It was a little more than six months ago where SC Rasta Vechta had suffered another one of their typical crunch time loses at home to the Fraport Skyliners where one was wondering who had infected whom that season as the 2004 Beko BBL champion Frankfurt also had lost their fair share of close games where one could of thought hmmmmmmmm does the basketball God have his fingers in this rude and cruel ritual for both teams? SC Rasta Vechta had lost a handful of buzzer beaters last season which ultimately paved their ticket back to the German Pro A. After the 76-75 buzzer beater loss to the Fraport Skyliners, California native Richard Williams was sitting in their V.I.P room munching on some dinner and it was apparent that he was only eating for a sake of being there and fulfilling the obligatory post game dinner with the team. Despite a solid 18 point game where he hit four three pointers and some timely ones at the end, one could of read his mind and sad face that he hadn´t been content on only setting up his teammates twice. He looked as sad as an eight year old kid who had walked out of Jack Murphy stadium back in the 80´s and been denied an autograph from his hero Tony Gwynn. You can go down the list in the Beko BBL with guys that would leave their jersey on the floor, but not many that would also add their shorts for a win. Williams is one of those players that wants to win as badly as Bamberg legend Casey Jacobsen did as these two guys belong to the top list of most professional players in the league. As the point guard, it wasn´t hard to understood that he took most of the blame last season for the woes of SC Rasta Vechta. He had promised me in an earlier interview that he would make sure that SC Rasta Vechta wouldn´t move down, a bold prediction that just shows how much responsibility was actually on his shoulders and what he was willing to sacrifice for. However Williams is the last to admit that it wasn´t his fault as it had to do more on a lack of execution and experience during crunch time that had to do with the whole team and not Wiilliams. In an age where the social media is the number one spot for self promotion and for many professional basketball players an outlet to escape the boredom of long hours in a lonely apartment, Williams took a break from the social media in the second half of the season to concentrate even more on basketball something the majority players wouldn´t have done.
Donald Lawson is a 26 year old 208cm center from Chicago that will play his fifth professional season in Germany and first with SC Rasta Vechta. He played with BV Chemnitz from 2010-2014 playing a total of 118 Pro A games and last season played 30 games: 9.7ppg, Reb-2(9.4rpg), 1.4apg, 1.3spg, Blocks-5(1.3bpg), FGP: 47.0%, FT: 56.5%. He started his basketball career at W.Michigan (NCAA) from 2006-2010 playing a total of 115 NCAA games. He recently spoke to German Hoops about basketball before he came to Germany to start the 2014-2015 season.
BV Chemnitz finished last season in 11th place with a record of 15-15. What were the main reasons for the club not being a playoff team?
Consistency and slow starts. As a team we played well at times, but we also had stretches where we didn’t play well on the offensive or defensive end as a unit. We also struggled to get a rhythm at the start of the second half.
It seems as if the competition level has risen in the German pro A in the last years. Is the talent level of Americans/Germans been increasing?
The talent level had always been good and it continues to get better. The German talents are developing quite well and teams are doing a good job of recruiting players to fit their system/style of play.
Vincent Bailey is a 22 year old 201cm forward that will begin his professional basketball career in Germany with Pro A club SC Rasta Vechta. H eplayed at Lincoln Memorial (NCAA2) from 2001-2014 and as a senior averaged 21,6ppg and 9,8rpg. He won the SAC Tournament in 2011 and 2014. He talked to German Hoops about basketball.
Vincent thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how have you been enjoying your summer?
Right now I’m in Atlanta,Ga. Getting prepared for the upcoming season with Rasta. My summer has been great just been working out to stay on top of my game.
Any player coming from college especially from Div2 can be more than thrilled getting a professional basketball job so quickly. How blessed are you that you have landed a job with German Pro A team SC Rasta Vechta?
Being Div 2 I’m sure people have there doubt’s about me. But I’ve been doubted all my life and I am very blessed to have this opportunity to show what I am capable of. I am very motivated to be on top of my game and can’t wait to start with Rasta Vachta this upcoming season.
After a hard, long and at times stressful season in Europe, it seems like the most common statement that a player gives about what he will do first when getting back on American soil is to see family and friends. That may be true, but another thing that players are thinking about is how to satisfy their growling stomach that is giving them hunger pains, but after rotating mostly eight months between Mcdonalds, Burger King and the best native restaurant in that country, a player does have that special craving for that yummy dish that he hadn´t been able to sink his teeth into for the longest time seemingly feeling like an eternity. For San Diego native Richard Williams, playing in the tiny village of Vechta where one can drive from one end of town to the other faster than teammate Isaac Butts can take a lap around the Rasta dome blindfolded, the American didn´t have more than a hand full of places to eat so after a while finding a more variety of selection became as old as always having to hear the same bla bla of people not expecting much from SC Rasta Vechta in the Beko BBL. It was a season to forget for Williams, but when he did return home to California, he was able to momentarily forget about the hardship of finishing last and get his taste buds back on American food time. “This was the toughest season I’ve ever had. A learning and humbling experience at that. Through it all, it has made me even more hungry. I’m back in my hometown San Diego, California and if you know anything about Southern California you’ll know that we love our Mexican food. I had my brother pick me up from the airport with a Carne Asada Burrito”, smiled Richard Williams.
The last time Max Weber had a Skyliner jersey draped over his sweat filled body while lunging for a loose ball over Darius Hall who was also on the floor battling, ex Fraport Skyliner head coach Muli Katzurin was winning titles in the Czech Republic with Nymburk in 2009. Weber was always the quintessential role player no matter where he played, but had to fight for his minutes like any other player. In his last season in Frankfurt, Weber reached the playoffs losing to the EWE Baskets Oldenburg in the quarterfinals 3-1 as his teammates included Derrick Mr ballerina Allen, Konrad the professor Wysocki, Pascal Mr reliable Roller or Illian swishhhhhhhhhh Evitomov. However his time in Frankfurt was up and he moved on to Giessen where he helped the team reach their best position of 14th and best since the 2005-2006 season playing 28 games and often sparkling through his defensive prowess. The next season he took a step back going to the Saar-Pfalz Braves (ProA, starting five): 27 games: 11.5ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 46.6%, 3PT: 27.0%, FT: 60.0%. His solid season got him a ticket back to the big game to the Beko BBL with BG Goettingen. However in the last three seasons, his luck has changed as the teams that he has played for BG Goettingen, Ludwigsburg all landed in the cellar. Ludwigsburg only remained in the Beko BBL, because it paid for a wildcard. So often in life and in the basketball world, three is a charm, but not for the German Weber who once gained experience in Peru, who has had a season to forget in Vechta as this team is also in the cellar and will move back to the Pro A. Weber has played only 20 games averaging 9,5 minutes per game and 1.4ppg and 1,5rpg. He just hasn´t been able to break the rotation of head coach Pat Elzie the way he has wanted to. In the first loss in Frankfurt, Weber played nine minutes. In the return game in Vechta, there was no teammate on Frankfurt that had played with him back in Frankfurt in 2008-2009 and Weber was only younger than Quantez Robertson and Skyliner captain Marius Nolte. Weber was focused to play his old team again, but his mood was severely dampened after the buzzer beater loss to Frankfurt 76-75 which officially sent them back to the second Bundesliga.and reflected on his bad luck of being on Beko BBL teams that have moved down the last years. ”This was a bitter loss and we knew that the season would be tough. I came to Vechta, because I wanted to study at the same time. I didn´t even go to morning practices, but just evening practices. I had injuries and pain and never found my role in the team. I thought I wouldn´t break even with Wayne Bernard with three times having to depart the Beko BBL, but I did against my ex team Frankfurt. But it was still the right decision for me to come to Vechta”, stressed ex Fraport Skyliner Max Weber. His teammate Richard Williams had an expression of sorrow on his face after the loss while eating a dish of fish in the second floor in the Rasta Dome arena and was content that no player can really be responsible for a team moving down. “Max Weber had bad luck. You never want to be attached with moving down, but that is a part of the sport. It can happen to anyone. Max played quality minutes for us. There is so much to love about his game. He helped us so much on the court”, stressed California native Richard Williams.
There are always those enchanting stories of players coming from smaller schools that have to start at the bottom of the basketball league food chain and through strong performances and keeping stats consistent make the jump to higher leagues. This scenario has been displayed in the German basketball leagues with guys like Jason Boone, Devin Uskoski or Jacob Doerkson moving up from the Regionaliga and Pro B leagues to find their niche in the Beko BBL. Another guy who has done this is California native Richard Williams who excelled at San Diego State8NCAA) an dthen worked his way up the German leagues starting with UBC Hannover in 2011 in the Pro B where he averaged 18.3ppg, 5.1rpg, Assists-4(5.7apg), Steals-2(3.2spg), FGP: 48.1%, 3PT: 36.1%, FT: 75.8%. Last season he was an instrumental part for SC Rasta Vechta moving up to the Beko BBL where he averaged 15.6ppg, 5.2rpg, Assists-1(6.7apg), Steals-1(2.5spg), FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 35.2%, FT: 79.9%. Williams came into the Beko BBL knowing that his hard work really had paid off. “I am not surprised at all. Its been a long time coming for me to get to this point. This is my opportunity to show what I am made of. Hard work, faith and patience have been good to me. I believe so. I am not the first to start from the bottom and I wont be the last. There have been guys before me that made this opportunity possible. Without those guys no one would look for talent in the lower leagues”, stressed Richard Williams. It has been a rocky season for SC Rasta Vechta as they were 3-12 in 2013 and in 2014 are also 3-12, but suffered an untimely 12 game losing streak which undoubtedly sealed their fate for the next season in the Pro A. They lost some close games to MBC and the Telekom Baskets Bonn in this 12 game losing streak, but the club and league knows that SC Rasta Vechta are a different team than their record translates. “We’re definitely better than our record shows. Our games prove it. We need to translate these close losses into wins. Knowing that we’re in every game is a positive thing but its frustrating to keep losing these close battles”, warned Richard Williams. This season Williams has proved that he belongs in the Beko BBL as he has been among the leagues top in scoring, assists and steals, but didn´t get an invitation to the 2014 Beko BBL All Star game. He battles the leagues top point guards each week and has held his own all season long. “I prepared for Per the same way I prepare for anyone else. Extra film and looking for tendencies. Per is a very good and crafty player so I couldn’t just take away any one thing and think I could stop him. I just wanted to keep him under pressure and make him work for everything. I definitely feel I belong in the All-Star game but I’m not. It is what it is and I have to move on. I’ll speak with the way I play. This is just extra motivation to show everyone I belong to be mentioned with the best in this league. Nothing I’m not used to. Two seasons ago I was told I wasn’t good enough and had to start from the Pro B. Look at me now”, warned Richard Williams. In the long losing streak, Williams did his best trying to help his club win each agme and was a leader scored in double figures in 11 of 12 games. Basketball is a team game an dthe blame is never on only one player. Williams has the heart of a Lion who is cornered by their enemy the buffalo and somehow has the will to escape, but can´t really and must go through hardships just like on the court. Shortly before the new year 2014, Williams made a promise, but reality just didn´t want to fulfill it. “We have a team full of confident players that will grind out every game to make sure it happens that we will remain in the league. We will survive because I will make sure we survive“, warned Richie Williams. Williams may have very confident words, but if there is one guys who lets his play talk then its Williams. He is the first SC Rasta Vechta player that will leave his jersey on the floor before he leaves in a loss. The club probably would have had even less wins had Williams not been on the team. His teammates support the effort of Williams. “Richie has played an important role this season, as he has the past three years we have played together. He is an extremely quick player, and brings a great intensity to the game. I don’t think that you can attribute our teams losing streak to any specific player. Basketball is a team game, and being so we should take the praise for the wins together, and the negativity of losses together”, stressed Jacob Doerkson.
Dirk Mädrich is a 30 year old 212cm center that is playing his third season for SC Rasta Vechta after moving down two classes form the Beko BBL to the Pro B in 2011. He started his basketball career in 2001 with BG Dorsten (Regionalliga). He then played three seasons for Braunschweig. In 2004-2005 he moved to Bamberg where he helped Bamberg win their first Beko BBL title. He then moved back to Braunschweig for a season and in 2006-2007 left Germany and played for Strasbourg IG (France-ProA): ULEB Cup: 13 games: 4.1ppg, 2.8rpg; French League: 31 games: 4.5ppg, 2.7rpg. He then played for the Artland Dragons form 2007-2009 helping them win the Beko BBL cup in 2008. In 2009 he played for AEP Olimpiada Patron (Greece-A2, starting five): 5 games: 8.8ppg, 3.6rpg, FGP: 75.0%, FT: 87.5%, then moved to Konstantin Elephants Grevenbroich (Regionalliga, starting five): 4 games: 12.5ppg. In 2010-2011 he played for LTi Giessen 46ers (1.Bundesliga): 30 games: 3.4ppg, 1.9rpg. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball recently.
The most asked question to you this season has to be, was moving to SC Rasta Vechta the best decision in your basketball career?
That has been asked often and it was my best decision and the turning point in my basketball career. I had the choice of having a small role for a big team or be a small fish in big water or go back a step and take on some responsibility at Vechta. The concept of Pat Elzie worked and we have a great team now. I made a big step in the last three years. I am more robust, conditioned and grew up as a player with Vechta.
Why has Pat Elzie been so successful with SC Rasta Vechta?
Pat Elzie is a players coach that gives you confidence and stands behind you when you make a mistake. Before I came to Vechta, I never got a real chance anywhere or was injured. Elzie never stopped believing in me.