Back in 2005 the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven stormed into the BBL from the second division and the excitement in the small 108,000 seaside town was about as giant as was the desire for ex German chancellor Helmut Schmidt´s zeal for the polar bear research there. None of the basketball fanatics in the city would of even dared to have predicted that the club would reach the playoffs four times in the first five years of their entry into the first division or have ever thought that they wouldn´t have a free weekend twice in the first three seasons on cup weekend where they reached the top 4. However success doesn´t always continue as there is always a time where things don´t just continue to go up hill, but actually go downhill as one could have asked Bill Russell and then Boston Celtics after their amazing NBA run in the 60´s didn´t continue as drastically in the 70´s. In the last six seasons, the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven have been in a rut never placing higher than position 11 as they continued to have the cash for top class players, but some bad decisions with coaches and never developing chemistry have made Eisbaeren basketball country for fans as sad as it is for zoo keepers to forget the daily fish ration for the polar bears in the zoo for a whole week. Not only would the cute and huggable polar bears be starving, but still not as bad as what the Eisbaeren fans have been going through as starving for success has been a part of life for them for years. If one just sees the list of top players from the last years with guys like Derrick Allen, Darius Adams, Deandre Liggins, Moses Ehambie, Larry Gordon, Kyle Fogg or Tyrus Thomas, one has to wonder what else this club has to do to bring success back to this totally deprived basketball city. Last season the club rewarded the basketball fireman Mulim Katzurin a chance to start from the start of the season after he kept the team in the league in 2015, but he failed and the club brought in the next fireman Sebastian Machowski who also saved the team. Now he gets another chance, but the difference is he can start from scratch and with a very immaculate track record in Braunschweig where he led the team to back to back playoff appearances and the EWE Baskets Oldenburg into the BBL final, why can´t he do it for a third time in the BBL with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven? His biggest challenge is shaping a team and building a team chemistry with 10 new players. A few days before the start of the new season, highly anticipated new player ex NBA player Patrick Christopher failed the medical check and had to go. If that wasn´t a bad omen isn´t known yet, so let the season begin and let Machowski get to work.
Last season was one to forget for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven as they finished in 15th place and once again were unable to do anything productive with the seemingly unending talent that they had and go home for the summer once again missing the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. Bremerhaven started off terribly losing 12 of their first 14 games as it wasn’t half as much to do with the coaching style of Muli Katzurin, but moreover of the team that had been put together that was as like a puzzle that was put together by a three year old with no piece fitting. When Sebastian Machowski came aboard to save the season, the most damage was done, but the club somehow was able to stick it out and save their souls. The biggest win of the season was against eight time BBL champion Alba Berlin, but other than that the team was unable to beat any other playoff team and mostly beat teams in the lower bracket of the league. A big problem last season was their inconsistency and just the inability to be able to put it together for long phases of a game. They defended pretty well in many games, but their talented offensive players were unable to produce when the team needed it most. Another big negative aspect to last season was their horrible home court record as home court advantage was as foreign to the club as is the word losing to the New England Patriots who keep winning despite second and third string quarterbacks and Tom Brady still absent. Also the assist to turnover ratio was meager and will be an area where Sebastian Machowski will need to see improvement this season.
In a league that keeps growing in name and competitive nature, reaching the playoffs isn´t as much of a given like 10 years ago. There will be many talented teams again this season that won´t make it. The Eisbaeren could be a team like that or they could actually make the promised land. They have constructed a very competitive team with many solid Americans, but as always the harmony and chemistry will decide their fate. This season the club has a very potent front court which they didn´t have in the last years and hope to be more productive in this area. The club may not have the big name guards of the last years, but possibly more versatility in this area that could carry the club to more success. The team also may have the stronger defenders than in past years and will have to defend better than in recent years. A question mark will be the depth of the German players as they aren´t as deep as other teams and with the loss of David Bremblay have lost their most talented and best German. I see the Eisbaeren somewhere between positions 8 and 14.
The organization did a major house cleaning keeping only two Germans with Waverly Austin and Fabian Bleck. Austin is a 25 year old 211cm center with the German/American Citizenship that played at Oregon(NCAA) and as a rookie with Pro A team Heidelberg and last season averaged 4.7ppg, 3.0rpg. Despite the chaos of the team, he did the best he could of the 11 minutes he got per game and still managed to score in double figures in five games and had 13 points against Oldenburg. He still has much potential, but will still need to fight for minutes as this season´s front court is stacked with hungry talent. Fabian Bleck is a 23 year old 201cm forward that played the last three season´s with Phoenix Hagen mustering 59 BBL games. Last season with Bremerhaven he averaged 10 minutes per game averaging only 1,6ppg. He is a fighter that get´s noticed by his basketball IQ. His role of coming from the bench and giving the small forward a breather won´t change and either will his minutes.
The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven added 10 new players mostly Americans that have played around the globe. As always one has to wonder how fortunate head coach Sebastian Machowski will be with his choices and how well the guys mesh together. One of the most anticipated signings was American Quincy Diggs who is a 26 year old 198cm swing man from Wichita, Kansas that played the last three years of college at Akron(NCAA) in Ohio and last season as a rookie with the Redwell Gunners Oberwart (Austria-A Bundesliga) playing 48 games: Score-2(20.0ppg), 7.3rpg, 3.2apg, Steals-2(2.0spg), FGP: 53.2%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 68.3%. He is one of those guys that is looking to make the next step coming from a lower league to the BBL like ex Eisbaeren forward Larry Gordon did years ago being able to make the next step from Austria to Phoenix Hagen. He is a player that will fill up the stat sheet at ease and is seen as a guy that will have to score and make an impact on the defensive end. Another guy that will be seen as being a major contributor on offense this season will Be American Harper Kamp. Kamp is a 28 year old 202cm power forward/center from Mesa, California that is going into his fifth professional season. He played at California(NCAA) with ex Skyliner Justin Cobbs and after a tough rookie season in Greece and Macedonia, he has picked up his game the last three years helping BG Goettingen move up to the BBL in 2014. IN the last two years, he improved his stats and last season played 34 games: Score-4(15.2ppg), 5.2rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 61.2%, 3PT: 28.1%, FT: 79.9%. He is an all around very strong big man that scores and grabs rebounds at ease, but also can pass and is a leader. He will be the other major contributor on the team on offense. A very clever pick up was experienced Ivan Elliot who is a 30 year old 203cm forward from San Francisco and returns back to Bremerhaven where he briefly was in preseason in 2010 and will be playing his ninth professional season and sixth in Germany as he has played for MBC, Wurzburg, Ludwigsburg and Phoenix Hagen. Last season for Phoenix Hagen, he played 34 games: 11.2ppg, Reb-5(6.5rpg), 1.7apg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 81.4%. He will be another one of the leaders on the team as his versatility and experience will be vital for the younger players.
In the last years, the Eisbaeren have always had well known point guard like Darius Adams or Jerry Smith and this season have a lesser known Jordan Hulls, but a guy that has the total package as point guard and is looking o make the break through at the BBL level after having played in countries like Poland, Kosovo and Belgium. He reached two NCAA Sweet 16´s with Indiana and last season in his third professional season played for Hubo Limburg United (Belgium-Scooore League) playing 35 games: 12.3ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.3apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 48.1%, FT-1(96.2%). His stellar outside shooting stands out and he can create his own shot. His biggest task will be leading the team and also being able to get consistent playmaking done for his teammates. Having won back to back titles in Kosovo and Belgium speak for his leadership ability. The club also brought in 25 year old Evan Smotrycz who is a 206cm forward from Reading mass that will play his second professional season. He played at Michigan and Maryland in the NCAA and last season as a rookie with Keravnos Strovolou (Cyprus-Division) playing 14 games: 16.0ppg, 7.3rpg, 2.1apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 51.2%, 3PT-2(46.3%), FT: 61.9%. He is a versatile big man that moves well and has a good shot. His role will be back up and could be one of the better one´s with that function in the league. The club recently picked up American Karvel Anderson who is a 25 year old 188cm guard from Elkart, Indiana and will be playing his third professional season. He played at Robert Morris(NCAA) and possesses an uncanny ability to score. Owns a natural ability to knock down the three-point shot. He demonstrated that the last two seasons in Italy and last season with Andrea Costa Imola (Italy-Serie A2) played 39 games averaging 17.3ppg, 3.8rpg, 2.0apg, FGP: 49.8%, 3PT: 39.2%, FT: 88.0%.
The club also picked up their share of German players and very early got David Bremblay who is a 23 year old 197cm forward started his career in Poland and then came to Germany two years ago and had a very good first season with medi Bayreuth (Germany-BBL) playing 30 games: 8.2ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 56.0%, 3PT: 44.3%, FT: 75.0%. However last season he had a season to forget with Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany-BBL): 29 games: 3.6ppg, 1.4rpg; Eurocup: 16 games: 4.6ppg, 2.5rpg. This season the Polish/German was looking to rebound, but a season ending injury has halted him. The team also picked up interesting prospect Lars Wendt who is a 23 year old 192cm guard that has mainly been a Pro A player in his young career starting in Paderborn, then taking a step back in the Pro B with Schwelm and then played the last three seasons with Science City Jena (ProA): 34 games: 8.9ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.7apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 76.7%. Now he finally will get his chance at the BBL level and he is a controlled point guard with a high basketball IQ, but the question will how well he can deal with the physicality and skill level as he has no experience there. Another guy that will get his chance at the BBL level is Adrian Breitlach who jumps up two leagues from the Pro B to the BBL skipping the Pro A. Last season he belonged to the top players in the Pro B as he played for Itzehoe Eagles (ProB): 24 games: 14.5ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.6apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 57.0%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 67.9%. He picked up Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Domestic Player of the Year -16
and Eurobasket.com German 2.Bundesliga Pro B All-Domestic Players Team -16. He fills up the stat sheet and a very consistent rebounder for 193cm. He probably won´t see many minutes as he will be groomed slowly to the BBL level. The club also added German kids Sebastian Schmitt and Bo Meister. Schmitt is a 20 year old 184cm point guard that comes from FC Bayern Muenchen (BBL)where he played two BBL games last season and mostly played for FC Bayern Muenchen II (Regionalliga) playing 19 games: 9.7ppg, 3.1rpg, 4.8apg, 2.4spg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 35.2%, FT: 76.2%. With Bremerhaven he will have a double license and mostly play fo Rot-Weiss Cuxhaven (Regionalliga). Bo Meister is a 17 year old 197cm forward that started his basketball career with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven U16 team and played the last two seasons with BSG Bremerhaven (Regionalliga) and last season played 12 games: 4.3ppg
Last season the Fraport Skyliners swept the season series winning in Bremerhaven 67-59 as they were led by Aaron Doornekamp with 16 points and Jordan Theodore and Mike Morrison chipped in with 12 points a piece. The guard tandem of Jerry Smith and Kyle Fogg added 13 and 12 points. IN the return game, Frankfurt shell shocked Bremerhaven 91-60 at home in front of the delighted fans. Frankfurt had four guys in double figures and were led by Jordan Theodore and Quantze Robertson with 16 points a piece. Bremerhaven was led by Larry Gordon with 13 points and ex NBA player Tyrus Thomas added 10 points. Both teams come into the game having played two games. The Faport Skyliners come home with an 0-2 record while the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven come to Frankfurt with a spectacular 2-0 record as suddenly it´s fun again to be a Eisbaeren fan. The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven have sparkled with their offense averaging 90 points in the first two games while beating two teams in their class bracket. They have shown a harmonious team chemistry something they couldn´t get the last years even they had the leisure and simplicity of throwing a dime into the ocean, it still wouldn´t have come. One never knows what a house cleaning will bring, but so far Sebastian Machwoski´s bunch of more unknown players have come together and excelled. The Fraport Skyliners on the other hand haven´t defended bad in the first two games, but had no offensive power at all. A lack of experience and depth have been the main factors for their dismal start. They will have their hands full against Bremerhaven as they will have to find a way to finally an offensive rhythm and this team may just be the right one to do that as they have let up 80 points on average. If Frankfurt can continue to defend well, then they will have a chance, but their offensive motor finally has to start running properly-