Ricky Easterling is a 32 year old 190cm guard from Baltimore that is playing his 11th professional season in Germany and first with BG Karlsruhe(Pro B). Over the years, he has been crowned Mr Regionaliga as he averaged over 30 points three times with TV Saarlouis belonged to the the top 3 players in the Pro B the last two seasons. Before moving to Saarlouis in 2007 he played at Bridgewater (NCAA3) and then as a rookie played with TSG Reutlingen (Germany-Oberliga and Bergheim Bandits (Germany-Regionalliga). Last season with TV Saarlouis, he played 28 games: Score-1(23.1ppg), 4.0rpg, 4.4apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 51.1%, 3PT: 18.2%, FT: 81.2%. He spoke to German Hoopsafter the 75-68 win against s.Oliver Wurzburg.
Congrats Ricky on the 75-68 victory against TG s.Oliver Wurzburg. At first look at the box score, I thought maybe you got injured since you scored only four points which was only the second time in three seasons that you didn´t score in double figures. But you are still 100% healthy?
I have been sick this past week but that is no excuse for the game against Würzburg. I guess it was just not my day. Happens to the best of us sometimes.
BG Karlsruhe was trailing 33-27 lead at halftime. What really stood out was your defense. Is that the signature of new head coach Jibril Hodges?
That was actually the first thing we worked on his first day of practice with us. We have rules we live by as a team under his coaching and defense is definitely something he focuses on
Wurzburg continued to control the game and led 46-43 after 30 minutes. What made it so difficult to get over the hump?
They were the home team and no one is going to give a game up at home for free. Just like any team playing at home they played hard and wanted to win. Us as the away team knew that it won’t be easy and just tried to keep it close until the end. If we did that, then we knew we had a chance. We did exactly that, made plays at the right time, and took home the win.
Wurzburg continued to look like they would win leading 60-50 with 4.06 remaining. How confident were you especially with your big man duo of Jeremy Black and Anton Kazarovski that you would get over the hump?
They were dominant in this game and we all had total confidence in them both. Like I said before our goal was just to keep the game close until the end and that would give us our chance to steal the win on the road. With the experience we have on our roster. In this situation we knew we had the upper hand and they were able to take advantage of it.
BG Karlsruhe took the game into OT with an overwhelming 10-0 run. Kazarovski sent the game into OT. Was this the most dominant that you had seen the big man this season?
I think it is the most dominant I have seen him this season and he showed up at the right time. This was a big game for us and I am looking forward to seeing more from him during this season. I feel lucky to have a guy like him on my team!
What was key in OT for BG Karlsruhe getting the win? Did you make any new adjustments on the defensive side?
We did not need to make adjustments. We had the momentum going into overtime and just stayed our way. We finally took control over the game and was able to maintain that in overtime.
How proud were you of Aaron Schmitz who hit two big buckets in the OT period? Schmitz isn´t really known for being a scorer.
It was great seeing him step up and contribute to the win. I always enjoy seeing others step up in ways that help the team win. I hope we see more of that out of him and everyone else on the team. If players continue to step up we will finally reach our potential as a team and then we can do real damage in this league.
Have you been motivating and helping Aaron Schmitz in his game in practice to help him become more of a scorer?
We all help each other in practices. Everyone is playing hard and pushing each other to improve every day. Normally Aaron and I are matched up against each other because we are playing the same position. So in that sense we help each other improve. We are a team and we all push each other.
BG Karlsruhe are riding a two game winning streak after losing it´s first three games. How has the team got better in the last weeks?
We are just learning each other better. We are a new team and it takes time. Like we talked about before we are working hard in practice and it seems to be finally paying off. But we still have a long way to go. So we won’t let this small winning streak go to our heads. We need to continue to work hard and keep improving
Do you feel like BG Karlsruhe can be more of a force on the defensive end?
Yes we are finding ourselves. But I feel like we are still not where we need to be. I feel that we still have a long way before we reach our potential. I think we can be more of a force on both sides of the ball! And we will show that as we continue to improve as a team.
Anton Kazaronski and Jermey Black combined for 36 points and 32 rebounds. Has the new coach and new fresh breath of air helped them step up their game?
I’m not sure if I am the right person to answer that question. I think that is something for them two to answer. But as a teammate it is awesome to see them dominate a game under the basket as a big man duo and I am looking forward to seeing more of that during the season.
Jibril Hodges has little coaching experience. How would you classify his coaching philosophy and how vital has this new fresh wind been for the team?
He knows the game very well and we have seen that in the short time that he has been here as our coach. I think he has brought new young energy to our team and we are looking forward to working with him this season. He has great ideas and his coaching philosophy fits our personel. I think he is a good fit to our organization and will be key to the success of our team.
You scored only 4 points in 16 minutes with a new coach. You told me that it was tactical in that coach wanted to get the big men involved. Can we expect to see the old Ricky Easterling again in the next game?
Our big men dominated this game. So it was a good idea to keep them on the floor. Some games will be this way and other games will be different and will require different line ups. For example Leipzig we were able to get the win and I played a lot of minutes and some others played lesser minutes. It is all about the flow of the game, who is playing well, and what is needed to get the win. Of course you will see more of me in the future! I can promise you that!
Could it possible that Jibril Hodges has a new kind of role for you or are you awaiting to be your old self as the go to guy?
I am here to win and make the playoffs. For me I just want to do what I need to do to help the team win. Whatever he wants me to do I will do.
Would you be comfortable in a new role? You have been a pure scorer your whole career in Germany.
Like I said before I am here to win and I will do whatever my coach ask of me.
Critics continue to say that you aren´t a point guard, but I know that you can find your teammates when needed which you did for Saarlouis which was a cold shooting team. How much easier is it to broaden your game this season with BG Karlsruhe than last season where you didn´t have as many potent scoring options?
Critics can say whatever they want. It does not interest me at all! Everyone in them chat rooms think they are basketball experts and they hide behind secret ID names. They run their mouths about things and have no idea what they are taking about. I never have read anything in these chat rooms and never will. People around me tell me things that they have read and my reaction is always the same. I could care less! This season I don’t have to score as much so I take less shots and give teammates more of a opportunity to score. I look to set up teammates for easy baskets and will continue to do so.
You have some great competition this season for the scoring crown as guys like Kerry Carter, KK Simmons and Aaron Nelson have been scoring monsters. Do you sense that defending your Pro B scoring title could be in jeopardy this season?
I’m not interested in personal accomplishments. I came to Karlsruhe to win and make the playoffs. If I do win another scoring title that is cool but if not I will not lose any sleep over it. My one and only goal is to win, make playoffs, and try to win a championship!
Kevin Garnett has retired. Where do you see his legacy being with the all-time greatest to ever play the power forward position in the NBA?
KG was one of my favorite big men in the NBA. It was sad seeing him go. He will go down as one of the greats for sure and will one day be a Hall of Famer. Just like the other greats of the game.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Ricky for the chat.