With the majority of the Beko BBL teams complete and in the swing of things practicing since weeks, the Fraport Skyliners started later into the 2015-2016 pre-season and are still searching for two import positions at the point guard and shooting guard position and while most teams can boast some well-known new players, the best press and show off material that the 2004 BBL champion Fraport Skyliners can boast in this young off season is the further consistent development of one half of the twin towers Johannes Voigtmann who will play at the 2015 Euro and in 20 years be able to tell his grand children that he played together with NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki and NBA star in the making Dennis Schroeder. Other than that the Fraport Skyliners are looking at some current uncertainty, but all that can be erased if head coach Gordon Herbert has that right endearing magical touch again and is able to bring in that right mix of NCAA lottery picks to the roster. The most positive news that the Fraport Skyliners have going for themselves is that they have kept many players from last season with the big three Germans of Johannes Voigtmann, Danilo Barthel and Konstantin Klein who will have an even bigger responsibility this season for the club. The organization also held on to their three imports Quantez Robertson, Aaron Doornekamp and Mike Morrison and also have retained the next generation of young Germans with Niklas Kiel, Max Merz and Stefan Ilzhoefer, so chemistry will be there come October second when the club opens up the season in Bremerhaven against ex head coach Muli Katzurin. The club also has new point guard Garai Zeeb who is a very interesting player that will mostly play for the farm team and NBBL team and the club also will continue to bring along young big man prospect Armin Trtovac. One thing is for sure nothing is ever dull when Gordon Herbert is around and if it ever does get tedious, just ask him about his Michael Jordan encounter at the 1984 Olympics.
Of course one should never doubt a Gordon Herbert as he has been known for doing the best out of lesser means in the last years and a best example last season was taking a team near the bottom in November to a playoff team that finished sixth as not many would have had the audacity to believe a small wonder like this could happen. However the success of the upcoming season still does depend on if Gordon Herbert can find the right mix of NCAA lottery picks. I say lottery picks, because in the NBA draft the few worst teams obviously get to pick the best players in the draft and those are called lottery picks. Some pan out and achieve greatness like Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash or Kevin Durant or others become busts like Greg Oden, Joe Alexander, Adam Morrison or Kwame Brown. Herbert most likely will go the same route as last season and get two rookies that were in the NCAA last season. And these players have to be a type of NCAA lottery picks for the Fraport Skyliners in play on the court in Germany. It will most likely be a make or break season as good team chemistry combined with skill and character of these two new NCAA players will depend how well the Fraport Skyliners will fare this season. Last season Gordon Herbert probably made the two best decisions compariable to getting a beaten up Dashaun Wood in 2010 that had about as many question marks pointed at him as does an ice cream man in Phoenix, Arizona that closes down shop on a 110 degree day. Wood beat all odds and led the team into the semi finals and won the 2011 Beko BBL MVP. Last season Herbert brought in Justin Cobbs who turned around the season in November leading the team to the Beko BBL playoffs and Eurochallenge final 4 in Turkey. Without the services of Cobbs, this team accomplishment would not have been made. The other positive signing was Sean Armand who had a strong rookie season with Frankfurt displaying his scoring power on occasion many times. One doesn´t always have the luck and find these two kind of players coming from the NCAA and breaking out and having huge first seasons. If Herbert can do it again is the question, but if any one can than it is him. Herbert did attend the NBA Summer League, but that was six months ago and those good players he scouted have been signed. There was speculation about the possibility of a Dashaun Wood coming back, but at the eve of his 30th birthday, the ex Wright State guard and Detroit native has about three good years left and will take good money something he wont find in Frankfurt. It is a bit of an enigma why Wood is still not signed, but who knows if something doesn´t happen soon it wouldn´t be surprising to see him play for righteous bucks in China or Korea. Ex Fraport Skyliner Devin Gibson is also still on the market and has improved his three point shooting and scoring consistency in the last two years in Estonia and Belgium. Gibson has matured in the last two years, but if he fits into the plans of Herbert is probably less of the case. If one wanted to bet then speculating about Herbert reeling in a Canadian is always a possibility. A Kevin Pangos, a controlled point guard, but less of a scorer in the mold of a Justin Cobbs from Gonzaga could have been a nice fit with the Fraport Skyliners, but he signed with Spanish team Gran Canaria and probably was in a different budget category. Another fascinating scenario would have been bringing in ex NBA player and 1999 NCAA champion with Uconn Khalid El Amin. Even if he is 36, he had a strong season with BG Goettingen last year and the idea of him and Konstantin Klein sharing the point guard duties and having 20 minutes a piece would have been enticing and a thing that could make you go hmmmmm. However El Amin chose to play for Sigal Prishtina and I guess the money was even better in Kosovo than in many other places for the American who has heads to feed. NCAA stat wise players of Justin Cobbs´s caliber are as ample as top players for Team France for the Euro 2015. A guy like DJ Newbill stirred up the BIG Ten with Penn State last season as a senior averaging 20.7ppg, 4.7rpg, 3.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 37.0%, and probably would have given a Konstantin Klein a good workout in practice with his foot work, but the closest he ever got to the Fraport Skyliners was customs at Frankfurt airport as he was rudely detained before moving on to his new destination ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket (France-ProA). Players get cheaper every passing day, so the question will be can Herbert find two gems like Cobbs and Armand still available and if he does, can they bring the same individual qualities on the court as rookies with success. Or could Herbert actually surprise everyone with hauling in two experienced players, or bringing home Jimmy Mckinney?
Currently the club has started practicing, but besides the two key missing players still not having been found, Gordon Herbert has had some injury woes that became worse and worse with the rate that its taking place one has to ask when will it stop? Max Merz is back in Frankfurt after his university semester in Australia and isn´t totally fit and resting and should be active again in 2-4 weeks while Stefan Ilzhoefer is expected back in mid-September and has a foot injury. German national player Danilo Barthel who also breathed some German national air this summer is suffering back problems and should be back full duty by next week. Injuries is nothing new to the Fraport Skyliners organization as this has been a problem that they have experienced much in the last 10 years, but somehow always recovered from in some way. Aaron Doornekamp is on tour with the Canadian national team and Johannes Voigtmann is preparing for Euro 2015. Coach Herbert doesn´t have a full squad for practice. The sooner the two new imports arrive the better, but the club has communicated that it could still take a few more weeks. Its not even September yet, but there is a lot of issues to ponder about the Fraport Skyliners at this point. The club has another full pre-season schedule as they will play in a few tournaments and have a training camp on the exotic island of Crete. Their first pre-season game was supposed to be this weekend against new German Pro A team Hebeisen White Wings against old friend head coach Simon Cote .After three years in China and last head coaching job in Germany in Giessen in 2009, the friendly and competent basketball mind Cote has received a new chance with Hanau. However this wonderful reunion for Herbert and Cote as coaching foes won´t happen yet as the ugly injury bug has shown its head again and game has been cancelled as they last celebrated the 2004 Beko BBL title together on the floor in the Fraport arena while Bamberg head coach Dirk Bauermann was fuming in his black attire wondering why Bamberg couldn´t be a new Leverkusen in that moment. Yesterday the Fraport Skyliners announced the next injury victim is 2014 NBBL MVP Niklas Kiel who suffered a torn ligament in practice and should miss 4-6 weeks. This would have been the first organized game for the Fraport Skyliners while Hanau have been already practicing longer, so one shouldn´t have expected too much from Frankfurt in this game. Maybe with no game there will be time for a few beers between the two coaches in a quiet and cozy restaurant in Frankfurt and who knows both might reminisce about 2004 and the spectacular play of American Chris Williams. Herbert then may ask Cote “Did you see Chris in Asia in the last few years and do you know what he is doing”? Then on Monday morning all that day dreaming about the past will be over and it will be back to Fraport Skyliners basketball business scouring the current transfer market for the possible make or break NCAA players that the 2000 Beko BBL cup winner are yearning for.