Despite breaking the all-time three point shooting record at Tulane, winning and having to prove himself hasn´t always been the easiest in his basketball career, but this season Jordan Callahan is all grown up and making the best of the challenge of running the offensive show for the Crailsheim Merlins in one of the top leagues in Europe Beko BBL. Callahan is a 25 year old 184cm guard from Marietta, Georgia that is still young enough to make a very lasting impression as a professional basketball player coming from the 59,000 city as it only has Cedric Henderson to boast of who played 8 NBA games for Milwaukee and Atlanta in 1986 and played 10 years as a professional. Callahan played at Tulane and had three consecutive losing seasons until his senior season where the team went 20-15, but overall only 56-70 in his four years there. His senior year wasn´t his statistical best as his second and third were better as he came close to beating the assist mark against Houston with 21 points and 12 assists, but he knows why his senior was most special. “Statistically it probably was my best game at Tulane. I still remember that game to this day! Tulane’s single game assist record was 13 at the time. I had two opportunities to break the record but unfortunately the ball just didn’t bounce right way. I’ll always remember. Personally I think my best game was my senior year when I broke the all time 3pt record. That’s just a moment I’ll never forget”, stressed Jordan Callahan. As a rookie in Poland in 2013-2014, he had to split time with two teams, but his stats were impressive for Kotwica Kolobrzeg (Poland-TBL, starting five): 16 games: Score-4(15.8ppg), 3.3rpg, 3.6apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 46.1%, 3PT: 42.2%, FT: 82.0%, in Feb.’14 moved to Anwil Wloclawek (Poland-TBL, starting five): 19 games: 14.9ppg, 3.6rpg, Assists-5(4.2apg), Steals-5(1.7spg), FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 37.4%, FT: 83.6%. Having the chance to play for two Polish teams helped him immensely. “I think I grew a lot. Getting adjusted to the European style of play was big. My first game I think I got called for five traveling violations. Something I think every American can attest to in their first year overseas. With that being said I had two good coaches who really allowed me to work on my game. I actually would tell people back home that I got better after that year. Two practices a day. One being intense skill development and the other being team drills and scrimmaging. How could I not get better”, added Jordan Callahan. Just when he wanted to build from that impressive rookie season, his second in Belgium with Port of Antwerp Giants (Belgium-Scooore League) was a season to forget as he had to depart in December having played only 8 games: 9.5ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.9apg, FGP: 40.5%, 3PT: 26.9%, FT: 95.5%; EuroChallenge: 3 games: 10.7ppg, 2.0rpg, 4.3apg. He had three very good scoring games where he combined for 59 points with current Bremerhaven guard Kyle Fogg, but then five not so good scoring games where he combined for 17 points. “I’m not sure what they wanted from me. Let’s just say it wasn’t a great fit for me and my game. Nothing against Antwerp. They run a very professional organization and I appreciate the opportunity they gave me”, said Jordan Callahan.
Things didn´t get better as he was with Crailsheim briefly last season, but never played a game as the club took Walter Lemon instead. Callahan returned home to get back into his lab and had a long time to think about basketball and got the opportunity with Crailsheim this season as he had a new approach to the game. “Hungry! A similar approach to how I came into my rookie season. I feel like I’ve been caged seven months. I can’t wait to get out on the court and show how hard I’ve been working”, warned Jordan Callahan last summer as he had been signed by the German team. Currently Crailsheim is in 14th place with a record of 5-11, but Callahan has been a force on a team that has had players coming and going, but he is averaging 11,9ppg, 2,2rpg, 4,7apg and 1,1spg. He led the team to big wins against Bonn with 24 points, Ulm with 22 points and recently Hagen with 18 points. His offense is what gets noticed, but it is his defense that he feels should get more credit and describes his biggest strength there. “I would have to say my on-ball defense. I like to pick guys up 94ft and cause disruption in the other teams offense. I actually pride myself in doing so”, warned Jordan Callahan. The American definitely will be more than motivated to seek revenge against the 3 B´s in the second half of the season as Crailsheim lost to Berlin, Bamberg and Munich in the first half. Especially against Munich where the team lost by 47 points and Bamberg by 44, he will want to show a lasting impression on the defensive end and combine that with his solid offense game as he was combined only 3/13 from the parking lot, the place he sparkles most from. He already has one good season highlight beating Bremerhaven and ex teammate Kyle Fogg, but keeping Crailsheim away from the cellar and gaining more consistency will be a huge season accomplishment for him and the club.
If one looks back at the last 20 years of the Crailsheim Merlins basketball history, it has been a journey of changing the level of leagues similar to how Afghani-German Achmadschah Zazai has been changing teams the last 10 years. In the late 90s, the club made a rapid surge moving up from lower leagues like the Landes Liga to the Oberliga and to the Regionaliga in 1998. They reached the second Bundesliga in 2001 where they played until 2008 where they went down to the newly established Pro B, but stayed there only two years as they moved back up to the new established Pro A in 2009. After some years in the middle of the standings, they then finished at position six in 2013 and moved up to the Beko BBL in 2014 thanks to a second place finish. In the German Pro A final, they lost to BG Goettingen, but automatically moved up to the Beko BBL and were able to pass all ramifications to start in the highest German league. Last season it was a season to forget for the Crailsheim Merlins as they finished in last place. Their biggest problem was defending on a consistent level as they gave up 80 points or more 28 times, got hit for 100 plus points five times and at times looked like a second Phoenix Hagen as their shoot outs could of easily been the score of a game of the Ingo Freyer era. They held only two teams to under 70 points with TBB Trier winning that, but not having enough fire power against Frankfurt losing that contest. They made national headlines last season when they were stranded on the German autobahn in snow never reaching their destination Hagen and thus having to forfeit the game and have it count as a loss. Who could forget the funny Jannik Freese photos on the social media in the snow. The club still has head coach Ingo Enskat inserted behind the bench who has been a mainstay there since 6 season starting as an assistant in 2005 and in between being sport director from 2012-2014 making the keen decisions in helping getting the right personal for reaching the Beko BBL.
The team went into the season only being allowed back to the Beko BBL because the Artland Dragons withdrew and have constructed a total house cleaning adding all new players and bringing more experience to the table with Konrad Wysocki and Patrick Flomo something they didn´t have last season. Recently they also added Adam Chubb who has won 3 cup titles in Germany with Artland, Alba Berlin and the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. In addition to more experience, Crailsheim has more talent which has helped them to 5 wins so far playing a more fast style and with Jordan Callahan at the point more calmness and stableness on offense. The team had players coming and going which put a small road block in the season chemistry development as Brandon Robinson and Brandon Johnson had to pack their bags early. With Andre Calvin and Shy Ely, the team has two experienced Pro A players that are looking to be a factor and make the break through at the Beko BBL level. These two players are the X-factors and will need to be consistent performers for the team to have success on a regular basis. Defense is still a big problem as they average giving up 88 points and have given up 80 points or more in the first 12 of 15 games, but in the last five games held teams to under 80 points three times. Three of the five wins were shoot out type wins while the other two wins were against Bremerhaven and Bayreuth and there they held both combined to an average of 68 points. That is the type of defense that the team wants to play. Rebounding is also an area where they need to improve as it gathers only 28 per contest.
The team is led by Adam Chubb who is a 34 year old 208cm center from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that is playing his 12th professional season and 10th in Germany. He played in South Korea and Spain and in Germany for Giessen, Bremerhaven, Artland, Alba Berlin and the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Last season for Oldenburg he played : 36 games: 12.9ppg, 4.6rpg, FGP: 60.5%, FT: 80.5%; Eurocup: 10 games: 12.9ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 67.5%, FT: 75.0%. He won the Ivy league with Pennsylvania(NCAA) in 2002 and has played in 81 international club games and is a athletic big man, runs the floor extremely well. Sound fundamental player who has good hands, fine low-post presence and is a good passer to players who are open or cutting to the basket. Can defend a center in the low-post as well as a power forward perimeter player. Konrad Wysocki is a 33 year old 200cm forward that has the German/Polish citizenship and is playing his 12th professional season. He won the 2004 Ivy league title with Princeton. He started his professional basketball career in 2004 with BG Goettingen. He then made his break through with ratiopharm helping the team move up to the Beko BBL in 2006. He then played a season in Frankfurt, three for PGE Turow Zgorzelec (Poland-PL), two seasons with the EWE Baskets Oldenburg and last season with Anwil Wloclawek (TBL) playing 30 games: 12.0ppg, Reb-4(7.6rpg), 1.7apg, FGP: 58.3%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 76.7%. He is the ultimate hustler and has a sound inside out game and keen understanding of the game. Andre Calvin is a 30 year old 201cm forward from Ecorse, Michigan that is playing his seventh professional season. After playing at Drake(NCAA), he played in Austria and Portugal and has been playing in Germany since 2011. He played two seasons for Ehingen, one for BG Karlsruhe and last season with BV Chemnitz 99 (Germany-ProA) playing 24 games: 12.5ppg, Reb-1(9.8rpg), 1.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 24.5%, FT: 75.5%. He is a long and athletic forward that possesses good quickness and a leaping ability. Has an excellent jump shot and can score the ball off the dribble or on a post up. Also, he is a solid competitor who can adequately defend and who grabs rebounds at his side of the court.
Shy Ely is a 28 year old 193cm swing man from Indianapolis, Indiana that is playing his seventh professional season. He played at Evansville(NCAA) playing 121 NCAA games. His first three professional season were spent in the D-league with Iowa and Dakota. H ethen moved to BC Boncourt Red Team (Switzerland-LNA) playing 29 games: Score-5(18.3ppg), 4.8rpg, 3.0apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT-3(45.9%), FT: 83.2%. In the 2013-2014 season he played for the MLP Academics Heidelberg (Germany-ProA) playing 30 games: Score-2(20.3ppg), 4.4rpg, 2.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 60.6%, 3PT-1(50.0%), FT: 87.4%. Last season he played for Le Mans Sarthe Basket (France-ProA, starting five): 39 games: 7.2ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 51.8%, 3PT: 31.5%, FT: 82.3%; EuroChallenge: 15 games: 8.7ppg, 2.0rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 34.0%, FT: 91.2%. Matt Stainbrook is a 23 year old 208cm center from Bay Village, Ohio that is a rookie. He played at W.Michigan (NCAA) playing 66 NCAA games and then moved to Xavier(NCAA) playing 68 NCAA games and as a senior played 35 games: 11.8ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 60.7%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 77.3%. He reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2015 and last summer played NBA Pro Summer League in Orlando (Indiana Pacers): 1 game: 3pts and in Las Vegas (Golden State Warriors): 5 games: 5.0ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 32.1%. He is a string rebounder that has good court vision for a big man. Patrick Flomo is a 35 year old 203cm forward from Columbus, Ohio that has the German citizenship. He is playing his 14th professional season. After playing at Ohio(NCAA), he came to Europe in 2002 and played in Finland and Holland before moving to Germany where he has been since. He played with Herten and then 5 seasons with the Telekom Baskets Bonn. He then played two seasons with Duesseldorf and the last two with the MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (BBL) and last season 36 games: 3.5ppg, 2.6rpg. He is a hard worker, that plays above the rim and is a great shot blocker. Michael Jost is a 27 year old 204cm forward that started his career in 2003 with Marzahn Basket Baeren (2. Regionalliga). He has played for teams like Central Hoops, Stahnsdorf, MBC, Freiburg, Paderborn, Heidelberg and last season with ETB Wohnbau Baskets Essen (ProA) playing 34 games: 8.6ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 53.4%, 3PT: 30.4%, FT: 83.1%. Jost is a guy that can do a bit of everything and those his limitations.
Tim Schwartz is a 28 year old 197cm forward that brings Beko BBL experience to Crailsheim. He started his career in 2005 with 1 FC Kaiserslautern (2.Bundesliga) where he played until 2010. He then played a season with Giessen playing 22 Beko BBL games and then also played for teams like Science City Jena, BG Karlsruhe and last season with the Artland Dragons (BBL): 7 games: 0.6ppg; Eurocup: 2 games: 1.0ppg, 1.0apg. He is a good role player that has a good basketball IQ. Vytenis Cizauskas is a 23 year old 187cm shooting guard from Lithuania that is playing his first season in Germany. He has palyed most of his career in Lituania, but between 2012-2014 played for top teams like Blancos de Rueda Valladolid (Spain-Liga Endesa) playing 25 games: 2.6ppg, 1.0rpg and B.C. Zalgiris Kaunas (LKL): 23 games: 4.3ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.1apg, 1.2spg; Euroleague: 16 games: 2.3ppg, 1.1rpg, 1.2apg. He won the U-18 and U-20 European championships and last summer played at the World University Games in Gwangju (South Korea) -15: 8 games: 5.1ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.8apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 46.2%, 3PT: 29.4%, FT: 33.3%. He started the season with Valmiera/ORDO (Latvia-LBL): Latvian LBL: 11 games: 5.0ppg, 1.8rpg, 2.5apg, 2FGP: 27.6%, 3FGP: 62.5%, FT: 56.3%; Baltic League: 5 games: 3.8ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.8apg. Chris Frazier is a 182cm guard that last season played for the Otto Baskets Magdeburg (Germany-ProB) playing 20 games: 16.1ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.7apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 45.0%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 80.6%. The Heidelberg native started his career in 2009 with TV Schwetzingen (Germany-2.Regionalliga). He played at Dubuque (NCAA3) from 2010-2014 and as a senior played 26 games: 13.7ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 43.8%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 88.0%. Steven Monse is a 25 year old 200cm forward that started his basketball career in 2005 with Marzahn Basket Baeren (2.Regionalliga). He then played two seasons with TUS Lichterfelde Berlin and then two years with Alba Berlin 2. He then played a season with Hannover and Leverkusen and in 2011 was signed by Bamberg playing 2 Beko BBL games and last played for farm team Breitengussbach. He finished with BBC Febro Eagles Magdeburg (Regionalliga). In the 2012-2013 season he played for ALBA Berlin (BBL) playing 2 games: 1.0ppg, played mostly at ALBA Berlin II (Regionalliga): 21 games: 15.3ppg, 9.0rpg, 2.4apg. He then played for BV Chemnitz and last season for Otto Baskets Magdeburg (ProB) playing 26 games: 12.4ppg, 7.6rpg, 1.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 45.1%, 3PT: 27.5%, FT: 74.5%. He is a big power forward that is a superb defender.
Last season, the Fraport Skyliners swept the season series winning 88-71 at home as Danilo Barthel had 21 points, Justin Cobbs had 17 points and Johannes Voigtmann 16 points and 12 boards while Crailsheim was led by Chris Otule and Jonathan Moore with 12 points a piece. In Crailsheim, Frankfurt slipped by with the 66-59 victory as they were led by Justin Cobbs with 18 points and Johannes Voigtmann steered 14 points and 13 rebounds while Crailsheim was led by Garrett Sim with 17 points. The Fraport Skyliners come into the game in Crailsheim having a3-2 record since the loss at home against Alba Berlin and despite that still have defended very well giving up an average of 69 points per game. Even when a Jordan Theodore is missing in Weissenfels, Gordon Herbert can rely on his extra point guard Johannes Voigtmann who dished out a career high 7 assists, while Konstantin Klein had 8 assists. Crailsheim return home after a hard 100-65 loss in Ludwigsburg where they had no answer how to contain the lethal Ludwigsburg offense. Crailsheim enter the game playing ok basketball having a 3-3 record, but have averaged giving up 93 points in the last three games. Crailsheim will have to step up and play defense and control the paint, or they won´t have any chance to compete with the Fraport Skyliners.