Jochen Lotz just completed his fifth season as JBBL (U-16) head coach guiding the team to the 2022 title. He twice reached the German U-14 final and won the German U-16 cup. He also had the opportunity to work at the Lebron James academy. He spoke to germanhoops.com after the 2022 JBBL Final 4 weekend in Frankfurt
Congrats on wining the 2022 JBBL title in Frankfurt. How was the celebration after? How do 16 year old German boys party?
It was more unspectacular. We had a water party and singing in the locker room. We celebrated a bit more with singing in front of the arena with family. We then rewatched the game on the bus home on sporttotal.tv. The celebrating was intensive, but short.
Ratiopharm Ulm began so well leading 20-4. How vital was the start for the team being able to get the win?
The start was really important. We knew that if they were to lick blood, we could have problems. They had shown this playing against Alba Berlin in the quarter finals. We didn’t want that to happen to us. That is why we played aggressive and pushed the ball inside. But we also had luck. They didn’t hit well. If they had, it could of given game another dynamic.
In the fourth quarter you rested some starters after having a big lead allowing Rostock to come back cutting the lead down to 11 points. Were you at any time in danger of losing?
I didn’t feel like we would be in danger, but I knew that if I didn’t make the change, they could come back quickly in 2 minutes if they made shots. They had to play risky taking quick shots. We did a good job always finding good solutions.
In the past years the JBBL has seen incredible talents like Peter Hemschmeier and Luc Van Slooten, but how impressed were you with Roy Krupnikas>?
He is individually a great player. He is two handed and so calm at his age. He is so controlled and at any time can find his teammates. He has great court vision and being able to find solutions at his age is very good.
I was really impressed with the ratiopharm Ulm team play. How much of a challenge for you is to teach team play for so young kids?
It is continuous training. We watch a lot of video as well as letting them watch the pro’s. It is a plus that Jaka Lakovic likes to do the same with his players. He likes team play and passing. It helps when the kids see that.
I was really impressed with defensive player of the year Joel Cwick. How much did he profit from the weekend?
Joel had a fantastic season. He showed so many times that he could be valuable in critical phases. He defended Roy Krupnikas the best from us. I spoke a lot with him leading up to the top 4. He had the tendency to finish to early on the shot clock, but at the top 4 he executed really well. His work and listening really paid off.
Cwick played 13 NBBL games averaging 8 points per game. How big is his future?
For me Joel is an absolute easyCredit BBL prospect. He has the whole package. He worked on his shot a lot this season and gained more self-confidence. He made some shots. He is athletic, has the will and intelligence to go a long way.
I was also impressed with big man Eric Reibe. You said that he was an important weapon inside. How did you see his development on the weekend?
He could make the adjustment to the NBBL easier with his experience in the JBBL. The JBBL isn’t easy for him. He is usually always the biggest player. There are so many smaller guys that only reach his chest. He has to confront so many hands in the post. He did a great job dealing with that. He showed he has a good set of soft hands. His potential is in the sky.
I also really enjoyed Barma Gergio Buglyol. He was an incredible role player making plays at both ends. How vital was he for the team success?
He dug his own shadow. He had been in and out with injuries plus being away form home wasn’t easy for him. He is a finesse player that is very smart. He has been training daily since Feb. He has been developing well from month to month. He can do it all. I felt the final was his best game of the season. It was great timing for us.
I also enjoyed Jordan Muller. He was so calm and controlled and had a nice jumper. Could his way go to the NCAA?
His dad is from Los Angeles and his mother has a fable for USA. I have no idea if the NCAA will be his route. He is still young and in school. I have never heard him talk about it. He has always been mature and has a cool swag. He is always calm and has a good soft shot. He really developed well in the last months in being able to lead a team with his court vision and passing.
How were you impressed by the organization of the Top 4 in Frankfurt?
I was very impressed by the organization at the Top 4. It was a great show and experience for the kids. I liked the introductions, half-time shows and having fans. Unfortunately form the camera angle, one couldn’t see the Ulm fans who were on the camera side. But all in all, it was a very professional.
How have you experienced the working relationship with NBBL coach Anton Gavel l? I’m sure that both can profit from each other.
We are often communicating concerning the players. But I’m actually more in communication with Chris Ensminger who coaches the Orange Academy NBBL team. More of my players play there. It has been great being able to communicate with Anton and hear all the stories from his career. I tell him stories about the youth league. In that sense I’m the veteran and he is the rookie. But all the interesting stories come from him.
You worked 4 times at the Lebron James academy. What did you learn from the American way of coaching?
In the United States everything is done very professionally and there is a lot of enthusiasm for the sport. The opportunities they have with facilities and sponsors is incredible. I met many coaches from college and high school. We traded info about styles and strategy. They were very impressed how young German kids can play in men’s leagues.
How did you develop as a coach on the weekend? I’m sure you were able to take many great things with you from the competition.
The experience in the games was important but even more important was the intensive preparation. The work was very intensive. During the game situations one couldn’t really realize what one was taking form the games. But that will come when I watch the games again
Thanks Jochen for the chat.