Janek Schmidkunz is a 26 year old 183cm point guard that is playing his first season for the Giants Nordlingen. Last season as a rookie he played for the MLP Acaaademics Heidelberg. He started his basketball career with Central Hoops Berlin (Regionalliga) in 2008. He then also got further experience at ALBA Berlin II (Regionalliga). He then went to the states and played at Amer.Internat. (NCAA2) from 2010-2014 playing a total of 86 NCAA games and as a senior played 26 games: 10.9ppg, 2.1rpg, FGP: 38.5%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 61.5%. He spoke to German Hoops after the bitter 78-77 loss against Ehingen ending his season.
Thanks Janek for talking to German Hoops. A tough 78-77 loss to Ehingen to end the season.Head coach Mario Matic told me 5 hours before tipoff that he was very confident that his team would win. How confident did the team feel that it would give a lot better effort then in game one?
I think we shared his view on the game. It kind of reflects the way we went into our games all season and especially during the playoffs. Especially looking at the things that we did not do well in game 1, we knew playing at home with the great support of our fans, we would play a much better game.
Does the bitter loss effect lessen a bit when you think how hard the team fought from 15 points down in the first half to almost winning the game at the end instead of being beat by 20 points to end the season?
I think at first you are somewhat shocked that the season ends and especially it being a one point game you don’t realize it until that buzzer sounds. However, we did gave it our all and that is what I told everyone stepping on the court for the second half. So there are no regrets and I think it makes me proud that we played the way we did.
The Giants Nordlingen started off the game very slow and trailed 45-31 at the break. What was keyfor the team not being able to keep pace with Ehingen?
Our defense wasn’t good the first two quarters and it slowed our offense down as
well. We were unable to control the rebound and get out and run. However, all of us stayed confident and didn’t get down on each other. We believed.
With the season on the line and 20 more minutes to play, what soothing words did head coach Mario Matic give the team to take into the second half?
He told us to believe in coming back and gave us a confidence boost as he always
did. For one, he told us what needs to change game plan wise, but more importantly he kept telling us that he knows we will be there at the end of the game with a chance to win it.
How key was the 9-0 run to start the third quarter for Nordlingen? Even though it didn´t bring you eye to eye with Ehingen, it layed the foundation for the structure and success that the Giants would achieve in the second half?
This year, we made so many experiences that showed us the importance of the third
quarter. Being able to send a message to the other team with a run like this to start the third definitely moved the momentum on our side, got the crowd into it and gave us the necessary confidence.
The fourth quarter was a real good hardnosed battle and there was a span in the first five minutes where Nordlingen held Ehingen scoreless for three and a half minutes where you got the lead. Was this span the best defense that the team played in the game with the game on the line?
Yes, I believe so. We were really focused on the defensive end, rebounded the ball
well and got some big steals. It was extremely needed as our offense was clicking during that period.
Then followed 10 lead changes. What was missing on the defensive side to get 1-2 stops which might have secured the win?
I mean there were plays we broke down on the defensive end, some where we sent
the other team to the line, but I also think that there were many good players on the court that were ready to make big plays.
Devon Moore won the game with a shot with 13 seconds and Jordan Talbert had the last shot for the win, but missed. Please take me through the last two plays of the season?
Unfortunately, Devon was there to answer all of our go ahead baskets. He really
stepped up and carried their team. When he made the basket with 13 seconds left, we did not panic and were able to get a great shot, one we have seen Jordan make all season long, a shot we really wanted at that time. After it hit the back rim, there was a scramble for the rebound, but we were unable to get another shot. I don’t even think I heard the buzzer, I just saw the clock showing 0.00 seconds and that was it!
You were part of the amazing Cinderella season of the Giants Nordlingen. What will you always remember the most about this unique team and what made the whole existence so special?
I will remember the team, coach and the special players that were part of it. We had
some amazing wins during the regular season, especially in Ehingen and in Karlsruhe, but the playoffs for me was the icing on the cake. We got hungrier from game to game and never backed down. There wasn’t one point in the season where I thought I don’t want to be here. My heart was into it all the way and I know my teammates approached it the same way. That is what made it so special!
I would presume that Mario Matic is the front runner for coach of the year. What made his teaching style and knowledge so beneficial to the team and success?
I think he is too. I already know the recognition he is receiving from other coaches
and I can only share their respect. He formed a team, made sure everyone knew their roles and embraced it and most importantly, he always showed that he wanted to work with this group of guys and no one else. The confidence he put into the team and dedication to make it all work is unmatched to me in the league.
Who in your eyes was the most improved player on the Giants Nordlingen this season?
That is tough for me to answer because I didn’t know any of the players last year. But
if I would have to go with what I expected before the season I would have to say that Moritz Trieb really surprised me with the way he battled and played for us. Despite being only 18years old, he was just as important to the team’s success as everyone else. If I were to handout the Most Improved Player to anyone it would be Moe.
How special was it belonging to the scoring trio of Jordan Talbert and Brandon Lockhart? How do you feel did these guys helped your game improve this season?
Really special as we not just bonded on the court, but off the court as well. The
chemistry we were able to develop so quick in the season set the foundation for the whole team. I should also mention that the two are really good players that are extremely hard to control on both sides on the court. I definitely benefited from all the focus the other teams had to put on them. Being able to add up the different things we all brought to the table, helped each of our performances I am sure.
You had a very strong season and was a big contributor to the success of the Giants Nordlingen. What will be the next step for Janek Schmidkunz? I know that you have the skill and metal level for thePro A!
For now I still process the season ending. My approach all year was to not focus so
much about the future but to live in the moment and embrace the challenges I faced week in and week out with this team. I am sure I will have to decide what the next challenge should look like. But what will be next, I cannot really give a detailed answer to that yet.
With your second professional season and second in Germany in the books, which player do you feel gave you the toughest battle on the floor this season?
This season, on the guard positions I really was impressed by Holt from Dresden,
especially looking at the impact he had coming onto the team mid-season and turning their year around the way they did. Moore from Ehingen was extremely tough to stop for us during the semi-final series. For forwards, I think Berger from Ehingen, Leutloff from Leipzig and Richter from Frankfurt gave us a really hard time.
If you had to build your NBA Rushmore with your four best players who would you pick?
I would go with Jordan, Shaq, Duncan and Magic.
The Atlanta Hawks now battle Lebron and the Cavs. What do you feel happening in this series andwho will win and how many games?
I actually watched game one last night, and I think the Cavs will handle the Hawks in
- If they are able to cruise through this series without any injuries, I believe they will have a really good shot to win the title.
What was the last movie that you saw?