Torvoris Baker is a 32 year old 201cm forward that was born in Albany, Georgia and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He played at Detroit Mercy (NCAA) and as a senior in 2005-2006 he played 32 games averaging 8.9ppg, 7.6rpg, 1.3apg, FG: 50.6%, 3PT: 11.1%, FT: 64.1%. He turned professional in 2006 and as a rookie played for Neptune Cork (Ireland-SuperLeague) playing 16 games averaging 23.0ppg, 14.2rpg, 2.8apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 65.5%, FT: 44.2%. He came to Germany in 2007 and has never left having played for teams like Herten, Chemnitz, Osnabrueck, Wurzburg and the last four years with Gotha. He has played a total of 169 Pro A games. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Torvoris thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
Hi Miles. Thanks for having me for this interview. At the moment I am in Osnabrück, Germany. A second to America for me. My summer was a bit stressful. Top priorities were to make sure my wife and I find an apartment because we knew I wouldn’t be resigning with Gotha. Secondly, arranging how we would move and finally, keeping myself fit for any tryouts I may have. In which I only had one in Hanau. Was in talks with Elchingen but they folded their cards before I could even get there. So yeah, that’s my summer in a nutshell.
Its mid August and you still don´t have a team. You have played the last eight years in Germany. Are you getting a little nervous now about finding a team?
Funny that you ask because earlier in my career after playing for Chemnitz and Osnabrück in which I believe were decent years for me. I also was forced into waiting until mid August to sign. After these situations I decided to stay in Germany over the summer for tryout availability.This year the feeling of no team being interested is very frustrating.
I am shocked that you have had no interest from teams. Is it fair for one poor season to really have such a big factor in how teams view the abilities of a player?
This thought crossed my mind that whole season as I predicted in the summer before I resigned with Gotha that I wouldn’t get to play. I thought that even with a poor season, my name and what I accomplished here in Germany would be enough to get a team. Even if I had to take 1 or 2 steps back in leagues.
Has there been a single person that really has kept you positive this summer during this more down time as teams haven´t been knocking on your door?
My wife would help keep my head clear in times where I felt like there was no hope. Also conversations with my mother and just believing that God has a plan for me.
You aren´t necessarily getting any younger at age 32. Do you feel like perhaps your age could slowly be scaring teams away?
To tell you the truth, my age is not factor yet. Lol! I know for sure that I can still keep up with the young guys. For instance, last season we had a young team in Gotha and I felt good in every training sessions.
You played the last four years with Gotha. After two strong statistical seasons there, you averaged only 7,9ppg in your third season and last season 2,5ppg in 18 games. Was the emergence of Will Reinke what got in the way even though you didn´t have him in competition at your position?
Actually Will played the center position. Great player though. Weird that he hasn’t signed with a team yet. But anyway, there were two good German players playing in my position and I was told that, “it was difficult to find playing time for me because of the German player rules”. 2 Germans on the court at all times. Same situation my third year in Gotha for the first half of the season. But it was unfortunate that this season Jan Lipke dislocated his knee but fortunate for me as playing time opened up for me. 15 minutes 10pts and 5rebs is what I averaged in the second half of that season and helping the team reach a playoff birth.
Did something get in the way with the relationship with head coach Chris Ensminger last season? Was it one of those situations where a player shouldn´t take it personally because basketball decisions always take top priority?
First of all I would like to say the coaching staff and management did a great job last season. My relationship with Ensminger I would say was more like a hi and bye situation. I mean we talked rarely. I understand that this is a business and with that being said sometimes we have to make business decisions. But if a player comes and works his/her ass off in every training sessions and I know that he/she can get the job done from jump ball to the end of the fourth quarter, I will give that player what’s due to them. I’m the type of person that if I tell you will play 15-20 minutes for me then you will. Unless you are not performing well. Not because of a rule. I was told that if I was in the game and a German player wasn’t performing and an import had to be substituted in the game then I would be substituted out to bring in another German player.After my third season in Gotha only getting to play because of injury problems of my teammates, I was hesitant to play another season in Gotha. I was convinced that I would get that playing time that I was afraid I wouldn’t receive and asked to return another season.I chose to stay because I had once again no offers and I have a family so my decision was also based on what’s best for them.
In the 2012-2013 season you averaged 12.8ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 55.5%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 72.0%. You opted to stay with Gotha with new head coach Chris Ensminger coming in. When you look back would this not have been the perfect opportunity to tackle the BBL more or were there no offers at that time?
BBL would have been nice. But I found Gotha to be the perfect situation. I can remember that year Ensminger didn’t want to have as a player but was convinced by owner and president Frau Kollmar that I could get the job done. I had no other offers after that decent season. In which was also frustrating. Well I had one. But it was to play for the second team in Gotha.
Another Pro A veteran Ahmad Smith who you were teammates with also is jobless and trying to find a team. Does it surprise you that he also is looking for a team like you?
I’m very surprised. Ahmad and I go back to playing against each other in Ireland. Ahmad is a great player. Unfortunately we didn’t get to play a whole season together in Gotha. Enjoyed playing with him. Ahmad’s basketball IQ is one of the best at the pg position. He’s like a triple double machine. Wherever he ends up playing, that club will have made a great choice.
Even early in your professional basketball career in Germany you had strong seasons with Chemnitz and Osnabrueck. If you had to sell yourself best as to why you could help any team in Germany now how would you do it?
I’m not really a talker because I believe in the SHOW ME term. But if I had to sale myself through talk. No words would better describe me than LOYAL. Whatever is needed from me I will get the job done and if not I will find with any means necessary I will find the solution. There is no other way. This is my job and I must get it done.
At the age of 32, you have unending experience. What skill could you also give to young players on a team with your words and not necessarily only with actions on the court?
Personally I believe every player should be treated the same as far as relationship. Not every player will get the playing time that they want. But having a true relationship with all players is important. Communication is the key with all relationships. It makes everyone feel important to the plan for the season. This is what I tried to with my teammates every season that were less unfortunate when it comes to playing time. Keep them positive and confident to where when they would come into the game that their confident level would be good enough to perform. You have a lot of guys as well as myself, that at times it’s hard to do your job if your coach and teammates don’t believe in you.
How does a summer work out day look like for you in 2015 on and off the court?
Thanks to Steffen Droske athletic trainer in Gotha. He kept me fit with weight lifting and conditioning program. Now that I’m in Osnabrück I will follow his philosophy and work on my own.
What do you see the Detroit Pistons achieving this season in the NBA?
Not really interested in the Pistons. Lakers fan!!! More interested to see how things unfold there.
What is the current state of Lebron James in 2015? Will he ever be mentioned in the same breath with a Michael Jordan?
I really don’t like to get into that topic. LBJ is one of the greats to do it but no besides Kobe will be the closest thing to Jordan. I mean I’m sure everyone knows Kobe Bryant has most if all moves that MJ has.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Haven’t watched movies lately but the movie that comes to mind is the last Rocky movie. Favorite scene is where he had a conversation with his son. A lot of motivational quotes in this movie. Thanks for your time Miles.
Thanks Torvoris for the chat.