Virgil Matthews is a 36 year old 188cm guard from Federal Way, Washington that completed his 13th professional season and fifth with the Niners Chemnitz leading them to the easyCredit BBL playing 27 games averaging 7.1ppg, 3.4rpg, 4.6apg, 1.1spg, FGP-2 (73.2%), 3PT-3 (46.2%), FT: 77.1%. Last season he averaged 7,4ppg,39rpg and 6,1apg. Three seasons ago he played with the Nuernberg Falcons BC (Germany-ProA) playing 24 games averaging 8.3ppg, 4.0rpg, 3.9apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 50.5%, 3PT: 28.4%, FT: 71.4%. Four seasons ago he almost led Chemnitz (Germany-ProA) into the BBL playing 40 games averaging 9.4ppg, 4.2rpg, 4.8apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 63.0%, 3PT: 32.1%, FT: 86.7% He played at Montana (NCAA) and in his senior year played 31 games averaging 10.1ppg, 4.6rpg, 4.0apg, 1.7spg, FG: 49.8%, 3PT: 48.4%, FT: 76.1%. In 2006-2007, he turned professional and came to Germany and played for KICKZ Muenchen Basket (Germany-2.Bundesliga) playing 29 games averaging 18.0ppg, 6.1rpg, 5.2apg, 2.6spg, 2FGP: 57.3%, 3FGP: 31.8%, FT: 66.5%. In 2007-2008, he played for Tacoma Jazz (IBL). In 2008-2009, he returned back to Germany and played for Schwelmer Baskets (Germany-Regionalliga). In 2009-2010, he played for Olympia Reign (IBL) playing 28 games averaging 23.1ppg, 7.2rpg and for Seattle Aviators (NABL).In 2010-2011, he played his first season for Erdgas Ehingen playing 32 games averaging 11.6ppg, 5.3rpg, 3.6apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 57.6%, 3PT: 29.4%, FT: 71.3%. He would play until 2014 with Ehingen playing 126 games with three seasons in the Pro A and one in the Pro B. He spoke to germanhoops.com during the worldwide coronavirus crisis
Hi Virgil Where are you at the moment and how is your current mood despite the world turmoil at the moment because of the out break of the Corona Virus?
I’m still in Chemnitz, just waiting things out in Germany hoping people stay safe and we can sometime in the near future get back to something that resembles normalcy.
When you first heard about the Corona Virus did you ever think that it could have such an effect on the world?
No! I don’t think anyone did. I don’t think most people really believe something like this was possible in the westernized world in this day and age.
How did you experience the last weeks? Are your loved ones in the States concerned for your well being?
The last weeks have been such a roller coaster. We won a crazy game, came back had a few practices then it started to look like this would get bad, then we were waiting for something from the league, then being granted the BBL promotion has all been crazy. Then at home you have people scared for you and things are now crazy there too just a roller coaster. I talk to my family everyday since this has been going on, so they aren’t too worried about me.
How have you experienced the day to day life in Chemnitz during the Corona Virus outbreak? Did you see that corona effect on the culture there or was it not so much different happening in your day to day dealings?
I mean its full shutdown mode now so there’s not so much to do people are still out walking and doing things, but there’s nothing going on you have no entertainment whatsoever outside the house.
Did you become more aware about how you handle yourself in public in terms of shaking hands and not being in the line of fire with somebody coughing?
I’ve never been a huge fan of shaking hands really and I’ve always been cautious of washing and cleanliness before this. So of course there’s more precaution but it’s not too far from what I do regularly.
Basketball leagues have shut down all over Europe including the Pro A. How disappointed were you about this and not being able to playoffs?
It really sucks and is so bittersweet to not get to finish off the great season we were having. Not having the celebration these fans deserve really sucks. They’ve been through a couple of rough endings to seasons and this was their chance.
Before leagues were shut down there was a BCL game in Bonn against AEK Athens and a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bayreuth without spectators. Do you see any kind of advantage having games played without spectators?
I think the advantage is actually to the home team because you are used to the surrounding and the gym and I find that playing on the road in gyms with no energy is always tough.
How tough is it having the season end this way? Would it be easier or more difficult to get motivated to get into the lab each day to keep working on your game or would you try to play in another country that doesn’t have the corona virus?
It would be good to be able to play anywhere as of now looks like the world is shutting down for the virus.
If somebody had told you two months ago that the Chemnitz season would be over in mid March, but you would have still got the BBL ticket. Could you have come up with any plausible reason why this could have happened not knowing about the coronavirus?
No way! But honestly I think all lower leagues should look into 1st place teams in the regular season to automatically move up. They are usually the most prepared to do so and it adds value to the regular season. So that is one way the season would’ve ended and we still received the promotion so that’s the only way.
What kind of a feeling do you have being able to move up to the easyCredit BBL without earning it through the playoffs and through the coronavirus? Are there mixed feelings?
The only mixed feelings I have are for the people of Chemnitz they deserved to celebrate this and we were ready to turn the city upside down. Third time is a charm!
Despite how it all happened, the Niners Chemnitz had a very strong season. How do you sum up the season and how the team performed on the court?
It was a great season. We just clicked everyone got along and bought in we were a unit and everyone had a little edge to them. The guys from previous teams were locked in and focused we were on a mission, and the new guys were right there with us. No matter what people say we deserved to be the team to move up.
The club lost only 2 games and could have been undefeated had it not lost close games to Trier and Paderborn.
Yea it was very unfortunate to lose those two games, but both teams came out ready to play all games are challenges especially being a team that is predicted to be high up. Basketball is a game where if you aren’t on your A game every night you can lose. We lost two tough games to two playoff teams, it happens.
The team was the best offensive team and sixth best defensive team. How much fun was it this season being part of a very lethal offense?
It was fun! Its fun knowing that no one is being selfish and everyone is playing for each other. The ball moves and people move and you just know if you’re open the ball will find you. Everyone can make a shot everyone is working everyday in practice it’s nice to have that trust and it’s fun to play with guys like that, and a coach that puts us in positions to utilize strengths.
The club had many guys from last season, but also had 5 new players to integrate. How much credit does the success go to head coach Rodrigo Pastore. How has he developed as a head coach since your first tour of duty in Chemnitz?
A lot of credit should go to Coach. He spends countless hours working on his craft the same way we players do I think it shows on the court when we go out there. We are always prepared and ready to go and he knows how to put people in places to succeed that’s a quality that isn’t always noticed.
Let’s talk about your teammates. How vital was it for the team to have Chris Carter this season? He came from a tough Pro A season in Vechta. How much did you enjoy him as a teammate and could you soak anything up from his game that helped your game?
Chris was so important to this team. He shot the ball lights out early on in the season that carried us until we all got a rhythm and figured out how we fit together. Every day in practice though is probably where he helped us the most, he’s a team first guy. Every day with good energy and positive attitude. The team needed that. He was a good leader for us. I think that is what I took most from him was his positive mindset and that approach to every day in practice. It’s hard to be motivated at my age for every practice, but when you have him challenging you in the games you have to respond, I think that was a very important thing for us this season.
Please talk about the development of Terrell Harris. You battled him the season before when he was with Rostock. He improved in the Pro A once again with Chemnitz. What strides did you see him make in the Pro A with Chemnitz and is he ready for the easyCredit BBL?
I thought Terrell was Rostock’s best player last season I thought he would fit well with us. It took him a little bit to get into his role with the team but once he found his stride I think it became clear he was our go to guy, and he was the guy we went to when we needed a basket. I think he will definitely be a good BBL player I think people will be surprised for sure.
German Malte Zigenhagen had an amazing season and if he could of hit a few more free throws he could have been a member of the 90-50-40 club. You have seen him the last years in the BBL and was teammates in Chemnitz in 2016-2017. How has he developed and improved in the last 4 seasons?
Malte is a special shooter. The first time I played with him I was surprised no BBL teams picked him up for that alone. He definitely improved as a defender and decision maker in my years of playing with him. It’s nice to throw to him knowing most likely every time it’s going to be an assist.
If you had to pick a player who was the most improved who would you pick from last season?
I think Jonas had a crazy season. I think by numbers he would be most improved but anyone who played with us before knows what Jonas can do so it isn’t a real surprise. I think him playing almost always as a 5 man helped him free his mind up and he just had a great season especially in some of the biggest games.
Let’s talk about your season. You averaged 7,1ppg, 3,4rpg, 4,6apg and 1,1spg. How content were you with your season playing the lowest minutes of your career with 19?
I think I did fine filling the role I had I don’t really judge how I play by stats, I more so feel the impact I feel I have while I’m on the floor I like to get people involved and want the team to get going when we need it. The minutes are about what I need at this point, I always feel I can play more but I think the role I had worked well for us.
You had your best three point shooting season as a professional making 46% of your shots. You only attempted 26 shots. Was it just the usual blab la of good shot selection and reps that helped you achieve this or did you change something up on your mechanics?
We got some shooting machines so I could get more practice in and in a shorter amount of time, and of course shot selection matters. I probably should’ve taken more then who knows where the percentage would’ve been.
In our last interview you stated ‘I want to just to help any of the players. We have with my knowledge just seeing things may they don’t see and telling them about it. Sometimes it is better coming from a player rather than a coach. Sometimes it is also easier to see things from the sidelines, so that’s what role I’ll try to have’. Did this season give you more faith in possibly get into coaching after your playing career?
I think I have faith that when I’m ready to coach I will be good at it. I’ve been around so many great coaches in my careers from high school to professional I’ve seen so many methods and I’m a constant student of the game. I think my understanding of why coaches do what they do and why players think what they do gives me good insight for when I start my coaching career the approach I will take.
I asked you in the last interview if Carter/Matthews would be the best point guard duo and you said ‘That would be a great situation, coming off the bench hopefully when we do get time we will be the best guard duo. I think his aspirations are to be the best pg in the league so I’m ok being the best bench pg in league too. By finishing first was this a true assessment?
Definitely we are different players that bring different things to the table but I think the combination of the two of us was very hard to prepare for and I think that makes us special.
You continue to be very consistent. How much of a challenge is this every season? Your turning 37 this summer. Does your consistency give you the confidence and comfort about not retiring yet? Will you come back?
I love playing so I don’t know what’s next for me exactly I would love to play, but you never know what opportunities will be out there for a player like me. I’m always open to all options. Chemnitz has treated me well and I really enjoying working with Coach Pastore, but I guess we will see.
Last summer you worked on maximizing your body and improving your shot. Both those things worked this season. Would there be anything different you may work on this summer?
The same things they are the most important for me being able to move and shoot. Maybe I will add a bit of strengthening to the program too just to be ready for whatever comes next.
How tough is it having the season end this way? Would it be easier or more difficult to get motivated to get into the lab each day to keep working on your game . How important will individual work be now during the corona virus time?
It sucks to end the season this way. I think I’m motivated either way. I think not having the celebration is definitely something in my favor because now I never have the time to really get all the way out of shape. Individual work will be so important. I always have been a person who never really gets fully out of shape in the offseason, so it’s not much difference for me.
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the 2019-2020 Pro A season?
Lofton from Rostock could really score it. Nixon from Heidelberg also could play.
How much do you feel for those NCAA guys who might have reached March Madness as a senior for the only time and now can’t play. What advice would you give that player who missed March Madness because of the CoronaVirus?
I know that feeling and it’s a great one I couldn’t imagine being so close and having it taken away that way. I just hope all those guys enjoyed the journey you’ll never experience a year like your last year in college.
I feel Luka Doncic is a top 3 NBA player. Am I a bit blinded or is that a proper assessment after his second professional season?
Luka is a beast! Top 3 is tough you got AD, Harden, Lebron, Kawhi, Giannis, Steph and KD, but he is definitely right up there.
Atlanta Hawk guard Trae Young made huge strides in his second season. How much better can he get now and is he a top NBA point guard now?
I’m surprised as how good he has become I wasn’t sure it would happen for him like that. He is now to the place where the stats have to translate to wins. I think that is the next level for him.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I saw Bloodshot with Vin Diesel before they closed down the theaters.
Thanks Virgil for the chat.