Julius Thomas is a German head coach who is running Pro B team Dragons Rhondorf in his second season. He began his coaching career with NBBL (U-19) team Team Bonn/Rhondorf and then was an assistant with the Dragons Rhondorf in 2019-2020. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Julius thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is life treating you at the moment?
Thanks for having me! I am currently preparing my team in Bad Honnef and Bonn. I am very happy that the Dragons Rhoendorf are finally back on the court and I am excited going into the upcoming season.
Before we get to basketball, I have to ask you how you have experienced COVID-19 in the last year. What has been the most challenging thing about living life with it?
Definitely keeping a positive mindset both at work and at home. I was one of the lucky coaches able to continue with my job as I joined the BBL team of the Telekom Baskets Bonn shortly after our season got suspended. However, having family members and friends who could not work in their usual way and who could not experience the social interactions that they are used to really affected me.
With everything that you have seen with COVID-19 how do you feel has it made you stronger as a man?
I don’t think that the pandemic has a lot to do with my masculinity 😉
How excited are you finally begin the 2021-2022 Pro B season. How tough was the last year with no regionalliga or NBBL games in your life?
We are super excited heading into the Pro B season. As I said before, I had a huge opportunity diving into BBL basketball, but seeing my Dragons-guys not being able to play was a tough thing! I am very glad that now we can finally showcase in ProB.
The Dragons Rhondorf are constructing a new team. Talk a little how that has been coming about. How difficult is it in general to build a roster during COVID?
Recruiting this season was even tougher than in the last summer since we did not have any data on NBBL or JBBL games and players. We as a program that takes pride into developing young talent rely on those NBBL games to scout potential players that could fit our idea. Luckily we were still able to recruit very exciting German youngsters such as Nicolas Buchholz, while we managed to re-sign most of last year’s players.
The Dragons Rhondorf are going the youth route again. How much more risky is this in the Pro B. How will it be different this season than in the Regionalliga with the development of players? Will there be more pressure for the young Germans to produce?
The whole idea of our program is to have young talents in positions where they have to produce. We really feel like making a big contribution to not only local, but also German basketball by taking talents out of their comfort zones and kind of force them into bigger roles and team-leaders. Is this a risk? Definitely. But from our point of you this is what ProB-Basketball should be all about. Helping young players reach the next level through playing in big roles.
Can you talk a little about how the young Germans continued to work on their game in the last year?. There were no games. How important was the extra work in the gym for their development?
They all found ways to have individual workouts and worked hard on their skills. However, playing 5on5 and playing games is the thing that helps those guys the most. The lack of those games will take some time to make up for.
How was it for you being a coach in the last season with no games. You must of watched many many videos. What did you concentrate on most in terms of your further development as a coach?
Watching videos was definitely a huge part during the pandemic. I think I haven’t missed a single Bayern Munich game this season. My main focus was to change my way of teaching and understanding defense.
With a season with no games, you can’t put huge expectations on the players, but how vital will it be for Pal Ghotra to make another step as a player?
The most important step for Pal is to get healthy. We want to support him on that way and we are convinced that he can have a big contribution if he gets back to the shape he was in before his injuries.
Another key player will be Oshane Drews. What will you be expecting of him and how did you see his development in the last year?
Oshane is to me one of the most talented young guards in Germany. We are expecting a lot of him this season and we are pushing him more and more into a Point Guard role, where he can both finish himself and creating for others off his drives.
Two guys I’m really excited about are the big German talents Ralph Honnou and Nicolas Bucholz. Did you work with them this summer? What can we expect from them in the Pro B where they should get decent minutes?
Both Ralph and Nicolas joined at the start of the preseason and will be important factors for our team. Ralph’s defense gives us a much needed boost against experienced and physical Pro B guards, while Nicolas’ passing and scoring abilities will be crucial for us on the offensive end
How did you experience the off season of Ousmane Ndiaye? Did he get stronger and what are you expecting of him?
Ousmane is getting stronger and stronger week by week and will hopefully be ready to make a big impact very soon!
In the Pro B teams are always keen on getting good production of their imports. Will Will Christmas be the next Curtis Hollis?
If he is Will Christmas then we will be fine
Christmas seems to have an excellent character. He finished school before turning pro last season. Did you have any talks with him?
Will is a very intelligent and interesting character, which is why I am excited to have him on our team. He will provide creativity as well as toughness, which is an interesting combination.
Talk a little how the relationship will continue with the Telekom Baskets Bonn. Will their be any new candidates to get minutes with the BBL team that didn’t get in in the last years?
I hope that all of our eligible players will try hard to get an opportunity in the BBL and I am convinced that they’ll get one once they are ready for it.
What is your biggest wish as a head coach this season? What would you like to see happen with the Dragons Rhondorf this season besides getting many wins?
I would like to help build a team which excites our fans and to create a Basketball team Bad Honnef can relate to.
How vital is your relationship with associate coach Yassin Idbihi (208-C-83, college: Buffalo)? How has it grown during the hard times in COVID?
Yassin is in my opinion the key factor to the Dragons’ culture. He incorporates the love of improving young talents. That is why it is so crucial that he is close to the team all the time, providing the team and me with great advice on a daily basis.
What was the last movie that we saw?
Probably an old Tarantino movie.
Thanks Julius for the chat.