At the end of August, a quick and flashy point guard by the name of Dee Davis was testing out the Osthalle floor in his new Giessen home against the Fraport Skyliners in a pre-season game and wasn´t impressing anyone. The American with two professional seasons under his belt was taking hurried low percentage jumpers and driving to the hole into a brick ball and missing shots on a regular basis and the first moans were surfacing and cries for Cameron Wells to return who had been an important piece to the rapid ascension of the club the last years from the Pro A back to the BBL and almost to the playoffs. One could easily observe that Davis had a lot of talent, but was a little wild. He did make some acrobatic shots and made some fine kick out passes finding the open man, but after that game nobody was really convinced he could fill the shoes of Wells. Three and half months later nobody in Giessen is remembering that early pre-season game against Frankfurt anymore and possibly not reminiscing all to much anymore about Wells. One can say now that never rate the ability of a player after one game or two or maybe three especially if it´s the pre-season where teams and players are still working on finding their game within the team structure. Davis is a 24 year old 183cm point guard from Bloomington, Indiana that has overcome early question marks and is making the grade with the Giessen 46ers. Davis is one of many guys that enter the BBL each season looking to make the next step in a much higher and skilled league coming from a lesser league. Sometimes players pan out and sometimes they don´t as the Frankfurt Skyliners found out with Jimmie Hunt who couldn´t make it in the BBL coming as the top scorer with Kemoplast Alpos Sentjur (Slovenia-1A), but did go on to other countries finding his mark and is still playing today in Bulgaria at age 35. Just like Hunt, Davis played his first two seasons in Slovenia with Rogaska Crystal (Slovenia-Liga NovaKBM) leading the team to the final last season and leaving his mark as third top scorer averaging 16.3ppg, 2.9rpg, Assists-4(5.0apg), 1.5spg, FGP: 54.1%, 3PT: 37.8%, FT: 75.6%. The question was right away could the American make the next step in the BBL. He certainly wasn´t lacking in self confidence as in June after being acquired by Giessen he already was sprouting bold predictions about not only making the grade, but more than that. “Of course, I believe in any league I could make an impact”, warned Dee Davis. He has held on to his warning and stat wise totally panned out and helped Giessen be a team currently in the hunt for the playoffs something Giessen isn´t expected to do.” I would describe myself as an aggressive playmaker who’s does what he has to, to help his team win”, stressed Dee Davis. Aggressive he has been and helped lead the team to some big wins. After 11 games he is averaging 14,8ppg, 2,3rpg and 4,7apg, 1,5spg and is shooting a respectable 33% from downtown in 31 minutes per game. He scored in double figures in nine of his first 11 games. Right away in his second game he held his own against top team Brose Bamberg having them near the brink of defeat losing 87-84 as he steered 11 points, dished out eight assists and had three steals. A week later he helped Giessen beat dark horse title favorite Ludwigsburg 83-81 producing 16 points, grabbing four rebounds and getting five dimes while picking his spots and having sound shot selection. Another game that showed he had landed in the BBL was his 20 point and 10 assist game in the 107-99 win against MBC. But one also has to give head coach Ingo Freyer a lot of credit as he has been known for years to bring in those underdog type guards and helped them mature as he showed with Davin White, Zamal Nixon and Brandon Jefferson when he coached Phoenix Hagen. “I believe I can adjust to whatever style of play, but I enjoy getting up and down the court”, added Dee Davis. And that he has and it will be interesting to see where the rest of this season´s journey will go for the ex Xavier standout as so far he has been a refreshing new face to the BBL that has made the most of his opportunity.
That the Giessen 46ers are one of the traditional BBL teams that last won the league title in 1978 belong in the top league is nothing new, but their short two year stay in the Pro A was difficult to digest for the hardcore fans, but the club has made a solid transition back almost reaching the playoffs last season landing in ninth place. Then head coach Denis Wucherer did an excellent job in his four years digging the club out of it´s seemingly grave in 2013 and bringing it back to the BBL and helping restore it´s reputation again. A big strength last season of Giessen was having a group of guys with Cameron Wells, Dwayne Evans, Justin Sears and Skyler Bowlin who weren´t big name players, but all guys who were able to have solid seasons and prove that they could make the next jump as all had not had any real BBL experience. Wucherer did an excellent job distributing the roles and all had solid production from his core of Germans. The team overachieved to the fullest and that is credited to the coaching ability of Wucherer who decided to take a new challenge with attempting to bring another team to the BBL with the ambitious club RheinStars Cologne. The question this season is can new head coach Ingo Freyer take over the reigns successfully from Wucherer? So far Giessen under his guidance has been refreshing as his team has proved in the first few months that Giessen is a team that nobody can underestimate.
Ingo Freyer came to Giessen having had the misfortune of leaving a bankrupt Phoenix Hagen team where he had coached from 2007 leaving his mark bringing the team to the BBL and reached the playoffs in 2013. He had no easy task building a new, but also competitive team in Giessen despite the sparse budget. The club was able to keep only three players with Janis Manigat, Marco Voeller who recently moved to FRankfurt and Benjamin Lischka. EX Creighton(NCAA) Canadian Janis Manigat has been solid already improving his stats from last season and has been a consistent performer from the bench. Lischka is the identity figure of the club being there since 2013. Lischka has had his best season in his third BBL season averaging almost 10 points per game and being his usual aggressive self in the paint area and being a real durable contributer. Only Voeller hasn´t didn´t find a rhythm yet or found a permanent spot in the rotation after he hadn´ seemed to have recovered from having to sit out three months on account of doping and moved to the Fraport Skyliners. Besides Davis, the club also got Americans Austin Hollins and Jamar Abrams who both haven´t disappointed. Hollins who played at Minnesota(NCAA) and in France(PRO B) and Finland has made the next step in the BBL and belonged to the leaders of the team. He has been a consistent scorer and is shooting an overwhelming 47% from outside. After a slow start, he had huge 20 plus scoring games against Tuebingen, MBC, Oldenburg and Alba Berlin. He also has been a difference maker on the defensive end holding the team together. Abrams also has made the next step who played at E Carolina(NCAA) before turning professional. He brings a lot of experience to the BBL and after tearing up the Slovenian and Romanian leagues where he belonged to it´s top scorers, he also has been a legitimate scorer for Giessen. He has had his up and downs, but had big games against Bamberg, Gotha, Jena and Bayreuth. He also has proven to be a worthy asset on the offensive glass. The key signing didn´t happen until late when the team released Kayel Locke and hauled in three time BBL rebounding champion John Bryant. Many didn´t understand why he was brought in as he seemed unsuitable for the fast paced Giessen game, but so far no one is complaining. After last season where he seemed washed up, Bryant is as strong as ever at age 30 and averaging 12 and 9 stats and averaging the most assists in his BBL career near 3,0. Bryant has had some downs, but mostly ups having 14/13 stats against Bamberg and 16 points in win against Ludwigsburg. He has proven to be that missing offensive piece and leader that the young team needs. Max Landis who played at IPFW (NCAA) also has been a pleasant surprise after having some growing pains last season as a rookie with Crelan Okapi Aalstar (Belgium-Euromillions League). He also has made the next step and averaged 13,2ppg, 2,5rpg and 3,5apg while shooting 46% from outside. His absence has hurt that club as that addidtional playmaker with big scoring qualities has been gone. The two new German Mahir Agva and Mauricio Marin have been sound additions off the bench.
The Giessen 46ers have done a great job being one of those pesky teams doing everything they can to annoy teams and just being a real thorn in the side of every team they play. They started off slowly losing their first three games, but since then have a very inspiring 5-4 record. Somewhat of a surprise is their potent offensive attack as they average 84 points per contest fourth best in the BBL. They also have had that aggressive touch on the boards hauling down 36 rebounds per game second best in the league which was strengthened drastically by the key signing of John Bryant. Their only real big weakness is their defense as they allow 87 points per game 16th worst in the league. Freyer knows what it´s like from his Hagen days where big scoring shoot outs was as normal as John Bryant getting double doubles back in the day with ratiopharm Ulm. So far this season Giessen had only two shoot outs against the Walter Tigers Tuebingen and Mitteldeutscher BC and won both. They defended very well against Science City Jena and Bremerhaven allowing an average of only 66 points per game. They showed a lot of discipline in these games and defended with a passion something they need to get back to. On paper this team is not a playoff team, but with a little luck could be a candidate late in the season like they were last season. The club has more experience than last season and talentwise aren´t any worse than last season. Head coach Freyer has done a great job in the early going getting a game plan and defining the roles pretty well. This team will have nothing to do with the fear of moving down, but the playoffs will only be reality if they learn to play as a team on defense. Last season Giessen allowed only 77 points per game 10 points less than this season. If they can improve and get near that, then they could be a very interesting team in the second half if their consistent scoring continues to surface.