Thanksgiving was yesterday, a time for Americans to give thanks and American basketball players in Germany not to forget this holiday as usually there are team meals where players can get a little of that holiday feeling that they always remembered from home. For a guy like Skyliner legend Quantez Robertson who is turning 34 soon, keeping an eye on his body and diet is vital at his age, but then again one day to splurge on turkey and stuffing and remember the good old days in Cincinnati watching football games and eating the bird is something he should be allowed to do. Tez is the kind of guy that will return the next day and grind in the gym and work some of that food off. Even if he did find some time today to work on his body, he had to conserve some energy as the Fraport Skyliners are playing a test game against Pro A team Romerstrom Gladiators at the training facility BCM. Perhaps the 11 year veteran also found some time on Thanksgiving to reflect and be thankful about being able to play the game that he loves for a living in Frankfurt. But at the same time reflect on the current season which hasn´t been a good one. He will have a lot of time to reflect on the season and what the team can do better in the future to help their record. Tez could be vital in passing on some of his thoughts and wisdom after reflection to he teammates about the kind of attitude the team needs now to be successful. The club has injury woes and through luck of the schedule only have one game in a month against the Crailsheim Merlins on December 7th.
The Fraport Skyliners are treading water in no mans land in 12th place with a record of 3-6. They only have two wins more than the last placed team MBC who recently brought back Bjoern Harmsen as coach and signed a real beast with Euroleague winner and ex NBA player Joey Dorsey today. I personally thought the Fraport Skyliners was a playoff team coming into the season despite having an inexperienced young coach with Sebastian Gleim. But I did say the only way a successful season would work and the playoffs would be a reality would be if the player parts fit accordingly. The problem is that they haven´t yet. You can sometimes never know how well a roster will function until after a few teams. After reaching the playoffs five seasons in a row under the guidance of experienced 2010 Eurochallenge winning coach John Patrick, last season his new roster didn´t fit and they missed the playoffs. So far this season he has done everything right and sit in second place with a 8-1 record. He had to change his roster again, but so far his parts fit perfectly. Another club that has succeeded the expectations so far is Braunschweig. With player coach Pete Strobel a guy most wouldn´t have had on the radar as a head coach yet also has done a great job despite not necessarily having the most talented players. He kept core players Eatherton and Klepeisz and brought in some solid role players and most importantly is giving Germans a chance. Plus he got Trevor Releford which the team will profit from in the long run. Strobel´s roster is a good one, but one where much has to just be able to function and so far it has. It will be interesting how the club develops and most important key to the further success will be how well the Germans can produce. Not to forget the Crailsheim Merlins who are the big surprise team of the season. Nobody before the season would ever have had the audacity to say that they would be 6-2 after 8 games. They have some talented guys, but also ex pro A players and unproven BBL players, but all have stepped up. They have a 9 man rotation and 7 players are averaging double figures in scoring. They lead the league in scoring at 94 points and are fifth best in rebounds. So far everything has worked, but what will happen when they fall into a crisis or injuries occur.
The Fraport Skyliners haven´t had as much luck. One can´t forget that they could be 5-4 had they won the squeaker loses against the Telekom Baskets Bonn and s.Oliver Wurzburg. The club is simply too incosnsitent. The injury to Anthony Hickey totally brought their play into disarray. I wonder how they would have played with a healthy Hickey at the point and Lamont Jones at the two position. Injuries is something that a team can never calculate, but they have to be able to adjust and react well. Frankfurt just hasn´t been able to do that. A big disappointment has been their defensive play. This is something that they have always been able to do well in the last years under the leadership of Gordon Herbert, but that toughness is missing. They gave up 87 points and 14 three´s against Brose Bamberg and looked like a helpless Turkey just before lynching time on Thanksgiving morning. They may be giving up 81 points fifth best in the BBL, but 5-6 years ago they were giving up in the high 60´s and making the playoffs. The biggest bright spot taken out of the loss was rookie Matt Mcquaid´s 19 point effort. He is a guy that seemed not to have gotten that early trust from Gleim, but perhaps now we will see the new Mcquaid against Crailsheim. Guys like Jones, Robertson and Akeem Vargas have been carrying the team and playing extended minutes. Where would the team be now had Vargas not been able to give the input that he has? He has been another bright spot and found his rhythm after being injured a number of time last season. Leon Kratzer also has been an efficient performer, but has little support underneath as that second big man is missing. But other than not the club just haven´t been able to have a balance and get consistent play from more players. Richard Freudenberg has shown spurts of good play, but then times where he just isn´t playing up to the level he should. Shaquille Hines is out for 4-6 weeks and will be missed. He is also another player that hasn´t played up to expectations, but recently had some good games. But now with an injury, he will have to find his rhythm when he returns. Once the team can find some offensive consistency and get more support from different guys, then they will score more points and have better chances to win games.
Today is Black Friday, the day where people splurge in malls because there are many deals for the shoppers. Maybe this day will remind Skyliners management that it could be beneficial to bring in some player support. With Hickey gone since some weeks, it has been a bit surprising that Frankfurt hasn´t found a new player yet. Obviously the market isn´t stocked well at this time with player material, but some of the Skyliners foes in the BBL have been adding players to help their rosters. Perhaps Frankfurt won´t get another guard. But then again you should be giving the scoring ace Jones some support and take some of that weight of his shoulders. One guy who I would love to see in Frankfurt is the versatile Alex Ruoff. He has BBL experience and has been training in Goettingen for some time now. Granted he isn´t a point guard, but a guy that could help the Skyliners with a lot of things on the court. He last played in the BBL in 2016-2017 with Ludwigsburg and BG Goettingen and sat out the 2017-2018 season and returned last season with the Helsinki Seagulls (Finland-Korisliiga) averaging 12.3ppg, 6.1rpg, 4.2apg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 32.1%, FT: 83.7%. If he was within the budget ramifications, I wouldn´t hesitate to get him. In the next weeks, the Fraport Skyliners will continue to have much time to work on tweaking certain area´s of their game. One thing that still echo´s in my ears when I think about Gordon Herbert are his magical words “It´s all about getting better”. I don´t know how often he has said that in his Frankfurt years, but it´s been a lot. This is something that many of Herbert´s teams took to heart. Now is the time for the Fraport Skyliners to do the same thing under Sebastian Gleim. Winning isn´t just about executing the x ´s and o´s, but playing with passion, effort and self confidence. The team has to work on their problem area´s, but at the same time believe in themselves. They have enough time to reflect on how the season has gone and what they want to accomplish the rest of the way. There is still a lot of time left in the season to get better and start to win more games. Now is the time to get fully prepared for Crailsheim and Braunschweig the next two opponents. Having two wins at Christmas would be a huge accomplishment and one they can definitely achieve. Then they will have earned to splurge during the Christmas holidays.