Bryan Smithson is a 30 year old 185cm point guard from Kennesaw,Georgia playing his thried season in Germany. He started his basketball career at Middle Tennessee St. (NCAA) in 2003 where he played two seasons. He then moved to NC-Asheville (NCAA) where he finished his college career and as a senior played 29 games: 16.4ppg, 4.0rpg, 4.1apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 45.1%, 3Pts: 41.1%, FT: 83.5%. He played two seasons for the Kirchheim Knights in the German Pro A where he was top 5 in assists in the league the last two seasons. Last season for Kichheim he played 28 games: 12.0ppg, 3.4rpg, Assists-5(5.0apg), FGP: 46.3%, 3PT: 40.2%, FT: 88.2%. This season he is playing for the MLP Academics Heidelberg and spoke to German Hoops after the big 63-62 win against the ETB Wohnbau baskets Essen.
Bryan congrats on the 63-62 win against the ETB Wohnbau Baskets Essen. For a rare time you weren´t the hero at the end of the game, but it was actually your teammate American Devon White. You have won games at the end on numerous occasions this season. Does it seem strange when someone else does what you have done so often this season?
Hi Miles, thank you for the interview and the congratulations. I felt very satisfied that Devon was able to make such a big defensive play at the end of the game vs. Essen. Individually speaking, it must be gratifying for him due to the history he has with Essen, but Devon also understood the importance of this game for our team and he came through for us. I do not feel strange if I am not making the game winning play, but it gives me that much more confidence in my team at the end of games.
The MLP Academics Heidelberg proved again how well they stick together as a team in tense moments. Was this win another step in the long march towards reaching a playoff spot?
We are still learning here in Heidelberg. Many changes have taken place this season and we are still developing our chemistry week to week. Every win is a step toward reaching the playoffs.
It was another very hard battle until the end between Heidelberg and Essen. Was this game another example really how balanced the German Pro A is in that you can´t take any nights off?
Essen is a tough team and we knew it would be a battle on our home court. They have a lot of experience to go along with a coach who competes every season in a tough German ProA league. There is no nights off in this league and you have to be focused on your opponent every week or you will get beat.
Devon White won the game with a free throw and then made a big block of top Essen player Tre Bowman. Did White once again prove that he is without a doubt the team´s best defender?
Devon’s extra effort at the end of the game ensured that Essen did not get another shot at the basket to win the game. He is special defensively and I would call him our most versatile defender. Devon is able to guard every position on the floor because of his length and athleticism. When a player like that is on the court it opens up many options when it comes to defensive schematics.
Did you see video of Steph Curry´s winning three against The Thunder last night? As a guy who has hit numerous big shots this season and otherwise in your career, do you ever think about big winning shots that have been made when you are on the floor in clutch moments?
I was lucky enough to witness the shot Steph hit vs OKC the other night. I do think about big winning shots, but I try to stay focused on my personal success with those shots because it gives me the confidence I need at that pivotal moment. Off the floor, I am no different than any other basketball player putting myself in the shoes of the great ones and imagining how I might react in the game winning situations they are in.
You are the leader on the team and have come up big so many times this season in games. How quickly did you notice in the game against Essen that you had to be more of a scorer than a creator?
I took a quick rest on the bench at the start of the 2nd quarter and at that time I realized I needed to be more aggressive offensively. When I checked back into the game I made sure to establish myself as a threat with the ball and that allowed the other guys to play off me later in the game. Sometimes it is necessary for me to take the scoring mentality on this team.
The MLP Academics Heidelberg are 12-12 now and in good range of making the playoffs. How much did the losses against Leverkusen and Baunach hurt?
The losses against Leverkusen and Baunach hurt because every loss hurts your chances to reach the playoffs. Of course, at this time of year losses are magnified but when I look back to earlier in the season, we let a few games slip that equivalently hurt our campaign for the playoffs.
Before the win against Essen, Heidelberg had lost five of their last six games. The team didn´t play particularly bad, but just had some misfortune in this stretch. What does the team need to do better in the next five games to reach the playoffs?
For Heidelberg to make the playoffs it is simple, we need to win 3 of the next 5 games. In order to accomplish that, we must be better offensively by moving the ball and making decisions purposefully. On the defensive end, we have got to put together longer stretches of discipline and make the 2nd and 3rd rotation consistently.
Recently you played 50 minutes scoring 31 points and dishing out 11 assists in a 94-90 loss to Baunach. What hurt more as the siren sounded, your muscles or losing another tight affair?
The pain of losing such a hard fought game drained me physically and maybe even more than the 50 minutes itself.
You really are playing a lot of minutes at the moment. What is key at age 30 to be as fresh as possible in the stretch run of a season?
At my age it is important for me to understand how my body moves, reacts, and recovers to different stimuli. Understanding my body and listening to it is the key to performing night in and night out. I am typically the first one in the gym and the last one to leave. My teammates often times laugh at me for the things that I do but hopefully it rubs off on them and they start to understand the importance of it all. Also, I am extremely lucky to have a great medical team in Heidelberg that continue to help me achieve my physical goals.
How do you recap the NBA trade line deals? What teams did the best?
There were not any deals that excited me this season. The Clippers made a great move to receive Jeff Green which will help them throughout the rest of the season. The only other deal that I liked was the Hawks bringing Hinrich back because he gives them some more experience that will be important come playoff time.
EX NBA players have attacked the Golden State Warriors saying the NBA isn´t as physical as it once was. Are these players just jealous or would Steph Curry and the Warriors not dominate say 20-30 years ago?
I can not say the players from the past are jealous, however, it is apparent that they are just as competitive today as they were when they played in the NBA. I think it comes out in bad taste because they had their time and instead of trying to compare eras, everyone should sit back and have fun watching history be made. The NBA is not as physical today but the NBA was not as athletic before so it is impossible to compare. I am enjoying watching the Warriors win and I am excited that I get to see a guy like Steph Curry do the things he does.
Recently ESPN ranked the top 100 NBA players of all time. They placed Lebron James at #3 before NBA legends Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Bill Russell. Do you feel that is justified?
Rankings are always messy and debatable because everyone bases their rankings upon different criteria. To keep it simple, I think it is premature to rank Lebron in front of Larry Legend, Magic Johnson, and Bill Russell.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Zookeeper with Kevin James.
Thanks Bryan for the chat.