Kendale McCullum (194-G-1996, college: Lewis, agency: Octagon Europe) is a 26 year old 194cm guard from Elgin, Illinois that is playing his third professional season and first with the JobStairs Giessen 46ers (Germany-BBL). He played his rookie season with the Uni Baskets Paderborn (Germany-ProA) averaging 18.1ppg, 5.3rpg, Assists-1 (7.2apg), Steals-2 (2.6spg), FGP: 58.5%, 3PT: 42.4%, FT: 76.2%. last season he helped the Helsinki Seagulls (Finland-Korisliiga) win a cup averaging 14.5ppg, 5.1rpg, Assists-3 (7.0apg), Steals-1 (2.5spg), FGP: 55.2%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 75.6%. Before turning professional he played at the University of Wisconsin Parkside (NCAA2) and Lewis University (NCAA2). He spoke to germanhoops.com after the big 88-75 victiory against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg.
Thanks Kendale for talking to germanhoops.com. Congrats on the massive 88-75 win over the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. What was it like playing against Rickey Paulding for the last time? How have you followed his path since arriving in Germany in 2019?
He’s a legend. I wouldn’t say I followed him but I heard his name many times since my arrival in 19′. It’s crazy to see him still competing at a high level still at his age. I definitely will need tips from him on how he managed to stay in this game so long.
The Ewe Baskets Oldenburg had the tight 17-15 advantage in areal grind out first quarter. Did you feel added pressure really having to do so much yourself as you seemed to be the whole offense.
I wouldn’t say it added pressure. I think we had some good shots and they just didn’t fall. We just had to stick the game plan! We knew shots would start to fall.
The second quarter continued to be tight as Giessen couldn’t get over the hump. How vital was it for the Giessen self-confidence that the offense didn’t have to rely on you as much anymore?
Despite the way we played the first half we were still in the ball game. Our confidence never left. Just had to grind it out.
The Giessen 46ers exploded in the third quarter for 32 points. What words of wisdom did head coach Pete Strobl give you at the break?
They made it difficult for us to run our sets. They applied alot pressure! We knew if we could get open it would give us more chances to score and that’s what happened. We knew the ball would start to go through the net.
Philip Fayne was instrumental in the third quarter with 4 buckets. How refreshing is his game in general on a day to day basis?
Everyday he’s getting better and learning the game and the league. He knew Tai was in foul trouble so he just attacked him knowing Tai didn’t want to foul and it made it easier for him to score.
The scoring onslaught continued in the fourth quarter. You scored three quick baskets in the first few minutes of the third quarter. Does everything become easier when the whole team is on the same page?
I think when we move the ball and run through our sets we are hard to guard. Sometimes we settle for a good shot and not a great shot. In the second half we did a much better job of moving the ball.
It’s been a very tough season for the Giessen 46ers. How tough has the season been for you coming from a winning culture in Finland?
It’s a different level of competition here. It’s been a challenge just because we’ve dealt with injuries, players coming and going, covid and etc. it was tough for us to build a chemistry and learn how to play together. I’ve never in my life had a losing season. So, it’s been very challenging dealing with this situation but it’s all about the experience.
You always play with the dice when you don’t have a big budget. What has been the biggest problem this season? Is it chemistry of not finding an identity on defense?
We try to pride ourselves on defense. Something we work on everyday. Just with guys being injured, signing and releasing players and etc. it’s just been tough to build something consistent.
Head coach Pete Srobl has taken a beating in certain times about how his work. How have you experienced him as a coach? I mean he certainly gave you a lot of freedom.
He knows the game very very well. People don’t realize that our team is very young. Only 3 guys have BBL experience. Everyone else is a rookie. It’s tough to win games with guys who have little experience in the league and are young. We’ve lost a lot of close games because of that too. He’s taught me a lot since I’ve been here.
Especially his usage of big John Bryant was criticized. How did you experience the big fella. Was it an honor playing with the future BBL legend?
John played a big factor of me coming to Giessen instead of the other BBL teams that offered me! He’s like a big brother to me. It was an honor to play with him and pick his brain about how the league works and stuff.
How big was the bitter 71-69 loss in Braunschweig on December 23rd? Could that have been the turning point? After that loss the losing continued.
We’ve lost many games that were bitter and super close. If we won those games it would obviously be a different story. When you lose a close game it’s hard mentally knowing you could’ve won.
Is there any hope for the team starting a big season ending run to stay in the league?
Every game for us will be tough. We just have to focus on each one and hope we get the outcome we want.
How have you seen the development of talented German Bjarne Kraushaar? Did you take him under your wing? What is missing for him to average 20 plus minutes?
I think just him not having confidence in himself is what’s stopping him from getting those minutes. I love playing on the court with him. I think we compliment each other very well. He’s learned a lot from coach. He’s getting better each day.
Florian Koch is a real experienced veteran, Can even a veteran like you learn something from him?
Of course. You can always learn something from teammates. He’s one of the guys with BBL experience.
You have had a great first season in the BBL averaging 14/4/6/2. Do you ever wonder where you would be today had you played your rookie season in the BBL and not in the Pro A?
I do think about it sometimes but I’m also happy with the timing! I’m just happy to be performing at a high level now that I have the opportunity to show high level clubs that I can play at an high level. I just wish we were winning more games.
Despite your good stats, how difficult has it been for you as a point guard to see all the losing? How much blame do you take on yourself?
I think at this level no matter how well I play sometimes it’s not enough. In Finland, if I had a triple double we were winning that game by 30. Here, if I have a triple double we could still end up losing the game despite the performance.
Your averaging 3,5 turnovers per game. What has been the biggest challenge for you this season in your first BBL campaign?
A lot of TO’s are just me trying to make plays for my teammates. Or when I think I got fouled and refs don’t call it. Or some guys just don’t catch the ball. It’s part of the game and it happens. Each TO is from me being aggressive. Biggest challenge is just trying to be positive and be a good captain and try to find a way to rally the guys and get wins.
What have you personally enjoyed most about playing and competing in the easyCredit BBL? What has been your nicest moment this season?
The atmosphere in the beginning of the season with all the fans! For home and away games. Nicest moments are each game we win. But, for sure playing at Munich was a great experience.
Recently an American Jonathan Braeger scored 100 points. He got a lot of hate because only 5 guys played against his team and only 3 in the second half and didn’t play defense. How can one rate a performance like that?
Wow. Never heard this. Now I have to look into it
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
I did not see the sequel. Waiting until I’m home to watch with my family
Thanks Kendale for the chat.