Ricky Kreklow is a 23 year old 201cm forward from Columbia, Missouri that is playing his professional rookie season in Germany with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen. He comes from a sports family as his Father is head coach of the Missouri women’s volleyball team and also played 25 games for the 1980-81 NBA World Champion Boston Celtics, while mother is former head women’s volleyball coach at Missouri and current Director of Volleyball Operations. He played at three colleges in four years with Missouri as a freshman, California in his second and third seasons and with Creighton as a senior. He played a total og 98 NCAA games at the three schools and despite much movement was able to improve his scoring and rebounding average each season in the NCAA. As a senior at Creighton he played 31 games averaging 7.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 50.8%, 3PT: 38.7%, FT: 72.9%. He spoke to German Hoops before the game against Baunach.
Rick thanks for talking to German Hoops. A tough 61-55 loss to the hands of the Finke Baskets Paderborn last weekend. It was the sixth loss this season by six points or less. How sick are you of losing close games this season?
Losing games like our loss to Finke Baskets Paderborn is always tough.
It was a grind out win for the Finke Baskets. What was key in the fourth quarter that Leverkusen was unable to get over the hump and go on some sort of a run?
We just made a few too many mistakes down the stretch that hurt our chances of winning that game. It has happened to us multiple times this season. In these close games we cannot afford to take bad shots or make careless turnovers and unfortunately we just haven’t been sharp late in games.
Was there anything positive that the team could take out of the loss? You won the rebound duel, had less turnovers and played good defense.
A positive in these losses is that we have shown we are a very capable team that can beat anyone on in the league when we play a complete game.
It has been a tough season for the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and are stuck in a battle to remain in the league. With 5 games to go, what is the mindset of the team?
As we close out the season our mindset is taking it one game at a time and giving our best effort as a team to steal wins on the road and defend our home court to put us in the best position to finish as high as we can in the ProA standings.
The Bayer Giants Leverkusen have to win as many games as possible and hope that the ETB Wohnbau baskets lose some games. Besides winning games, what does the team need to do very well to gain a winning streak now?
A main focus for this team to try and win these final games is to continue to focus on our defense. Offense is going to vary from night to night but one thing that we should have control over is how hard we play and how well we play as a team on the defensive end.
Despite being in 15th place, why do you believe are the Bayer Giants Leverkusen are a better team than their record shows?
Despite our record, I believe that this team is a better team than many think. We have had a few bad losses but have been close to beating a few of the top teams in the league.
If the team had won three of the six close games instead of having lost them, then the Bayer Giants Leverkusen would be in a better situation now. Why has the team had difficulty winning close games this season?
I think one aspect that has made it difficult for this team to be successful is our lack of access to practice facilities. We have a solid group of players and good coaches but only being able to practice 2-3 times a week, for 1.5 hours, has a clear impact on our ability to execute in games. This also effects offensive consistency for players on this team, in addition to a teams ability to function as a unit on offense and defense. In order to compete at the level players on this team are capable of competing at there just needs to be more time to dedicate to practice. But in spite of this handicap, the coaches and players on this team have done a good job at putting ourselves in a position to win games.
How important has American James Hulbin been for you? How has he been able to help you as a rookie this season learn the ropes?
James Hublin has been a solid addition for this team. He is a skilled athlete that is a tough matchup up for many 4/5’s in the league. His presence has definitely helped this team throughout the season.
Currently you are averaging 10,4ppg, 4,0rpg and 3,0apg. How ha sthe transition been for you from the NCAA to the German Pro A?
The transition from NCAA to ProA has been good. There are many things I can be doing better but for the most part my teammates and coaches have helped me deal with this adjustment.
What has given you more pain, your three point shooting or turnover average of 2,8? Is making better decisions one of the main things you are trying to constantly improve?
Both my 3FG% and TO average must be improved. It would be easy for me to make excuses why both numbers are not as good as they have been in the past for me but ultimately in comes down to me needing to make better decisions with the ball and knocking down jump shots.
What part of the European game has been most difficult for you to get adjusted to?
I think for me the biggest adjustment has been getting used to how referees call fouls/travels here compared to NCAA. Early in the season this was a tough adjustment but I believe I have done much better lately getting a feel for how the game is called in Europe.
What kind of experience has it been for you playing for a losing team as a rookie? How do you believe have you grown as a player this season?
My rookie season has been a positive experience for me. I had good teammates and coaches and I enjoyed living in Germany. Despite our record, I am thankful that I was able to go out and give my best effort to help this team win games.
How did you see the NBA trades recently at the deadline? What teams did the best?
I have not paid too much attention to the NBA trades.
Some of the older NBA players that played at different times are having a hard time giving Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors credit for their success saying they might not have had that success 20-30 years ago. Are these former players just jealous or why can´t they just give credit where it´s due?
I think he would be incredibly successful in any era of basketball. His ability to shoot the ball at such high percentage from anywhere on the court coupled with his abilities to handle and pass the ball make him nearly impossible to guard. One could make the argument that a player could just play dirty and physical with him all game in order to contain him but outside of hurting him, it won’t work. He is able to impact a game in more ways than just scoring. He passes well, he finishes well in the paint and he moves so well without the ball. His ability to keep his defender off balance away from the ball is incredible. He needs absolutely zero room to get a shot off and has the ability to hit the open player if you decided to throw multiple defenders at him. I’ll be interested to see if he can keep up this historic season in the following years, given how absurd his play has been, but he will always be a top player in the league in my opinion.
Recently ESPN made a top 100 greatest NBA players of alltime poll putting Lebron at #3 before legends Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and BIll Russell. Do you see that as being justified?
And I think the Lebron rating is a tough call. Honestly when you get that high in the list of all-time greats there really is not much that separates those guys. It would just depend on who you asked but you would be able to make a strong case for any of them.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Last movie I watched was Unbroken.
Thanks Ricky for the chat.