TJ Shorts (175-PG-97, college: UC Davis) is a 23 year old 175cm point guard from Tustin, California playing his second professional season and first with the Hamburg Towers. Last season as a rookie he played with with BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL) playing 12 FIBA Europe Cup games averaging 14.6ppg, 2.8rpg, Assists-4 (6.3apg), Steals-5 (2.0spg), FGP: 66.7%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 82.4%; and played 20 LatEstBL games averaging 11.8ppg, 3.3rpg, 5.0apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 63.8%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 75.6%. He began his basketball career at Tustin High School and then played two years at Saddleback JC (JUCO) He finished at the University of California – Davis (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 14.6ppg, 3.7rpg, 4.5apg, 2.0spg, FGP: 53.8%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 72.7% and in his senior year averaged 15.2ppg, 4.7rpg, 4.3apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 27.9%, FT: 71.8%. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the big 95-83 Hamburg win over s.Oliver Wurzburg.
Thanks TJ for talking to germanhoops.com. Congrats on the huge 95-83 win against s.Oliver Wurzburg. How good did it feel to get the win after that heartbreaking loss against Chemnitz?
It definitely felt good to get back into the win column. We had a short memory with the loss to Chemnitz. We knew that Wurzburg would be another tough game, but we came out and won and got rolling again.
Basketball sometimes can be so simple. The Hamburg Towers averaged 23 points per quarter. How key was the consistent offense for getting you this win?
Our offense was key, but we really like to focus on defense. We know that when we defend well then our offense will come. If we play with pace and together then we know that we will be able to score the ball.
Hamburg allowed 27 points in the second quarter. What did you as a team get away from that allowed Wurzburg to remain in the game?
It was minor details that we got away from. They got a couple transition baskets and offensive rebounds. When we don’t dictate the game then we know that we can get in trouble.
Wurzburg was able to cut it down to 83-81 in the last minutes. What was key in crunch-time for Hamburg being able to get the victory?
Just small details. We had that mentality that each possession mattered. We were able to hold them to one stop and didn’t allow any offensive rebounds. We played with a lot of confidence at the end and executed. That brought us the win.
Hamburg shot the ball well, and rebounded very well. How much more good does a win like this feel for you personally when the team gives up only 6 turnovers?
It feels good, but the credit goes to everyone that was on the court. Taking care of the ball that well makes everyone feel good. Every guy gives their best as we try to get the win.
What a way for Patrick Spencer to give his BBL debut and score 18 points. What have you learned to appreciate most about his game?
He has been working very hard in practice and had to wait a while until he got in. He came here and right away bought into the system and was a big spark off the bench. For him to come in and play so well was huge for us.
He was one of the top Lacrosse players in the United States and then decided to hang on a year at Northwestern and played a good season of basketball. How do you feel has Lacrosse helped his basketball game?
I had heard that he has played Lacrosse in school. Lacrosse is a very physical sport and that translates to basketball. He is a very physical player and knows how to use his body well. For him to find the balance and be able to perform well on the court has been a big credit to him.
How good are the Hamburg Towers really? You could have won 3 more games which you lost at the end. How did this team improve in the recent 9 game winning streak?
We don’t look at ourselves about how good we are at the moment. Our goal the whole season has been to establish ourselves in the BBL. We don’t focus on what the media says, but focus just on getting better. We as a unit have a very good bond and just want to keep our success going.
You had your second double double of the season with 14 points and 10 assists. You have been so consistent this season was this just another regular day at the office for you?
Each game is different. I was able to find guys today and they hit shots. They make my job a lot easier when their hitting shots. I just do whatever I can to help my team win. If that means getting 10 assists. I don’t think about having a regular day at the office but I always have the same mind set and always have something to prove.
You had a very good rookie season in Latvia with BK Ventspils but your having an even better season in a better league. How much of a testament has the Hamburg system and head coach Pedro Calles been for your success?
A lot of credit goes to Pedro Calles. He brought me to Hamburg. I am a young player that is still learning. He talks to me and helps me. He has given me confidence and made me be comfortable. His system is great and I hope that I continue to play well.
Every game is a challenge for you because you are usually the smallest guy on the court. How do you feel have you grown as a player in the BBL this season?
As a small guard I always have tall tasks. I have always been the smallest guy on the court and that’s nothing new. The only difference now is that the players are better. I have to always continue to learn and find tricks that will help me be successful. I feel that with time and the more games that I play, the more that I will be able to add to my game and become an even better player.
Chris Paul passed Magic Johnson for fifth on the NBA all-time with assists. Where do you rank a Paul in the NBA’s best all-time point guards when he hasn’t won a ring yet?
It is definitely a tough conversation since he hasn’t won a ring. He is my favorite player of all-time. I have admired and idolized him forever and tried to take things from his game. I wasn’t raised in the 80’s when Magic and Isaiah Thomas played. He is still my favorite. For him to pass Magic is huge. He still looks great for so late in his career. I hope he still gets a ring, but I’m a Lakers fan so I’m rooting for them.
Croatian legend Dino Radja recently said that he couldn’t imagine Russell Westbrook being able to lead a team in Europe to success. Do you agree?
I don’t agree. Westbrook gets a lot of criticism for his antics and how he carries himself, but he has proven his whole career that he can lead a team. He does whatever it takes to win. I feel like he would be able to adjust to Europe and have success.
Draymond Greene recently said that he is the greatest defender of all-time. Do you agree?
He isn’t the best of all-time, but up there with the best. He can defend 1-5 and be the leader on defense. He adds a lot to his team, but there have been too many other great defenders.
Did you see the Coming to America sequel? It has gotten mixed reviews. Shouldn’t they just have left it untouched?
I haven’t seen it. The first one was such a classic. The mixed reviews are a bad sign. The first one was so good.
Thanks TJ for the chat.