Ok so you won´t see a Baseball plate in the Dragon Dome, but moreover many white plates in the VIP room to help hungry people wet their appetites during games, but the way the Dragons Rhondorf have started into the 2019-2020 Regionalliga season, one definitely can use that well known American phrase “when will the real Dragons Rhondorf finally step up to the plate. In English terms, the plate is the base in baseball that players stand next to and try to hit the ball as far and accurate as possible and also the base that a player needs to reach in order to gain a run to help the team be successful. A sound definition for this phrase is “to take responsibility for doing something, even though it is difficult”. One could also define it as when will the Dragons Rhondorf finally play up to their potential instead of just showing flashes? After many years in the Pro B, the Dragons Rhondorf have found themselves this season in the Regionalliga a place quite foreign to them and so far it´s been an up and down struggle. Of course the expectations are very high, but the club went over board during the summer to construct a very competitive roster, but so far the club haven´t fulfilled their expectations and rest in sixth place of the West standings with a solid 3-3 record, but somehow their performances haven´t really satisfied anyone yet in Dragons country. So when will the real Dragons Step up to the plate.
After losing their first game on the road, the Dragons Rhondorf rebounded well winning three games in a row and it seemed like they were on a good way, but then they fell into a rut and lost two games in a row and suddenly the pointing fingers and reasons for the up and down play start to slowly pop up. After the disappointing 97-91 loss to BBG Herford a game they could have won after they cut the 17 point lead down to 2 points with a little than a minute to play in the fourth quarter, Dragons Rhondorf import player Curtis Hollins was there in body during the interview, but also entangled in his own thoughts about suffering another loss. His face looked like he had just seen a ghost. Ok so the Dragon Dome isn´t as ancient as the former Boston Garden, but there have been some amazing games and players perform their magic in the gym over the last 20 plus years that perhaps some ghosts may have made the gym their new home. Hollis had that look on his face as if his best friend had just told him that his neighborhood Mcdonalds in Arlington, Texas had closed for ever or if his doctor had told him that he could never jump through the roof again. Times are hard for the Dragons Rhondorf at the moment and Hollis isn´t pleased with how things are going. In the interview he kept repeating himself that the team just wasn´t ready to play. He was definitely correct in that assumption. He also admitted that he wasn´t always mentally there on the floor like his teammates and that he was frustrated with how his team played. But as a leader of the team, he didn´t want to show any negative emotions on the court, but instead continued to fight as hard as he could and came up with vital baskets and plays in the come back at the end. But at the end of 40 minutes, his 24 points meant nothing, because the ex Pro A team couldn´t secure the dub. A big problem in the loss to BBG Herford was the overall effort. It was there at times, but then again was totally missing in other spots. One has to wonder how this talented and hungry team aren´t mentally prepared? It is a problem that has to be corrected. Fixing mistakes is a harder task then just showing up to games. The effort has to be there for 40 minutes every game and the club has to be ready every game.
Ok so a 3-3 record isn´t the end of the world, but when playing in a very competitive West Regionalliga division, one has to be aware that jockeying for the crucial playoff spots won´t be a cake walk. When looking at the three Dragons loses, one quickly notices that in two of the three games, they were able to put up points on the board averaging 85 points, but still lost. The big problem with this team has been their defense. In their three wins, the club came to defend and gave up 74 points per game, but in their three loses gave up 90 points per game. The club definitely reached their early season low point in the loss to BBG Herford. They had some good moments on defense, but really only very little. In their come back run in the fourth quarter, they were able to stick together and play good team defense. But what happened for the other 32-33 minutes of the game? It was a disaster. After a while, I lost count of how many back door buckets were given up. BBG Herford were burning the Dragons Rhondorf on this play all afternoon long. After a while, it was no fun seeing easy basket after easy basket being made by the opponent. The man to man defense was weak as was keeping an eye on the three point line as BBG Herford was able to sink three pointers at their will. The rotations were nonexistent and the rebounding work was weak as the opponent dominated on the offensive glass. The Dragons Rhondorf have a very talented team and really can grow into a potent defensive team, but there has to be more harmony and communication and most important a defensive anchor. Who could be that player? I feel that task could be split with the trio of Curtis Hollis, Gabriel De Olveira and Killian Binapfel. The club needs an identity on defense and needs that defensive leader now. Currently the team is scoring 83 points per game, but allowing 82 points per game. The club needs to carve down their points allowed so they can have better chances of winning games.
The Dragons Rhondorf will score many points this season. They have that all around big talent in Curtis Hollins who will continue to fill the stat sheet and two very valuable German players in Gabriel De Olveira and Killian Binapfel who are the consistent scoring German players that they didn´t have last season. They also have a reborn Anish Sharda who at 37 became a daddy again and still sprouts that fountain of youth and will be a big key between where the club lands in the standings in March 2020 depending whether he can be that fourth consistent scorer. I feel he will be that consistent scorer. He continues to play with unending aggressive energy and has good accuracy at knocking down three´s. If Jure Besedic and Jeffrey Martin can give scoring stability on occasion and step up on nights when a known scorer is having an off night, then this will be a very consistent scoring team this season. But in order to be successful on a consistent basis the team finally have to defend with a passion. That passion to defend against BBG Herford was as far away as ex NBA player Greg Monroe is from ever wearing a Dragons Rhondorf jersey. If the Dragons Rhondorf can find that much needed identity on defense soon then there should be a positive turn around in the play of the club. The club now have a big weekend coming up where they can make amends. They will have back to back games within a 24 hour period something quite unusual in German basketball. They begin with a cup game Friday on the road against second Regionalliga team DJK Erftbaskets Bad Munstereifel and on Saturday return to league play visiting SV Haspe 07 that currently have a 2-4 record. This is a great opportunity for the club to get back on the winning track and upping their self confidence again with two successful experiences. Both games are winnable and losing won´t be acceptable. The club is young and will have it´s growing pains this season. One has to be patient. It will take some time to tweak the defense, but it will happen in time. The last thing anyone wants to see is a depressed Curtis Hollis, because his warm smile will light up any room from Arlington, Texas via London to Bad Honnef. As soon as one sees Curtis Hollins boasting that wide smile again as if some of that late Texas summer had found it´s way to Bad Honnef where the American now calls home then it will be obvious that Dragons basketball have finally stepped up to the plate.