Ricky Easterling is a 32 year old 190cm guard from Baltimore playing his 10 professional season in Germany and over the years has been crowned Mr Regionaliga as he averaged over 30 points three times with TV Saarlouis and is now playing his second season in the German Pro B and belongs to the top 3 players there. Before moving to Saarlouis in 2007 he played at Bridgewater (NCAA3) an dthen as a rookie played with TSG Reutlingen (Germany-Oberliga and Bergheim Bandits (Germany-Regionalliga). Last season with TV Saarlouis he played 28 games: Score-1(22.9ppg), 4.5rpg, Assists-4(5.3apg), 1.4spg, FGP: 55.2%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 86.1%. Currently he is averaging 22,2ppg, 3,4rpg and 4,4apg. He spoke to Eurobasket before the start of the second half of the season.
Ricky thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has the Christmas holiday been for you?
Over the holidays I stayed in Saarlouis. A lot of Americans like to go home but I stay because the break is not that long and I want to get a good rest and relax while I have the chance. I think traveling a lot doesn’t give me that opportunity. So I just wait for the end of the season to go back home to visit my family.
Have you been able to stay away from giving the basketball type gift or do you tend to give traditional type gifts?
I think I buy more traditional gifts for my loved ones. But when I am asked what I want for the holidays and I normally want more basketball related gifts. For example the latest retro Jordans if they are still available in stores or online.
You are playing your ninth season for Saarlouis. At this stage of your career do you think that you will end your career with them?
It is hard to say where I will end my career. I have been here a while and I really like it here in Saarlouis. But every year is different and anything can happen. So I guess we will have to see what happens
I could imagine you playing into your 40´s and possibly further as a player/coach. Would this be an option you will look into if your body continues to be good and allow you to play at a high level?
Yes if my body stays healthy and I am able to compete at a level I am satisfied with then I would love to keep playing. I’m in love with the game and it will always be a part of my life in some kind of way.
Saarlouis is currently in 11th place with a 3-10 record and very much in the playoff race. How badly do you want to make the playoffs in your second season in the Pro B?
We have had a rough start to the season. We have shown at times we can beat any team in the league if we play to our potential. I’m looking forward to the second round of the season and hopefully we can win more games and make playoffs. That was the goal for us coming in to the season and we are not going to give up.
Talk about the first half of the season. The club started with a 4 game losing streak, then won two of three, then lost three in a row and now are on a two game winning streak. Why is the team so up and down?
At the moment we just are very inconsistent. We often let the other teams control the game and make stupid mistakes that cost us games. We are aware of this and are working hard to correct these issues. We have made a couple changes and things are looking better for us
What has the team done better in the games against BG Karlsruhe and Speyer on defense that has allowed on average only 64 points in these two games while during the season 79 points?
We are just executing what we want to do on the defensive end better then we have done before. We are also playing better on offense which I think contributes also contributes to us playing better defense. When you can hit shots and take care of the ball then that keeps the other team from getting easy baskets in transition. We are able to get back and set up our defense rather than chasing the other team down and trying to stop them in transition.
How big was the loss against BG Karlsruhe? Despite the loss this must have given the team confidence going into the second half of the season?
Even though we lost this game it was big for our team ego. We showed we can play with anyone in this league as long as we play our game and play to our potential. One play was the difference in this game and a person can pick and choose what play that was. The game could have went either way. Unfortunately the win went to Karlsruhe but we showed the league and ourselves that we are better then what our record says.
How important is team consistency in the second half of the season for the team to be successful?
Consistency is huge for us this second round and we understand that. If we stay at the level we have been playing the last two games we will win a lot more game this round and hopefully make playoffs.
On what other things does the team need to work on to be successful and qualify for the playoffs?
Limit our turnovers and continue to play together on offense. We have been doing a good job of that and we have seen the difference in how we are playing. Working hard on defense is also something we need to continue to do but I’m not really worried about that because if we are able to get back and set up we are a strong team defensively.
How important has Brennan Mcelroy been for the team and you? You must love him because he is like a playmaker as he is a great passer for forward inside player.
It is a great pleasure playing with a guy like Brennan. He is our work horse and does so much for us. As you can see when you look at his stats. He fills all categories. Probably one of best all around players I have played with in career.
How are playing your ninth season with big man Muharem Mujkanovic. He is one of those players that doesn´t get much press or respect, but does his job. How important is he on the floor for the team since he is the only real true man that produces on a consistent level.
Harri is my bro! We been together since I came to Saarlouis and I can’t imagine playing in SLS without him. He has come a long way since our first season together and I am very proud of him. He is doing a great job this season and I hope he starts to get the credit he deserves. He is a key component to your team and if we want to turn things around the next round Harri is going be one of the guys we go to, to take us to where we want be by the end of the season. PLAYOFFS!
Let´s talk about your game. You are having another great season. Are you getting better with age? How important is your summer off season training for you now at your age?
Haha! I like that term getting better with age. I guess you can say that. I am very fortunate to have stayed healthy this long and to continue to be able to play at a high level. The off season is a very important part to my game at this point of my career just like it has always been. I am fortunate to have a guy like Chris Cummings in my life that has taught me so much of how to be a true professional and how to stay at the top of my game. I have been working out with him every summer and season since I have started my professional career. I would not be the player I am today without having him in my corner guiding me. Hopefully I have the opportunity to keep working with him in the future.
Last season you took 44 three pointers and now at the mid way point only 10. If you jog your memory could you remember where you took all 10 three pointers this season? Lol
Umm yeah I think I could if I really think about it. But as we both know 3s are not a shot that I take much of. But I think in this second half of the season if teams start to play more zone against us then I will shoot more 3s. I work on my 3pt shot in my shooting trainings and I am very confident in shooting them. So if I need to shoot more of them I will with confidence.
If I say 3 points, five fouls in 12 minutes could you tell me what opponent it was and when?
Yes season 2014-15 against Iserlohn. That was the first week of the season and we played a double header weekend. Friday against Speyer and Sunday against Iserlohn. I had some knee issues from the game on Friday against Speyer and it effected my performance against Iserlohn. That was a frustrating day for me and still haunts me from time to time.
You are having another great season averaging 22,2ppg, 3,4rpg and 4,4apg. How happy have you been with your game? Is it more just shot selection and hitting shots that you look at in how your scoring keeps developing this season?
To be honest I’m not satisfied with my numbers right now. I think they should be better all the way around. They will improve in the second round which will be very beneficial to my team helping us win more games.
Your averaging 4,8 turnovers a game. What has been your biggest problem at taking care of the ball and how can you work at keeping that down?
I have no excuses for that and I promise you this stat will drop!
In the 85-71 win against Speyer you had 26 points, 12 assists and shot 2/3 from outside. Could we see you taking more three´s in the second half of season?
They played a lot of zone in this game and that shot was available for me to take. Like I said before if teams want to test my teams outside shooting by playing zone. I’m ready for the challenge and will shoot deep with confidence.
It really doesn´t matter who I talk to in the Pro B, but every player says you have the best mid distance shot ever. Talk about how this shot has developed and how you keep it being unstoppable?
Mid range shooting has been a big part of my game since high school. My coach at Dundalk HS Kevin Peiser came up to me one day and said that shot is open for me a lot and I should look to shoot it more. So that is exactly what I did. Since then I been working on that shot and it became very comfortable for me. I went to college and my coachs Bill Leatherman, and PW Weller keep me in the gym working on my shot. Then I meet Chris Cummings in Germany and he brought my shot to another level. A lot of reps got my mid range shit to what it is today. So reps and hard work is what helped me get to this point
What personal goals do you have in the second half of the season. Will we maybe see a triple double?
My personal goals are team oriented. I just want get more wins and make playoffs. If it takes triple doubles to get us there then so be it.
You have averaged 6,5apg in the last three games. Does your creating come from what the defense gives you or have you become more of a playmaker as of recently?
I’m just playing more point guard recently. Eventhough I am a scorer I can also create for my teammates. People don’t seem to realize that because of my scoring but I can also create easy opportunities for teammates. I work on that part of my game every day in practice.
What new year resolutions have you been thinking about for 2016?
Get more wins in the secomd half of the season and take better care of the ball.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Rediculous 6 by Adam Sandler.
Thanks Ricky for the chat.