Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Uni Riesen Leipzig guard and leader Cardell Mcfarland after he dropped 20 points and led a fourth quarter charge beating the Dragons Rhondorf 85-73
If one was given a special helicopter ride as a 50th birthday present from your spouse and you could roam above the quant town of French Lick, Indiana and the tiny town of Rhondorf in Germany and have a nice birds eye view of the territory, one would come to the conclusion that there isn´t much difference between the two. Population wise, French lick boasts 1,941 persons, while Rhondorf has 2,327 people making their home there while from a nature standpoint, there is a lot of greenery to enjoy. The two biggest differences between the two places is that French Lick has no major body of water while Rhondorf sits on the scenic and famous Rhein river that displays historic castles and many boats while French Lick has for many oldschool basketball fans the best basketball player that ever graced the planet with Larry Bird who grew up there and still has a residence there. After the last bitter loss in Nordlingen in the Pro B playdowns where the Dragons Rhondorf shot a miserable 30% from the parking lot and got the big goose egg of 0/16 from outside from their top players Canadian Mike Lucier, American Will Trawick and German Viktor Frankl- Maus, one could of asked manager Boris Kaminski just how good his connections were in the NBA and if threr was any spare change to book the Bird man for some extra shooting practice last week leading up to the game against the Uni-Riesen Leipzig. The Uni-Riesen Leipzig entered the game having a 2-1 record against the Dragons Rhondorf this season, but had lost the game in Rhondorf earlier in the season. Rhondorf had a four point lead over Leipzig in the Playdowns in the fight to stay in the Pro B and with a victory could have booked their Pro B ticket for next season, but instead have to wait another week and play a do or die game in Lich to see their fate as they fell to the Uni-Riesen Leipzig 85-73. The score definitely didn´t tell the whole story as the Dragons Rhondorf dominated the boards with 15 offensive rebounds and forced their opponent to 24 turnovers and had 8 extra possessions, but that all didn´t matter as they were unable to produce when it counted most in crunch-time. “We really had our destiny in our own hands. We rebounded very well and defended very well also, but we couldn´t take care of the little things. Down by four points, we didn´t execute the game plan and a few of their scores and stops of us suddenly had us down by nine points. We fought really hard, but we were missing experience and a few missed lay ups and turnovers cost us the game”, stressed Viktor Frankl-Maus. After the win, Uni-Riesen Leipzig guard Cardell Mcfarland was very relaxed as if his furious fourth quarter outburst had been the most normal thing and he found the right words in victory. “This was a big game for both teams and we knew that they were a very strong team at home. We came out very focused. Our defense was key for getting the win. Our zone at the end really hurt them. We gave up too many turnovers and offensive rebounds, but in the end all that mattered was the win”, added ex Nordlingen guard Cardell Mcfarland. The game also displayed some BBL faces as Telekom Baskets Bonn players ex Giessen 46er Yorman Polas and ex Fraport Skyliner Johannes Richter took in the game on their free Staurday night. After the game, Richter Joked about the opportunity of having had a Larry Bird flown in for extra shooting practice. “I actually rather would have had Dirk Nowitzki´s shooting coach Holger Geschwindner. It was a very physical and hard fought game. Rhondorf had to win this game. I would have had liked to have seen Valentin Blass play more as he is very good on the pick and roll”, stated ex Bamberg center Johannes Richter.
Both teams came out nervous not executing on their first few possessions, but then slowly found their rhythm. The Uni-Riesen Leipzig got aggressive in the paint early as California native Jordan Faison and German Jonas Nidermanner both made tips. The Dragons Rhondorf got on the board with a Michael Lucier pull up jumper and Thomas Michel trey for the 5-4 advantage. Both teams then traded buckets as Faison continued to be a menace early inside scoring a reverse lay up and New York native Will Trawick snuck inside for an offensive rebound and put back for the 7-6 Rhondorf lead. However the Uni Riesen Leipzig took advantage of three Rhondorf turnovers and converted that into a 11-0 run to lead 17-7. In the run, they were aided by ex Alba Berlin forward Sascha Leutloff who was unstoppable inside with seven points while Mcfarland used his speed for a basket inside and Faison converted on a step back jumper. However Rhondorf was able to get back into the game scoring 10 points in the last few minutes to trail only 23-17 after 10 minutes. German Yannik Kneesch dropped a trey while Frankl-Maus nailed a jumper. The guests got a clutch three from ex Regionalliga player Terence Billups who´s minutes have been severely reduced since the arrival of Mcfarland. Rhondorf got a pretty tap in alley-op from 24 year old German Patrick Reus supplied by the Frankl-Maus pass. “We were nervous and many players unsure in certain moments which led to dumb turnovers. Reusch and Lucier were playing well and carrying the team”, stressed Dragons Rhondorf CEO Boris Kaminski. The Uni-Riesen Leipzig were shooting 64% from the field and 33% from outside while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 35% from the field and 33% from outside. Rhondorf had the narrow 9-8 rebound edge and six turnovers while the Uni-Riesen Leipzig had nine turnovers.
The Uni-Riesen Leipzig stayed in front in the second quarter, but were unable to shake the Dragons Rhondorf off their door step. The Dragons Rhondorf halted the Uni-Riesen Leipzig´s first two possessions and got a Florian Wendeler free throw and Reusch turn around shot to cut the lead down to 23-20. The Uni-Riesen Leipzig continued to rely on Leutlof who did a fine job taking advantage of the mismatch and scoring upping the Leipzig lead to 26-20. The Dragons Rhondorf didn´t let up and got hot shooting from Frankl-Maus and Lucier to cut the Uni-Riesen Leipzig lead to 26-24. However the Uni-Riesen Leipzig then slapped the Dragons Rhondorf with a bitter 7-2 run to extend their lead to 36-26. They got timely shooting from ex Science City Jena guard Darias Cardenas, Mcfarland and Nidermanner. Rhondorf shot back at Leipzig with back to back transition baskets from Lucier and Reusch to cut the lead down to 33-30. The Dragons Rhondorf were unable to get over the hump in the last minutes as Leutloff continued to hurt them scoring six points. Reusch and Frankl-Maus would add on to the Rhondorf scoring, but at the break the Uni-Riesen Leipzig led 39-34. “Coach Roijakkers has done a good job stressing rebounding and we did a good job on the offensive glass, but didn´t have the confidence off trying for the instant put backs, but kept kicking it out. We defended well and kept Faison to zero points in the second quarter”, added Dragons Rhondorf CEO Boris Kaminksi. The Uni-Riesen Leipzig were shooting 50% from the field and 25% from the three point line while the Dragons Rhondorf were shooting 39% from the field and 25% from the three point line. Rhondorf had the 23-12 rebound edge and 11 turnovers while the Uni-Riesen Leipzig had 13 turnovers.
The Dragons Rhondorf started off well in the third quarter, but relinquished another run mid way through, but shortly before the end cut the lead down to three points again. The Dragons Rhondorf took advantage of their aggressive defense stopping Leipzig on their first three possessions and got free throws from Trawick and a Lucier reverse lay up to cut the lead down to 39-38. The Uni-Riesen Leipzig got hot shooting from Mcfarland and Cardenas, but the Dragons Rhondorf were held in the game by Frankl-Maus who scored five points cutting the Uni-Riesen Leipzig lead to 44-43. Mcfarland and Lucier then traded baskets as the game was dead locked 46-46. Even if his face looked normal, ex Cal Poly-Pomona forward Jordan Faison was fuming as he had been held in check for about 14 minutes without a field goal and suddenly remembered the advice by college coach Greg Kaminsky to play hard at both ends of the floor as he led the Uni-Riesen Leipzig on a 11-3 run to extend their lead to 57-49. He started the run with a block on Frankl-Maus which led to his lay up. Then The Germans took control as once again Leutloff took over scoring 5 points and Niedermanner dropped a trey. However as usual the Dragons Rhondorf once again didn´t lay down and die, but closed out the third quarter with a 7-2 run to trail only 59-56. In the run, Rhondorf did a good job getting to the free throw line and got big buckets from Germans Reusch and Bastian Winterhalter. “We went on a run and got some easy buckets and stops. Leutloff was running the floor well as usual and carried us”, added Cardell Mcfarland. “We had mental lapses. Since the departure of Aaron Nelson, more guys have to play more and suddenly are overwhelmed in certain situations”, added Viktor Frankl-Maus. The Uni-Riesen Leipzig were shooting 49% from the field and 31% from the parking lot while the dragons Rhondorf were shooting 40% from the field and 33% from the parking lot. Rhondorf had the 30-26 rebound edge and 12 turnovers while the Uni-Riesen Leipzig had 19 turnovers.
The game remained tight in the fourth quarter, but the Dragosn Rhondorf couldn´t hold their nerves in crunch time and let the little things cost them the game. Cardell Mcfarland took control in the first five minutes steering home 10 points including back to back three´s as the Uni-Riesen Leipzig led 70-63. After the win, the American from Indiana didn´t need to distribute the macho line implying that he felt the need to have to step up to score 10 points. “I was just open and shot the ball. I just wanted to make these open shots and not force anything”, smiled Cardell Mcfarland. Rhondorf did a good job getting to the free throw line and 61% free throw shooter Bastian Winterhalter kept his nerves sinking four free throws to cut the Uni-Riesen Leipzig lead to 70-67. Then came the turning point of the game as Rhondorf gave up a devestating 7-0 run to trail 77-68. In the run, the Uni-Riesen Leipzig got free throws from Niedermanner, a clutch three from Cardenas where Mcfarland made the unselfish kick out pass something a point guard should always live by and a Faison lay in. In the last few minutes, the Uni-Riesen Leipzig were able to nail their free throws as Leutloff, Mcfarland and Cardenas connected sealing the win for them. “We did a good job playing with the momentum and not losing it. Faison didn´t have the huge scoring game but got key blocks and rebounds”, stated Cardell Mcfarland. “It was one or two stops that cost us the win. Mcfarland did a good job finding Cardenas for the open three”, added Viktor Frankl-Maus. The Uni-Riesen Leipzig were led by Sascha Leutloff with 24 points. Cardell Mcfarland added 20 points and Jordan Faison produced the double double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Dragons Rhondorf were led by Pastrick Reusch with 19 points. Viktor Frankl-Maus supplied 14 points and nine assists while Mike Lucier had 12 points. The Uni-Riesen Leipzig shot 49% from the field and 37% from outside while the Dragons Rhondorf shot 34% from the field and 35% from outside. The Dragons Rhondorf won the rebound battle 40-33, and had only 16 turnovers while the Uni-Riesen Leipzig coughed up the ball 24 times. On the last playdown game day next weekend, the Dragons Rhondorf have to win in Lich to remain in the Pro B. “We have a realistic chance to win in Lich. We know that it won´t be easy and just have to come to terms with the pressure”, added Viktor Frankl-Maus.