Courtney Belger is a 27 year old 187cm guard from St Louis that completed 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 playoff loss to the ScanPlus Baskets ending his season.
Courtney thanks for talking to German Hoops . FC Schalke lost a tough 3 game series to the ScanPlus Baskets. Are you still in Germany or are you already back in the States and how did you spend your last days in Germany?
I’m actually back in Australia with my lady and playing for the eastern suns. My family came to visit me my last week so we just hung out and went to eat etc. My team had a nice end of the year team gathering before we all took off. We had a good time.
How long did it take you to digest the end of the season? What was toughest for you losing game three by 30 points?
It probably took about three days and then will come back later. I’ll just use it for motivation like always. I’m very disappointed to have let the team down with that sad game three disappearing act I displayed.
FC Schalke held opponents to 78 points in the Pro B this season, but the ScanPlus Baskets averaged 83 points in the series. What was most difficult about keeping their offensive arsenal in check?
Not much. We just couldn’t score and execute on our end. When you turn the ball over so much and can’t score it’s easier for the opposition to get out on the fast break.
Did the exciting grind out 76-74 win in game two kind of use up most of the team´s gas that it just wasn´t able to play a solid game for 40 minutes in game three?
At their place in game three they were comfortable and Petric opened the game up for them by hitting some threes. Once he had confidence it ignited their team and we had to change our strategy which helped to bring us success in game 2.
It would be unfair to put any blame on you for your eight point game in game three as basketball is a team sport, but as a competitor which you are how difficult was it for you not to put a lot of blame on yourself for the loss?
I put all the blame on myself. I’m not the type to only want the credit for a win. The same way my 32 points helped us win game 2 is the same way my 8 points caused us to lose game 3.
You stated in the last interview that your leadership could be better. Do you feel like your leadership let yourself and the team down in game three?
I personally don’t believe that. I think my play let everyone down in game 3. Even playing like trash and sitting on the bench, I was still engaged and communicating with my team.
How would you summarize the 2016-2017 FC Schalke season. Did the club reach it´s goals?
We had a very fun roller coaster ride. We achieved every goal except for winning a playoff series. After everybody wrote us off when we were at the bottom of the table at the beginning, it was great time fighting our way back up to six. Our team came together down the stretch and won games despite many different challenges.
I hate asking you this again, but I had asked you this before, but was the team missing that consistent third scorer that would have been able to score in double figures on a regular basis?
We definitely missed a third scorer, but it is what it is. People had games where they stepped up into that role for us multiple times. Maybe it could have been more often depending on how we read the game.
How did you see the development of American rookie Trent Weaver? Do you see him making the next step already next season or does he need another year in the pro B for further basketball seasoning?
Trent is a very versatile big that has a huge upside. He is also very motivated. I’m not sure if he will get the chance to play in Pro A or not, but I do know that he will be ready to attack his next season.
Which player in your mind developed the best this season from day one until game three against the ScanPlus Baskets?
I would say it was our young big man Lutz. I enjoyed talking to him during the season and passing on different things I have learned from all my years of playing.
You had an excellent season averaging 16,5ppg, 5,4rpg and 5,2qpg and improved your stats from the season before with Pro B team Itzehoe. How pleased were you with your development as a player with FC Schalke and season in general?
I was very pleased with the year that we had. My team and coach made me feel comfortable and allowed me to make mistakes which really built confidence. I went through rough patches throughout the year and no matter what happened, the guys always stayed by my side. It made it easy.
You stated in our last interview that in the first half of the season you would have liked to have done these things better with playing better off the ball with cuts and spot ups and improving on seeing the whole court and getting us the best shot possible each possession. Do you feel as if you did that better in the second half of the season?
I think so. We played better and beat quality teams. My veteran Nikita says so as well haha. Other than a couple rough games I think I did a much better job with all of that.
You can attribute your improved play from Itzehoe to knowing the Pro B better as well as having head coach Raphael Wilder on you making you play your best as well as being locked in mentally better this season. What do you feel played the biggest role in your play this season improving?
It’s three things. If I was playing okay, bad, what I thought was good; Raffi was pushing me. I played a lot of minutes this season, so that brings confidence and stats. The third thing is I was able to train extra and feel ready, since the medical staff really improved my body’s health. I feel as fresh as I have felt since college. It’s not one thing. It’s truly a combination of all three things.
The summer will be very exciting as you will surely get many interesting offers. Do you feel now after two seasons in the Pro B that you can make the next step and be a force in the German Pro A the way Nurnberg´s Diante Watkins is who also came from the Pro B?
I’m very confident in my abilities as a player and what I can do. I also feel that I work very hard in the summer to improve, so yes I do feel like I can be a force in the right situation. I don’t worry about that though. I just play. Didn’t even make a highlight tape throughout the year. Wanted my focus to be on playing. This year I was able to really work on my game. I’m not opposed to staying with Raffi. Just have to sit back and let my agent Michael Canty do what he does.
Will you be making any new adventures down under like last season with Kalamunda Eastern Suns (Australia-SBL) or will you be going home early this summer and focus on your game in the gym?
Like I mentioned earlier, I will be here in Australia with the Suns. It worked out for me last year and I felt ready once the season started. My lady and I have also linked up with Atlas performance and will have a stint with Dig Deep basketball training this summer. I think this will be another one of those Summer’s that helps get me ready for next season.
On what things will you focus on this summer in your game so that you will be able to make the next step wherever you play at?
I will focus on shooting more of course out of the pick and roll, as well as spot up threes. Toward the end of the season I started to shoot the ball a little better and want to carry on in that direction. Another area I think will improve just from my first week here, is my athleticism and quick read making during penetration.
Who was the toughest point guard that you battled in the pro B this season?
Probably Chris Iles because of his speed or Antione Myers because we are bigger guards with similar games.
How exciting was the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Was South Carolina reaching the NCAA Final 4 the biggest story of the March Madness for you?
I actually haven’t seen one game. I was watching nothing but film and YouTube stuff in Germany. Here in Australia I have been preparing for my game Friday. Hopefully I will get to see something soon.
Where do you personally rate Boston Celtic point guard Isaiah Thomas among the top NBA point guards? Is he near the top 5 or in it behind the Westbrooks, Harden´s, Wall´s and Paul´s?
I have been rocking with Isaiah Thomas since he was with the Kings. He’s definitely top 5 in my book. What he is doing with the Celtics right now is legendary.
I recently read an interesting article where it was stated that Russell Westbrook´s rebounds that help him garner so many triple doubles is a result of stat padding. The stats don´t lie, but seriously is this an insult to his abilities or should this be an issue that can be debated? As a guy that rebounds very well, you must have an opinion on this matter with Russ.
It’s sad to think someone says his rebounding is stat padding. Rebounds are a hustle stat. Takes a lot of effort. It also is a transition defense killer for great transition players like Westbrook. He doesn’t have to wait on an outlet pass or anything, just rebound and attack. Like I said in a previous article, it’s simple math. The pg normally gets back in safety. This makes it easy for a pg to crash the boards if he chooses to.
Lonzo Ball of UCLA has put up huge stats as a freshman. Is he the real deal. Will he be able to continue to develop or be derailed a bit by his dads antics on social media?
I think he is the real deal. Quick, athletic, good passer, deep range, etc. The type of game he has normally translates well in the NBA. I think his father won’t mess up anything he does. Every parent thinks like that about their kid, but normally their kid isn’t good enough for us to even pay attention to what that parent is saying.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Courtney for the chat.