When you see Alex Ruoff shuffling to the bus after a BBL game one might not think right away that he is a top professional basketball player, but moreover the Spring Hill, Florida 198cm point forward seems like a normal twenty something guy that would spend his free time rooting on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Lightening after a hard working day rather than having to explain to out of town friends where exactly Weeki Wachee Springs is and if he could actually get some back stage passes to meet the mermaid which is home to the famous live mermaid show there. However he is actually a professional basketball player playing his third season in Germany and first with the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg and possibly a top 5 BBL player this season that no one is really aware of. The Lebron fan who lists Russell Westbrook as the toughest guy that he battled in the NCAA actually has something in common with ex Alba Berlin player and German national player Johannes Herber and NBA legend Jerry West. Ruoff and Herber played one season together at West Virginia(NCAA) and the American left the school as the all-time leader in most three pointers made despite having had such prominence like Jerry West attend West Virginia, but then again West scored his points there before the invention of the parking lot on the basketball court. Ruoff is playing his eighth professional season having played three in Belgium, got his D-league dose with the Canton Charge and Iowa Energy and last season made the jump to the best league in Europe in Spain playing with Dominion Bilbao Basket. He was a solid player in his first four seasons in Belgium and in the D-league, but didn´t really break out until his first season with BG Goettingen in 2013 where he and fellow American Harper Kamp helped the team get back to the BBL winning the Pro A title. It wouldn´t be wrong to say that both guys benefited from each other and helped each other make their coming out as professionals. “Harper Kamp is such a dominating player and has a high basketball IQ. He plays at the skill level of a guard at the forward position”, stressed Alex Ruoff. In his second season with BG Goettingen and first in the BBL, he quickly displayed that he could play at a higher level finishing fifth in scoring averaging 14.8pp, 4.1rpg, 5.1apg, FGP: 48.7%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 83.0%. Last season he was rewarded and moved to Dominion Bilbao Basket (Spain-Liga Endesa) 32 games: 6.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 48.2%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 90.5%; Eurocup: 16 games: 9.6ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.6apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 53.9%, 3PT: 43.3%, FT: 76.0%. Ruoff is a player that has the complete package and is a fighter on the court that has a great shot, is an underrated passer and has a high basketball IQ. “I have the ball in my hands so often that I think that my passing gets overlooked. I passed more in college and now am playing more the position two. I loved watching Steve Nash. He was so good passing on the pick and roll”, stressed Alex Ruoff. Due to his overall great versatile game, he also has a very good shot selection which has shown in the early going this season. In John Patrick´s system where there are many scoring options, it isn´t always easy to sparkle in the scoring department, but that isn´t his role, but moreover to be a leader and do many things well on the court. He has found hid Eurocup shooting touch from last season and this should be the season where the “nobody is really aware of” phrase becomes a “Alex Rouff belongs to the top 5 best players in the BBL that everyone is aware of. At least now we know where Ruoff got some of his basketball IQ from. “The intelligence of Joe Herber brought his game to another level. He was one of the smartest players that I ever played with”, warned Alex Ruoff.At least now Johannes Herber knows that he did his good deed as a senior at West Virginia(NCAA).
One can repeat it over and over and it never gets old, but whatever head coach John Patrick has touched since moving to the BBL in 2007 with BG Goettingen has turned to gold. His accomplishments have been extraordinary as he has had the ability to take teams that nobody expected much of with BG Goettingen and Wurzburg and form them into playoff teams. He won the Eurochallenge with BG Goettingen and kicked out Alba Berlin in 2012 in t6he playoffs and then went to Ludwigsburg saved them in 2013 and then had control of the reigns and transformed an underachieving organization for six years back to a playoff team that have progressed each year losing to FC Bayern Munich in four three years ago, got swept by Bamberg two years ago, but were in every game and last season took FC Bayern Munich to five games. Another big success last season was during the regular season where they performed a feat that not many team can brag they ever did as they not only swept Alba Berlin in t6he BBL, but also in the Eurocup. They relied on a tremendous team chemistry that really flourished against FC Bayern Munich and really annoyed team all season on the boards as with ex NBA player Jon Brockman had the best rebounder in the league and a flurry of guys crashing the boards at all times. They didn´t have as much luck from the parking lot, but this season the team will be better prepared from downtown.
Despite having a very successful season, the club was unable to hold guys like Jon Brockman and Kerron Johnson and were able to only keep guys like Brad Loesing, Jason Boone, Tekele Cotton and David Mccray.As always head coach John Patrick brought in a good mix of diverse new players headed by two experienced veterans with Alex Ruoff and ex NBA player Jack Cooley. He also brought in young talented Germans Johannes Thiemann and Dennis Schroeder friend Bazu Kone who are two guys getting groomed for the BBL shark tank. Patrick also brought in veteran sharp shooter Chad Toppert as well as rookie Wes Washpun and Kelvin Martin who has experience in Germany in the Pro A. He also brought in American David Gonzalvez another guy looking to make his breakthrough in a higher league. The club is stocked with vast talent and so far in the early going has proven that they are already on the same page on defense after three games giving up only 73 points per game which is third best in the league. The club is looking to be more of a shooting team this season, but still have the needed parts to be very stable under the boards. Their increased athleticism will be a big support on the defensive end as well as the team versatility at all positions.
It really doesn´t matter where John Patrick has coached since BG Goettingen, he seems to continue to have an ex player from then every season. The team kept New York native Jason Boone who is playing his eighth season for Patrick and second with Ludwigsburg. Last season he played 33 games averaging 6.0ppg, 3.8rpg, FGP-1(71.6%), FT: 51.9%; Eurocup: 16 games: 5.7ppg, 2.6rpg, FGP: 61.8%, FT: 56.1%. At 31 years old the undersized 202cm is still a pest to play against as his physicality is still at it´s peak. His accuracy in the paint is still tops. The team also kept 23 year old 190cm Tekele Cotton who reached the NCAA Final 4 in 2013 with Wichita State and had a solid rookie season with Ludwigsburg playing 23 games: 8.8ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.7apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 47.9%, 3PT: 22.7%, FT: 77.2%; Eurocup: 14 games: 10.3ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.3apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 48.7%, 3PT: 26.7%, FT: 81.0%. The team also held on to German veteran David Mccray who is a 29 year old 187cm guard that will be playing his sixth season with Ludwigsburg and last season played 35 games: 4.6ppg, 1.2rpg; Eurocup: 15 games: 2.6ppg, 1.1rpg. He is the identity figure on the team and a guy that excels as a aggressive defender and is always good for some buckets with his penetration. The team also held on to 27 year 182cm point guard Brad Loesing who got the German citizenship in 2014. The ex Wofford(NCAA) guard had a solid rookie season in Hungary, then played with Gotha and in his second season with Ludwigsburg still learning to become a solid BBL player. Last season he played 36 games: 6.4ppg, 1.1rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 38.7%, FT: 80.0%; Eurocup: 16 games: 6.1ppg, 1.3rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 51.0%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 83.3%. He is part of the point guard trio of Washpun and Kone and will be needed to give good minutes.
One of the biggest signings besides Alex Ruoff was Jack Cooley. Cooley is a 25 year old 206cm center from Evanston, Illinois playing his fourth professional season. The ex Notre Dame star played as a rookie in 2013 with Trabzonspor Basketbol (Turkey-TBL) and then a year later made the jump to the NBA playing 16 games for the Utah Jazz. He also has D-league expereince and last season played with the Idaho Stampede (D-League): 6 games: 14.5ppg, 11.8rpg, 1.3apg, 1.8spg, 2FGP: 58.3%, FT: 63.0%, in Dec.’15 moved to Unicaja Malaga (Spain-Liga Endesa): 27 games: 5.5ppg, 3.7rpg, FGP: 57.0%, FT: 62.3%; Euroleague: 14 games: 6.3ppg,059, 4.3rpg, FGP: 60.0%, FT: 63.6%. He follows the departure of Jon Brockman and should be able to fill his role, but if he can equalize or surpass the play of Brockman will be seen. The club also brought in 30 year old 199cm swingman Chad Toppert that also has a German passport and has 106 Endesa games experience as well has played in the D-league and the Artland Dragons. Last season he played with Reno Bighorns (D-League): 35 games: 8.8ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.1apg, 2FGP: 33.3%, 3FGP: 47.5%, FT: 80.0%, in Feb.’16 moved to FC Bayern Muenchen (BBL): 5 games: 2.4ppg. The ex N Mexico(NCAA) star will be expected to at home at the parking lot and fire away. The team also hauled in 28 year old 193cm guard David Gonzalvez that played at Richmond (NCAA) and brings five years professional experience in France, Austria, Holland and Finland to Ludwigsburg. Last season he played for Kouvot Kouvola (Finland-Korisliiga) 51 games 13.7ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 57.9%, 3PT: 37.1%, FT: 79.0%. He is a hard worker at both ends of the court and will be that type of role player Shawn Huff was the last years.
Kelvin Martin is a 27 year old 195 swingman from Adel, Georgia and like Gonzalvez another guy with solid years at lower levels and looking to make the big step in the BBL. Martin played at Charleston So. (NCAA) and played in Holland, Germany(Heidelberg and last season stepped it up with Moncada Solar Agrigento (Italy-Serie A2) 37 games: 16.9ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.3apg, Steals-1(2.2spg), FGP: 55.4%, 3PT: 39.6%, FT: 61.7%. His athleticism and defense stand out, but he can score and crash the boards which will get him solid minutes. Wes Washpun is a 23 year old 185cm point guard looking to make his mark in the BBL as a rookie. He played a season at Tennessee(NCAA) and three years with N.Iowa (NCAA) and as a rookie played 35 games: 14.2ppg, 4.0rpg, 5.2apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 51.9%, 3PT: 27.9%, FT: 72.1%. In the past Patrick had luck getting N Iowa guys with Ben Jacobsen and John Little. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa rookie is very quick, can create for himself and his teammates and always wants the ball in his hands when it counts most.
The team also added three Germans with Johannes Thiemann, Bazu Kone and Martin Breunig. Thiemann is a 22 year old 205cm power forward that didn´t make the cut with Bamberg playing only 10 BBL games in two seasons. Last season he made his breakthrough with Baunach Young Pikes (ProA, starting five): 27 games: 15.1ppg, Reb-1(9.5rpg), 1.9apg, FGP: 58.0%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 63.7%. The ex NBBL winner and silver medalist at the University Games in 2015 is a very athletic big man that will fight and score in the paint at ease. Bazu Kone is a 22 year old 190cm guard that already got BBL experience with Bremerhaven form 2012-2014 playing 22 games. He played the last two seasons with the Hamburg Towers and developed very well and last season had his breakout playing 30 games: 14.5ppg, 4.2rpg, 4.1apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 48.7%, 3PT: 25.7%, FT: 79.0%. He is very quick and like his friend Dennis Schroeder difficult to stop in the zone. He will fight for minutes, but in the process getting groomed correctly for the BBL. Breunig is a 24 year old 203cm forward that started his career with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen before spending six years in the States playing a year at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy (High School), two seasons and 29 NCAA games at Washington and then rounding out his NCAA career at Montana(NCAA) where as a senior he played 33 games: 18.9ppg, 9.0rpg, 1.5apg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 63.0%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 70.8%. He is a huge German talent and has the whole big man package. He is a very interesting prospect and it will be interesting to see how John Patrick grooms and uses him.
Last season the Fraport Skyliners and the MHP Riesen split the season series as fans witnessed two tense and close battles. Frankfurt grinded out a 83-78 win at home and were led by Jordan Theodore with 24 points while Aaron Doornekamp had 18 points while Ludwigsburg was led by Alvaro Munoz, Mustafa Shakur and Shawn Huff with 15 points a piece. In the return game, Ludwigsburg pulled out a 74-70 victory and were led by Jon Brockman with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Kerron Johnson added 12 points. The Fraport Skyliners were led by Jordan Theodore again with 22 points while Aaron Doornekamp supplied 12 points. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg come to Frankfurt today boasting a 4-1 record while the Fraport Skyliners will try to combat them with a 2-2 record and two game winning streak. This will be a interesting game with the consistent Ludwigsburg team who could be 5-0 had they not let one slip away against BG Goettingen while the Fraport Skyliners are on the rise playing good basketball despite still waiting for their point guard to find his form in a new league. This is a game that could be decided in the paint while Frankfurt has to uphold their strong home court presence and defense while keeping an eye on the depth of Ludwigsburg as that could pose a problem for them down the stretch.