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 86-77 win against the VFL AstroStars Bochum.
Courtney congrats on the 86-77 win against the VFL AstroStars Bochum. How good does it feel coming into 2017 with a big win?
Thanks Miles. It feels great. We had dropped two in a row and knew we needed to make up for the points somewhere. When you lose a couple games in a row everyone starts to get tense, so it’s always a big accomplishment to pick up the next win.
After a slow start in the first quarter, FC Schalke picked it up in the second quarter scoring 25 points. What adjustments did you make on the offensive end to be able to score easier?
We started to get stops and rebound better which allowed us to get in transition. We also started to run our systems cleaner and make clear reads out of them. In the first quarter we had the brakes on and were too passive.
Patrick Carney was in the zone scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter including two key three´s in crunch-time. Would FC Schalke have won this game without Carney on this night?
Not at all. Pat is the one who broke the ice for us in the first half and kept us in the game. Him and Trent. I was asleep or something that first quarter especially.
Was this one of those performances that was just fun to watch on the court and from the bench?
I wouldn’t say it was really fun to watch but after it was over we felt good about ourselves. We battled back and didn’t panic when they made runs. When we needed big plays to match theirs we made them and just fought back as a team. It was nice to be apart of that.
Would it be fair to say that Patrick Carney is that glue guy for the team? What is his most valuable attribute that he gives the team?
Pat is definitely a big part of our team taking pressure off the point guard spot as well as both wing positions. He also plays hard on defense. His best attribute though of course is shooting and he has the ultimate green light from everyone on the team. If he shoots it we feel like it’s going in.
This was another strong team rebounding performance. Do you feel like that whenever the club can rebound this well that they will always be in a good situation to win the game?
I feel like when we rebound collectively it rewards our defense and we are able to get out on the fast break. On the break we are very dangerous with penetration, spot ups, rim running bigs and just wearing the other team down.
The team is 7-7 now. What was your overall summary of the first half of the season. How much potential does the team still have and where can it still improve?
I think the team has a lot of potential and it shows with the quality wins we have been able to grab at home. We can of course improve on the road as well as staying hungry when things start to look good. We put ourselves in a great position and then lost two games in a row.
The next game is against the Rostock Sea Wolves a game you won by 29 points. What is always the most tough thing besides underestimating an opponent when you play them a second time and what will be key in getting the win?
We will have a long road trip to Rostock and need to be concentrated and handle business on the road. This is a completely new team from when we beat them. The new coach has them playing a different way and it shows from how they are playing lately. A big key for us will be locking in on the defensive end again and stepping up to the challenge against their top performers vs ours.
You are leading the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. Is there anything that you can complain about when looking back at the first half of the season concerning your play?
I have in my mind some things I would like to do better when I look back to how the first half of the season. For example playing better off the ball with cuts and spot ups. I would also like to keep improving on seeing the whole court and getting us the best shot possible each possession.
Does one have to worry as a team when the starting point guard is leading the team in rebounding?
I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I was leading or close to leading my team last year so it is what it is. They box out and the point guard has to get back in safety so that leaves me to rebound which I like to do so that’s just simple math that I can get more rebounds.
Your stats are better this season than last. Can you attribute your improved play concerning your stats with knowing the league better in your second year and having the right teammates?
I definitely know the league better which helps a lot but I think I just feel more confident this year and comfortable. Coach has been on me tough to basically wake up and play as best as I can at all times. It’s helping me to perform better for sure and he is behind me 100 percent running his team. It’s easy to play with support like that. I had a good situation last year like this year with teammates etc, I think I just wasn’t as locked in mentally as this year.
You are doing so many good things on the floor, but when the team is only 7-7 do you question your leadership skills or does the team record reflect the whole team?
I think I could lead better for sure, but if you ask any of my teammates that; I don’t think they would have a problem with my leadership qualities. We dropped two games early. One was without our coach and everybody said we were a weak team in Pro B. We’re in the middle with some good wins and potential to beat anybody on any given night. When I look at where we are I think we have persevered in the situation and now since the expectations have changed it seems like we are underachieving at 7 and 7. I’m comfortable with the position we are in, because we are getting better as a team. Going forward I know we have more wins in us. My shoulders are big enough though so I can take the blame though from people on the outside looking in.
What did you learn to appreciate the most about the holiday season in Germany this season?
I actually went home to my family this holiday break and it was great. I like the holidays here though because all the gyms are free and nobody has to work or go to school so it’s like a ghost town everywhere lol. What can I say? I’m a loner.
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
I’m a little biased about his great performance. If you are a great shooter on a great and stacked team who is unselfish like the Warriors, those type of games are bound to happen. I like when players put the team on their back and will them to a win like Isaiah Thomas´s 52 point game. I look at Klay’s game as one of those run the score up in a blowout type of games. Nobody else was playing just looking for him. He was hot so it makes sense but it’s just for show to me. No substance in that.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
I think Russell is definitely the best player in the world stat wise. He wills his team and makes them relevant with nobody else. After losing a big piece of their team. I like Harden in this category too but Russ intensity goes unmatched and pushes him over the edge.
What was your most memorable Christmas experience when you were a kid?
I don’t have a most memorable Christmas when I was younger. My mom always found a way to turn “oh I don’t have it” to the living room being covered in presents. I don’t know how she always did that to this day.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Snowden but I’m about to watch passengers right now.
Thanks Courtney for the chat.