Luke Loucks is a 25 year old 196cm guard from Clearwater, Florida playing his fourth professional season and first in Germany with the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau (Germany-ProA). He started his basketball career with Florida St. (NCAA) in 2008 where he played until 2012 playing a total of 136 NCAA games. He reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2011 and as a senior played 35 games averaging 7.1ppg, 3.3rpg, 4.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 44.2%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 70.8%. In 2012 he started his professional season with VEF Riga (Latvia-LBL): VTB League: 6 games: 1.5ppg; VTB United League: 6 games: 1.5ppg; Latvian LBL: 4 games: 1.8ppg, 3.3rpg, 5.3apg, in Jan.’13 moved to Forex Time Apollon (Cyprus-Division A) playing 11 games: 10.4ppg, 3.3rpg, 6.4apg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 76.5%. In the 2013-2014 season he played with the Kangoeroes Basket Willebroek (Belgium-Ethias League): 26 games: 10.3ppg, 3.3rpg, Assists-2(4.7apg), FGP: 43.2%, 3PT: 30.3%, FT: 77.9%. Last season he played with the t Erie Bay Hawks (D-League): 10 games: 4.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 3.4apg, in Feb.’15 moved back to Maine Red Claws (D-League): 9 games: 2.4ppg, 1.2rpg, 2.2apg. He spoke to German Hoops after the wins against Essen and Rhondorf.
Luke congrats on the successful double win weekend. How good does it feel to go through a whole weekend without any real basketball complaints?
Thank you, Miles. It’s always nice to talk to you and Eurobasket. It is also always nice to win ball games. Winning two games in less than three days is very satisfying for our club and our fans, especially as a newcomer to Pro A.
Congrats on the 98-76 win against the ETB Wohnbau Baskets Essen. How key was it keeping your composure as a team in the second half after the explosive 28-9 second quarter?
We knew Essen was a better team than their record shows. We beat them at their place a few weeks ago so we knew they would come to our place ready to battle and play physical. The second quarter we stepped up our defense and pressured Essen into a few turnovers and easy fast break points. The second half was more even but our defense, rebounding, and ball movement really made the difference.
When an offensive is working dishing out 22 assists and shooting 45% from the field and from outside, can one blame the 21 turnovers a bit more on an over anxious offense forcing a bit more than it really should?
We have a team full of unselfish players who usually enjoy making the extra pass for an easy shot. Sometimes this passing leads to some unnecessary and careless turnovers but we still feel that if we move the ball to create the best shot available this will help our offense be the most efficient for our roster. To quote Gregg Popovich on ball movement, “you move it or you die.”
In the second game of the weekend, you pulled out an important win on the road against Rhondorf. How proud are you of the team for withstanding a few runs by Rhondorf in the fourth quarter to preserve the win?
We knew going into Rhondorf after a short one day break from Friday’s Essen game would be difficult. It was not a pretty game but we made a few keys plays down the stretch that helped us sneak out of Rhondorf with a road win. I’ll take a sloppy win over a pretty loss any day of the week.
Was controlling the boards with hauling down 48 rebounds and keeping Sterling Carter in check key who went wild earlier in the season in Hanau for getting the win over 40 minutes?
I think both of those were key to our victory. The rebounding war is always important and we did a good job of securing a lot of long loose rebounds tonight. Carter was the main figure on our scouting report. He takes a lot of really tough shots and can make some really difficult shots over contested hands. Holding him to single digits is an attribute to our team defense and off the ball help. We must’ve had 4 or 5 guys guard him at different points of the game.
How key has it been for the team to realize that the club doesn´t have to fully rely on American Kruize Pinkins to carry the team as more and more contributors are surfacing game by game?
Kruize has done a really good job this year with his rebounding and activity around the hoop. He’s my rookie – he lives just a few doors down from my wife and I – so I always try to get in extra work with him before and after practice. He’s done a great job in his first season in Europe and will play for a long time if he can keep it up. Recently more guys have stepped up production on our team so a few roles have adjusted a little but I think it’s worked out really well for everyone.
The Hebeisen White Wings Hanau have 11 wins and one win away from the last playoff place. Three months ago the season looked bleak, but now very rosy. Despite wanting to stay in the league, are playoffs on your minds as the team is so close to being there?
Our club’s goal was always to stay in the league for the first season and have more lofty goals in the years to come. Obviously as competitive players we have our internal goals and we are well aware that the playoffs are within reach. We’ve dealt with a lot of injuries and bumps in the beginning of the season but I think we have stuck together and our coaches Simon Cote and Ryan Pannone have done a great job leading us along the way.
How important is it for the team to have many functioning parts instead of one or two guys averaging 16-17 points per game?
Our team doesn’t have an outstanding explosive scorer but we have eight or nine guys that can reach double digits on any given night. It’s been really important for our team to play together and be as efficient as possible. If it’s not a huge scoring night for some of our guys, they try to help the team with defense, assists, rebounds, or anything else to bring value to our team.
You averaged 13 points and five assists on the weekend. How far away are you from solid to very good in your opinion about your own performance?
I enjoy the five assists more than the 13 points as a point guard. I’m just glad we’ve been able to compete at a high level and turn the ship in the right direction for these last few games of the regular season.
Currently you are having your best scoring stretch of the season as you have scored in double figures in 4 straight games. Are you feeling more confident at the moment than you ever have this season with your game?
I am feeling more confident and finding a good shooting rhythm. This is just a reflection of the work we’ve been putting in outside of regular practices. Just an extra 20-30 minutes a day of shooting and extra work can go a long way and our coaches are always willing to come help us out when we want extra work.
Your defense also has picked up in the last weeks. Has your defense also been key for getting you going with your offense in the last weeks?
Miles Jackson-Cartwright, Till Joenke, and Chris Von Fintel do a tremendous job pressuring the ball and their activity on opposing guards is terrific. This makes it easier for me to read a few passing lanes and pick up a steal here and there to start the offense. Good defense always leads to better offense.
You also have taken more three pointers in the last 4 games than in any other 4 game stretch this season. Have you got the green light more just to shoot more or has it been more a result of what the defense has given you?
A mixture of both. I am and always will try to be a pass-first point guard. Recently the coaches have implored me to be more aggressive offensively and look for myself sometimes instead of always searching for the open man. This has made defenses not play the passing lanes so much as they respect my shot and it can open up some great opportunities for assists and easy dump offs to teammates.
You live in an area with many beautiful places. What place in the Rhein-main area has really taken to your heart since arriving in Hanau last September.
That’s tough to narrow it down to just one place. This region of the world is really unbelievably rich with history, beauty, and places to see within just a few hours drive on a day off. The castles and history along the Rhein River are awesome to see and unlike anything we have in America. My wife and I love to grab lunch in Frankfurt on a day off and enjoy a cappuccino at a few different cafes while walking around the city.
Recently ESPN made a poll of the 100 best NBA players of all time with Lebron at #3 before legends like Larry Bird, Bill Russell and Magic. Do you feel this as being justified?
It’s funny you asked. Our old Florida State teammates have a huge group chat and we’ve all been arguing these rankings for the past week. If Lebron retired today it would be tough to argue that he deserves to be ahead of Bird, Magic, and Russel… even with his four MVP’s. However, I’ve said for a while now that if Lebron continues his trajectory for a few more years he will go down as the number 2 player of all time behind MJ. His statistics are incredible in nearly every major category and he’s unlike anything we’ve seen before in the game of basketball in terms of athleticism, skill, power, and basketball IQ. He also has a worldwide following much like Jordan did with fans, endorsements, and popularity that helps increase the following of the NBA and the sport in general.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Luke for the chat.