Chris Hortman is a 29 year old 190cm guard from Milwaukee, Wisconsin that is playing his second season in Germany and first with the EN Baskets Schwelm. Last season he played for the TVI Basketball SWAP Ballers Ibbenbueren (Germany-Regionalliga) playing 26 games: Score-1(25.0ppg), 9.7rpg, 5.1apg, 2.9spg, FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 42.4%, FT: 76.9%. He got vast experience in the states before turning professional playing at various schools like Milwaukee Area Tech JC (JUCO), Missouri Valley (NAIA), Wisc.-Stout (NCAA3) where as a senior he played 27 games averaging 14.7ppg, 5.6rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 42.2%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 85.5%. He also played with the Gold Coast Rollers (Australia-SBL) in 2014 averaging 28,6ppg. He spoke to German Hoops after the 76-63 win against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors in Frankfurt.
Chris thanks for talking to german hoops. The EN Baskets Schwelm are 3-0 at the moment. How good is basketball life for you presently?
Life is good right now our team is winning and I’m playing descent. Excited for what is to come of this season.
Congrats on the 76-63 victory in Frankfurt against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors. It was a game where you were never really in danger of losing. In comparison to the first two games, where would you rate the teams third performance?
I think this was a real character check game. Our opponent was a very young team, but also talented. We were able to jump out and be aggressive with them on both ends of the floor which resulted in an early lead. The game went on and they made their run. As a team, we never folded, we stuck together and the bench came in the game and made big plays. This game really shows who we are, a deep experienced group with talent in every position that can hurt you!
The EN Baskets Schwelm shot ok, but dominated the boards. What do you feel was key for getting the third win in a row in the Pro B?
I believe there was two main factors first, our bigs. Sasa, Dario and Sebastian did an amazing job bodying up and boxing out and keeping them off the glass. And our teams defense. Really trusting each other and finishing out the defensive possessions with the rebounds.
Is there a secret to why the EN Baskets Schwelm have started off so well?
No secret. Just old fashion hard work and attention to detail
l How key is the team´s experience and early season chemistry gelling?
It’s everything. We got tons of guys with experience and being able to put it all together has been the most important part of our season so far.
The EN Baskets Schwelm are averaging giving up only 66 points per game. The communication has been spot on. What do you feel can still be improved on the defensive end?
Defensively we have been great but yeah I do think there is room for improvement. Just more communication to each other and more intensity on keeping your man under maximum pressure without fouling.
The club has so many experienced guys like Mikutis, Schroetter or Fiorentino as well as Cuic. If you had to have the annoying choice as to which guy has especially been most vital in your adjustment to the Pro B who would it be?
Choosing would be tough they all play their roll, each one of them help me make the adjustment and they all give me little things that they think will help maximize my talents on and off the court.
Jean-Louis Marley was a one man wrecking crew in the paint hitting 5 tough buckets in traffic in the second half. The team has a special name for him and how important is it to have him on the court?
Yeah, Marly was amazing for us in the second half. We actually have a nick name for him and its Bully Bob. He is our toughness; he is our Ron Artest. He brings intensity every practice and games that foresee the rest of us to match his level.
How important do you feel are you for a guy like Matthias Perl? Granted he has BBL experience and has played at a high level, but it seems like he is especially motivated more with you on the court. Does his playmaking precision give you some freedom to not always have to create for others, but concentrate on scoring and other things which you excel at?
Yes, playing with him is great. He has an uncanny ability to get into the lane with ease sucking all the defense then having the ability to make the pass to the open man. Having him on the court defiantly relives me of the play making and just lets me relax and focus on putting the ball in the basket.
Your putting up great numbers through three games averaging 21,3ppg, 12,3rpg and 4,7 apg. How content have you been with how you have arrived in the Pro B?
Not too content. Don’t think I ever will, maybe when I have a game of 100% field goals and no turn overs then I’ll probably want more rebounds and assists, but I am very excited about what this year could be for me if things keep going at this pace and our club keeps winning games!
You told me after the game that a big difference to the Regionalliga is the speed. What other factors have been challenging for you making this new step?
I’ve got used to the speed and now the main challenge is just learning and adjusting to my teammates. Making sure I can help put them in situations where they are successful as well.
What was really interesting to see in the Frankfurt game was that you didn´t need the ball right away and take the first shots and score many points, but allowed other guys to get involved first. Do you always take what the defense gives you or first look to get the team going before you start to get to work on scoring?
Honestly its more about what the team needs. Other players were in rhythm, so it was more about me finding where else I could impact the game.
What will be key for you to keep consistency intact this season?
Simple. Stay in the gym. Get up quality reps. Bring it every practice. Listen to the coach and things will go to plan!
How important will the mental side be for your development as a player continuing this season in the Pro B? What are you focusing most on in your defensive game so that you will continue to be a high impact defender in the Pro B?
I believe mentality is the most important when it comes to any form of completion. For me developing my mentality will come with dedication and continually pushing myself to get better and not accepting mediocre. Defensively I’m just focusing on the coach’s game plan on how we want to play defense and then just making it tough for my opponent.
In recent days the it wasn´t so much the talk about Lonzo Ball in La La land but Kyle Kuzmar. Is he the real deal? Can he become an impact player with Ball around?
Yeah I think Kyle is going to be a baller and having ball around will only help him. It will be interesting about what type of season they can put together.
How do you summarize the Kyrie Irving/Isaiah Thomas trade? Which team got the better deal and will profit most from in the long run?
This trade was about one team getting rid of a guy who didn’t want to be there anymore and another team who needed a major piece to the team to beat Lebron. Who better than the guy who just left his team with high ambitions to be him. I think it’s a win in for both teams in the long run!
What do you see the Oklahoma Thunder doing this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony on board? Can they make a run in the west?
I see them being another power house in the west. The MVP and 2 All Stars, they will make the playoffs just a matter of how bad do they really want to win after that.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Chris for the chat.