets Bonn, Ludwigsburg and MBC proving they are able to have a teams number for the course of a season. A big problem was there defense which for many seasons was their bread and butter that part of the game that was holy for team and coach. The club started out well into the season holding teams to under 70 points in two of the first three games, but then only did it three more times. Their defense was too erratic coupled with the fact that they couldn´t put points on the board on a consistent rate either hurt their overall chances to win games as well. And in those games where they mustered offensive punch, their defense was their Achilles heel. Rebounding was also a problem as they had no real classic big man that can scoop down rebounds with ease the way the eccentric Dennis Rodman did back in the game. Their number one center German national player Andreas Seiferth averaged only 4,9rpg which is definitely too little for a guy like him. Seeing the quality they had last season coupled with the experience, it is kind of scary to imagine where the team will land this season as they have lost key players.
TBB Trier lost two of their key figures from last season with top scorer TreVohn Hughes who has moved on to medi bayreuth and Andreas Seiferth who has taken his talent on to the Artland Dragons. Despite losing these two figures the club did a fine job despite not having the biggest budget to keep an identity within the team holding 8 players. Even if the combination of these 8 players may not be equal to most other clubs in the Beko BBL in talent, sometimes a healthy chemistry will do wonders for a team. The two biggest and most important players held were Canadians Jermaine Anderson and Jermaine Bucknor. The overall success of their play, fitness level and staying healthy will be vital for TBB Trier between finishing in the middle or fighting to stay in the league .Anderson who is a 31 year old 188cm guard got his first real basketball experience at FordhamNCAA) and has played much of his career in Germany for teams like Bamberg, Tuebingen and Braunschweig. He also played in countries like Poland, Canada, Croatia and Russia. Last season for Tuebingen he played 34 games: 10.5ppg, 3.2rpg, 2.6apg, FGP: 38.9%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT-1(96.9%). Never foul him in crunch time, because he is one of top free throw shooters in the Beko BBL. Bucknor is also 31 201cm forward and played at Richmond(NCAA) and then for the first four seasons as a professional in France before coming to Germany in 2010 where he played for Frankfurt, Wurzburg an dnow his third season with TBB Trier. Last season he played 27 games: 9.3ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 60.8%, 3PT: 42.7%, FT: 75.8%. It was his best statistical season in Germany and is the glue guy of the team.
The club also held on to Vitalis Chikoko who is a 23 year old 207cm forward that is a talented, lanky forward/center who has a huge upside. Even standing almost at 6-10, he can spend yet time at the PF position, thanks to enormous athletic skills, versatility, and good feel for the game. He is playing his third season with TBB Trier after having Rodl notice him in the 2010-2011 season where he played for BG Goettingen. He has improved his scoring each season in Trier and last season played 34 games: 8.0ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 56.3%, 3PT: 17.1%, FT: 52.0%. He raising his game to another level this season also will be beneficial for the teams success. Mathis Monninghoff is a 22 year old 200cm swing man that started his career with Leverkusen and played 52 NCAA games for Gonzaga having ex NBA player Elias Harris as a teammate. His shot is his big asset, but he isn´t one dimensional, but smart turns over the ball seldom and plays aggressive defense. Like Chikoko, he also improved his stats from his first season in Trier and last season played 30 games: 5.0ppg, 1.9rpg. Laurynas Samenas is a 26 year old 192cm guard from Lituvania that is playing his second season out of his native country and second for TBB Trier. Last season he played for BC Siauliai (LKL) playing 22 games: Score-5(15.0ppg), 2.2rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 39.6%, FT: 78.4%; Baltic League: 17 games: 14.2ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 50.7%, FT: 79.1%. He is known for his shooting and defense and can give the team energy from the bench. Last season for TBB trier he gave played 30 games averaging 8.9ppg, 1.9rpg, FGP: 44.7%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 74.7%.
After four seasons and 74 Beko BBL games with Bayreuth, Stefan Schmidt came to TBB Trier last season searching for a new challenge. Schmidt is a 25 year old 207cm center that was born in Schwandorf. He had the chance to play behind two ex NBA players with Jared Reiner and Brandon Hunter. Schmidt never was able to make his breakthrough in Bayreuth and in Trier will came from the bench last season to give Seifert rest. He always works hard and this could be his breakthrough season with Seiferth gone if he decides to use it. Last season the German played 34 games: 3.4ppg, 2.4rpg. Anthony Canty is a 23 year old 183cm guard that has had problems with injuries last season as he played 1 game: 0pts, played also at SG DJK/MJC Trier (Regionalliga)1 game: 25pts. He started his career in 2007 with BSG Bremerhaven (Oberliga) and in 2009 to Beko BBl team Eisbaeren Bremerhaven where he played a total of 63 games in four seasons. He is another very big German talent that could shine in Trier this season if given the chance. His speed is his biggest asset and isn´t shy to take big shots if no one else wants to. . Andreas Wenzl is a 21 year old 201cm center that arrives to Trier as a big project and is playing his second season there. He started his career with ratiopharm Ulm and played at the 2011 and 2012 NBBL Allstar games. In the NBBL he has shown his scoring and rebounding ability, but knee problems have slowed him down. In Trier he will get a chance to get minutes with the Regionaliga team and Beko BBL club.
The club hauled in American Ricky Harris as he got a short term contract because the club has injury woes. Harris is a 27 year old guard 187cm guard from Baltimore that is playing his fifth professional season. He played at Massachusetts (NCAA) together with ex NBA player Tony Gaffney and turned professional in 2010. He played in countries like Lithuvania and the Ukraine and two seasons ago played for Biancoblu Basket Bologna (Italy-Lega2): 28 games: 13.3ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 40.2%, 3PT: 32.5%, FT: 77.3%. Last season he played for the s.Oliver Baskets Wurzburg playing 20 games: 11.4ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 48.3%, 3PT: 47.0%, FT: 84.1%. It takes a lot of courage to have only a few slots open to choose players and then pick young ones from other countries. That is exactly what Rodl did bringing in 22 year old 207cm forward Marko Lukovic from Serbia. It is his first destination out of his country. He played for Mega Vizura (A League) Adriatic League from 2009-2014 and last season played 24 games: 4.8ppg, 2.5rpg; Serbian League: 12 games: 5.3ppg, 3.6rpg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 64.0%. He has played for the Serbian U 18 and U 20 teams and is a player that plays the positions 3-4 and presents huge miss match problems there and is agile and can shoot well. The club also brought in another young player that is more or less expected to perform as soon as possible with Adin Vrbac who is a 20 year old 204cm shooting guard and huge talent from Bosnia. He started his basketball career at KK Spars Sarajevo (D3) in 2009. Last season he played for KK Spars Sarajevo (Division I, starting five): 30 games: 10.7ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.6apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 54.8%, 3PT: 21.6%, FT: 63.1%. Last summer he played at the European Championships U20 Division B in Sarajevo (Bosnia) -14 (Gold): 8 games: 11.9ppg, 4.0rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 59.6%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 46.2%. He is a very athletic player that likes to create for his players, but his shot has to improve. The club also brought in Dennis Kramer. Kramer is a 22 year old 211cm center and rookie. His mother is German, his father Arvid Kramer is a former pro player (spent several years overseas playing in e.g. Italy and Germany) and NBA draftee, who worked as a general manager of German Bundesliga team Telekom Baskets Bonn for six years after his playing career. Kramer grew up in the States and played at San Diego (NCAA) from 2010-2014 playing a total of 123 NCAA games and as a senior played 31 games averaging11.3ppg, 6.8rpg, FGP: 60.0%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 71.2%. “Dennis is a young talented player that fits well into our concept.He can play both big man positions. I am happy that we could find someone of his calibur now”, stressed TBB Trier head coach Henrik Rodl.
It will be interesting to see what Rodl can do this season with this roster as it is another gigantic challenge for him. If the club is as deep as last season is hard to say, but having many players on board for an additional season helps. There are a lot of question marks with the team. How well will it be able to fill the void of top scoring point guard Trevon Hughes and center Andreas Seiferth. The club has no classic big man so the whole team has to help out on the glass and have been doing it so far. The team is young has some experience and Rodl will need to keep the team hungry and focused. This is a team that can´t look to the future, but take it game by game. Getting back to the early Rodl defensive principles also will be vital to winning games. So far Lukovic has been a pleasant surprise as he may be overachieving a bit. The club started the season very solid with a 2-2 record beating Braunschweig and Goettingen, but since then the club has suffered a three game losing streak and in the last two games gave up 100 points to Crailsheim and 91 points against Alba Berlin. With last placed team the Fraport Skyliners as there next opponent this Sunday might just be right for TBB Trier to get back into their defensive ways as they have been struggling very much on offense, but they are due for a break out game. So far Frankfurt is 1-2 at home, but have fond memories of their last game as they had their only win of the season against the Telekom Baskets Bonn. This game should be a defensive game as usual between these teams as for the Fraport Skyliners it is a must win as it is 10 seconds before midnight.
In the last Six years, The Skyliners have a record of 11-7 against TBB Trier with 5-3 at home and 4-4 on the road. In 2008-2009, TBB Trier played a very energetic and spirited game winning 78-70 despite a monster game by American Derrick Allen who registered 29 points and 10 boards. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners lost the first game of the season in Trier 71-67 as Jimmy Mckinney and Qarraan Calhoun were missing due to injury. It was your typical season opening game as both teams were nervous and missing way too many shots. The game was tied at halftime 26 all. Frankfurt had fire power in the third quarter, but went down in the fourth quarter scoring only nine points as Frankfurt had no nerves in crunch time to win. Derrick Allen had 19 points and eight rebounds and despite TBB Trier was without top scorer Chris Copeland, the team got needed production form Jamal Shuler, Brian Brown and George Evans to conserve the win. In 2009-2010, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners lost the first game ion Trier 71-67 as Ex Skyliner Derrick Allen contributed 19 points and eight rebounds and Frankfurt won at home 71-69 winning the game with Pascal Roller free throws. Derrick Allen led Frankfurt with 17 points. In 2010-2011, Frankfurt swept the season series. They won at home 72-55 as Pascal Roller led the home team with 17 points. The return date in Trier was an exciting battle as Frankfurt clawed out a 69-61 win as they came from behind going on a 10-0 run in crunch time to prevail. Dashaun Wood led the charge with 18 points and Jimmy Mckinney added 11 points. In their first meeting in 2011-2012, TBB Trier came out with a 64-54 victory as defense played a key role. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Jon Leuer and Jimmy Mckinney with 14 points a piece. In their second meeting that year, the Fraport Skyliners were riding the wave of a very strong second half of the season where they had beat top teams like FC Bayern Munich, ratiopharm Ulm, Bamberg, Artland Dragons and the EWE Baskets Oldenburg and came to Trier with a lot of self confidence winning 72-52 displaying another trademark top defensive performance as ex NBA player Jermareo Davidson steered 19 points to the win and Jimmy Mckinney added 18 points. This was also the game where Eisbaeren Bremerhaven forward Jacob Burtschi was on the floor as much as Boris Becker had dived on the hallowed lawn at Wimbeldon in his career. In the 2012-2013 season TBB Trier swept the season series won at home against Frankfurt 78-59. At halftime everything looked ok as Frankfurt trailed by only one point, but TBB trier exploded in the third quarter winning it 25-8 leading them on to the win. American Brian Harper proved too much for Frankfurt with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Skyliner Ted Scott gave his debut netting 20 points. In the return game in Frankfurt, TBB trier won 78-70 sending the Fraport Skyliners into a do or die game with Ludwigsburg as Jermaine Bucknor and Andreas Seiferth led the way with 14 points a piece. Frankfurt was led by Quantez Robertson with 14 points and Ryan Brooks added 13 points. In their first meeting last season, the Fraport Skyliners came out of Trier with a big 85-75 victory as Andrew Rautins smoked Trier for 30 points. Jacob Burtschi and Danilo Barthel added 15 points a piece. TBB Trier was led by Trevohn Hughes with 29 points and Vitalis Chikoko added 11 points. In the return game, The Fraport Skyliners won at home 67-56 as TBB Trier showed a good defensive effort, but Frankfurt buckled down a few gears better on defense. Frankfurt was led by Danilo Barthel with 15 points and American Jarred Dubois added 10 points. TBB Trier was led by Trevon Hughes with 18 points and Andreas Seiferth added 11 points.