Maurice Stuckey(Hakro Merlins Crailsheim) Will Never Forget  The Countless Times Chris Fleming Said If You Don´t Play Defense You Won´t Play

Maurice Stuckey (187-G-1990) is a 31 year old 187cm guard currently in his 16th season and third with the Hakro Merlins Crialsheim. He began his career with BG Leitershoefen and then played for teams like Ehingen, Brose Bamberg, s.Oliver Wurzburg, and the Ewe Baskets Oldenburg. He won 3 BBL league titles with Brose Bamberg and won 3 cups with Bamberg and Oldenburg. He also has been a German national player and three time BBL allstar. spoke to him after the 86-80 win over BG Goettingen.

Congrats on the massive 86-80 win against BG Goettingen. Does the team believe it can make the playoffs. You have to win two of three games.

Our belief is very big. We have our destiny in our own hands. We have to see how Goetingen keeps playing. We look from game to game and now are focusing on Frankfurt this Friday.

The Hakro Merlins Crailsheim allowed 9 points in the first quarter and 31 in the second quarter. What adjustments did BG Goettingen make to have this turnaround?

We didn’t play with the same intensity that we had in the first quarter. We allowed open shots, drives and suffered too many turnovers which led to easy baskets.

Harald Frey had had 21 points against ratiopharm Ulm in his first game in the BBL, but was his 14 point explosion in the second quarter that there is huge talent in Norway?

He is a very good player. I didn’t know to much about him. He has a very good game. He presented us with many problems. He was hitting really deep shots from 10 meters.

In the third quarter Crailsheim exploded on offense. How refreshing has the play of Mike Caffey been. How is he a different PG from TJ Shorts?

TJ is a very aggressive scorer. Mike is also a good player. They have their differences on the court. Mike is very good at changing the tempo. He also has a lot of experience and is supper efficient on the court.

Did Terrill Harris clinch the win in crunch-time?

Yes I would say that. As soon as he came is he was super aggressive attacking the basket and getting out on transition. He hit big shots and finished well as well.

After TJ Shorts went down the Hakro Crailsheim Merlins lost five games in a row. How much of a shock was it for the team losing TJ Shorts?

TJ is our motor. It is so difficult to replace a guy like that. He gave us so much on the court. He doesn’t just score, but finds his teammates and defendswell. It wasn’t easy at first without him, but after some weeks we found stability. It was a new experience being without him that we weren’t used to and had to learn to adjust.

Did his killer mentality was able to rub off on the team?

I think so. The guy is such a tough competitor on the court. He never gives up and always gives 120%.

You have played with many guards in your career. What has it been like playing with him? What have you appreciated most about him?

He doesn’t lose control on the court. I really enjoy how he has this balance on the court between knowing when to score and when to find us. When you are free, you know that you will get the ball. Thanks to him, I received so many open shots. He is a real team play

For me the two MVP favorites are Jackson-Cartwright and Shorts. The Bonn guard had a better record than Shorts, but is the MVP more about stats and record or stats and how important the player is overall to the team?

I think that it is a combination of all these things. You have to have good stats and also be winning. You have to have the total package to be able to win the MVP award. It has been interesting to observe them this season. Both guys have had great stats and brought success to their teams. Both guys deserve to be in the running for the MVP.

Before the BG Goettingen game Crailsheim had won three of the last five games. Plus you played very tough against Alba Berlin and Ludwigsburg. What adjustments did the team make in the last five games that allowed you to be successful without TJ Shorts him?

I think key has been that we have gotten used to Mike Caffey. The team had some Covid issues when Shorts went down. But in the last weeks we have gotten better used to one another and are playing well together and finding each other.

Stat wise you played your best season in Wurzburg in 2017-2018 and this season it’s similar. Are you playing your best basketball this season?

I think with the success we had as a team reaching the cup final and quarterfinals of the Fiba Europe Cup coupled with my stats, this has been my most successful season in my career. My role has been similar in both places.

From 2009-2012 you played with Brose Bamberg. How did your game grow most in this time and how did it shape your play?

The Bamberg organization introduced me to how to be a professional. Before I came to Bamberg, I was used to be the quickest and being able to jump the highest. Then suddenly in Bamberg everybody was like me or better. I really had to pay my dues in those years. It was a good place to see what I had to work on with my game. I was lucky to be able to play with so many experienced players.

How vital was John Goldsberry in those years? How beneficial was it being able to observe how he defended on a regular basis?

He was very important. A guy like Karsten Tadda was also important. When you play for a coach like Chris Fleming you know that if you don’t play defense you don’t play at all. I can’t remember how many times I heard that. I had the basics when I got to Bamberg but what was missing was developing that smartness on the court. Also scouting players became important. It took me a while before I was able to feel really comfortable at what level I was as a defender.

That 2011-2012 team was insane. Names like Jacobson, Tucker, Slaughter, Roberts, Pleiss and Jenkins were on that team. Was that the best and most talented team you have ever been on?

I didn’t play much that season. I had two stress fractures and missed many months twice. I was just a spectator most of the time. I think that the 10-11 team and 11-12 teams were incredible. I always wanted to know which team would have won had they played against each other.

Everybody knows how great of a player Casey Jacobson was, but how high was his professionalism? Do you remember of a situation where you saw that?

When you played at such a high level like he did including the NBA, all that success didn’t come from nothing. He had a routine and stuck to it his whole career. I will never forget how he got around screens and made his floaters. He always made them in practice. He also was known for being such a great three point shooter. The guy was a real professional with a great work ethic.

You won the cup in 2015 with Rickey Paulding and the EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Now when you look back at that season are you content that you were able to appreciate your time being teammates with him?

I think I did appreciate the season being able to be his teammate. I didn’t have much in common with him off the court. I was 24 and we were both in different phases of our private lives. But character wise I can say that he was of the best teammates and people that I ever played with.

You played five years in Wurzburg. You were teammates two seasons with Maxi Kleber before he went to Munich and the NBA. Back then everybody spoke how talented he was. Had you have thought then that he could be in the NBA so long?

Yes I did. I always knew he would. The question was only would he remain healthy. His work ethic was great and he had a super NBA body. It is nice to see how much success he has had.

Some experts have said that Sebastian Gleim took over a well oiled ship that Tuomas Iisalo left him. But seriously how true is that? He still had to get new players including guys that had played in second leagues like Lewis and Harris (but very hungry) and a new point guard TJ Shorts. How much credit does he deserve for the success?

He came into a situation where the club had had success the last two years. There were high expectations and pressure on him. People began to get used to winning there. He came in and was able to keep the winning going. He is a very ambitious. People are always saying stupid things.

Did you sense last season that Hayward Highsmith was on a mission to get back to the NBA? Does a guy like him give hope to players overseas that really anything is possible?

I remember him talking about getting back to the NBA last season. Every guy who ever touched the ball dreams of going to the NBA. He has experience and he had been there before. He is a very good defender and knows how to hit the open shot. He has the perfect role with Miami. You have to have luck, the abilities and the right professionalism to make the NBA. I’m really happy for him. Plus he just became a dad.

Per Guenther is retiring. You had many battles with him. Is there one that sticks in your mind?

What I will never forget about him was that he was so quick. Unfortunately he wasn’t so quick anymore at the end of his career, but that is because injuries robbed him of some extra years. He was a great player and a real competitor. I will never forget his battles against Oldenburg.

Who is the toughest player that you ever faced on the court?

Kyle Fogg of Bremerhaven. He was really nasty on the court. He could do it all and was so strong. Tyrese Rice was also really tough in practice in Bamberg.

Please list your NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?

Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, Shaq

Did it surprise you that the Boston Celtics swept the Brooklyn Nets? Can Boston reach the finals and is Jayson Tatum the next Kevin Durant.

I knew that Boston would win after watching game one. They played incredible defense and were so physical. Brooklyn couldn’t handle that. There are many differences to Durant and Tatum. Durant is still active and very good.

Thanks Maurice for the chat.

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