Courtney Belger is a 27 year old 187cm guard from St Louis that is playing his fourth professional season and first with FC Schalke 04 (Germany-ProB)Last season he played with the Itzehoe Eagles (Germany-ProB): 24 games: 12.6ppg, 5.3rpg, 4.5apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 46.0%, 3PT: 20.0%, FT: 65.6% and Kalamunda Eastern Suns (Australia-SBL) playing 14 games: 21.1ppg, 6.3rpg, 4.1apg, Steals-4(3.1spg), FGP: 49.0%, 3PT: 22.4%, FT: 80.8%. He played his first two professional seasons with TV Ibbenbuehren (Germany-Regionalliga). He started his basketball career at Quincy (NCAA2) in 2008 where he played until 2012 playing a total of 113 NCAA 2 games. As a senior he played 27 games averaging 11.3ppg, 5.2rpg, 3.9apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 10.5%, FT: 72.0%. He improved his scoring and rebounding average each season. He spoke to German Hoops after the big 102-73 win against Rostock.
Courtney congrats on the huge 102-73 victory against the Rostock Seawolves. How good was it not only getting a win again, but having the biggest offensive explosion of the season?
It felt good to play that way and was a lot of fun. We’re a better team when we play a high possession game.
The game was tight in the first quarter, but FC Schalke broke the game open in the second quarter scoring 29 points and leading 51-32 at the break. What adjustment did the club make at both ends of the court?
We honestly just stayed the course and limited them to one shot. We kept playing at a faster pace than we probably should have but it worked out for us.
What did head coach Raphael Wilder tell the club at halftime for the second half and why did the team relinquish 29 points?
He told us that they would come out fighting and that we needed to be ready. It wasn’t too much of a big problem on our part. They just made a good adjustment and started taking what we were giving up. The key is that we kept scoring once they got rolling.
FC Schalke won the fourth quarter 29-12. Why do you feel was your team defense so up and down in this game?
We lost control of the game at certain times and allowed transition with some of our free play. They had some good scorers on their team and it’s hard to take everything away for a full game. We had to just keep playing and not get discouraged when they made a run, which is exactly what we did.
FC Schalke had five guys in double figures. Was this the team´s best team performance of the season?
It was definitely our best performance. It was the most complete game we have played. Everyone was fighting for one another and focused.
You had a massive game with 16 points, 13 boards and seven assists. Did that triple double ever come into thought? You had one two seasons ago against Wulfen?
I honestly didn’t even know I had that many assists or rebounds. Coach just kept saying, “make sure you see the whole court.” On the rebounds our bigs did a good job of boxing out. All I had to do was run and jump.
The club is 3-4 now. Why do you feel has FC Schalke been so up and down this season?
We’re a new team in a new league. It’s been hard for everyone to get on the same page as far as playing to each other’s strengths. We also have had really bad concentration for 40 minutes in a lot of games. We’re a great team when we’re locked in.
Before this win the club was averaging 72 points a game. Don´t you feel like with the offensive arsenal that the team has that you could be an 80 plus point team?
I feel like we can be an 80 point team, but it starts on defense with us. When we defend and rebound we can play more of a high tempo run and gun style. We have been playing way too slow lately. We have to push the pace more with control of course.
Guys like Dorian Mcdaniel, Nikita Khartchenkov and Marco Bulijevic have all played at the BBL level. The potential to be a top team must be realistic?
It’s very realistic and we all still believe we will be right there at the end. It’s important for me as the point guard to find a way to bring them into the game better.
You’re the team leader and vital offensive spark as you lead the team in scoring, assists, steals and are second rebounds. Do you feel like you have taken on even more responsibility this season than last season with Itzehoe?
I do feel like I have taken on more responsibility, but I had freedom last year. Especially at the beginning, I just got off to a bad flow from the beginning and underachieved. Coach has been pushing me tough this season and it’s what I asked for. I still think that I can play a lot better but it’s progress.
With the offensive potential that the team has do you feel like you could be even more of a playmaker and get your assists up even higher?
The problem isn’t really my play making because at times I’m too passive looking for others. I have to make teams pay and stop me which opens up my teammates. When I’m aggressive I can create more opportunities for others, but things will get better for sure.
You played last summer with Kalamunda Eastern Suns (Australia-SBL) playing 14 games averaging 21.1ppg, 6.3rpg, 4.1apg, Steals-4(3.1spg), FGP: 49.0%, 3PT: 22.4%, FT: 80.8%. How important do you feel was this experience for your game getting the extra game practice?
Our system was run and gun. 3s and lay ups only. We played all dribble drive offense. I played the off guard and got a chance to see what I was really capable of. Haven’t scored in a bunch of one on ones like that in a while. I felt like it prepared me but I still would have like to get some personal training sessions in with DigDeep or Cross Over Hoops.
Most of those game results down under looked like NBA scores. Your team even scored 159 points in one game. How did this experience help your offensive game as you had some gifted players around you?
It honestly just took the breaks off. Allowed me to get out my own head and just hoop. Did a lot of growing mentally and spiritually with my fiancé while I was there. Australia was good for me.
How has it been going form small towns in Germany now to Gelsenkirchen? Have you lived the whole FC Schalke football experience?
Gelsenkirchen is nice because you can get just about everything you need. We have good access to the gym and weight room so the town or city is not that important. We did however get to go to a soccer game and sit VIP. We got spoiled because now we want to go to another one and sit in VIP lol
With Curry, Thompson and Durant and the supporting cast, shouldn´t the Golden State Warriors be even better than last year despite a 4-2 start?
The Warriors will be okay but like with anything it takes time. They also traded away their entire bench so new roles need time to develop.
Does a 0/10 shooting night by Steph Curry prove he is really only human?
No. just a solar eclipse or something. I wouldn’t bet on that happening ever again.
Kevin Garnett has retired. Where do you feel does he rank in the best power forwards of all-time?
I’m not sure ranking wise but I do know he was the first Kevin Durant type. He just played in the post and range wasn’t as deep. With that being said he’s definitely a great if his guard game and postgame are that skilled.
What was the last movie that you saw?
We watched so many this summer I don’t even remember. We saw all the marvel movies though and borne movies.
Thanks Courtney for the chat.