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 Rent4Office and Trier.
Luke thanks for talking to German Hoops. Congrats on a successful weekend with wins against Rent4Office and the Gladiators Trier. Have the Hebeisen White Wings Hanau finally peaked or do you still seeing that happen in the next games?
Thank you, Miles. It is an exciting time of the year as a basketball player and as a basketball fan. I do not think our team has peaked, as surprising as that may sound. I still believe our best basketball is ahead of us and that is the attitude we bring every day when we show up for work.
After remembering the first game against the Gladiators Trier being a 76-58 victory at home, with what kind of an approach did the Hebeisen White Wings go into this game with?
We all know how talented Trier is. On film during our preparation we saw that they really have been playing great basketball since the Christmas break. We had the goal of matching Trier’s intensity and physicality and tried to use their aggressive defense to our advantage with back door cuts, spacing, and ball movement.
The Gladiators Trier made a last run in the fourth quarter, but overall how pleased were you that the Hebeisen White Wings did a good job keeping control of the game in the second half?
I was very pleased with our effort and intensity all game. This was a huge defensive game for us. Trier made a great run in the second half to catch up but we remained composed under pressure and stuck to our game plan: play hard nosed defense, rebound, and share the ball on offense to find easy shots.
How fitting was it that American Kruize Pinkins hit a big bucket late in the fourth to put keep the Gladiators Trier at bay?
Kruize will tell you, we don’t really care who scores. We just try to find the best shot available every possession. Kruize made some big baskets all game under heavy defense, which he has done frequently all year.
Kruize Pinkins scored 38 points on the weekend as he was as usual on fire and a big factor in Hanau getting two wins. Do you feel that he has stepped up his game extra in the last weeks in keeping this spectacular run by the team going?
KP is really growing as a young professional. He is very active and scores more on will than on skill. His motor is always going and he just outworks people around the basket. He is really playing great basketball for a rookie and has helped us tremendously this season, especially in the past few games.
American Dane Johnson really has stepped up his game since the Gotha game. How vital will his production coupled with Kruize Pinkins be for the further success of the team this season?
Dane has been very productive for us lately. He has a big, strong body and is efficient around the rim. Coach has rewarded his production with an increase in playing time and it is helping our team having a duel threat down low with Kruize and Dane scoring and rebounding at a high level.
Since the last interview, the Hebeisen White Wings have a 3-1 record and despite a 77-71 loss against the Hamburg Towers, have given up an average of 67 points in the last three wins. Have the players grown to understand the urgency of defending well now at this stage of the season?
We feel that our defense is our best quality and has won us a few close games in the second half of the season. We have a great sense of urgency on defense and try to defend every possession like the last possession of the game. In basketball, especially at the end of the season, more teams will win close games with great defense than with good offense.
If you look at the standings now, there is a real dog fight for the last playoff spots as Chemnitz, Nurnburg, Baunach and Hanau all have 26 points. Has the excitement sunk in for you or are you still waiting for it to happen?
As excited as we are from a few huge wins for our club, we are remaining level headed. We have to play the two best teams in the league, Jena and Vechta, and understand that both of these games will be incredibly difficult to win. We are excited for the challenge to fight for a spot in the playoffs against the best teams in the league.
Before the weekend and two wins, Kruize Pinkins told me that every game is a playoff game for Hanau. The team treated the last two games as playoff games. Will the team heighten their approach and take the last two big games against SC Rasta Vecta and Science City Jena as game 7 type games?
I think that every game, from the past three wins to the next two games, we have and will continue to treat as game 7 type scenarios. Essentially, if we lose we are out of the playoffs. We are giving every ounce of effort and energy into every possession knowing that we are fighting for something that our club thought would be impossible to start the season.
The Hebeisen White Wings lost both games this season to Vecta and Jena, but both loses were at the start of the season where you were 1-6. You are a totally different team now. How confident are you that the Hebeisen White Wings will do special things in these two games?
I did not have the chance to play against Vechta on the first game of the season as my paperwork was not submitted by game time, unfortunately. I am really looking forward to playing against them as they are clearly a top team in the league and have aspirations to move up to the BBL. But first, we have a huge game at home against Jena. The last time we played Jena we were a completely different team. We were dealing with quite a few injuries and were not nearly as competitive, cohesive, and together as we are now. We played them really well in the first half and they kicked our butt in the second half to beat us at their place. We obviously respect Jena’s talent but we will be ready to fight next weekend in front of a good crowd in Hanau.
Simon Cote continues to do a marvelous job keeping the team focused and prepared each weekend. Are you looking forward to hearing the game plans for the last two games which could separate him between savior and legend?
Coach Simon Cote and Assistant Coach Ryan Pannone have done a tremendous job as first year coaches in Pro A. They are both “players coaches” and have our respect and attention. They have exceeded the managements expectations. They spend countless hours preparing with breaking down film and scouting our opponents and then applying it in a way that will help us succeed on the court. I’m sure Simon will have a great game plan for these final two matches. One thing I enjoy with Coach Simon is he really values our opinion and will gladly welcome suggestions on what we are comfortable with instead of being a dictator and forcing us to play schemes a certain way that may not gel with our roster or the match ups that we have for a certain game.
With March Madness commencing this week, what teams do you see making noise this time around?
I think that UNC will win it all. I like Michigan State due to Izzo’s coaching in March, obviously, and their veteran leadership with Valentine running the show. I am pulling for Southern California as their coach, Andy Enfeild, was the one who recruited me to Florida State before moving on to Florida Gulf Coast following our run to the Sweet 16 in 2011. I’m hoping he takes USC on a little run as he did with us at Florida State and as he did with FGCU a few years back.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Luke for the chat.