John Patrick is head coach the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg and will be going into his 10th season with the organization. He joined the club in the 2012-2013 season keeping them in the BBL. Over the years he has been an important factor for the club gaining consistency and reaching the playoffs in 8 of 9 seasons. Especially in the last two years the club has made huge strides reaching the final in 2020 and last season he led the team to first place in the regular season. He played at Stanford winning the NIT title and as a professional player played many years in Japan and later came to Germany playing for BG Sartorius Gottingen (Germany-2.Bundesliga). He began his coaching career in Japan and then came to Germany and helped BG Goettingen move up to the BBL in 2007. In 2010, he celebrated the Eurochallenge title. He then gained further experience coaching s.Oliver Wurzburg and leading them to the playoffs and upsetting Alba Berlin. He has been named BBL coach of the year three times. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
John thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how has life been treating you in these difficult COVID times?
Thanks, Miles. It has been a blessing to be able to continue working and coaching during the pandemic. The league did a great job of managing a difficult and unpredictable situation. Lots to be thankful for
You have been with the MHP Riesen since 2013. Obviously this organization has become your second home. You surely must have had many offers the last years. Is having that absolute freedom and control something that over time has allowed you to be so successful there?
Ludiwigsburg is an amazing city, and our basketball Club is on solid footing; with experienced management and energetic people working in the organization. We work together as a team in the coaching staff and also in the organization side, After 8 years together, of course trust and routines are developed that makes working easier. It is a serious Club and work is done businesslike. I’m very fortunate to live and work here with the family nearby. It is often otherwise in our business.
COVID changed the whole world. The last year and a half made being a player or coach in the easyCredit BBL a real challenge. What was the biggest challenge for you as a coach in being able to bring consistency in terms of winning to the MHP Riesen last season?
The biggest challenge is always getting guys on the team who fight for each other and love the game. We were very fortunate the last two seasons to have some great characters here in the team and staff. When you can’t go out because of Covid, it helps a lot to be around people you like in the gym.
You helped lead the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg to a magical season which brought back memories to that fascinating Silvano Poropat group in the 2006-2007 season. If you look back to the last days before the begin of the first full Corona season would you have thought from the roster you had that the club could finish in #1 place in the regular season?
I never make predictions before a season. We have had some really good teams here, and I think each season is unique so I don’t really like to compare. Going 30-4 this season was pretty cool. So was going 17-3 last year. We just missed having the fans there. It would have been completely nuts at home. Our guys from this season might never know how loud it gets in the MHP arena.
We saw the character of the team during the regular season and in the playoffs as it won a game 5 against Bamberg and even in games 4 and 5 vs FC Bayern Munich never gave up. Was this one of the best character team’s you have had since you arrived in Ludwigsburg?
We had a group that gave everything on the court. Leaders on the team like Tremmell Darden, Jordan Hulls, Jaleen, Yorman, and Wobo set the tone. Having good guys from top to bottom on the team and in the staff makes playing hard come second nature. They fought for each other.
You have keen sense of knowing which players will function best in your system. Your special touch of bringing in exactly the right players is incredible. How much credit has your assistant coach Josh King had in the off season scouting? It’s no secret that he had the connection to Jaleen Smith.
Josh is a stud. He is going to be a top head coach whether he ends up here in Europe or back in the NCAA. Josh gets along with everyone, and his knowledge of the game is off the charts., both tactically and technically.
Jaleen Smith deservingly was named league MVP. He can do so much on the court and has importantly great energy and leadership qualities. What steps did you see in his game that will allow him to share his game at the Euroleague level?
Jaleen checks all the boxes for what you want in a player. He loves the game, he is coachable, he has an extremely high basketball IQ, he is talented, and he works his butt off every day to try and get better. He deserves every bit of success that he gets. He is a humble and very likable person in addition to being a top player.
You brought in ex Stanford (NCAA) standout Oscar Da Silva for the stretch run to help raise his stock for the NBA Draft. I thought he did a great job of adjusting quickly and being a consistent offensive contributor. How do you feel could he add new nuances to his game after departing the NCAA?
Oscar did a great job of adjusting. Basketball at the BBL level is almost a different sport than college basketball. There are many points of difference. Oscar handled a lot of information in a short time frame, and helped our team to win. I feel like we had an opportunity to mutually benefit from this special situation, and Oscar was able to manage his time and do the things he needed to improve himself strength and skillwise, while also preparing for our games. His coach at IBA, Robbie, was very important in facilitating the transfer. We are thankful for his help.
Your two sons Johannes and Jacob already made their BBL debut last season. I remember seeing them play NBBL in January in Frankfurt and never would have thought that they would be in the BBL so quickly. It would already be difficult having one son to coach, but probably not easier with two. How important have their presence been for the development of Lukas Herzog? Healthy competitions has always been beneficial.
I don’t think it is easy to have your father as your coach, but having had Dave Gale and now Dave McCray as the NBBL coach has made it easier for our young guys to integrate early with the pros and feel confident competing. We have had others, like Quirin and Ariel, who like Jake, Johannes, and Luki, made their BBL and International debuts as teenagers. It helps for sure for our young players to have great competition and be pushed in the U19 practices, but I think that they practice with the pros on a regular basis is what makes them ready. Gets them daily out of their comfort zone.
You are already constructing the roster for next season. The most interesting pick up for me was Scottie James Jr. I noticed him last season and wasn’t noticed by the media, but other BBL teams had him on their radar. I think he is your next gem that could really break out the way Jaleen Smith did?
Scottie James plays hard and played well against us. So I like him.
I interviewed Quinton Hooker 2 years ago when he played in Latvia. Last season he had a very productive season with the Synatnics MBC: You are confident that he will make the next step with the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. How quickly was he on your radar last season?
Ditto for what I said about Scotty. Quinton just plays a different position. I like guys from mid or small major colleges who are well rounded and versatile. It is also a positive thing that Quinton knows our league.
What has it been like working with David Mccray? What do you feel is his most vital coaching ability and when will he be easycredit BBL ready?
Dmac is first and foremost a great person, and if you walk into our arena there is one jersey hanging up there. It’s there for a reason. Dave is doing all the things that he needs as he steps to be a head coach some day. Right now he is an amazing role model and head coach for our NBBL guys, as well as our strength and assistant coach for the BBL.
You coached Charles Lee back in the day with BG Goettingen. He reached the NBA final as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks. Have you been following his career and did you know when you coached him that he would be a coach one day?
Chuck ‘helkicopter’ Lee was a heck of a player, and a funny, articulate guy. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he is listed on the short list of NBA head coaching searches. As a young player he was blessed with toughness and a high basketball IQ. His teammates at the time, Kyle Bailey, John Little, and one year later Dwayne Anderson, Mike Meeks, and Chester Frazier are also very successful as coaches today.
You have coached many guys that would go on to the NBA in the last years like Kelan Martin and . Royce O Neal who were in Ludwigsburg in 2018-2019 and in 2015-2016 as a rookies. What do you remember being special about them most when you were able to coach them?
Maxi, Royce, DJ, Jack, Kelan, and next maybe Ariel, maybe Kareem, Nick, Jaleen, or Oscar. You never know who is going to make it but most of the time, the guys who do make it are determined and keep working to make it happen. They made some adjustments to get better. The guys who made it so far, all of them often did extra work after practice.
Germany is going back to the Olympics. What is your whole take on Joshiko Saibu. The outcry by German fans against his nomination has been huge. How would you have handled the situation had you been in Henrik Rodl’s shoes?
I am extremely proud and excited that we qualified. I watched the games with my family, and it was clear that we had a great team chemistry and never-give-up attitude. Joshiko ended up showing his stuff on the court. That is where we need to focus the discussion. This is a basketball team of young men representing their country with pride. Nothing more to say.
Who do you have winning the NBA finals. Obviously your heart has to be with the Bucks and Charles Lee, but as a fan you have to root for Chris Paul. Who will win the series?
You will have to ask our team manager, Yannick Rohatsch. He watches the NBA games. I can tell you about the FIBA U19 tournament.
Did you see the Coming To America sequel? Shouldn’t they just have left it alone?
I didn’t see it. Sorry.
Thanks John for the chat.