Demetrius Ward is a 26 year old 188cm guard from Detroit, Michigan that completed his fifth professional season with MTV Wolfenbuettel Herzoege (Germany-ProB) averaging 19,0ppg, 6,4rpg and 4,2apg.. This was his fourth Pro B season with the club after having helped the team move back up from the Regionaliga last season where he played 21 games: 11.8ppg, 4.3rpg, 4.8apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 72.9%He played at Western Michigan from 2008-2012 playing a total of 129 NCAA games and as a senior played 31 games averaging 12.1ppg, 4.6rpg, 3.0apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 41.3%, 3PT: 31.5%, FT: 76.2%. He recently was promoted to player/coach and spoke to German Hoops after the completion of the 2016-2017 season.
Demetrius thanks for talking to German Hoops Congrats on helping Wolfenbuettel stay in the Pro B. What kind of experience was it playing 6 pressure games this season in the playdowns compared to the playoff pressure from last season?
Hello Miles thanks for taking the time to do the interview. The experience was a lot different from last season being in the playoffs at the 2nd seed. We accomplished our goal by making the playoffs last season. This year we were unfortunately in the playdowns and had to play to stay in the league. Just coming from the 2nd spot in the north last season into the 10 spot this season was pretty difficult.
Wolfenbuettel played some fine basketball in the second half of the season beating playoff teams like Schalke, Bochum and Iserlohn. How disappointing was it not reaching the playoffs?
Not making the playoffs was a hard pill to swallow. Throughout the season we showed how good we can be by beating some of the top teams in the league. We also showed how inconsistent we can be by losing to some of the team we should’ve beaten. Overall we didn’t have consistency to get us over that hump to make the playoffs.
Did Wolfenbuettel have a large chip on their shoulder going into the playdowns? You won four of your first five playdown games. You took care of business quickly.
Going into the playdowns we knew how close the teams were in comparison to points in how important each game was to stay in the league. We started clicking late toward the end of the season where we as a team played with good confidence.
The playdown loss to Stahnsdorf was very surprising. Is this the type of game that a young player/coach like yourself can learn from?
Standsdorf changed a few things at the end of the season getting a new coach and started playing well offensively and defensively. The loss at their place was a good learning experience for me as a player and as a coach.
What was your overall summary of the season. You finished the season at 7-3 in the last 10 games. Despite reaching only the playdowns, what positives could you take from the season?
There are a few positive things we could take for this season. First is we managed to win some close games that we weren’t able to win in the first half of the season. Losing two games in the last minutes and one at the buzzer we were able to turn that around in the second half of the season. We won at the buzzer against Rostock after being down 13 with 3mins left in the game. We won at the buzzer against Iserlohn after losing to them at their place at the buzzer. Those two wins showed how good of a team we could be. We as a team overall had so much adversity during this season with the injury bug, player/coach, and playing with 8 guys at times. So when we look back at this season we have a few things to be proud of.
Wolfenbuettel had many German BBL license players. What player do you feel improved the most from day one until the last playdown game against Itzehoe?
I would say Niklas Bilski for sure. He improved so much from last year being 17 first year Pro B averaging limited minutes into being a good point guard for our team. At times he comes out with some really good passes putting us in good situations to score the ball. He also has the highest 3pt percentage on the team. He’s a young talent with a bright future.
Who was the toughest guard that you faced this season and how were your battles with him?
The toughest guard to guard this season, thats a good question. I would say Davis from Rostock and CB from Schalke. Davis was a quick scoring guard who can score in transition or in the half court. Courtney was a stronger crafty guard that was good at using ball screens and also good in the open court. I really didn’t guard them two that much because they both had bigger wing players that I had to guard.
You had another very strong season especially in the scoring department like in the 2013-2014 season, but you remained very versatile filling up the stat sheet. Wolfenbuettel needed you to score again. How did your game improve in the last months when you were looking at the game in a total different light because you were player/coach?
I was able to get others involved more. In the second half of the season my stats went down but we were winning games. I think I was able to put us in good situation to win ball games.
What kind of experience was it for you the last few months being a coach while also being on the court. What do you feel did you learn about a players mind from a coaches perspective that you didn’t´ know before when you were just the player?
It was a great experience to see both sides of being a player and also a coach. At times being out there on the court I get caught up in the game and forget that I’m the coach haha. I’ve made mistakes during the games but with the help of the president of the club he communicated with me and told me some helpful things during time outs or during halftime.
You stated in our last interview that “I would say I critique my game different being the coach now, I must watch a lot of our game film and I cannot ignore my mistakes. I think that it’s making me a better player and I can see things differently on the court from watching so much film”. How did your game improve in the last months just through your new experience as coach?
In the last months I would say my game improved as a leader. I was able to put us in good situations to win games without me being the leading scorer all the time. In the last months players stepped up and gained confidence and started producing. We also stayed unbeaten at home in 2017.
What is the next step for Demetrius Ward? You stated in our last interview that you aren´t in your prime yet. Do you have the game to make an impact in the Pro A?
Yes I believe so, I definitely think I can make an impact in the Pro A on and off the court. I’m not a one dimensional player, I can create my own shot and also create for others. I guess all I need is a chance to show my talents at the next level.
After helping Wolfenbuettel stay in the Pro B, what summer plans do you have? Will you just hang out with the family and work on your game or take a trip somewhere?
This summer I’m actually taking the B coaching license in June, so I will be in Germany for another couple months. Other than that I plan on working out spending time with my girl and with my family.
On what things will you be specifically working on this summer on your game that will help continue you to progress as a professional player?
I will work on my body. Eating the right food stretching more paying more attention to details. I will also work on my defense on and away from the ball.
Now that the 2017 NCAA tournament is long over what do sports do you focus on now in the summer months?
I really don’t watch too much TV. I catch the highlight at times.
Will we see any surprises in this years NBA playoffs and who do you have reaching the finals and winning it all?
It would be nice to see a rematch from last season finals. A big surprise would be the Golden State Warriors not making the finals.
Devin Booker recently hit the Boston Celtics with 70 points. Did it surprise you that he reached this feat before other big time NBA players?
Devin Booker is a young gifted player with a promising future.
How special was the run of South Carolina at the 2017 NCAA tournament? Do you feel like this was the story of March Madness 2017?
I had South Carolina losing they messed my brackets up. Its good to see teams like South Carolina compete in the tournament and upset some good team. Thats what march madness is all about.
Is Lonzo Ball the real thing? Do you feel like he will be able to develop further despite the antics of his father on social media?
Lonzo can play ball for sure, he’s special with many talents. I don’t think people should listen to his dad and focus the numbers that the guy is putting up.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
I feel Westbrook goes out there and gives it 100% every night. People are always going to criticize people if they are doing good or bad.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Fast and furious 8.
Thanks Demetrius for the chat.