Does A Sixth Place Really Define A Basketball Crisis In Oldenburg?

It has been almost six years since a two man wrecking crew of Americans named Rickey Paulding and Je Kel Foster led the EWE Baskets to their only BBL title and since then the Detroit native Paulding has remained in Oldenburg getting legendary status with his play and loyalty while Foster has been around Europe almost as much as a Paris Hilton is jetting from posh city to city as the American has played in Italy, Belgium, France and even donned the jersey´s of top German clubs FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin. Foster and Paulding have many similarities in that they are over 30, can score in bunches, exhuberate this aggressive ntensity on the court that not many have and have less hair on their scalp than in earlier days. Foster is back in Germany playing for his fifth team medi Bayreuth where he can annoy Brandon Bowman daily about that 2009 series that he lost to Bonn while he and Paulding were sipping champagne and smoking cigars after the win. Despite being in sixth place, the EWE Baskets Oldenburg have had an up and down season and before their huge win in Berlin last weekend were riding a four game losing streak. Even in slumps one can dream about the old days when a guy like Foster was nailing clutch shots, but for now he will be watching from a far to see if his ex team can continue to thrive from the win in Berlin and transport some of that momentum into the next games. Oldenburg after reaching the BBL final in 2013 and losing in the semi finals last season in a hard fought series to Alba Berlin want to take that next step this season started the season hot winning six of their first seven games and seemed to have made the perfect choice with veteran point guard Tywain Mckee who was the floor general in this great season begin seeming to be an upgrade to last seasons point guard with Dru Joyce that he was so much more versatile than the friend of Lebron James. However then out of the blue, Mckee asked the club to go on account of personal reasons leaving the team in a bind with no point guard and three big games against Munich, Berlin and Bamberg. The club had to react quickly bringing in ex NBA player Caspar Ware who compares himself to the smaller feisty guards with Nate Robinson and J J Barea. Ware is a scoring point guard that dazzled in his second game scoring 26 points and helping the team to a big 78-73 win against the Brose Baskets Bamberg. After that followed a loss against Alba Berlin and win against Bremerhaven where Ware scored in double figures. However in Frankfurt, Oldenburg was sent home with a bitter 93-74 loss where Ware was completely shut down scoring five points on 2/12 shooting. When teams find a way to take Ware out of the game the total offense of Oldenburg is lifeless. Oldenburg then beat Ludwigsburg, but then lost to TBB Trier 71-65 as Ware was limited to four points on 1/7 shooting. Oldenburg then defeated BG Goettingen and Bonn where Ware was his old self again combining for 46 points on 34 shots as he continued to be shot hungry like an Allen Iverson. The shooting influx is something that doesn´t seem to help the Oldenburg find their rhythm on offense. Then followed a four game losing streak where the club lost to Braunschweig by nine points and Bamberg by seven, but stunk up the house losing to BG Goettingen by 19 and Ludwigsburg by 22, two teams they had already beat in the season. Ware had some very solid scoring games, but only combined seven assists in the four loses as that creating effect has gone missing that has limited that offensive flow. There also have been other factors for the Oldenburg demise as the once feared defense hasn´t been on the same page as they have given up an excess of 80 points in the last five games. Other factors include players having to take on new roles which has disrupted the harmony of the team chemistry while other players just not producing the way they know how. Sometimes a club just needs to find that success experience as they did in Berlin. Even if Ware wont be taking 37 shots in a game as ex Oldenburg guard Bobby Brown did this season netting 64 points, Ware is on course to lead the team to the playoffs even if there have been road blocks unlike Brown who missed it in 2012.

The EWE Baskets Oldenburg were able to hold 10 players for this season including captain Ricky Paulding. He is a 30 year old 196cm guard/forward that is playing his 7th season with Oldenburg and can be seen as Mr Oldenburg. If he doesn´t get his number retired when his career is over then something is wrong. He has played 302 in an Oldenburg uniform and really doesn´t have anything to prove anymore. With his age, with his biggest goal is winning titles and seeing how many more battles he can win against his good friend Jimmy Mckinney on the court. Last season he played  44 games: 12.2ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 52.3%, 3PT: 42.5%, FT: 82.2%; EuroChallenge: 16 games: 13.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.3apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 51.8%, 3PT: 44.6%, FT: 81.6%. The team also held crunch time scorer Julius Jenkins who is 32 and is playing his second season with Oldenburg. After leading the second Bundesliga in scoring with 27 points with Nurnberg in 2005, he then played ULEB cup with Bree and then played five seasons with Alba Berlin winning the league title in 2008 as MVP and cup in 2009 as MVP and won two titles with Bamberg in 2012. He may be 32 as like Paulding titles is what motivates him. Last season he played  45 games: 13.5ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 47.2%, 3PT: 41.0%, FT: 74.5%; EuroChallenge: 17 games: 13.6ppg, 1.8rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 58.4%, 3PT: 38.8%, FT: 72.5%. Lebron James friend 28 Dru Joyce is playing his sixth season in Germany and second with Oldenburg. He proved last season that he could lead the club into the final with his playmaking skills. Last season he played 46 games: 8.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 4.1apg, FGP: 42.3%, 3PT: 44.6%, FT: 69.1%; EuroChallenge: 16 games: 7.4ppg, 2.4rpg, 4.2apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 41.7%, 3PT: 52.6%, FT: 69.2%.

The club also kept their Mr everything Chris Kramer who is a 25 year old 188cm guard that is playing his third season in Germany and second with Oldenburg. Kramer who once scored a basket sitting down on the floor at Purdue could be the long lost brother of Wurzburg guard John Little, because he is a pest on the defensive end and just does everything to win. He could give Quantez Robertson a run for the money in a sprint coast to coast. Last season he played 37 games: 10.0ppg, 4.3rpg, 3.1apg, Steals-4(1.7spg), FGP: 50.7%, 3PT: 22.6%, FT: 77.6%; EuroChallenge: 16 games: 8.3ppg, 3.9rpg, 4.7apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 72.5%. The club also kept Dominik Bahiense De Mello who has slowly found a new home in Oldenburg. De Mello who is a 28 year old 193cm guard and played six seasons in Frankfurt is your classic role player from the bench that can hurt you with his three pointer. DE Mello has a lot to prove this season after getting many chances last season to play, but shot only 18,8% from the parking lot. Last season he played  46 games: 2.1ppg, 1.2rpg; EuroChallenge: 17 games: 3.5ppg, 1.7rpg. 31 year old 201cm forward Konrad Wysocki is back for a second season in Oldenburg. After playing at Princeton, he played for teams like Ulm and Frankfurt and played three seasons in Poland for PGE Turow Zgorzelec. For lesser teams, he would be a star, but with Oldenburg, he is on e of many and just fulfills his role as an energizer from the bench. He is the typ of player that will get that rebound from that 15 kilo stronger player. Last season he played 42 games: 5.8ppg, 3.5rpg, FGP: 52.3%, 3PT: 28.8%, FT: 78.5%; EuroChallenge: 14 games: 7.1ppg, 3.7rpg, FGP: 63.0%, 3PT: 29.0%, FT: 77.8%. Robin Smeulders is playing his fourth season with Oldenburg and made a big jump last season from the season before averaging 16 minutes per game. He was a big force in Eurochallenge play scoring in double figures seven times and in Beko BBL play 11 times with 21 points against Phoenix Hagen. He was clearly the most improved Oldenburg player and still has much potential to improve his inside out game. At the center position the club kept Adam Chubb and Jannik Freese. Germany is like a second home for 32 year old Chubb who has played in Giessen, Bremerhaven, Artland and Alba Berlin. He also has experience playing in the ACB. He belongs to the top centers in the league that nobody talks about. He has vastly improved his rebounding, has a nice touch around the basket and is the chef of the defense. Last season he played  45 games: 10.8ppg, Reb-4(6.8rpg), 1.2apg, FGP: 59.8%, FT: 74.8%; EuroChallenge: 17 games: 10.9ppg, 5.6rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 64.7%, FT: 81.4%. 27 year old 211 cm center Freese is playing his third season with Oldenburg. After never getting a chance with Braunschweig and Giessen, he now belongs to a top team. He may not gte much minutes, but is part of the rotation and will be that practice pest. He has played 23 Eurochallenge games the last two seasons and now can play Euroleague qualifying. He bangs inside and can run the fast break which isn’t typical for his size. The club added one player with Nemanja Aleksandrov who is a 26 year old 210cm forward that brings 230 pounds to the scale. Despite his body shape, he is a type of forward center that causes mismatches. Some injuries have slowed his career, but he still has potential to grow. He has experience having played in Slovenia and Italy and last season played for  VOO Verviers-Pepinster (Belgium-Ethias League, starting five): 19 games: 16.7ppg, 5.9rpg, 2FGP: 51.6%, 3FGP: 37.5%, FT: 85.4%, in Mar.’13 moved to Assignia Manresa (Spain-Liga Endesa): 10 games: 9.4ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 53.7%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 75.0%.


Since the 2005-2006 season, The Frankfurt Skyliners have a weak 8-11 record against The EWE Baskets Oldenburg. In the 2005-2006 season, there was a 98-75 loss in Oldenburg seeing Malick Badiane get ejected after kicking a chair and in the last game of the season, Frankfurt had to win to stay in the league and did 70-58 thanks to 22 points from American Kavossy Franklin. In the 2006-2007 season, Frankfurt won the season series with a 80-70 win in Oldenburg and a 76-70 win at hom. In the 2007-2008 season, the teams split the season series as Derrick Allen combined for 48 points in the two games. In the 2008-2009 season, the teams split the season series as Frankfurt totally crushed Oldenburg 84-53 at home, but lost 66-58 on the road. Oldenburg got the last laugh in the quarterfinals of the playoffs winning the series 3-1. In 2009-2010, Frankfurt lost a nail bitter in Oldenburg 63-61 and 75-69 at home despite 26 points from Derrick Allen. In 2010-2011, The two teams split the season series with Frankfurt losing a bitter 70-67 game which they led for most of the game, but let it slip away at the end while they won at home 76-71 fueled by 24 points by Dashaun Wood. In the 2011-2012 season, the two also split the season series and both teams met in the first game of the season as Oldenburg jumped all over Frankfurt 72-53 as Frankfurt had a horrible shooting day as Oldenburg was led by 17 points by Ronald Burrell. In the return game in Oldenburg, the Fraport Skyliners were going through their euphoric second half of the season and rode into Oldenburg with a lot of confidence winning 75-67 as the team held on to win a nail bitter. Despite 22 points from Bobby Brown, Skyliner Jermario Davidson out did him scoring 25 points, getting seven rebounds and making two blocks while Jimmy Mckinney contributed 16 points. In the 2012-2013 season Oldenburg swept the season series by a total of only 4 points as Oldenburg won a nail bitter 63-61 in Frankfurt as Adam Chubb contributed 13 points and 12 rebounds and Zach Peacock had 17 points for the winners. In the return game, the Fraport Skyliners played like a champion, but lost in crunch time again 75-63 as Ronnie Burrell found the hot hand with 20 points and Zach Peacock contributed 16 points and 11 rebounds. Last season Oldenburg won the season series winning in Frankfurt 72-63 as Rickey Paulding scorched Frankfurt with 18 points and Frankfurt was led by Quantez Robertson with 14 points. In the return game in Oldenburg, it was the phase of the season where Frankfurt had the crunch time blues and lost 68-66 as Oldenburg was led by Rickey Paulding with 21 points while Frankfurt was led by Dane Watts with 22 points. This season the Fraport Skyliners clobbered Oldenburg at home 93-74 as Frankfurt was led by Justin Cobbs with 17 points and German national player Johannes Voigtmann chipped in with 16 points. Oldenburg was led by Rickey Paulding with 17 points.

This will be an interesting game as both teams enter the game with some momentum and confidence as Oldenburg won in Berlin, but the Fraport Skyliners will be more on a high as they are riding a four game winning streak, have booked the Eurochallenge quarterfinal ticket with a amazing double OT win in Holland against Den Bosch 94-92. Since Jacob Burtschi returned the club is 4-0 and are playing more as a team than before. The combination of Justin Cobbs coming giving the offense the calmness and harmony and Burtschi being that second captain on the court, energizer and ultimate team player has made the team make strides on both ends of the court. Plus the rejuvenated play of Canadian Aaron Doornekmap has been big giving Frankfurt that extra punch. The club still has the injury woes as Danilo Barthel is out and Konstantin Klein and Mike Morrison are doubtful. Even Oldenburg played their sixth game in a row giving up 80 plus points, they continue to play very solid on offense getting heavy production from their starting five. Oldenburg hit 13 three pointers against Alba Berlin and had a good game from German substitute Maurice Stuckey. Ware was in the NBA and Cobbs wants to reach the NBA. This will be another chance for Cobbs to battle against a top point guard. Even if last season the game between both clubs was a defensive battle in Oldenburg, there should be more scoring in this game where rebounding the Cobbs decision making and big shots of Paulding(57 points in last three games vs Frankfurt) could decide the game. The EWE Baskets Oldenburg host the Fraport Sklyiners February 21st.

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