Pete Strobl has been around the European basketball scene for 20 years having had a stellar professional basketball career and now is an assistant coach for German easyCredit BBL team ratiopharm Ulm. He played at Niagara (NCAA) from 1997-2000 and then had a 9 year professional playing career that took him to countries like Germany, Austria, France, Ireland, Iceland and Switzerland. He founded The Scoring Factory in Pittsburgh and wrote a must read book called Backspin. He is a very interesting basketball mind that doesn´t shy away from speaking his mind especially on Twitter. German Hoops and Pete Strobl will team up every so often talking basketball with the title “Current basketball affairs with Pete Strobl. You can follow Pete Strobl on twitter @petestrobl
1. The playoffs are right around the corner and it seems like ratiopharm ulm has made a really strong push lately. What’s been the difference?
We’ve definitely done well the past few weeks in locking in and winning some very important games. I think it’s a combination of a lot of factors, but overall our guys have grown together and the team chemistry has helped us to finish off some very tight games. I’m not sure we were ready to do that yet in the beginning of the season. As a coach who cares deeply about player development and spends a lot of time analyzing ways to stimulate and implement growth, it’s rewarding to see a group of individuals come together when it matters most. Obviously we still have a few games left in the regular season, but it seems like we’re finally on track. My own personal goal is to finish the regular season strong, and then attack each round of the playoffs step by step until we lift the championship trophy. I know that might sound optimistic to some, but why else would you compete unless your goal is to win the championship?
2. What are your plans for next season and beyond?
It’s too early to think that far ahead as we still have this season to finish before I can even start to think about that. As you know, my goal is to be a head coach and I would love to stay in Germany. It’s a beautiful country and I can’t say enough nice things about how great it’s been for our family as a whole. I’m also open to going to a new country if the opportunity presents itself. I’ve had the good fortune of seeing some amazing parts of the world through basketball and I’m open to new challenges and adventures. If there’s a team out there looking for somebody like me to lead their program, I’m willing to listen. I think people that know me understand how I’m wired and the manner in which I operate. I pride myself on leadership, communication, discipline, knowledge and the ability to build. So, that’s my future plan, but first my entire focus is on doing everything in my power to help us finish this season with a championship parade.
3. You tweeted recently about the concept of developing local players to build enough talent for a Bundesliga team. Do you think this is feasible?
I love discussing things like this. I think there are a lot of challenges and hurdles to this sort of proposition, but it’s definitely possible. Imagine the positive impact that could have on a city, their fan base and sponsors to see a team comprised of their own locally developed players. That’s the type of continuity that builds longevity as opposed to the yearly changing of foreigners as if they were mercenaries. It’s not very often that a club is able to keep a player long enough to develop him into a local legend like Per Günther or Rickey Paulding.
That tweet kind of developed into a thread with a wide range of ideas and sub topics and it was really interesting to see it take on a life of its own. I enjoy healthy debate and it’s interesting to hear and read the viewpoints of other basketball minds. The variables that developed basically discussed the viability of taking 1,000 U12 players from a 100km radius and working with them over a period of 10 years to produce a team of 10 top level players. This requires a high level of planning, vision and above all patience. The risk is being able to keep the core group together once they start to attract the attention from bigger clubs who are able to offer larger contracts.
I think this theoretical problem is enjoyable to dissect and hopefully challenges clubs to spend more time, effort and energy diving into developing their own long-term prospects. Just developing them in the youth levels isn’t enough however as they need minutes at the higher levels to gain experience while learning from their mistakes. Germany has more players than ever before playing in the NBA and many players with meaningful roles on BBL teams. It’s a great start, but the potential for me is there. Whoever invests in the youth now, will reap huge rewards down the road.