KJ Sherrill (203-F/C-91, college: Augusta) is a 29 year old 203cm forward playing for the EVL Baskets Limburg, He has previous experience in Germany with the SG Luetzel-Post Koblenz (Germany-Regionalliga), Dragons Rhondorf, Telekom Baskets Bonn 2 team, Herten and the Cuxhaven BasCats (Germany-ProA). He played college ball at Charlotte (NCAA) from 2009-2012 playing 75 NCAA games and also played a season at Augusta University (NCAA2). He spoke to germanhoops.com after the exciting 61-59 win over Fellbach.
Thanks KJ for talking to germanhoops.com. How tough was it having to play this three team tournament with so little practice and 3 games in 4 days?
It has been tough not having the normal shape and having been able to practice as much as the other teams in the tournament. But at the same time we also didn’t have pressure. We came into the tournament wanting to have fun. We knew that Elchlingen and Fellbach were better on paper, but that didn’t take away the fun that we wanted to have.
You lost the first two games badly in Fellbach and Elchlingen. How did the team take it mentally?
We didn’t try to think too much about how much we lost the first two games by. We only had practiced three weeks and we knew what we were capable of. Important for us was that we wanted to show the league that we were still together. We also wanted to show that we would fight in every game.
How vital has the pick up of Noah Westerhaus been for the success of the team?
Getting Noah has been huge. I knew what he brought to the table, because I had played with him in Koblenz. He is also attacking and goes hard every day. He is such a versatile player and is the best pick up that we could have gotten. He is happy with us. When he is happy then the team is happy.
What have been the hardest things to get adjusted to on the court with the little practice time?
We know that physically and mentally that we aren’t as good in shape as the other two teams. Teams have tried to take advantage of that. But we showed today in our win against Fellbach that if we trust each other on defense then we can play well. We played good zone and rebounded well. Important also was that our heart and desire was still there despite losing the first two games.
How was it battling Fellbach top player Scooter Gillette? You have the pounds advantage and he has the height advantage
I have played against Scooter the last three years and know his game. He always gives you a run for the money. He runs the floor like a guard and is physical. I used my weight advantage in the first half to get him a bit tired. But in the second half his second nature of being in shape kicked in. But I felt that our helpers did a good job helping the help defense to get the job done. We played good team defense. Our biggest strength today was how well our zone played.
After two blow out loses on the road, how important was it finally being on home court against Fellbach?
Having the home court is always an advantage. Everyone feels good on the team when we are at home. Even if their weren’t many fans, their energy helped us as did the bench.
The high low game between you and Mantas Bernatavicius worked very well against Fellbach at home. How do you explain the good harmony between you two?
Mantas has played in higher leagues in his home land in the past. His smartness is there. His mobility can be a problem at times, but he always knows how to make the right play. I feel that he is one of the best passers on the team. He and I are a deadly presence on defense.
You lived on the rim the whole game. How key is anticipation in your game?
I know that my endurance isn’t there, so I have to outsmart my opponents and make the right moves. Important for me is to set the right ball screens and get my teammates shots. I really enjoy getting the guards open.
Limburg had a good first quarter leading 18-14. What was key for the lead?
We knew that it would be a tough game. Coach Danny Stahlbohm kept telling us that we have to keep our composure and make less turnovers. We knew that if we could do that that the game would be easier for us. We knew that Fellbach would pressure us. Our guards did a great job not panicking or overdribbling.
The Limburg offense tends to stagnate when Justin Stahlbohm isn’t on the court. How vital is his leadership for the success?
Justin is our team captain. His chemistry is always super on the court. He also has the highest IQ on the court. He sees the court really well and plays with a big heart and at the same time gives this physical presence. Having that physical presence makes him a better player.
How taxing was it in general playing only a 6-7 man rotation almost the whole game? Many guys seemed very pooped.
It is always tough when the opponent is able to switch in and out so much. We don’t have that luxury to do that as much. The starters just try not to overdo it as much and just save our legs for the next possession.
Limburg played great defense in the first half keeping Fellbach to 31 points. What was the secret of the success on defense?
The difference to playing better defense in the second game against Fellbach was that this time we were able to recognize who the shooters were. We did a better job getting hands up and our guards did a good job getting out on the shooters. Also our communication was a lot better. We also rebounded very well and everyone helped out boxing out.
Limburg led by 8 points in the third quarter. How did the team adrenaline lessen the fatigue factor?
Our adrenaline was huge throughout the game. We knew that the game was winnable, so we put the body aches, fatigue and adrenaline to the side. We had that attitude of let’s go win the game all throughout the game.
Limburg led by 10 points after three quarters. Did a little luck come into play in that Fellbach couldn’t hit the ocean?
Fellbach hit everything in the first game against us. The problem was that we had no hands up in the first game. We bonded better together this game. The communication that we had in this game was the best that we have had this season.
How much did the cherry picking bucket by Mantas Bernatavicius make you laugh?
Mantas is a great player, but at the same time also wants to have fun. When he is able to create for others, it makes everything more enjoyable. Plus if you see a seven footer like him dive for the ball, it instantly boosts your confidence. If he can do it then anybody can. We feed his energy.
Fellbach made a run in the fourth as Scooter Gillete gave Fellbach the 59-57 advantage with 57 seconds to play. What was key for the guests coming back?
Fatigue was a big factor at the end. They knew how to take advantage of it. They began to run on us and did a good job getting Scooter Gillette the ball. They simply executed when they had to to get back into the game.
You hit a big shot with 37 seconds remaining to give Limburg the lead back. Did you anticipate Fellbach switching so much?
I had heard Scooter Gillette talk about switching to his teammates. I just told Justin and Mantas to throw me the ball high against their guards and I will turn and make the shot. Taking the mis matches made it easier for me.
You made a game saving block at the end. Was that block bigger than all the shots that you made?
Yes that block at the end was bigger than any other shots that I made in the game. Defense always comes first. Our main agenda in the last seconds was to get the stop. We knew that if we could do that that we would get the win.
You have a game left against top team ScanPlus Baskets. How big would a win be in the last game?
We have a week to rest now. We probably will have a few days off to rest. I think that with the home court advantage and rest will be an advantage. I feel that it will be a good game. We will take this game as any other team that we play.
You live in Bad Honnef. Wouldn’t it make sense to return to the Dragons Rhondorf one day?
I had had a good relationship when Alex Doehms was the CEO. All Dragon fans still show me love there. If the opportunity would present itself, I would consider it. But right now I’m very happy in Limburg. The commute is tough, but all have welcomed me with open arms in Limburg. I really like Limburg.
Did you see the sequel to Coming To America? Should they just have left it untouched?
I didn’t see all of it as I fell asleep. They wanted to make another one, but nothing ever tops the first one.
Thanks KJ for the chat.