Two months ago, the small basketball world in Bayreuth was about as exciting and comparable to if Lebron James were ever to be traded to small market team Memphis Grizzlies, ex Artland Dragons Darius Hall and Michael hakim Jordan going back to the Artland Dragons to have a smiling contest with the loser to tangle with mascot Toby the dragon in a mud pit or the current buzz that is actually happening in Berlin with famous coach Otto Rehagel coming to save Hertha Berlin and keep them in the Bundesliga. The rumor of NBA mega superstar Kevin Durant joining the team the Bavarian team had transformed the city into Durant fever and put the quaint city onto the world basketball map. Even though the city never got to see the American do his magic on the court, the possibility of what he could have done on the court and how he could of helped the team win removed some boring and laid back afternoons for some into an exciting and magical dreamland. With Jeremy Lin and Linmania taking the big apple by storm presently, BBC Bayreuth fans may be dreaming of a new basketball mania for the future, but for now basketball life is back to normal in the Richard Wagner city as the team is still fighting to reach the beko BBL playoffs despite a slump presently. For BBC Bayreuth German big man Stefan Schmidt, the whole Kevin Durant is old news, but he still remembers how life was in early December 2011. “I was surprised at the beginning about the Durant rumors and we sat together and talked about it and we agreed not to talk about it and just concentrate on our games. At that point the topic of Durant was forgotten. The whole Durant rumor wasn´t really as spectacular as many may have expected. I don´t read Bayreuth newspapers, so I didn´t really follow what was happening. I thought it was only funny that suddenly as Durant wa sin the news, everyone was interested in little old Bayreuth. Everything is back to normal, but the only difference now is that I am not getting 50 messages a day asking if Durant was coming”, smiled Stefan Schmidt.
A few weeks ago, BBC Bayreuth basketball freaks may have been dreaming of Kevin Durant matching the 50 points of Deron Williams in a beko BBL game, meeting the NBA superstar in the city and holding a you tube moment forever, or examining his athletic moves and then making a fool of themselves trying to copy him, but since Durant never arrived, the basketball life in the Bavarian city that gave the world the musical composer has returned back to normal. However the team has showed that they don’t really need an NBA superstar as the team continues to play super basketball ever since Danny Gibson returned and new coach Marc Van Den Berg took the helm as the team has cut down their points allowed from 83 to 66. The team has sparkled like classic red wine on the court with solid team basketball with versatility at every position and came into the Fraport arena resting at position 11 and Kevin Durant 5007 miles away in Oklahoma leaving his play in a tiny part of their brain as they won their fifth game in their last six games stifling the Fraport Skyliners in their own living room 79-71. After the big win in Hagen last weekend, The Fraport Skyliners had to play catch up basketball in the second half never being able to retake the lead. “We played soft defense and didn´t make the necessary stops when we should of. We have to learn from these mistakes. BBC Bayreuth played very physical and we didn´t. Even when we got close there was something missing. We are good enough to get close, but not good enough to win”, stated Skyliner head coach Muli Katzurin. BBC Bayreuth played a very solid second half always going on small runs and just out playing the Skyliners in every phase of the game. “The key to the win tonight was our aggressiveness on defense. We were able to execute well on offense always finding the open man. We took the game on and not let the game come to us”, stressed BBC Bayreuth player Ekene Ibekwe. What was really impressive was even when Frankfurt came back, BBC Bayreuth was able to stay consistent as a team and play through pressure. “Our coach has preached staying together since he came. We keep fighting no matter what even in times when the opponent is pressuring us”, added BBC Bayreuth point guard Danny Gibson.
Not too long ago, if one had mentioned the possibility of a Kobe Bryant Or Lebron James suiting up in a BBC Bayreuth jersey, it would have been as ridiculous as if Lionel Messi would give up his FC Barcelona contract and play in Denmark, Beavis and Butthead sitting on their couch for an episode and philosophizing about Shakespeare or Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez taking a vacation together since rumors say they loathe each other, but a few weeks ago another NBA superstar Kevin Durant who is a step below a Lebron or Kobe actually was rumored to be headed to BBC Bayreuth. Since then there probably hadn´t been as much excitement in the 72,000 Bavarian city since the yearly fest spiele or when Richard Wagner fans visit his museum. At any rate for a little while, Bayreuth fans were able to dream and go through all the different scenarios of what a few games with Durant would look like and the publicity put the club on the world basketball map and also helped put the Beko BBL in the spot light to. BBC Bayreuth was on the world basketball map for a short while as were put in the same sentence as possible teams where the American was headed like Macabbi Tel Aviv and Valencia. Realistic German basketball fans never really believed the hype while BBC Bayreuth fans were living their own little dream world with Danny Gibson feeding Kevin Durant with quarterly ally-ops in the Beko BBL. “I viewed the whole affair as speculation. When you are dealing with a player of that caliber, you can never be positive about the hear say. I was just waiting to see what came of it. I think that Durant would have brought great exposure to the league. People not so familiar with the BBL would have taken notice. I also think that it would have solidified the BBL as one of the top leagues in Europe”, stressed Walter Tigers Tuebingen guard Josh Young. Then all of a sudden, the NBA announced that the lockout was ending and the possible arrival of Durant in the pretty Bavarian city was about as impossible as it snowing on the Bahamas, Tom Brady admitting that Wes Welker isn´t his all time favorite target or Kobe Bryant and Shaq ever playing a professional basketball game together again. With basketball normalcy back in Bayreuth, fans now could get excited again about seeing a Brandon Hunter crashing dunk, the continued development of German Stefan Schmidt or the possible point guard duo of Kevin Hamilton and Danny Gibson doing terror on the court. Even if Josh Young plays in the Schwaben land and not in Bavaria, there is always enough time in the day to dream about an encounter with Kevin Durant. “There is not too much that you can do to stop Kevin Durant. You have to deny him the ball and if he don’t get the ball, he can´t score. I also would just pressure up and play aggressive”, warned Josh Young.
Kevin Hamilton is a 27 year old 193cm guard from Queens Village, New York that is playing his first season for BBC Bayreuth. He played at Holy Cross from 2002-2006 and played together with ex Skyliner Keith Simmons. In his senior year, he played 31 games averaging 17.6ppg, 6.3rpg, 3.5apg, 3.3spg, FG: 38.1%, 3PT: 33.2%, FT: 77.7%. In his rookie season 2006-2007, he came to Europe and played in Poland for Polpak Swiecie playing 19 games and averaging 13.0ppg, 4.5rpg, 3.8apg, Steals-2(2.3spg), 2FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 64.2%. In 2007-2008, he played in France for Besancon Basket Comte Doubs (France-ProB) playing 2 games and averaging 6.0ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.5apg. He also had a short tenure in Mexico with Pioneros de Quintana Roo-Cancun. In 2008-2009, he returned back to Poland to play for SKK Kotwica Kolobrzeg playing 32 games averaging 11.0ppg, 5.1rpg, Assists-1(6.4apg), Steals-1(2.8spg), FGP: 43.6%, 3PT: 32.6%, FT: 66.5%. He was not lazy in the last three summers staying in game shape and playing in Puerto Rico playing 90 games. In tue summer of 2009, he played for Indios de Mayaguez playing 35 games and averaging 10.5ppg, 4.7rpg, Assists-3(6.3apg), Steals-2(1.7spg), FGP: 45.4%, 3PT: 28.1%, FT: 70.6%. His father was a draft pick of The Boston Celtics in 1980. In 2009-2010, he played his first season in Braunschweig playing 39 games: 10.1ppg, 3.8rpg, Assists-3(5.4apg), Steals-2(1.9spg), FGP: 63.7%, 3PT: 33.9%, FT: 77.6%. In 2010-2011 for Braunschweig, he averaged 9,oppg, 4,1rpg and 4,3apg. Last summer, he played in Puerto Rico for Indios de Mayaguez (Puerto Rico-BSN) averaging 10,6ppg, 4,4rpg and 8,0apg. He spoke to German Hoops about the Kevin Durant rumors.
How is your injury rehab coming along? When can we see you on the court again?
I am not sure. My rehab is coming along well. It could be anywhere from 4-6-8 weeks.
BBC Bayreuth has won three of the last four games. How happy have you been with the play of point guard Danny Gibson?
Danny has done a great job. The team has responded well to his play. He has done a good job leading the team.
What has changed since new coach Marco Van den Berg taking over the reigns?
He has implemented a whole new philosophy on offense and defense. He is a very good basketball coach. He is a basketball junkie. He motivates the team well and we believe in his system. It has been great with him.
Corey Stokes is a 23 year old 195cm guard from Bayonne, New Jersey that is playing his first season for BBC Bayreuth. He played at Villanova from 2007-2011. In his senior year, he played 29 games: 14.9ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 43.3%, 3PT: 43.2%, FT: 89.4%. He reached the NCAA Final 4 in 2009. Recently, he took part at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft): 3 games: 16.0ppg, 2.7rpg, 3.0apg, 1.0spg. Corey took some time to talk to German Hoops about his rookie season in Germany.
What was it like being on the same court with ex NBA player Bobby Brown and 2004 NBA Draft pick Rickey Paulding?
They are great team players and it was exciting playing against them. They both kept telling me during the game on the court to keep my head up and keep shooting.
BBC Bayreuth have started the season slowly. On what things does the team still need to work on?
We need to work on our team chemistry, but we are very motivated and work hard in practice each day.
Michael Umeh is a 26 year old 188cm guard from Houston, Texas. Currently he is in Madagascar playing in the 2011 African championships. He started jis basketball career in 2003 with UNLV (NCAA) where he played until 2007 reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in his senior year. He turned professional in 2007 and played for the Giessen 46ers until 2009. In his second season with Giessen,he played 33 games: 13.8ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 50.9%, 3PT: 42.8%, FT: 81.8%. In 2009, he made the jump to Spain and played for Vive Menorca (Spain-LEB Gold) playing 48 games: 10.9ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 58.9%, 3PT: 36.4%, FT: 79.7%. Last season, he made the jump to the best league in Europe playing in the ACB for C.B. Murcia playing 32 games: 11.2ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 45.2%, 3PT: 44.7%, FT: 88.0%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Thanks for taking some time to talk with eurobasket.com. You are in Madagascar taking part in the 2011 African championships with Nigeria and trying to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. What has been your coolest experience off the court there so far?
Coolest experience so far is just being with my teammates enjoying playing.
The team is 5-0 and plays Angola Saturday in semi finals. How pleased have you been with the play of the team so far? opponents like Chad or Mali dont really seem to be so intimidating?
Having to sport a mohawk as actor Jim Carey momentarily does, 196cm shooting guard Robert Varden being sent to the D-league Tulsa 66ers from the Oklahoma Thunder or Paris Hilton having to pick up her cell and call a hair salon herself for an appointment instead of her assistant are unappropiate and some what undesirable things, but nothing compared to the tears and bitterness that club BBC Bayreuth would have to feel if they were to be relegated to the PRO A. The Deutsche Bank Skyliners have not had easy opponents recently facing a depleted, but still defensive fire power in TBB Trier had to face a desperate BBC Bayreuth who with three games to play had a 8-23 record together with The Giessen 46ers and Mitteldeutscher BC. BBC Bayreuth were not going to lay down and play dead like a slightly distraught possum as they came out upsetting the second place Deutsche Bank Skyliners with a hard fought 86-79 win in OT. “I would rather dress up as a woman than have to go down to a lower league with a team. I think it would be embarrassing to have to go down. People judge you how you play and if you go down, you can´t show that you can compete in the first league”, stressed 2011 beko BBL MVP Dashaun Wood. “I would have to agree with Dashaun Wood on dressing up as a woman as something I don´t want to do, but would rather do than have to go down to the second league, but we want to stay in the beko BBL and just wanted it more tonight. We came together as a team and just fought it out”, added 2010 Dutch league top scorer Danny Gibson.
With the loss, The Deutsche Bank Skyliners were unable to secure the second spot in the standings for the season, because Alba Berlin was able to win in Bremerhaven and only have one loss less with two games to go. BBC Bayreuth on the other hand made a huge jump moving from 17th place to 15th place jumping past The Giessen 46ers who lost at home against TBB Trier and the Mitteldeutscher BC that were defeated at home by The Walter Tigers Tuebingen. BBC Bayreuth have shown their strength at home this seeing compared to on the road winning their 7th game in the friendly Oberfranken Halle in Bayreuth and now can clinch a berth for next season in the beko BBL with a victory in Duesseldorf Sunday. “This was our biggest win of the season, but it only means something if we can win in Duesseldorf on Sunday. This was a huge confidence booster and we need to prove that we can win on the road”, added ex Nordlingen Giant Danny Gibson. It was no secret that BBC Bayreuth might be the most talented 17th placed team ever to play in the beko BBL. “You have to give them a lot of credit. They are fighting to stay in the league and can beat any team on a good night. They deserve to stay in the league. It was a playoff atmosphere and we stayed together. However we were leading by 10 points in the third quarter and we made some bad offensive plays and let them back into the game”, stressed Skyliner point guard Dashaun Wood.
When one is enjoying the beautiful spring weather and feeling a calm mild breeze on your cheeks, one can get into the mood to dream about Beko BBL basketball, but one can´t always think about breathtaking ally-ops from 2011 Mr beko BBL MVP Dashaun Wood to Quantez Robertson, Derrick Allen making another opponent look silly out dancing him with his ballerina moves or following the gracefulness of Casey Jacobsen on the court. Sometimes it is impossible not to think about the negative and when one contemplates the undesirable and unlucky season of BBC Bayreuth this year, it can be as unexplainable as to why Baseball crazed Puerto Rico which gave the world legends like Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda or Roberto Alomar are worrying more if guys like Carlos Degado, Felipe Lopez or Jose Molina will have MLB jobs this summer than their own national unemployment problem, the Houston Texans starting games so slowly and then not being surprised that another attempt at the post season goes down the drain like a bottle of sour milk does or a penny going down the drain to hear the chime, why Buffalo sports teams Bills and Sabers are unable to bring a championship home or to why race car legend Mario Andretti was plagued with not winning a second Indianapolis 500 after the year 1969?. BBC Bayreuth had the talent on paper to be a potential playoff team, but instead got more used to losing on a consistent rate then Americans being asked if they knew who Richard Wagner was? The riddle as to why BBC Bayreuth is near the cellar of the beko BBL standings is about as ridiculous as why Bayern Munich isn´t at the top of the German soccer Bundesliga with the roster that they have. “I would have to say that is just bad luck, I am not sure I could compare it to something like what is happening with Buffalo teams, but they just havent been able to put it together, but they still have a chance to hold the league so its not that bad”, stressed TBB Trier guard John Bynum. Losing is something that no professional athlete strives for, but it is something that is always tough and something a player needs to deal with. “No, I cant ever remember being on a losing team ever in my career but I can say it does suck to lose and it is a tough habit to break and something you should never get used to doing. I think the best way to deal with it is just to try and stick together and find a way to look at the positives which come out of the situation”, warned John Bynum.
With presents, food, snow, loved ones, chilling and more snow on the minds of The Deutsche Bank Skyliners the last days, the club had to return to action on the second German Christmas holiday and be as focused and energetic as Giselle Bundchen is before every click of the camera and every snap by Tom Brady when she is watching, paparazzi have to be when trying to catch new developments between actress Sandra Bullock and 2010 People magazine most sexy man in the world Ryan Reynolds and the way the Boston Celtics were ready in their 14 game winning streak despite not always having the services of Rajon Rondo, Delonte West, Shaq, and Jermaine O Neal who missed a combined 36 games in this time, but Frankfurt was able to overcome a slow first half to storm back in the second half and take control of the game and defeat BBC Bayreuth 83-75. Frankfurt won their sixth game in a row in the Ballsporthalle and nothing seems to be able to stop them at home especially when their sixth man is always present. “We knew that BBC Bayreuth is a good team and the reason that we didnt loose this game tonight was because of our defense. The Crowd got us back into the game”, stressed Skyliner guard Dashaun Wood. The BBC Bayreuth losing woes continue as they lost their fifth game in a row. “Frankfurt went on a run and got us out of our offensive rhythm with a lot more pressure on defense. They made adjustments on defense and we didn´t react. Frankfurt did what good teams do by finishing the game”, commented ex NBA player Jared Reiner.
A big riddle surrounding last weekend was the overwhelming and humiliating 102-51 loss of 8 time BEKO BBL champion Alba Berlin against three time BEKO BBL champion Brose Baskets Bamberg, but the biggest mystery of the young basketball season is the 3-12 and 17th placed record by BBC Bayreuth. This isn´t a Nordlingen or Paderborn of past years that were filled with talent, but nothing compared to what BBC Bayreuth has. BBC Bayreuth with ex NBA player Jared Reiner, NCAA champion Marcus Ginyard that played with many current NBA players like Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson or Ed Davis, BEKO BBL champion and Euroleague participant Koko Archibong, 2010 Dutch league scoring champion Danny Gibson or mini pistol Pete Campbell, one would never have believed if one had left for a deserted island 3 months ago and returned today that the club of coach Andreas Wagner would be in the cellar of the BEKO BBL standings.
Sometimes seeing teams with a very mediocre record despite a very talented roster is as unexplainable as seeing UFO sightings over Rosewell, New Mexico, witnessing rapper 50 cent attending a classical concert at Carnegy hall in New York and then deciding to make a classical CD with some of his raps from his most famous tracks, German tennis legend letting German comedian Oliver Pocher beat him in a game of tennis on a grass court or seeing an ally-op hook up from the top of the key from Orlando magic Dwight Howard to point guard Jameer Nelson. But so fra this season, the basketball fans in Bayreuth have had to believe and accept the current 3-11 record. “They are a talented team and are struggling a bit now. I think that they will beat some teams and finish the first half strong and be ready for the second half”, warned TBB Trier guard John Bynum. “It has been a crazy season for them so far. They are very talented. But just seem to have some wrong bounces at the end of games”, stressed Phoenix Hagen American Quentin Pryor. The club also has incredible experience and talent with an ex NBA player with Jared Reiner, a BEKO BBL champion and Euroleague player with Koko Archibong and an NCAA champion from North Carolina with Marcus Ginyard, but it seems like the basketball god has no mercy for players who have achieved amazing things in other places. “I don’t know what it is with BBC Bayreuth. They are a great team on paper for sure. They can beat any team in the league as we found out earlier in the season. I still think that they are better than their record shows. They will have success in the second half of the season”, warned John Bynum. “It doesn´t really matter who a team has, but it is all about the chemistry and how it develops”, added Quentin Pryor. Ex NBA player Jared Reiner came to the BEKO BBL in 2008 joining the Brose Baskets Bamberg and saw first hand what success can be like, but then at the end of December 2008 joined Bremerhaven and suffered a 6-17 record. It seems like déjà vu all over again as he is in the BEKO BBL cellar again. If that negative experience in Bremerhaven is on his mind now? “I don’t think so. As a player, you seem to forget about past seasons. You are only as good as your last game. It was a bad experience for him for sure, but I am sure that he and his teammates are thinking about ways to get on track”, commented John Bynum. “I am pretty sure that Bremerhaven is on his mind especially how things are going”, added Quentin Pryor.