TJ DiLeo is a 25 year old 190cm guard from New Jersey that also has the German citizenship and is playing his third professional season and third for the Giessen 46ers this season. As a rookie with Giessen he played 38 games averaging 10.2ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.5apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 74.6%. Last season he played 38 games averaging 9.9ppg, 4.1rpg, 3.9apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 50.3%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 82.7% He played at Temple from 2008-2013 playing a total of 126 NCAA games. In 2010, he played for the German U20 National Team in 2010 and played for the European Championships U20 in Croatia playing 9 games: 10.7ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.8apg, 1.1spg, FGP. He spoke to eurobasket after the 86-61 loss to the Fraport Skyliners.
T.J thanks for talking to German Hoops. A tough 86-61 loss to the hands of the Fraport Skyliners at home snapping a 4 game winning streak In the third quarter, Giessen was trailing by 10 points and in the fourth quarter halfway through Frankfurt closed the door extending the lead by 20 points. Frankfurt wore Giessen down. Did the last weeks of crunch time wins wear the team down a bit mentally?
I don’t think it was our previous games, more Frankfurt’s style of play. They are a great team. We knew this game would be different than the last few. I actually think learning to win close games will help us in the future, because we undoubtedly will have some more this season. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep it close today
Giessen has a deep rotation and played all 12 players, but the Fraport Skyliners still wore you down. How does the style of the Fraport Skyliners wear teams down?
They are very physical and disciplined. They play hard for 40 minutes, they stick to their principles, and they eventually wear you down. Defensively, their guards are almost unscreenable, and they have great rotations from their bigs and weakside players. Offensively they play their systems very well. Their spacing is good and they have great chemistry especially with their bigs.
Fraport Skyliner guard Jordan Theodore had 27 points and six assists to lead the charge. He has been an important part of the success of the team, but somehow doesn´t get the credit he should when ranking the top point guards in the Beko BBL. From the players you have watched and played against this season is Theodore up there with the Wanamaker´s, Taylor´s and Renfroe´s?
Jordan Theodore is definitely up there with the best guards in the league. I think he’s an MVP candidate especially because of the season Frankfurt is having. He plays on both ends of the court. And as you saw tonight, he can get very hot in any game.
In the first meeting in Frankfurt you were still injured, but witnessed the game from the bench. What strides do you see have this team made since then?
I think they’ve just grown to know each other more as a team. Between Europe Cup and BBL they’ve been able to play lots of games, and improve their already good chemistry. They looked sharp today. I think we’ve gotten healthier, and also improved our chemistry. We’ve been sharing the ball better most games. We’ve found ways to close out tight games and that a good thing for a team to learn.
I remember the game in Frankfurt was a low scoring affair and tonight Frankfurt held Giessen to 61 points. What makes Frankfurt such a special defensive team?
It starts with their guards. They pressure you and fight hard through every screen. Then their bigs have a rare combination of length and mobility. Their rotations are good, typically only giving you the furthest skip pass. Windows of opportunity for advantage are small against Frankfurt, and its tough to play against that for 40 minutes.
The Giessen 46ers are playing very spirited good basketball and before the Frankfurt game had a four game winning streak having won all four games by a combined score of 13 points and three games by two points each. Would the perfect end of game slogan for the Giessen 46ers be “Don´t mess with the crunch time boys”?
Yes, maybe you should pitch that to the 46ers marketing team. But realistically, it would be nice if we could pull away more in games that are close, similar to what we did against Bonn.
I see a lot of similarities between Frankfurt and Giessen in that they are like a young Frankfurt team from 2-3 seasons ago in that they strive to play unselfish team basketball and pride their game on defense. A lot of the success goes to head coach Denis Wucherer. How enjoyable is it to play Giessen basketball when it´s working?
Its great to play in Giessen under Denis. He’s a players coach and its easy to see why players really love to play for him. Denis, along with the rest of the coaching staff has gotten us playing good and unselfish basketball most of the games. We’ve got great guys on the team, and people are buying into the system and its bringing us some success. Its been fun.
Before the season the goal was to remain in the league. Are the playoffs a realistic goal or are you guys just taking it one game at a time?
We are taking it one game at a time. But we also know our positioning in the standings. We will have some tough road games coming up, so we have to get wins where we can. The top 8 is really strong this year, it will be tough. It will also depend on some teams in the top 8 losing. But all we can do is continue to take it one game at a time, and hopefully by the final stretch of the season, we’re in a position where we have a chance.
You were out almost 14 weeks and made your return back on January 31st against FC Bayern Munich. How difficult was the long injury period and how did you stay positive?
It was very difficult. Some days harder than others. But the good thing about it is that the team was playing great basketball. Its much easier when you’re watching the team get some wins.
You have been coming back slowly in the scoring department, but as a distributor and as defender have been playing very well. In the momentary lineup with many scoring options are you ok with perhaps getting fewer shots in a game?
Yea of course, its all part of how we play. It goes for everyone on the team too. Some games you’ll get more shots than others. I don’t mind being a distributer at all, and I’m sure everyone on the team would say the same.
How big has the play of Braydon Hobbs been? He really stepped it up extra during your injury and has become a key player in the success of the Giessen 46ers.
Hobbs has been great. He’s done so much for us. He’s a great distributer, and he can pull up and hit a big shot whenever we need it. He’s a 3 point threat any time he has the ball, and his vision is so good too. Thats where we get a lot of our offense from.
How did you see the NBA trades recently at the deadline? What teams did the best?
This years trade deadline was a little quieter than last year. There wasn’t too many significant trades. I like Tobias Harris to the Pistons and Markieff Morris to the Wizards.
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’m not sure why. Maybe because Steph Curry is such a unique player, and there has never been a player who can shoot like he can. Of course there have been great shooters, but Curry can do it off the dribble, from off ball action, or spot up. He’s a threat from a few steps inside half court. The NBA has some of the greatest coaches in the world, and I’m sure if there was a sure way to stop him without sacrificing the rest of your defense, then someone would have figured it out by now.
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?
Its hard for me to say. I’ve been lucky enough to get to see all of Lebron’s career because he’s definitely one of the best players of all time. But some of those other guys I’ve only been able to see highlights or select games because they were before my time. I think a lot depends on how Lebron finishes the next few years of his career.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The Big Short.
Thanks T J for the chat.