This season Dragons Rhondorf guard Kameron Taylor has flashed that winning smile on most occasions simply because the regular season was a smashing success and loses weren´t as prevalent as last season where the team was denied the playoffs. On account of his MVP like season where he in most cases than not must have felt like a man playing against boys as scoring at times felt as easy as it was for Russell Westbrook to register triple doubles last season and nailing two back to back triple doubles against BBC Coburg and Dresden kept his smile in constant rotation as basketball life at the moment is in perfect harmony for him and the Dragons Rhondorf. With the regular season history, the playoffs are approaching rapidly and suddenly the Dragons Rhondorf will have to be extra sharp in every game, if they want to continue their quest of reaching the Pro B final and going for another Pro B championship. The club had a two week break until the playoffs begin this Saturday and of course some more valuable time for Taylor to get his warm and childlike smile a workout. He might have been daydreaming here and there while sitting at the annoying red light at the intersection Menzenberger street and Linzer street or waiting for the annoying long German commercials on television to be over imagining just how competitive the head to head duel will be in the next weeks with American Demetrius Ward. His smile may have been extra supercharged recently when he observed the ridiculous James Harden ankle breaker on Los Angeles Clipper Wesley Johnson as he starred him down for a split second and then shot an in your face three to supply you tube world with unending clicks, but was there anything that may have actually postponed that smile or even turned that smile into a sceptical one? Well if the knowledge that the MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel were the Dragons Rhondorf first opponent in the playoffs didn´t then it most likely may have got head coach Thomas Adelt a bit uneasy and hardcore knowledgeable Dragons fans as this opponent is no cake walk. But then again this opponent may actually be a blessing in disguise for the Pro B title contender Dragons Rhondorf. Even if many opposing team´s management think the world of him as this Saturday the representatives of one of the top German pro A teams will be in the Dragon Dome to watch him wheel and deal, Taylor can´t always play hero and in this series the Dragons Rhondorf might have to produce new heroes.
Let´s rewind back a few months. The first few months was like a basketball fairytale as the Dragons Rhondorf was the top team in the Pro B south with the ScanPlus Baskets and had rebounded from their disappointing last season as they were unbeaten at home and were enjoying Kameron Taylor who was a fan favorite and already one of the club´s best players ever after only two months. Two blow out loses to the ScanPlus Baskets and Giessen didn´t damper anyone´s euphoric mindset about what this special team could accomplish. The secret of the success was Kameron Taylor´s inspiring play and MVP numbers that infected the whole team especially the German role players who quickly got adapted to their roles and found a consistency not seen often from so many young German players at the pro B level. Coupled with the coaching mind of Thomas Adelt who developed a healthy atmosphere and helped build a chemistry quickly, fans rapidly fell in love with the team that stunk up the Pro A in 2015 winning only 2 games and last season had to battle in the playdowns to remain in the Pro B. The team did lose the last two games before the Christmas break to Frankfurt, a game they controlled for three quarters despite arriving 10 minutes before tip-off, lost control in the fourth quarter and against Giessen also a game they never should have lost since the opponent arrived with a seven man rotation including three youth players. In those weeks the Dragons Rhondorf were really only playing with one import player as Canadian Kevin Thomas had returned home to tend his sick dad and would never return while only the Latvian lion Ronalds Elknis was on board, but his nonexistent scoring help made it seem like only one import was present. Despite the question marks at the import positions two and three, the Dragons Rhondorf were still the second best team in the Pro B south and fans still had title aspirations in their mind.
As the Dragons Rhondorf returned in 2018 for the second half of the season, they did have two imports, but Ronalds Elknis had departed and American Brandon Watkins had arrived as the ultimate rim protector who had size and length over Thomas, but a tad less offense power. The club started off strong winning five of six games entertaining the home folk with back to back wins against BBC Coburg and Dresden where Kameron Taylor exploded producing stellar triple doubles. The club lost a tough game in Leverkusen where their defense fell apart in the second half, but retaliated with big wins in Munich and beat strong Pro B south playoff teams Schwelm and Iserlohn. All was good in Dragon country as the regular season was winding down and finally the real season could start. However the club did receive a damper at the end losing their last two games as injuries and sickness reared their ugly heads. Rhondorf got whipped at home by title candidate ScanPlus Baskets where they were without point guard Viktor Frankl-Maus, Yannik Kneesch who missed the last five games and Anton Geretzki. They traveled to Karlsruhe on the last game day and lost 87-71 as they were without Frankl-Maus again who had been hit by the flu, Kneesch, Geretzki and Patrick Reus. With no experienced Pro B point guard on the floor for Rhondorf, lowly KIT Karlsruhe had enough depth to beat Rhondorf with ease. With the overall success of the season and euphoric atmosphere in many fans minds, was the season already in jeopardy and possibly abruptly ending in the first round of the playoffs?
MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel enter this season´s playoffs with a similar trend like Rhondorf´s in that they also played in the playdowns last season and played a rejuvenated season this time around finishing sixth with a record of 12-9 while Rhondorf finished third with a record of 15-7. MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel had a slow start losing five of their first seven games, but crawled out of their early grave and then produced a six game winning streak and won eight of nine games. An uncharacteristic three game losing streak partially put a damper in their stretch run, but a timely three game winning streak at the end brings them into the Rhondorf series with some self confidence and momentum something that Rhondorf doesn´t have and will have to gain right away in game one at home with a victory. MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel are a very interesting first round opponent, but also can be an annoying team. They are like many other Pro B teams, the farm team to an easyCRedit BBL team Basketball Lowen Braunschweig. They have four highly talented Germans with Lars Lagerpusch, Luis Figge, Tom Alte and Constantin Ebert who combined share 42 BBL games. The question is always will they all be available for the Pro B or will they be active in the BBL when the Pro B game is. Constantin Ebert has played in every Pro B game, Tom Alte has played in 19 games, Lars Lagerpusch 12 games and Luis Fige six games, but he missed four months due to a tough injury. The four German players combined have a positive 39-20 record when they are playing for MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel. So what does this mean for the Dragons Rhondorf? It means they will have a better chance of winning when they are absent. It´s simple math that anyone would understand and a situation that the Dragons Rhondorf will have to come to terms with already in game one on March 10th, because all four should be in Rhondorf as they will have played BBL the night before in Bayreuth.
Despite the Dragons Rhondorf having the better regular season record and home court advantage and MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel most likely being complete and coming with their BBL license players, the Pro B north team have the slight edge going into the playoffs. Stat wise both clubs have scoring ability as Rhondorf averages 81 points per game and Wolfenbuettel 80 while in the paint area, Rhondorf grab two rebounds more per game then their opponent and on defense had some big games giving up little points, but on average Rhondorf allow 76 points and Wolfenbuettel give up 78 points. Wolfenbuettel are the better shooting team shooting 47% from the field and 36% from outside while Rhondorf shoot 44% from the field, but only 31% from the parking lot. Vital for the Dragons Rhondorf will be to have a top defensive showing right away in game one so that a rhythm will have been established early on. Thomas Adelt has to be extremely concerned about Wolfenbuettel´s dangerous inside out game as they have potent shooters with Ebert, Poschel and Figge and dominating and smart inside players with Alte, Lagerpusch, Thompson and Ole Angerstein who is Wolfenbuettel´s version of Alexander Moeller. If that wasn´t enough, Wolfenbuettel also have their own Kameron Taylor version of Demetrius Ward. He may not have registered any triple doubles this season, but like Taylor he can fill up the stat sheet at ease and go for 20 points or even 30 points on any night. Taylor averaging 6,0 points more than Ward this season won´t make much of a difference in a three game series. Ward like Taylor also is a great rebounder and fills the stat sheet. These guys will have great series, but it will come down to the rest and who steps up. On paper, Wolfenbuettel truly have the advantage and also have more scoring depth and a deeper bench. They have many guys that could be the X-factor. One of those could be young German 22 year old 208cm Ole Angerstein. “What really helped us a lot winning the 8 of 9 was bringing along Ole Angerstein. He is a big force field in the paint and a really good athletic big for us”, stressed MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel forward Tarique Thompson. The Dragons Rhondorf will need a top Alexander Moeller in this series. Of course this is all only true if MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel dress their four BBL license players. If only 1-2 BBL license players play, then the Dragon Rhondorf´s chances become a lot better.
The good news for the Dragons Rhondorf is that they will go into the playoffs fairly healthy. Viktor Frankl-Maus, Anton Geretzki and Patrick Reus will be on board again while Yannik Kneesch won´t return this season. So how will the Dragons Rhondorf win the series. First off, they have to win game one or their magical season could be long over before the first café´s open along the Rhein river. Game one in the Dragon Dome is a classic do or die game for the Dragons Rhondorf. They can´t just play good defense, but they have to play great defense and have to be locked in on the defensive end like never before this season. Rhondorf have strong defenders and will need to have a potent and consistent series from the rim protector Brandon Watkins and get efficient play from the guards Taylor, Frankl-Maus and Reusch to get their transition rolling. They also have to play very good one on one defense something that was suspect at times this season. So far it hasn´t happened this season, but what happens if Kameron Taylor has a serious off day? Then the Dragons could be in real trouble. Players are only human and that is one of the negative effects for teams that boast a top player that they totally rely on and totally carries the team with his offense. Kameron Taylor has been the basketball hero all season long for the Dragons Rhondorf. If he does get limited by MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel then it will be time for other German players to play hero. The Dragons Rhondorf have stuck together all season and when healthy have had strong performances at home sparked by the fabulous atmosphere and support of the home crowd. Even if MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel are an annoying opponent, having drawn them may be a blessing in disguise as right from the get go, Rhondorf have to be focused for a tough opponent. Instead of playing against a weaker opponent and possibly coming into the second round still searching for their real rhythm. With MTV Herzoege Wolfenbuettel, the Dragons Rhondorf will be challenged right away and be forced to produce well. It won´t be an easy task for the Dragons Rhondorf to get by this hurdle, but a few months ago Kameron Taylor warned that the Dragons Rhondorf still want the ultimate goal with the Pro B title. Nothing has changed in the mindset of Taylor and his teammates. The club has a goal and know what they have to do to be successful. They will be focused and with the self confidence of Kameron Taylor leading his teammates into the playoffs, he will continue to infect the club the way he has done all season long with his play in their quest in winning the Pro B title. Kameron Taylor won´t be the only hero in the playoffs, but infect new heroes.