Why Can´t We Get Players Like That Haunted The Fraport Skyliners At The Point Guard Position

If iconic Boston sportscaster legend Bob Lobel was describing the Boston Celtic highlights today for channel WBZ where he was strapped in the 11pm news slot for almost 30 years from 1981-2008, he would most definitely have unwrapped one of his most famous catch phrases again concerning the 2017 Boston Celtics-Chicago Bull series. Back in the day Lobel would spice up his Celtics game reports in the highlights with the words “Why can’t we get players like that?” These magical words would surface in his report when any former player for a Boston team was shown making a big play for his new team. It was born after the Boston Red Sox traded unknown prospect Jeff Bagwell to the Houston Astros in return for journeyman pitcher Larry Anderson in 1990. Anderson didn´t pan out for Boston, while Bagwell became a star with the Houston Astros and was one of the best sluggers in the second half of the 90´s hitting 449 home runs in his career. Lobel´s catch phrase “Why can’t we get players like that” was widely emphasized in plays when the former a Boston player burned a Boston team. In his tenure as WBZ sports chef in the 80´s and 90´s he had countless examples where he could of used that phrase with ex Boston players like Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs or Nomar Garciaparra as these stood out with their new teams especially with the dreaded New York Yankees or ex New England Patriot Curtin Martin who fled to the New York Jets or ex Boston Celtic Bob Mcadoo who was injury plagued in 1979, but would move on to the glitz of the Los Angeles Lakers and win 2 NBA titles in 1982 and 1985 against Boston. In 2017  Lobel  would have had a field day with 2008 Boston Celtic NBA champion Rajon Rondo who haunted his ex team in game one and two in Boston with Chicago. Not only in American sports could Bon Lobel have given his catch phrase life, but also in European basketball. Recently ex Fraport Skyliner Jordan Theodore who led Frankfurt to only their third club title last season with the Fiba Europe cup fled for the big bucks to Banvit Basketbol Kulubu (Turkey-BSL) this season and won another title with the Turkish Cup collecting MVP honors. Recently Jordan Theodore kept up his special tradition from last season where on countless occasions, he needed the ball in his hands and delivered in key situations. With time running out in the Champions League quarterfinal return game in Ludwigsburg and Banvit down by four and needing to win by five to reach the Final 4 went coast to coast and scored on an off balance shot propelling his team to Tenerife to go for their second title of the season in the Champions League Final 4. This would have been the perfect time for Lobel to share his legendary phrase “Why can’t we get players like that?. Lobel would of gone bananas in the Champions League semi-final where Theodore once again showed why he belongs to the top point guards in Europe where he scorched Monaco with a 21 point and 11 in the Champions League Final 4. This season Fraport Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert could have sung this song with “Why can’t we get players like that” as as Theodore burned the Fraport Skyliners twice in the Champions league leading Banvit to victory over Frankfurt with 12 and 8 and 25 and 6 performances.  Herbert would surely have doneabout anything for reaching the playoffs except giving away Isaac Bonga for free to have obtained Jordan Theodore this season as his misfortune of the point guard selection put the Fraport Skyliners off playoff course.

(Boston Sports Reporter legend Bob Lobel interviewing Celtics owner Harry Mangurian and players Chris Ford, Kevin Mchale and Larry Bird after Boston Celtics won the 1981 NBA title in Houston from 0,25-2.02 minutes) and from 12,48-15.05 Lobel also interviews Cedric Maxwell, Celtic legend Red Auerbach, Rocket Moses Malone and Celtics coach Bill Fitch.)

It is no secret that the success of a professional basketball team more often than not lies in the hands of the point guard. The point guard is not always the best player on the team except for maybe Russell Westbrook or James Harden, but is the player that runs the team successfully and can get the best players on the team going and into finding their rhythm. In the past Fraport Skyliner head coach Gordon Herbert has had the magic touch and suit where he was able to unravel the perfect name for his team. The best examples in the last years was when he brought in Dashaun Wood who had been injured for a whole season and returned winning the BBL MVP in 2011, Justin Cobbs who had faltered in Italy and Latvia and led the Fraport Skyliners into the Eurochallenge final 4 and playoffs for the first time in three seasons and Jordan Theodore who had always played for losing teams before coming to Frankfurt was instrumental in the Fina Europe Cup title and reaching the semi-finals of the playoffs. This season, the Fraport Skyliners simply didn´t have the right point guard that they needed to be successful. The club also signalized late in the summer that they didn´t have the needed financial clout to be able to pick up a solid point guard as they didn´t find ex Georgetown American Markel Starks until late. The American already came to Frankfurt with question marks as last season he couldn´t match his stats from his rookie season with FMC Ferentino (Italy-A2 Gold) as he had an average season with Vanoli Cremona (Italy-Serie A). With the Fraport Skyliners, Starks lasted only 4 games averaging 10,8ppg, 1,8rpg and 2,0apg simply too little for the ambitious head coach Gordon Herbert. He had two solid games against Bonn and Bremerhaven, but the lightening quick player proved to be more of a combo guard than a true point guard. Herbert then found talented American Kwame Vaughn who had been released by French team ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket. The American came to Frankfurt with a great resume having been a scoring point guard wherever he had played in Italy, Israel and Belgium and it seemed like he could be that second Justin Cobbs that Herbert had brought in two seasons ago for Richard Williams. However Vaughn never panned out in the system of Gordon Herbert. He actually had a very strong Champions League season averaging 14,9ppg, 2,9rpg and 4,5apg, but when the team needed that big win against Pinar Karyisaka, they lost by 20 points and he couldn´t bring the game or leadership qualities that a Theodore would have given. In the BBL, he was at best average averaging 11,0ppg, 2,7rpg and 3,8apg. He had some solid games against lower ranked teams, but when it counted most against playoff type teams, he was unable to produce for the team to be successful. One of his biggest problems was simply his inability to get good ball movement going during set plays and forcing the one on one when the shot clock was winding down. In December the team reeled in ex Iona(NCAA) standout AJ English who was seen more as that scoring punch, but also helped out at point guard and had some stellar games dishing out nine assists over SC Rasta Vechta and seven assists against Braunschweig. Even though Quantez Robertson loves to help out at point guard and his ball handling surely has improved in the last years, his strengths  lie elsewhere and shouldn´t have to be wasted aiding at the playmaker position. One is always smarter at the end of a season about what one should have done during the summer transfer period. It would have been interesting what would have been the fate of the Fraport Skyliners if they had picked up a Kyan Anderson, Josh Mayo or Peyton Siva. Would they be in the playoffs now the way medi Bayreuth, Telekom Baskets Bonn and Alba Berlin are?

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Fraport Skyliner AJ English after the final game of the 2016-2017 season after he dropped 19 points dished out 8 assists and grabbed 4 assists in the 83-71 win against Alba Berlin

The Point guard position cost the Fraport Skyliners the season, but there were also other reasons why the team was unable to reach a third consecutive playoffs. A big risk last summer was waiting and waiting for the decision for Danilo Barthel wheather he would resign or not while most of the other BBL teams filled their rosters with available  German big men. Big German talent Johannes Thiemann would have looked fabulous in a Skyliners uniform, but Ludwigsburg head coach John Patrick gobbled him up early in the summer. When Barthel finally signed with FC Bayern Munich, Gordon Herbert had little options to find a very solid big man for the season. It didn´t help the team that they started the 2016-2017 pre season and regular season without Gordon Herbert who had health issues. Assistant coach Klaus Perwas had to take over the head coaching reins something he wasn´t accustomed to. Perwas is the perfect assistant coach that has helped groom and developed countless players further with his individual training, but as a head coach he was unfairly thrown into cold water and was unable to get the job done. Another gigantic problem for the Fraport Skyliners was being able to compensate the loss of the German big 3 of Johannes Voigtmann, Danilo Barthel and Konstantin Klein who combined for 27 points per game. This season the club continued to build with their youth as Niklas Kiel got more minutes and developed further and Stefan Ilzhoefer also got more minutes, but was unable to exceed expectations. Frankfurt just didn´t get enough production from their German core of players to be able to compete with the playoff teams. Another problem was not getting a strong center for the season. No disrespect to Mike Morrison, but he is the perfect back up center that brings excessive energy from the bench and will give highlight dunks every weekend, but just won´t bring the stats a playoff type center needs to bring at the starting center position. Having that dominant center like a Voigtmann was really missing this season in which the team rebounding severely suffered.. Frankfurt improved their play in the second half of the season, but the two point loss in Ludwigsburg and one point loses to Bonn and Bayreuth cost them the playoffs. The perfect and right point guard like a Jordan Theodore would have won these games for Frankfurt. As usual the Fraport Skyliners will have a limited budget and will need to make the right decision in player personel for next season. The future for their youth development continues to look very promising for the Fraport Skyliners as they already signed 18 year German talent Richard Freudenberg who left the well known school ST Johns after his freshman season as according to German Hoops sources  didn´t see eye to eye with head coach and NBA legend Chris Mullin and had unwanted issues with his teammates of color. The club could also  witness a further step in the development of Niklas Kiel next season and Isaac Bonga doing the back up duties for the American starting point guard. The fate of the Fraport Skyliners will once again lie in the starting point guard and the correct decision making of Gordon Herbert will once again be vital between a playoff spot and early summer vacation in 2018.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Jordan Theodore after winning the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup in Chalon, France with the Fraport Skyliners. “Why can´t we get players like that”?

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