It was 15 minutes after the Fraport Skyliners suffered one of their most brutal loses in their 20 year history being slaughtered unmercifully by 8 time easyCredit BBL champion Alba Berlin 105-70 in the semi-final of the German Cup as most fans had exited the Fraport arena and were trying to digest and somehow comprehend what they had just witnessed while most of the players had crawled back to the locker room and wondered what it would take to shake the seven game losing streak. New Skyliner guard Tyler Larson had just given his debut with his new club and had caught on quickly that one of the normal post game procedures is to sign autographs for the fans win or lose. Despite the brutal slaughter to the hands of Alba Berlin, most players were good sports and signed autographs before escaping to hear the post game disappointment speech of head coach Gordon Herbert. Signing autographs is a part of the business and something that is common all over the world. In the states getting those NBA autographs can be more of a challenge as many are tired of the daily hazzle and lack of privacy which in a way is understandable, but then again when you consider that a James Harden made more than $ 28,000,000 last season, it is kind of sad when you’re the only guy waiting outside the Rockets Boston hotel and he just glides by you like you aren´t there while your politely saying “Mr Harden could you please sign my piece of paper”. Not only is Harden in his own universe on the court, but also off it. The NBA is a whole another world in so many area´s, but in Europe getting that autograph is a lot easier and more enjoyable than in front of a hotel in New York when 20-30 autograph hounds are pushing and shoving trying to get as many signatures in order to help pay their rent. It also isn´t as prevalent to see autograph collectors waiting before or after games for the players in Europe. I remember seeing this guy year in and year out in Oldenburg and Bremerhaven waiting for players after they exited their hotel and only last week, there was a faithful soul who waited in freezing temperatures outside the Fraport arena after a Asvel Eurocup win and got Polish national player AJ Slaughter to stop and sign. In the Fraport arena, fans will never be denied an autograph and Tyler Larson was feeling the love of the fans when he began to sign and it felt like it might never stop. He had just suffered one of his new organization´s toughest loses in club history, but he still tried to make every fan happy and have that special one on one moment. “I have written autographs when I was with other teams, but this was a lot today. I must have been signing for at least 10-15 minutes. I like making an influence on people and enjoy writing autographs and making them happy”, stressed Tyler Larson. Of course the Fraport Skyliners didn´t haul in Tyler Larson to only sign autographs, but to help lead the team and give stability at the point guard position and getting that second defensive dog like Quantez Robertson wouldn´t hurt either.
Tyler Larson is a 27 year old 191cm guard from Las Vegas playing his fourth professional season and has found experience playing in countries like Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Belgium, Italy and Russia. He is a guy that never forgot where he came from and how he has gone down a tough basketball path and is just thankful that he can play the game he loves. That could also explain the friendlessness that he showcased in his first Frankfurt appearance to the fans as he went overboard with the autographs and selfies. His career start wasn´t easy as his route to South Dakota(NCAA) wasn´t a simple one as he had to prove his worth at Casper Community College first before getting his NCAA break. After being redshirted his sophomore season and having an unspectacular junior season, he finally broke out his senior year averaging 14.4ppg, 7.8rpg, 2.9apg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 37.2%, FT: 75.3%. He was very consistent and had some monster games and even held his own in a tough loss to top basketball school Stanford where he scored 11 points dished out 5 assists and had 4 rebounds against future NBA players like Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown and top talent Reid Travis currently a senior at Kentucky. His professional route also didn´t start off with a bang as he had to pay his dues for his first two years in Latvia, but his hard work and dedication rewarded him in his second season with BK Barons Kvartals Riga with the scoring title in the LBL league. He made his breakthrough in his third professional season in Belgium with betFIRST Liege Basket (Belgium-Euromillions League) averaging 18.2ppg, 4.6rpg, 5.8apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 54.4%, 3FGP: 48.5%, FT: 83.3%, and also spent some time in Italy with Openjobmetis Varese (Italy-Serie A) averaging 7.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 40.7%, 3PT: 33.8%, FT: 62.5%. It was in Belguim where current Fraport Skyliner Jason Clark first saw the American ball and his effective play was still on his mind after the loss against Alba Berlin. “I played against him in Belgium. He can do everything all across the board. I like most how he has the ability to create for himself. I´m a big fan of his game”, stressed ex Georgetown guard Jason Clark. Before coming to the Fraport Skyliners this season, he began with Parma Basket Perm (Russia-VTB) and played 12 VTB United League games averaging 12.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 5.8apg, 1.5spg, 2FGP: 45.6%, 3FGP: 27.0%, FT: 72.4%. He had some strong games against Kalev/Cramo scoring 26 points and netted 23 points against N Novgorod. He also played against top team CSKA Moscow holding his own with 6 points and 8 dimes.
He arrived in Frankfurt on Wednesday and took in the Eurocup game against French team Asvell and after passing the medical check had a few days of practice and had the opportunity to get to know his teammates. He made his debut in the biggest game of the season against Alba Berlin and had to witness one of the club´s worst performances in their history losing by 35 points. It wasn´t like he faced a weak team in his debut, but was hit by the Alba Berlin rampage and was impressed by the play of the Eurocup team. “They are obviously well coached. They knew exactly what they wanted to do and when. They played very well together and looked like a college program as if they had been together for 3 years. They hit a lot of shots and didn´t miss much. They are good, but not 30 points better. We had to play better”, stressed Tyler Larson. One really couldn´t expect much from him after only a few practices, but he did surprisingly well filling the stat sheet well adding 7 points, 2 boards, 4 dimes and a steal in 26,54 minutes of play while staying clear of the turnover stat, but didn´t find his range shooting 3/10 and was blocked twice. The American didn´t let the embarrassing loss dig into his focus and desire to win as he was more than annoyed with the loss and had that stern all business look on his face in the post-game chat that would have got most people to think twice before saying something to him that might not have sat right with him. “I like the style of the BBL. At first, I felt like I had to adjust, but as the game went on, I started to feel more comfortable. I felt great on the court, but I have no excuses. I should of played better. We as a team should of played better. We have to play better and get the win in Lyon. We can´t let this Alba loss beat us”, warned Tyler Larsen. “He played well and is still learning the system. He found me a few times for open looks. I like how he sees the floor. He will be good. He just needs to get to know his teammates. He will help us”, warned Jason Clark
In his debut with the Fraport Skyliners, he showed a diverse spectrum of what he can do. After the contest Frankfurt head coach Gordon Herbert had stressed that he had showed only about 30% of what he has as a player which gives a positive light of what can come in the next games from him as he gets better accustomed to the Skyliners philosophy and to the tendencies of his teammates. He came into the game against Alba Berlin in the first quarter and quickly showed that he has nifty passing skills as he made a no look pass to Jason Clark. After missing his first shot, he returned soon and made his first Frankfurt bucket scoring in traffic on transition. He also made a steal, but also was caught off guard by the intelligent Alba Berlin defense getting blocked. He came back into the game at the 7,39 minute mark of the second quarter and grabbed an offensive rebound. Soon after he was blocked for the second time in the game as this time he made a bad decision on attempting that shot. At halftime Quantez Robertson buddy and Alabama native Jermale Jones who is playing in the German second Regionalliga for Lich gave his first impression of the American. “He only played a few practices and it´s tough to come in and play against a top team like Alba Berlin. He played a mix of the one and two, but more the two as he didn´t know the system yet. He still has to understand the coaches philosophy. But from what I saw, he can handle the ball well and makes good decisions”, warned Jermale Jones. In the third quarter he took good care of the ball and played team basketball finding Robertson for an open three. In the fourth quarter, he had some more good plays. He did force a few shots, but did connect on a pretty deep trey and snuck inside the paint for a lay in. He also made a nice dish to Marco Voeller for the easy bucket. At one moment at the 6,02 minute mark, he was on the court with four Pro B license players and did a good job leading them as that unit contributed very well in garbage time. After the horrible loss, he got further praise and not only from his fellow Americans, but also from the German kids like ex St Johns(NCAA) forward Richard Freudenberg. “Tyler did a good job. I like how he plays. He is very calm on the court. He fits well into the team and I´m happy to have him here”, added Richard Freudenberg. Getting two extra guards with Larson and Trae Holder didn´t make the basketball life easier for young German guard Garai Zeeb who has been battling for minutes since arriving in Frankfurt in 2015, but he is happy to learn from experienced guys like Larson. “He has a lot of experience and I will try to take as much from his game as possible to help mine”, stated Garai Zeeb.
Larsen is a combo guard that has the ability to do many things on the court. He came to Frankfurt having shown in the past that he can score the ball and fill the stat sheet with ease. He has the pleasant ability of knowing when to score and when to create for his teammates and is smart with the basketball and doesn´t make hasty decisions. When looking closely at his game and how he creates and handles the ball, names like Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker come to mind when describing his game to NBA players. He has the game to make an impact with the Fraport Skyliners, but also hasn´t come into a easy situation as the team is riding a 7 game losing streak. Larson knows he isn´t a savior, but a guy that has to play his role to the fullest and just help get the team on the winning track again. “I will do what the coach wants me to do and what the team needs to get from me. I won´t be that guy that will try to be the main guy, but the guy that makes his teammates better while being effective and being a vocal and defensive leader. I want to get my teammates the ball and make them feel good”, warned Tyler Larson. A big problem for the Fraport Skyliners this season has been their poor defense which gives up an uncharacteristic 83 points something that has been unheard of in the Gordon Herbert era as he has consistently shaped good defensive squads that often averaged giving up under 70 points per game. The whole defensive package hasn´t functioned properly this season as a lack of consistent aggressiveness, one on one defense, perimeter defense, rotations and most importantly communication have been invisible. It isn´t too late to make adjustments on the defensive end and with the signings of Larson and Holder, the new youth spunk could add a new flair. Even if Larson is known more for his offense, one shouldn´t underestimate his defense and his zeal for improving in that area of his game. “I want to continue to be an all game communicator. Even if I´m tired or have a mental lapse, I want to always be communicating. I want to keep improving in this area”, said Tyler Larson. The American has only been in Frankfurt a few days, but quickly took a liking to Skyliner lifer Quantez Robertson. The presence of Robertson could be a very pleasant blessing in disguise for the future of the Fraport Skyliners. “Tez has been around the game for so long and is like a mentor. I love how he is a dog on defense. I can really learn a lot from him. He is always talking and keeping everybody´s head up. He is a very positive guy. I don´t get down or angry on the court. I feel like I´m like him. We will mesh”, warned Tyler Larson. The season isn´t over yet and the goal now for the Fraport Skyliners is too reach the playoffs. They are only four wins away from the last playoff spot, but now is the time to start a season turn around. Tyler Larson won´t be the savior that will magically turn the team´s season around, but if he can be that second defensive dog like Quantez Robertson, then there could be an improvement on the defensive end which is the Fraport Skyliner´s biggest flaw at the moment.