The Miles Basketball Minute: The Fraport Skyliners Don´t Win Pretty But Winning Is All That Counts

One of my all-time favorite movies is Dirty Harry which stars Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood. It came out in 1970, but I remember watching it for the first time in the 80´s with my dad on Boston´s local channel 38 featured in the movie loft. Eastwood who made the line “Make my day” famous was already a well known actor in the 60´s thanks to his Cowboy spaghetti Westerns, but it was his Dirty Harry character that propelled him to legendary status and a Hollywood star. With 71 acting credits to his resume, the 2004 Academy Award winner for Million Dollar Baby is mostly recognized for his Dirty Harry character. But it isn´t just that super hero type of character that he propels that is so appealing to the fans, but he also has a certain special charm and humor with his lines that helped make the Dirty Harry movies and the ones that followed so appetizing to watch. I remember in one scene during the end of the movie where the movies main villain Andy Robinson who should have gotten an Oscar for his amazing portrayal of the mean Scorpio character get beat up to fool the San Francisco police in hoping they will believe it was Eastwood´s character who was harassing him, because he hadn´t been charged with a brutal teenage murder. There are many things that aren´t beautiful to watch like for instance how the New York Knicks have lost games the last years or how the Buffalo Bills could never win the Superbowl or how Scorpio was brutally beat up. He wanted every penny´s worth and got it as his face was all bashed up as make up did a great job making the beating look more authentic. These last examples weren´t beautiful to watch and so hasn´t the last two Fraport Skyliners wins against the Hamburg Towers and ratiopharm Ulm. In both games it looked like they could have lost and would be 0-5 at the moment instead of 2-3 if it hadn´t been for Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson hitting big money shots and playing top defense. A colleague of mine had to force himself to watch the Hamburg game and stated afterward that it had been the worst display of basketball that he had ever seen from the Frankfurt squad. But hey it doesn´t matter how ugly a game is, all that matters at the end is getting the dub. I reach Adam Waleskowski at mid day on a cold late October day a day before Halloween where he was walking his dog in Nidda park and it never gets bored with him when talking basketball or Halloween. “Not winning pretty has been a big statement for us in the last weeks. We lost a couple of tough close games, but the win against Hamburg was a major confidence builder and then winning on the road in Ulm made it all the better. Tez stepped up big for us forcing turnovers and hitting big shots. Mo Jones played a great game and carried us, but everyone expects that. We finally have figured out what it takes to win dog fight games even if we didn´t play our best”, stressed Fraport Skyliner Adam Waleskowski.

                After losing two nail bitters to the Telekom Baskets Bonn and FC Bayern Munich, the Fraport Skyliners beat Hamburg and Ulm, but even if the victories weren´t pretty one has began to see gradual progress in the game of the 2004 BBL champion. “I believe the two most important aspects has been team play and confidence. Everyone is settling into their roles trying to be able to help the best way and how to help the team win. I think that if we can work on consistency and execute better instead of having these ups and down and keep the runs on the positive side then I think that we will be ok”, stressed Adam Waleskowski. The team has been played ok offense considering they have been without starting point guard Anthony Hickey s out with an injury since the start of the season. The team has the potential to be a very good offensive team and also the potential to be a very good defensive team. Playing hard and aggressive defense has been the motto under Gordon Herbert for years and current head coach Sebastian Gleim is a coach that also followed the lead in the last years with the Fraport Skyliners Pro B team and NBBL team. The season is still very young and a lot of time for the club to keep getting better each day. “I think that our defense has improved. We are playing solid not doing anything special. We are playing a solid 5 man defense something the club has been known for. To get the defensive schemes down, trust is important. We have picked up the intensity and done a good job with deflections and hands on balls. Playing better defense has led to easy offense instead of having to always work a half court offense. We also have been executing better on offense in the half court. We have been doing a good job when forcing turnovers pushing the ball forward and getting easy baskets”, stressed ex Florida State forward Adam Waleskowski. With the team being only 2-3, the club is clearly a better team than what it´s record displays. “That is how it works in the BBL. Some games go in your favor while others don´t. We played well in Bonn, but then a zone screwed us and against Munich we played great, but lost. Our record could be a lot better. We lost Hickey before the season and it´s been tough for Mo Jones learning the system and having to play point guard.”, warned Adam Waleskowski.

                Anthony Hickey is expected back this weekend when the Fraport Skyliners return back to their living room meeting medi Bayreuth. Lamont Jones who has been a scoring ace where ever he has played starting in Iona(NCAA) all the way to the BBL with MBC and Ludwigsburg has had to take over as the point guard and done as well as he could. If you compare his stats of 19,4ppg and 6,6apg to all the other point guards in the BBL, he ranks up at the top. So what is with the increased criticism about his unselfish play and not adequate playmaking play? Sometimes stats tell a different story, but one can´t forget that Jones is a pure scorer that has been forced into a role that he isn´t used to. He has done a pretty good job under the circumstances having been put into cold water right before the start of the season. He has won games on his own so far in the short season, but the knock on his game is simply the moments where he relies more on his one on one qualities and others may see his choices as being unselfish. “Jones has done a solid job as point guard as it isn´t his traditional position. Coach gives him a lot of freedom. Sometimes when he creates for himself, it looks selfish, but it really isn´t. He is just trying to get everyone on the same page and help the team play better. He sometimes takes bad shots, but he has the talent to take over and make shots when he needs to. He makes tough shots and shots at the end of the shot clock which not everyone can make”, added Adam Waleskowski. The Germans Richard Freudenberg who is hoping for his true Skyliners break through year and big man Leon Kratzer have continued to perform well and it will be interesting to see if they can be consistent on a regular basis. “Richie´s shot as taken off. He is shooting a lot better now than at the beginning of the season. He also has played solid defense at the 4 position. Leon has played great in the post taking up a lot of space and just being a presence. Both have been rebounding the ball well and Leon holds the fort down in the front court”, said Adam Waleskowski. Akeem Vargas has been one of the big surprises this season and Shaquille Hines is starting to get his game on track after a strong performance in Ulm, but the only question mark has been rookie Matt Mcquaid. After a stellar senior season at Michigan State, he came to Frankfurt wanting to shine as a rookie, but so far has been struggling. His situation may look a lot different would he be playing more than 11,2 minutes per game. Getting that hot shooting night is all he needs to change his season around. “Making the transition from college to the pro´s overseas isn´t always easy. It just takes more time than for others. He is one of those guys that just needs more time. All he needs is a break out game. He can shoot the ball as well as anyone in the league. I think that when he gets in rhythm, he will get more trust from coach and his minutes will rise”, stressed Adam Waleskowski.  Look for Mcquaid getting on track when Anthony Hickey is back and can get him in even better position to score than before.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Adam Waleskowski in the Fraport arena in 2019

                November has arrived and this is a very critical point of the season that could make or break the Fraport Skyliners. In the next 5 games, 4 are winnable against Bayreuth, MBC, Wurzburg and BG Goettingen. The four teams have a current combined record of 3-16. Of course if Frankfurt makes life difficult for themselves, then they could easily lose 3 of the 4 games. Brose Bamberg will be a tough game, but really Frankfurt can beat anyone on a good day as the close loss to FC Bayern Munich demonstrated. But first things are first. Medi Bayreuth is the first opponent on the menu this weekend. Medi Bayreuth come into the contest on the road like a wounded animal as they are still seeking their first victory of the season. A few days ago, they announced the departure of Matt Haufer who had constructed the roster with head coach Raoul Korner and despite having much talent, it becomes apparent that this team wasn´t constructed properly. The good old days of reaching the 2017 BBL semi-finals with guys like Demon Brooks and Trey Lewis are still remembered fondly. They brought in some high profile players like Bryce Alford son of the great Steve Alford who played in the NBA and coaches UCLA(NCAA) and Reid Travis who balled at Stanford(NCAA) together with German prospect Oscar Da Siva. The team´s biggest problems has been a non meshing of defense and team chemistry and not enough bite from the role players. Even if the Fraport Skyliners have an abundance of self confidence with their two game winning streak, this will be one difficult battle. Every new loss for medi Bayreuth will put more turmoil into the ball club. “Bayreuth are winless and need that first win. It will be a dog fight of a game. They are playing Fiba Europe Cup games and maybe we can use that extra burden that they have to our advantage. Key for winning for us will be limiting bad possessions and making turnovers”, stressed Adam Waleskowski. Halloween will have been two days old when the Fraport Skyliners step on the floor on Saturday to take on battle with medi Bayreuth as Waleskowski remembers the day where candy is king. “When I was growing up in Ohio I can remember one Halloween when I was 9 or 10 when we had three feet of snow. I went as a skeleton I remember seeing that in the Karate Kid 2. I loved getting Reece´s Peanut Butter Cups and always asking for them”,joked Adam Waleskowski. With Halloween still being somewhat in some people´s minds on Saturday, I asked Adam how the Fraport Skyliners could scare medi Bayreuth best? He began with a Tez joke, but with all courtesy to the Skyliner legend, refrain from mentioning it here. He then answered in basketball terms. “I think that we can scare them with starting with an alley-op dunk or beginning with a 25-0 run. Now that would scare them”, joked Adam Waleskowski. When the ball is jumped on Saturday, Halloween will be long forgotten as 10 players on the court go to battle just wanting to win at all costs even if it means not allowing the game to be pretty. All that counts is the win and nothing else. The Fraport Skyliners will take any win now at this early stage of the season no matter how ugly it is.

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