In Freak city Bamberg, one can tackle the difficult question about which player in the last 10 years had the most impact on their two dynasties, ex NBA player Casey Jacobsen or Brad Wanamaker, but one thing is for sure, the eight time BBL champion would have won far less titles had the club not had these two players aboard. Of course a team effort belongs to the success of a club, but these two players had a major impact on their teams. Granted a Jacobsen won 5 league titles in four and a half years while a Wanamker won only two, but the American who head coach Sasa Obradovic once called one of the three best players to have ever played in the BBL played only two seasons with the team going two for two in league titles and now has headed to greener pastures in Turkey with Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul. Just how dominant would the Brose Baskets Bamberg have been this season and for the future if the club had miraculously been able to produce an extra crate full of cash to keep the Philadelphia native on board? In any case when Jacobsen retired in 2013 the Brose Baskets Bamberg were dethroned in 2014 by FC Bayern Munich and now with Wanamaker departed, will they be able to keep the new started dynasty alive? This season the Brose Baskets Bamberg don´t have that dominant guard from nature on and off the court like a Wanamaker, but a very potent guard rotation of French national player Fabien Causeur, rookie Maodo Lo and Janis Strelnieks. All three have their own diverse talents with the French man´s basketball IQ, drive and shooting, Lo´s undeniable quickness and drive that is hard to stop as well as probably the best playmaker of the lot, and Strelnieks´s dangerous shooting and ongoing basketball IQ. Bamberg will have one of the best guard rotation´s in the league and even if they lost such a huge leader in a Wanamaker, the club has enough other players that will be able to slip into the role that Wanamaker once had. The question will be what player will be able and want to take over that responsibility? “I think Bamberg is still the favorite. But losing Wanamaker is a big loss for them, similar like when Munich lost Delaney. It will be interesting how they compensate for this loss”, stressed Phoenix Hagen assistant coach Steven Wriedt.
If anyone wants to doubt that the Brose Baskets Bamberg aren´t a genuine German basketball dynasty that was briefly derailed by FC Bayern Munich in 2014 obviously have been clouded by the seemingly never ending healthy arrogance of Germany´s most famous club or just been not paying good attention to the Beko BBL season by season. Facts don´t lie as the Brose Baskets Bamberg have won five of the last six Beko BBl titles and if nothing seriously goes wrong in the next two weeks where key members of the team are inflicted with massive food poisoning or ratiopharm Ulm all of a sudden acquire super basketball powers that not even Lebron, Curry or Durant possess then the Bavarian city that likes to call itself Freak City will win their sixth league title in seven years and second in a row. The team has always been stacked with overwhelming talent and an undeniable strong team basketball and chemistry that just grew over the years. That also has been the case last season and this season as the team has had the best overall talent and deepest bench in the league and one Brad Wanamaker who has led the club to success with his prosperous playmaking and leadership qualities that are one of a kind in the Beko BBL. After a stellar career at Pittsburgh(NCAA), he turned professional and played his first two seasons in Italy, D-league and France before making that first step in the 2013-2014 season with Giorgio Tesi Group Pistoia (Italy-Lega Due). Since 2014, he has been in Germany in the Beko BBL and belongs to the absolute superstars of the league. Ex Alba Berlin head coach Sasa Obradovic even called him one of the three best players that ever played in the Beko BBL. The two time Beko BBL MVP is on the verge of leading Bamberg to a second consecutive league title and the question is can he make the next step to the NBA this summer? Current Portland Trailblazer Brian Roberts who has played 279 NBA games won three league titles and three cups from 2009-2012 with Bamberg before making the jump to the NBA and didn´t have as much of an impact on his team as Wanamaker does. If Wanamaker doesn´t make the jump to the NBA, he definitely should be kept in Bamberg at any expense, because the name Wanamaker is like a synonym for dynasty, but head coach Andrea Trincheri knows that. Most important now is to be focused and win the title even if everybody really is thinking sweep and by just how many points Bamberg will beat ratiopharm Ulm game by game?
Sometimes just looking at the career stats and achievements of a young gifted player won´t always necessarily give you an overall picture of the person on the court, but then again when two seasons are as different as night and day, one has to wonder is a player only really made for a certain complicated system of a team? When looking at the young career of current FC Bayern Munich guard Justin Cobbs who is a 25 year old 191cm guard that calls Los Angeles, California home sweet home, he has played for 6 teams in just two years and is for the third time on the heels of winning his first professional title even if he still has to help contribute to 6 future wins with the mighty FC Bayern Munich. His whirlwind career started as a rookie where he was briefly with Laboral Kutxa Vitoria (Spain-Liga Endesa), then was the final cut of the Charlotte Hornets (NBA) and played a month with VEF Riga (Latvia-LBL) before ending his rookie cinderella story with the Fraport Skyliners where he helped lead the team from last to the playoffs and was close to winning the 2015 Eurochallenge bowing out to the scrappy Romanian team Rovinari. With the Fraport Skyliners, the guard was instrumental in the teams success as he played 27 games averaging 14.4ppg, 2.5rpg, 4.4apg, FGP: 47.9%, 3PT: 31.6%, FT: 80.3%, 2.9rpg, Assists-4(6.1apg), FGP: 46.6%, 3PT: 40.6%, FT: 83.1%. He was a legitimate MVP candidate and instead of staying with head coach Gordon Herbert who gave him all the freedom he needed to prosper, he left for Turkey for the bucks. He started this season with Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi (Turkey-BSL) where nothing fell into place for the talented guard as he played only 10 games averaging 7,6ppg, 2,1rpg and 3,3apg. There he played for a 1-9 team before departing in December and probably the only good memories he spoke about was his Frankfurt days with then teammate Sean Armand. He moved to FC Bayern Munich in December and played BBL and currently is averaging 7,0ppg, 1,5rpg and 3,2apg and 10 Eurocup games averaging 5,2ppg and 2,1apg. He went from a rookie season from being a main option in Frankfurt to a Munich team with endless super stars and having to come from the bench for Alex Renfroe. Cobbs has started games and had his moments like in the cup semi-final hitting big buckets in ousting Bamberg and scoring 16 points against ratiopharm Ulm, Alba Berlin and MBC, but other than that has taken on his role quietly and just been professional about his situation. Even if he has played only a minor role in the Ludwigsburg series, the American now is focused on helping his team master the upset against Bamberg. Even if Cobbs has a lesser role, he now is on a stage where the little things could determine between a win and loss. Brad Wanamaker is the reigning Beko BBL MVP and there are many ex NBA players on the court, but Cobbs is always due for a big game and should Bamberg be up by many in games, Cobbs will always have his rookie memory of leading the Fraport Skyliners down 18 points at halftime to the biggest comeback in their history and clinching a ticket for the 2015 Eurochallenge final 4, so Bamberg will always be aware of his beast capabilities. Cobbs just needs a chance and more minutes to make a suitable impact.
It wasn´t long ago where s.Oliver Baskets head coach Doug Spradley was toiling around with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven near the end of his four year tenure where he must have had almost more nightmares than Tom Brady still has with his two lost Super Bowls against the New York Giants.In his last season with Bremerhaven, the frustration of the lack of success seemed mind boggling as like so many other times, the club had great talent and experience, but were unable to form that needed team chemistry and also not having the right mix of players seemed to leave a sour taste in his mouth as well as everyone else affiliated with the organization. In his first season, he had almost reached the Beko BBL final in 2010 losing a tough five game series to Frankfurt and three years later was about as far from a playoff spot as Wurzburg´s amazing point guard Dru Joyce is too magically getting invisible wings and being able to fly and dunk over childhood friend Lebron James on a playground in Akron, Ohio. That last season in Bremerhaven really left Spradley at a crossroad in his coaching career that he felt the need not to jump back in the shark infested Beko BBL coaching tank, but took a year off to find himself again mentally. That year off really did wonders as he returned back to the scene signing a contract with the s.Oliver baskets Wurzburg in 2014 and was back at a location where his job was too lead a team back into the Beko BBL the way he did Paderborn in 2006. He found instant success with Wurzburg in the pro A and may not have eclipsed the 50 win in a row season with Paderborn, but also easily led his team back into the Beko BBL. This season, Wurzburg and Giessen together with the Fraport Skyliners formed a trio that were the little darlings of the league. Frankfurt with their team basketball moved up to the big teams like Bamberg and FC Bayern Munich in terms of regular season success while Wurzburg and Giessen who´s season goal was too just remain the league were battling for playoff spots all season long. On the last game day, Giessen was denied, but Wurzburg clawed on to that last spot putting Spradley back into the playoffs. Now he has the most difficult task of having too perform a miracle against Euroleague top 16 team Brose Baskets Bamberg. Just having reached the playoffs is a major accomplishment for the organization and nobody expects a miracle, but one should not forget that he once led a little Paderborn squad of unknowns to almost beating the big mighty Alba Berlin in the 2009 quarterfinals probably giving Alba Berlin Marco Baldi then his first major midlife crisis. Almost anything is possible in basketball, but for Wurzburg to be able to defeat Bamberg in a 5 game series or even win two games is about as unlikely as Dirk Nowitzki dressing up for his Bavarian home team in the series.
It is never a real pleasure to see a coach being the sixth man on the court as if he is just waiting to make an extra pass or getting in a passing lane to intercept an outlet pass as FC Bayern Munich head coach Svetislav practically lives on the court or a Sasa Obradovic who is making his hand gestures all night long during a game as if he has invented a new type of sign language and then there is Andrea Trinchieri who also can get loud and upset with a call, but somehow he is like an overgrown teddy bear that was just thrown out of a sports bar for having one beer too many and nobody really seems to mind when he gets a bit overexcited during a game. From these three coaches it has been Andrea Trinchieri who last season had the last laugh winning the Beko BBL final disposing of then defending champion FC Bayern Munich and Alba Berlin had already had had an early summer vacation losing in the semi-finals to Germany´s most famous sports team. Andrea Trinchieri came to Bamberg with a pizza truck full of expectations that not every coach would have been able to deal with, but the Italian did everything right from finding the right mix of players starting pretty much from scrap and just showing the Beko BBL that Italians don´t only have the right spices for pizza and produce amazing football players, but also possess basketball brains once in a while. In the summer of 2014 the Brose Baskets Bamberg took their time and brought in Italian coaching guru Andrea Trinchieri who is a 47 year old Italian that has a Croatian mother and American dad. Bamberg is his eighth coaching destination and he has mostly had experience in Italy, but coached in Russia and coached the Greek national team briefly. He is a guy with a lot of experience that won a cup with Prima Veroli (Lega2) in 2009, reached two cup finals in Italy and won a Russian cup with Unics Kazan in 2014. He has gained much respect from his basketball peers in Europe and especially in Italy is seen as a head coach that is always ready for duty. He has been described as a head coach that is always fully prepared for each game and gets 100% from his players. He is very charismatic and is always liked by all players. Trinchieri also was behind the bench leading Kyle Hines and Prima Veroli when the ex Bamberg player won his first title as a professional. Last season only a few months into the season his ex player Kyle Hines didn´t make a bold prediction, but just knew what his ex coach was capable of. “I think that he can lead Bamberg to a title this season. It doesn´t really matter where he has coached, because he has had success wherever he has played. He has a very strong work ethic, is very passionate for the game and highly intelligent concerning the game. I think he will have success there”, warned Kyle Hines. Now the question is can the Brose Baskets Bamberg keep winning titles with Andrea Trinchieri and possibly go in a dynasty route the next years as Chris Fleming did from 2010-2013? Of course Alba Berlin and FC Bayern Munich will be road blocks in May and June, but there is a new energy in Freak City again and that is simply undeniable and dangerous.
Darius Miller is a 25 year old 203cm forward playing his third professional season and first with the Brose Baskets Bamberg. He started his basketball career at Kentucky(NCAA) in 2008 and played there until 2012 reaching the final 4 in 2011 and winning the NCAA title in 2012. In 20012 he was drafted by the New Orleanes Hornets in the second round at #46. He played 97 games New Orleans from 2012-2014. He started this season with New Orleans playing 5 NBA games before moving to Bamberg a few months ago. Currently he is averaging 9,6ppg, 1,9rpg and 2,1apg while shooting 50% from outside. He spoke to German Hoops before game two in Ulm.
Thanks Darius for talking to German Hoops. Bamberg is still undefeated in the playoffs. What has been the secret to the playoff dominance?
We just have a very good team. We are playing with very high intensity and good defense which has made us successful.
Bamberg crushed Ulm in game one. The club did a good job against their inside presence. Is this something the team will continue to do to be successful?
Yes this is definitely something that we have to keep doing to be successful against Ulm as well as getting our big men involved.
You have been playing some time now in Germany. What has been your early impression of the European style of play?
It is a totally different game in Europe. There is more physical play overseas as well as the game is more team orientated. I like the play very much here and it helps when your playing for a good team.
Did you get any tips from ex teammate Brian Roberts who played some years in Bamberg about your new organization?
Yes Brian talked to me before I made my decision to come to Bamberg. He helped me suave my decision towards Bamberg.
There are some very talented players with Bamberg. Did you know any players coming in that have made the transition period easier for you?
I knew Trevor Mbakwe coming in. It was tough at first, but the team helped me get adjusted very quickly. They helped me get into rhythm quickly and it is always easier to get adjusted when your playing for a good team.
You are a very good spot-up shooter that moves well without the basketball. But what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
That is a tough question and I don´t really know.
After two full seasons with New Orleans in the NBA, you played five games this season and then was shortly with the Los Angeles Clippers. Did you fully learn this season that the NBA is a business where the interests of a club comes before an individual?
Basketball is always a business. There is so much money in the NBA and the only objective is to win.
You played your first two seasons with New Orleans playing a total of 97 NBA games. What kind of experience was this for you? How difficult was for you as a rookie finding a place on an NBA team?
It was tough as a rookie as we had a very young team. There were no veterans that helped the young guys the ropes. However I liked my time in the NBA and it was a great experience that I will never forget. I learned a lot about the league in my short time.
What was your wakeup call to the NBA as a rookie where you knew ok I have really arrived in the NBA?
My wakeup call was having to go into the game and guard Lebron James. He woke me up.
You also played 11 games in the D-league for the Iowa Energy. How important was this experience as you worked your way back to the NBA?
Playing in the D-league was a big experience for me and just being able to see how the other side works. It was definitely a different experience form the NBA, but part of the game.
You played together with Austin Rivers for two seasons. He only played one season at Duke? Do you feel he came out to early? Can he still become a top notch NBA point guard?
Austin just had a strong playoffs. He will be fine.
You also played three seasons with Anthony Davis. Do you see him being the best center in the NBA soon and do you see him winning titles down the road?
Yes I see him doing all those things. It is amazing what kind of leap that he has done in the NBA in only a short time. He works very hard on the court and will get even better.
You played at Kentucky from 2008-2012 winning the NCAA title in 2012 against Kansas. What memories do you have from that game?
Winning that NCAA title was probably my best moment in basketball. The whole team was close and we won as a team. Plus I was a senior and it was my last game.
You had many great teammates at Kentucky(NCAA) but where would you rank him in your all-time best teammates there?
That is very tough. I had so many great teammates and I got a long with all of them. Everyone was a good guy that I couldn´t pick just one.
How did John Calipari get you best prepared for a professional basketball career?
He coached like an NBA team. The style that he brought on the court was similar to an NBA team. The way he handled practices also was similar to how an NBA team works.
You also played together with John Wall. Do you see him one day surpassing guys like Irving, Westbrook, Curry and Lillard at the point guard position or will he just be a top five best point guard in the future?
It is hard to tell, but he definitely has the ability to surpassing them, but you never know. I think he could. He is very talented and works very hard.
What memories do you have of the World Championships U19 in New Zealand in 2009? Is there any player form that tournament that still stands out?
That was a long time ago. I don´t recall any guy standing out from them.
Your exteammate Denadre Liggins said that he is ready to make a NBA comeback next season. Do you share his idea? Will you play NBA Summer League this summer?
I am not sure yet. I will go there where I get the best opportunity.
It looks like the Cavs will meet the Warriors in the 2015 NBA final. Who will win it all?
The Warriors are definitely good enough to win it all, but I would never bet against Lebron,
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Thanks Darius for the chat.
In the first three seasons of the Brose Baskets Bamberg Title run, the rosters that had been put together were as intact and unmovable as a Dean Smith once was in North Carolina, a Kobe Bryant has been with the Los Angeles Lakers or a Tom Brady has been with the New England Patriots. Especially at the forward position team scout Brendan Rooney had the right touch finding guys like Kyle Hines, Marcus Slaughter, Reyshawn Terry and PJ Tucker that all had great seasons in the Beko BBL and were instrumental parts to the success of the team. However in the last two seasons, players coming and going during a season which seemed untypical when looking back at the last few years has been as rapid for Bamberg as a Coby Karl having the audacity to fall back near the end of the Fraport Skyliners loss in Ludwigsburg or how FC Bayern Munich head coach Svetislav Pesic visits the court during games. Last season, guys like Teddy Gipson and Latavious Williams didn´t fit into the style and this season the influx of changes seemed to increase as guys like Zach Wright and Damir Markota left. Especially this season that special Fear factor that teams always had in the last years was slowly starting to wane as did Winter in central Germany in mid February. There was a stretch in February where Bamberg was held very close three weeks in a row beating Bremerhaven, Tuebingen and Braunschweig by only a combined 10 points. However with the return home from Ulm last weekend without a cup title, one has to debate when Bamberg will find back to that level they once had before this season. The most important player on the floor is the point guard and the club let Zach Wright go to top Euroleague team Panathinaikos Athens and made the coup of the season swiping away Bonn fan favorite Jared Jordan. Jordan who was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2007 and decided to concentrate on a career in Europe in 2009 after being so close to the NBA has been one of the top 10 point guards in Europe over the last years winning an assist crown in Greece and twice in Germany. With Bamberg losing some of the focus this season with the rise and emergence of FC Bayern Munich, Bamberg manager Wolfgang Heyder made a big steal bringing in the ex Marist guard Jordan. Jordan who is the classical point guard and would rather pass the ball than shoot will give Bamberg a new dimension on offense and so many options. Jordan is such an experienced and smart player that it won´t take him long to shine in the Chris Fleming offense. The question is will Jordan be the missing link and the guarantee to a fifth consecutive championship? “I have seen two games, the first game live in Bamberg-Wurzburg and the television game against Artland. In both games he did very well and wasn’t even looking to score. Rebounded well, 8 against wurzburg, 13 assists against Artland. Jared does what he does no matter which team you put him on. He will lead and organize the team. Jared as everybody knows will find the shooters, cutters and Bigs because he has a gift that is difficult to teach, not too many true point guards in the game today. He will definitely help Bamberg, but there are other strong teams in league this season. I wouldn’t necessarily call Jared a saviour, Bamberg has won 4 straight titles and has a quality program, coaching staff and players. He is not saving them from dropping down, he is just a piece to the puzzle that Brose needed. Is he that piece time will tell, but I think they have a great chance with Jared. As a coach I would definitely take him on my team, he just makes everybody better, is unselfish, wants to win, but most of all a great teammate and person”, stressed Gotha and ex Jordan teammate Chris Ensminger.