Is This The Year Michael Stockton Becomes An Elite Point Guard In The BBL And Leads BG Goettingen To New Heights?

In the 90s the Chicago Bulls owned the NBA winning 6 NBA titles thanks to the stellar play of Michael Jordan and his side kick Scottie Pippen that carried the team and helped put Chicago back on to the NBA map. But there were also many other great teams and players that just didn´t have the fortune the Bulls had and one of those was the Utah Jazz with their special dynamic duo of Karl the mail man Malone and John Stockton. It would have been every kid´s childhood dream to be able to hang out with Malone and Michael Stockton not only had the luck to do that, but also to play pick up basketball with the NBA legend. Remembering Malone´s unending amazing plays on the court might be difficult to pick just one experience that was unforgettable, but Stockton always has that one childhood memory in his mind.  “I remember one time as me and friends were playing basketball outside, and he came over took the ball and dunked over 7 kids as some were hanging on to him”, said Michael Stockton. It was obvious that the kid Stockton would go the college and professional route like his father did, but even if his father played 19 seasons in the NBA, was a 10 time NBA allstar and is the all-time NBA leader in assists and steals, the name Stockton didn´t mean a free pass to the NCAA and NBA as nothing was given to him, but he had to fight his way to get to the top leagues in Europe. Michael Stockton never even reached the elite NCAA, but played four seasons in the fourth college division NAIA for Westminster and after three sub par season broke out somewhat as a senior averaging 18.2ppg, 4.0rpg, 4.2apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 54.4%, 3Pts: 36.4%, FT: 78.5%. Still having NBA Summer league gigs and that basketball name that has most people wondering at first if that is the son of the famous John Stockton, he once again couldn´t start at the top, but played his first two professional seasons in the German Pro A with BG Karlsruhe registering solid, but not overwhelming stats. However his game was good enough for BBL coach John Patrick and Ludwigsburg who snapped him up in 2013 and he played two very good seasons there reaching the playoffs twice and displaying good stats. In the 2015-2016 season he ventured home to the states and played with the Canton Charge (D-League) playing 53 games averaging 8.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.8apg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 27.8%, FT: 84.3%. After getting that D-league experience, he came back to Europe looking to make another step, but instead had a season to forget last season as he split time with Avtodor Saratov (Russia-VTB) playing 13 games averaging 4.4ppg, 1.7rpg, 3.6apg; In the VTB United League he played 11 games averaging 6.6ppg, 1.5rpg, 3.7apg, 2FGP: 53.8%, 3FGP: 22.2%, FT: 79.2%;In Jan.’17 moved to AS Apollon Patras (Greece-A1) playing 11 games averaging 4.7ppg, 1.7rpg. Now the lefty who likes the kick out pass over the flashy pass and once described Charles Barkley as being his favorite non Utah Jazz as a player is back in Germany and is looking to rebound from his less than satisfactory season. Stockton is 28 now and in his best basketball age. He has joined a hungry BG Goettingen team and a team that isn´t as deep as his former Ludwigsburg teams, a place where the American could flourish. Stockton has the talent to become an elite BBL player as he is hungry, has the work ethic and game of a point guard that knows how to lead his team successfully. If he can find his touch from downtown something which has lacked in consistency throughout his career then he could become an elite guard in the league. Just being used to never having been given anything for free and having to work for everything everywhere will help him find back to his game that he possessed with Ludwigsburg. The most important thing that he learned from his dad was to never take anything for granted and that has helped him through his professional basketball career up until now. The whole positive attitude that the American has had over the last years continues to steer him in the right direction as despite losing the opener to the EWE Baskets Oldenburg, he poured in 20 points and dished out eight assists.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Michael Stockton in 2013 in Frankfurt

In the last few years coaches like Denis Wucherer and Johannes Roijakkers have done a superb job making the best out of their limited budgets and bringing the club as far as possible. Wucherer just missed the playoffs with Giessen and Roijakkers has scrathed the playoff surface twice in the last three years and one could say overachieved which didn´t bother anyone in basketball Goettingen. Last season the 2010 Eurochallenge winner finished in 11th place and weren´t rewarded at the end with their spectacular finish winning five of their last six games and were brutally denied against Brose Bamberg 71-70. As is usually the case, the club was unable to keep a core of last season´s team as guys like Alex Ruoff, Scott Eatherton and Jessie Sanders found more lucrative spots for this season. However one can call keeping American Darius Carter a huge success since he was the club´s best defender and fascinated fans with his athletic play on the boards and played consistently on offense averaging 10.1ppg, 4.8rpg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 38.1%, FT: 60.9%. The ex  Wichita St(NCAA) player  showed his fine offensive qualities netting 24 against Brose Bamberg and 18 points against Alba Berlin. With the departure of Eatherton, Carter should have an even bigger role than last season. The other important player kept was Dutch player Leon Williams who is a two time Dutch cup winner and national player played 30 games averaging 5.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 2.5apg, FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 61.3%. On a team that has little of it´s core from last season, keeping him was very valuable as he will be back up to Stockton and supply the team with needed energy and needs to keep his fine touch from outside alive and heighten his scoring.

The club did another fine job picking up five solid Americans and five solid Germans that will construct the rest of the roster. In addition to Stockton, the club also picked up the most important signing with Brion Rush who is a 32 year old 191cm guard that played at Grambling St. (NCAA) and will have to serve as a consistent scorer. He brings valuable experience having played in countries like France, Russia and Spain. He won titles in Russia, Kazakhstan and Dubai. He is used to scoring and will need the ball to be effective, but he will get the ball enough and could be a guy that lands in the top 10 scoring in the BBL. Sometimes you need that mix between the experienced and the young and with Paul Watson, Roijakkers found a talented rookie out of Fresno St. (NCAA) who won the MWC title as a junior and as a senior played 32 games averaging 11.5ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 33.1%, FT: 69.1%. He brings all the qualities to Goettingen that a swingman of 198cm needs to have to be successful. All he needs to do is be able to make the adjustment from the NCAA to the BBL and bring more stability from the free throw line. The club also reeled in 26 year old 201cm Evan Smotrycz who saw it all in the NCAA playing at Michigan with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr and Maryland and after a tough senior year at Maryland where he averaged only 4.7ppg, 4.1rpg, 1.3apg, came back strong as a professional having a stellar rookie season in Cyprus and last season a solid second campaign with Bremerhaven, but injuries struck a chord in his season ending it in November. He was extremely efficient last season and has a nice inside/out game. He will be a huge spark in their offense.The club recently picked up Jordan Loveridge who is a 23 year old 198cm forward that played four strong seasons at Utah(NCAA) averaging in double figures each season in scoring reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2015. Last season as a rookie he split time with  Egis Kormend (Hungary-A Division) playing 17 games averaging 10.5ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.9apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 38.9%, 3FGP: 34.1%, FT: 71.4%; In the FIBA Europe Cup he played 13 games averaging 11.7ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.0apg, 1.3spg, 2FGP: 40.0%, 3FGP: 44.6%, FT: 63.0%, In Feb.’17 moved to BBC Lausanne (Switzerland-LNA) playing 10 games averaging 16.4ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 37.7%, FT: 65.0. It will be interesting to see if the sniper can make the next step to a higher level. His three point accuracy will help BG Goettingen.

The club also signed six Germans with Nico Simon, Dennis Kramer, Dominic Lockhart, Stephen Haukohl, Lennart Larysz and Lennart Stechmanm. Nico Simon is the club´s most valuable German pick up as the 30 year old brings 267 BBL games experience and six international games with the German national team. He is entering his 11th BBL season having played with Alba Berlin, Paderborn, Walter Tigers Tuebingen, medi Bayreuth and the last three years with Braunschweig. Last season he played 28 games averaging 2.5ppg, 1.4rpg and it was his worst statistical season since playing with Alba Berlin. He finished the last few months not being able to hit the ocean as he was under 20% from the field and outside. He will be one of the leaders on the team with Rush and Carter and will need to find back to his old self on the court. The club also reeled in two ex Oldenburg players with Lockhart and Kramer. Both especially Lockhart are striving to accomplish their breakthrough with BG Goettingen. Lockhart played 101 BBL games in four years with Oldenburg and never averaged more than 9,0 minutes per game. Last season he played 43 BBL games averaging 1,7ppg. He is a big guard at 198cm and that gives him important advantages over the smaller ones. His drive and defensive physicality are his strengths, but he can also shoot from outside. He should average more BBL minutes here, but will also need to heighten his game and make the next step. At age 23 he still isn´t done with his basketball development. Kramer is a 25 year old 204cm forward that grew up in Encinitas, California, but also has the German citizenship. He played four years at San Diego (NCAA) and had a strong senior season averaging 11.3ppg, 6.8rpg, FGP: 60.0%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 71.2%. After returning to play at Baunach, he played the last two seasons in Oldenburg amassing 73 BBL games and like Lockhart didn´t get ample minutes. In his two seasons he averaged 5,8 minutes per season and 2,7ppg. Like Lockhart he should average more minutes in Goettingen, but also need to make the next step as his inside out game will be refreshing to see. Haukohl is a 201cm forward and seems like he has been around for ages, but is only 24 years old. He is also one of those players that had to work extra hard to make it to the big show as he toiled in the Pro A for 4 years with Science City Jena, Ehingen and Nurnberg before making the jump to MBC in 2015. Last season he made another step with Science City Jena (BBL) playing 32 games averaging 5.7ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 59.7%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 79.4%. Roijakkers still remembers his 24 point outburst last season in the Jena 102-92 win against them and will hope that he can add a few more games like that this season off the bench. He is a good team player that will get the difficult rebounds and play hustle defense. With Lennart Larysz coming from Wurzburg playing in the Pro B averaging 4.8ppg, 1.8rpg, 2.0apg and Lennart Stechman coming from BG 74 Goettingen II (2.Regionalliga) where he averaged 19,3ppg and was third in the league,  Roijakkers has two hungry and talented Germans waiting in the wings for some minutes.

So where will the journey of BG Goettingen go this season? Without the spirited team basketball that BG Goettingen displayed last season the club would have suffered a different kind of fate. This season Roijakkers will rely on the same tactic of getting everyone involved on the offensive end and playing good team basketball. He must find a way to get that will and desire from his new players to build a new team chemistry that will be able to annoy teams on occasion. Last season the club averaged 77 points per game, but with prolific scorers like Ruoff, Eatherton and Veikalis departed, new guys will have to fill that void. In 15 of 17 games they allowed 80 plus points this showing that they weren´t able to find that needed consistency on the defensive end. They did a pretty good job rebounding last season averaging almost 32 per contest, but with the departure of Scott Eatherton don´t have that real rebounding presence inside and with Dennis Kramer have their tallest player at 204cm. They will need consistent production from Brion Rush and Michael Stockton has to find back to his old self for BG Goettingen not to get into problems in the lower half of the standings. Plus the club needs another reliable scorer like a Veikalis was last season and also at least one German to have a strong season. Roijakkers will give his best to build as competitive team as possible, but he just doesn´t have the depth and talent to be able to get to the playoffs. The club will finish somewhere between 12-16.

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