Ricky Easterling is a 33 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 Hoops before the start of the 2017 Pro B playoffs.
Rickey thanks for talking to German Hoops 2017 has come and we are already into 2017. Did you set any new years resolutions and if you did have to stayed faithful to them in the first two months?
I didn’t really have a new years resolution. I have the same mindset I did at the beginning of the season. Play my roll, be the good teammate and make a good run in the playoffs. Playoffs are here now so it is GO TIME!
How excited are you to be playing your first Pro B playoffs after having played the Playdowns two years in a row. With what kind of feelings are you going into these playoffs?
I am very excited to be a part of the playoffs for the first time. I feel my team has a good chance to make it deep into the playoffs. So I am going into the playoffs hungry and focused.
Two seasons ago you had a 4-2 record in the playdowns and last season were 1-5. How difficult was moving down with Saarlouis last season? You had huge games and gave all you had, but it wasn´t enough? How difficult was it for not to take all the blame?
Being a part of the playdowns is already not a good situation to be in. But to keep losing and eventually drop out of the Pro B was a difficult thing to accept. For me it gave me the feeling of failure. Even if I played well, at the end of the day we still lost. So it was not enough! I’m the type of player that holds myself accountable. Meaning I know when I make mistakes and I look in the mirror and try to learn from these mistakes. So I do point the figure at myself and take the blame. I feel that is the way to make myself a better player and I carry this mentality everyday!
Did the bitter playdowns of last season leave a chip on your shoulder which in the long run taught you how important do or die games are?
Ummm, not really! I’m have played a lot of basketball in my life. I been playing ball since I was 8 and I am now 33. I am aware of how important games and even possession can be in certain situations. I didn’t need playdowns to teach me that. But on the other hand the playdowns have put that awareness to the test. Those that have played in the Playdowns know how intense the games can get. No one wants to lose and everyone is doing all they can to get the WIN!
BG Karlsruhe have had a season with three stories. You started the season with a 3 game losing streak, then played very well having a 9-1 record, but closed out the season 3-6. How would you summarize the season leading up to the playoffs?
This season has been a roller coaster ride! We have had our ups and we have had our downs. Within all of this we experienced many situations that can help us in the playoffs. We know how it feels to win, we know how it feels to lose. We have been down big and come back to win games. We have won close games and we have lost close games. We have beat #1 teams and then have lost to teams at the bottom of the league. We have been thru it all. So even though this season has been crazy, I think it has prepared us for any situation we might come across in the playoffs
How do you explain the up and down play of BG Karlsruhe in 2017. You had some big wins against playoff teams like the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and the ScanPlus Baskets, but then again lost games against Leipzig and Rhondorf?
To be honest I don’t really know how to explain that. I guess that shows how competitive our league is. Any team can win on any given night. No matter if it is the first place team or the last place team.
The three close loses to Rhondorf, Frankfurt and Wurzburg cost you home court advantage. Is BG Karlsruhe still learning how to be a reliable and successful crunch-time team?
I would not say that we are still learning how to be successful in crunch time. We just did not get it done in these games. We know what it takes to win close games. Even though we lost some close games, we have also won a number of close games this season.
Shawn Gulley has found a home with BG Karlsruhe as he belongs to the most consistent players in the last months. What do you feel has been his biggest asset that has helped the club be successful?
I think Shawn versatility makes him a special player. He came to BGK and fit right in and made an immediate impact. He can play inside and outside and can be used in multiple ways. I think this is what he brings to the table that helps us be successful
Head coach Jibril Hodges definitely knows how to dress properly, but comes over as the all-around nice guy. Is he able to forget the basketball player friendship and get hard on players? How has he developed in his rookie coaching season?
I think Jibril is doing a great job. He is very professional and does a good job preparing us for every game. Even though some of us know him as a player. We respect his authority as the coach and he gives us players the same respect in return. He holds us accountable in our roles on the team and has no problem doing that. He is hard on us when he needs to be but he also knows when to change it up and maybe motivate us if that is what needs to be done.
You averaged 12 minutes less than last season and 11 less than two seasons ago. Your stats are obviously down, but you’re your performing very well for the minutes that you have gotten. How content have you been with your season so far?
I have had a pretty decent season but definitely not up to my own expectations. I feel I could have done more. But my main concern is not my personal performance. I came here with team goals not personal goals. I want to play for the championship. If we make that happen. It would be better than any personal award for sure.
You played your first regular season in your life in Germany where you weren´t necessarily the first scoring option and where not everything revolved around you? How were you able to get adjusted to this new role?
I came here understanding that from the beginning. So I mentally prepared myself for any situation or role. So the adjustment was not that hard. But it did take some getting used to.
How do you feel did your game benefit from your role this season. In what area´s of your game do you feel could you focus more on that you necessarily couldn´t the other years?
I was able also concentrate more on other parts of the game. Since I didn’t have to do as much at times offensively with this team I could use more energy playing defense.
Your first opponent are the Basketball Akademie Weser-Ems that are the farm team of the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. What kind of series can we await?
I think you can expect a fast and physical series. They are a young team that can run the floor and plays very aggressive. We like to play fast and bang down low in the post so physicality is definitely going be on display in this series
The Basketball Akademie Weser-Ems are a team filled with young German talents and no Americans. They are a good rebounding team that can defend when they need to. What will be key to winning this series?
I think defense is going be the key to the series. Whoever can gain momentum with defense is going to control the game. Good defense often leads to easy offense. So if you can stop the other team from scoring and at the same time get easy baskets because of it. You have a good chance in winning the game.
How are you personally going to get prepared mentally for these playoffs? Do you do some extra scouting or do you just go in totally focused with coachs game plan?
I/We do both. We all watch film together and on our own free time. To see what we are going up against. It is always smart to scout other teams. Must be prepared for what they have and what they try to do as a team. Can’t go into a game blind with no idea what to expect. But at the same time we have to do what we do as a team. So I watch film and commit to coaches game plan. The same thing I do every week for all the team we play against.
How excited are to play against 19 year old talented German Harris Hujic?
He runs their offense and slowing him down will be vital. To be honest to me he is just another player, on a team that is in our way of our goal.
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 he is a great player but definitely not the best player in the world. I think if he improved mentally as a player he could be considered one of the best. But until then I can only consider him a superstar, not one of the greats.
Draymond Greene recently had a triple double without scoring 10 points or more. Why do you believe has it taken long for someone to do this?
It takes a special type of player to do something like that. And these type of players are not found everyday! He is big, fast, strong, athletic, has good basketball IQ and sees the game in a unique way. This is why we don’t see that type of stat line on a regular basis! Wow
What was the last movie that you saw?
Allied Starring Brad Pitt.
Thanks Ricky for the chat.