The one guy looks like he could be a lumber jack with his strong build and curly wavy hair and be chopping down trees somewhere in the redwoods in northern California, but FC Bayern Munich center John Bryant who is known as big country actually comes from San Pablo which is across the bay from San Francisco and would have a quicker drive finding some tasty waves on the pacific than a tall red wood. The other guy Johannes Voigtmann who is one half of the Frankfurt twin towers comes from the former Eastern Germany Eisenach and looks like he could be a high school senior with piercing eyes as blue as the ocean on a crystal clear day and could even pose as Arnold Schwarzenegger´s son from a distance. Bryant is a 28 year old 208cm center that has been a dominating force since he entered the Beko BBL in 2011 and was the top rebounder in the league three years in a row with ratiopharm Ulm. Last season he moved to FC Bayern Munich where his stats declined, but only because of the deep roster and so much scoring potential. This season Bryant is back to top stats averaging 13,9ppg and 8,1rpg and is third in rebounds and ninth in blocks in the BBL. Voigtmann on the other hand is a 22 year old 2010 cm center that has made a vast improvement since coming to Frankfurt in 2012 improving his points from 3,3ppg, 8,1ppg to 12,1ppg and 5,6rpg this season. He is on course to pick up the most improved player award and follow in the foot steps of teammate Danilo Barthel who won it last year. The Frankfurt big man has really been a force in Eurochallenge play averaging 15,7ppg, 7,1rpg and 1,8 apg. It is always interesting to see what kind of progress a young guy like a Voigtmann has done over the course of the season from the first meeting to the last meeting with a team. In the 80-73 loss in Munich John Bryant had a typical game of 12 points and 10 boards on 6/7 shooting while Voigtman had four points and four rebounds. Six months after their last meeting the two big men met again this time in Frankfurt and the German big man got revenge getting the winning bucket helping the Fraport Skyliners shock FC Bayern Munich 76-73. It wasn´t the best games of the two centers and Voigtman had eight points, seven rebounds, three assists and four turnovers while Bryant spread the floor with his inside out game getting 13 points and two rebounds. Voigtmann strives for getting this opportunity week in and week out against the best centers and was in awe mostly with that strong body of Bryant. “John Bryant has so much quality. He can shoot the ball and that unbelievable body, it is so strong that it is hard to get around him. He is one of the best players and its fun to compete against him”, stressed German national player Johannes Voigtmann. Jermale Jones of the Licher Baskets Baehren who is a regular guest in the Fraport arena has been observing Voigtmann all season long and was excited about the duel against Bryant. “Voigtmann´s game has really progressed this season especially his court vision. He is always in passing mode before he has even put the ball on the floor. He has become more physical. I remember him being softer last season. Voigtmann has understood through experience what it takes to compete. He knows that he has to do the little things. I am sure that he was able to take something from the game of Bryant”, stressed Alabama native Jermale Jones. “Voigtmann has improved so much with his physicality and passing. He has gone from a solid player to a potential player of the year candidate”, expressed Oklahoma native Jacob Burtschi.
If there is one thing that you can´t criticize about rookie Fraport Skyliner Sean Armand is having the bravery and audacity of speaking his mind even if it doesn´t always seem logical or plausible. Sometimes saying those well-chosen radical words can pull a team together or make an individual heighten their game while other times it can backfire. For Armand who is a 23 year old 196cm shooting guard from Brooklyn New York, he had some of those moments at Iona(NCAA) where his verbal input might have made headlines and given the press great quotes, but in the end, it didn´t profit his team. A prime example was before the game against top ranked school Kansas where he called future NBA player Andrew Wiggins overrated, but Wiggins his team coming away with a victory. After 40 minutes, the winner was Kansas 86-66 while the senior Armand had 14 points and the freshman Wiggins poured in 13 points. Another prime example was when Armand was a junior and predicted that if Iona ranked 15Th at the time beat #2 Ohio State in the NCAA tournament that it wouldn´t be an upset. The result wasn´t an upset, but moreover an easy and programmed 95-70 win for Ohio State as he finished with 17 points on 5/17 shooting. Armand may not have had much success with electing how to verbally express himself in school before a big game, but there is always going to be a guy like Armand that is sprouting with extra self- confidence for his team and himself. Even if you are a low ranked team, any player would be lying if they didn´t want to go into every game no matter if it is a Kansas, Duke, Kentucky or Arizona and want to leave the floor after 40 minutes with a win. A healthy touch of self-assurance never hurts and that is exactly what Sean Armand has. However just timing and the content was something that didn´t mesh in college. Armand may only be a rookie as a professional player, but so far his play on the court has been more than exemplary and just how much his verbal ability has had an impact on the Fraport Skyliners has been unknown as so far he has led by example. When Armand was a freshman at Iona, there were more experienced guys like future NBA player Scott Machado that had the leadership duties, so now he may be listening more to guys like Quantez Robertson. However one thing is certain since the arrival of fellow rookie Justin Cobbs, Armand has had his most consistent span as a rookie.
For 110 days the Fraport Skyliners were flawless winning 10 games at home in a row and posing the question if their comfy living room temperature that had kept the club so snug for such a long period of time had been turned down as clubs like six time Beko BBL champion Brose Baskets Bamberg and Russian Eurochallenge opponent Avtodor Saratov arrived in the Fraport arena at the end of January 2014 and beat them. The last time the 2004 Beko BBL winner Fraport Skyliners lost two consecutive games at home. It was at the start of the season on the first weekend where they lost to Phoenix Hagen and ratiopharm Ulm. It was such a long time ago that the recently crowned 2015 Super Bowl champions New England Patriots were 2-2 and coming off a crushing 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and were as far away from a fourth Super Bowl win as is nose tackle Vince Winfork is from ever getting lost at the take out drive through line at Mcdonalds, the Atlanta Hawks were in training camp getting ready for the 2014-2015 season as only the very few would have predicted them being the best team in the NBA at the start of February 2015 having a stellar 40-8 record and the San Francisco Giants and manager Bruce Bochy were near to winning their third MLB World Series in the last five years. However streaks are there to be broken as the Fraport Skyliners lost to the Brose Baskets Bamberg and Avtodor Saratov. Having lost key players German national player Danilo Barthel and Los Angeles native and rookie Justin Cobbs to injury, the club lost a third consecutive game to 2010 Eurochallenge winner BG Goettingen on the road. Despite injuries and a brisk winter wind having taken over in the usual warm and cozy Fraport arena that disrupted the success of the club, the Fraport Skyliners returned home, but the competition didn´t get any easier as 8 time Beko BBL champion Alba Berlin arrived, but Frankfurt had big hair, Oklahoma flavor, basketball general Justin Cobbs and basketball lieutenant Sean Armand who led the 2004 Beko BBL champion past 8 time BBL winner Alba Berlin 87-80 in overtime starting a new winning streak at home. Quantez Robertson had big hair again something he usually displays at the start of a season as a gesture of good luck and success for the season, three is a charm as Jacob Burtschi was back in Frankfurt for a third tour of duty bringing that Oklahoma flavor while Justin the basketball general Cobbs and basketball lieutenant Sean Armand took care of business in overtime as it was another normal day at the office even if it was an ugly win the club gave Alba Berlin only their second loss of the season. “It was an ugly game, but sometimes when you are overmatched playing against an Euroleague team where you should lose by 20 points on paper, you need to turn it into an ugly game. We were lucky, stuck together and got the win”, warned ex Bremerhaven forward Jacob Burtschi. For Alba Berlin, it was only their second loss of the season and something they definitely weren´t used to as lowered heads came out of the dressing room one by one as so little words escaped their mouths that one could of asked “cat got your tongue”? “We lost and Frankfurt played well. It was a good game and exciting, but Frankfurt had the advantage with the home court. They always had answers and shot very well from outside”, stressed ex Skyliner Alex King.