The Miles Basketball Minute: The Dragons Rhondorf Have To Learn To Love To Play Defense

With a few minutes left in the Dragons Rhondorf-BG Hagen game, young German Simas Lukosius made a bucket hitting the magical 100 points. In Germany it is normal in the basketball sport that the player that makes the 100 points has to buy a full round for the whole team. Usually this is connected as a very joyous moment, but at that moment the game was still tight as the Dragons Rhondorf were inching their way to a victory. Despite the Dragons Rhondorf pulling out another win 104-96 over BG Hagen under new head coach Yassin Idbihi, Lukosius probably was spared the stress of buying enough drinks as the team had other worries. The Dragons Keep winning games despite presenting an unstable defense. Even if the style of the Dragons Rhondorf isn´t run and gun a style that was made famous in Germany by Phoenix Hagen under head coach Ingo Freyer more than 10 years ago, the scores sure look similar to what Phoenix Hagen was putting up then. The Dragons Rhondorf have a perfect 4-0 record under new head coach Yassin Idbhi and have been able to score as easily as the Crailsheim Merlins have been able to have the surprising success early in the BBL season, but they also let up a lot of points. For Yassin Idbi way too many points. In the four game winning streak the Dragons Rhondorf have averaged scoring 102 points and given up n average of 83 points per game. Teams always get into slumps or get injuries, these are all obstacles that could affect the Dragons at any time. What happens if they have a few off shooting nights and don´t come ready to defend? Then the start of a losing streak could happen quicker that Enric Garrido Foz can sprint to the hole with the ball. Scoring  a lot of points and giving up a lot of points is very risky and something that Yassin Idbihi wants to avoid.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Curtis Hollis after the win over BG Hagen in Rhondorf

                The offense is no problem and have been great this season. They have scored 80 points or more nine times and learned early on that sharing the ball leads to success. They already had that unselfishness and extra pass mentality instilled under ex ehad coach Markus Rowenstrunk. They have many many scoring options. Curtis Hollis led the way at the start and guys have been following his lead ever since. Hollis now doesn´t have to score right away, but can let other guys get into a groove and then gradually along the way gest his offense going and makes it a habit to react to what the defense gives him instead of forcing to much. Hollis in fact is way to good for the Regionalliga West. He can score at anytime if he wanted to, but this league is also a great opportunity to tweak his playmaking skills as he continues to build his game for higher leagues and opportunities. Killian Binapl became a prolific scorer under Idbihi averaging 24,0ppg in the first 3 games under the new coach. His self confidence has risen dramatically. A sore spot in the last years was having that strong German big man. This season they have one in Gariel De Olveira who is his own wrecking crew in the paint. While young Mark Kotieno profited from De Olveria last weekend playing a BBL game in Vechta, was inserted into the starting lineup and delivered a career high 25 points. De Olveria and Kotieno could be the best 1-2 German big man duo this season. With Slovenian Jure Besedic the club has a very versatile big man who won´t put up big stats in his minutes, but if he had to play 25-30 minutes would probably achieve double double stats. The back court duo of Anish Sharda and Enric Garrido Foz total 74 years and 34 years of basketball experience and no team in the Regionalliga can boast such a talented and experienced back court. Sharda gives you that reliable three pointer, but at the same time is an unselfish player that has the perfect knowledge of knowing when to finish and when to create for others. Foz gives you that controlled playmaking and at any time lay up that he can generate with his speedy Gonzalez quickness. German Jeffery Martin started the season slow, but has had some good games in the last weeks and can give much needed scoring punch at anytime. Bearing no unfortunate injuries, this club will continue to score at ease and fans will see many more 100 point games this season.

                But what about the defensive end? Will the instability ever turn into stable defense? After the fourth win in a row, head coach Yassin Idbihi didn´t shy away during the press conference to speak his mind. He stated that the Dragons defense was a catastrophe. I mean why should he lie, he was totally right. 10 minutes after the press conference, I bumped into him after he had exited the VIP room and had come back to strength with some delicious food after the win and I congratulated him on the win. I then didn´t hesitate to mention that the club needs to improve their defense. He just glared at me and agreed. It was the kind of look where one could interpret quickly that he might have some short nights examining video in the next days. An old adage about defense is that you don´t necessarily have to be talented. On offense if you can´t shoot, then you have a problem. But on defense, it is a lot less about skill, but more about effort, passion and will. You have to want to play defense to be successful. If you don´t have the right mind set then you can pack it in and go home. Why was the Fraport Skyliners teams of the past under Gordon Herbert always so successful? Because he didn´t have good defenders, but great defenders who gave it their all like a Quantez Robertson or John Little. At the moment the passion isn´t there. There are spurts where the club defends very well, but then again they lose aggressiveness and fall into bad habits. In the game against BG Hagen, they had absolutely no cure how to slow down Salathiel Ligons who hurt them time in and time out with his mid range game ending the night with 34 points. Communication, rotations and 1-1 defense have been the Dragons Achilles heel so far this season. Curtis Hollis is a very talented player that knows how to defend. Because of that he should be the defensive leader and really be vocal and help get his teammates motivated. He leads by example with his steals, deflections and tips every night. If he could be that serious vocal defensive leader, then it would propel his game again to another level. Head coach Idbihi has showed early on that he is a coach that won´t accept mediocracy and if you make mistakes, will sit while the next guy on the bench  gets his chance. Idbihi has the capabilities to make this team good on the defensive end. That will work if he can get the team believing and wanting to defend every night. Once the team has that first real defensive success, they will build off that and be all right. That could happen this weekend as they travel to Essen to battle the weakest team in the Regionalliga West. The key for defensive success will be Curtis Hollis and Yassin Idbihi. Playing good defense is all in the mind set and showing 100% effort. The improved defense might not be there right away, but you can be sure that Yassin Idbihi will get the guys thinking defense. The guys love to play offense and have success. Now they have to love to play defense. Yassin Idbihi will transport that love to the players.

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