Inconstant: I would choose this adjective to define the first part of ALBA's season. Some exciting victory - as happened in Eurocup against Bilbao and especially with Lietuvos in a thrilling match marked by a double overtime - but also heavy defeats, some of which were unexpected for the outcome of the game (Frankfurt, for example) or for the deep scoring margin (against Bayern, Khimki and Fuenlabrada). But results' discontinuity is the tangible proof of the discontinuity showed during a... [read more]
Inconstant: I would choose this adjective to define the first part of ALBA's season. Some exciting victory - as happened in Eurocup against Bilbao and especially with Lietuvos in a thrilling match marked by a double overtime - but also heavy defeats, some of which were unexpected for the outcome of the game (Frankfurt, for example) or for the deep scoring margin (against Bayern, Khimki and Fuenlabrada). But results' discontinuity is the tangible proof of the discontinuity showed during a single match: even when the team wins, it can be seen two sides of the same team. Great efficiency on both halves of the court followed by sudden drops that provoke negative consequences.
When we are talking about defense, it is important to bear in mind that one, two or three players are not enough to make a good team's defense; it is necessary to create the right collaborations and especially a great communication to build a solid defensive system. Naturally it takes time to set up it, in particulary when there are a lot of new players. Great teams "breathe together" defensively, but unfortunately this is not ALBA's case at the moment. There are different reasons to explain their defensive issues: bad collaboration - that often causes terrible mistakes on the switches - , wrong defensive attitude, low concentration off the ball. But I would pay attention to the biggest - in my humble opinion- trouble: little desire to fight and to struggle. After Braunschweig, ALBA is the worst BBL's team at rebounding and many games have been characterized by a clean predominance of its opponents. For sure there aren't extraordinary rebounders in ALBA's frontcourt but this is not the only key to clear up this lack; I noted little desire and little presence to grab a rebound or to recover a loose ball. In the last game against Giessen, I saw a different attitude and the right intensity for the first time; recently ALBA's head coach, Ahmet Caki , upgraded to starting lineup Akeem Vargas (192-G-90, college: Iowa Lakes CC), probably the best on ball-defender of his team. I think the Turkish coach wants to "reward" who shows a defensive abnegation on the field during this difficult and discontinuous period: that's why also Ismet Akpinar (190-PG-95, agency: BeoBasket) finds important minutes. Vargas and Niels Giffey (200-G/F-91, college: Connecticut) are doing a commendable job on defense. The first stays always aggressive on the ball, putting an amazing intensity to get through the screens and to contest the opposing shots taking advantage of his long arms; the second has the ability to be helpful in a lot of situations and I love his defensive skills: always focused, always with the right defensive position and the right balance to make efficient close-outs, always ready on the switches, where his weapons are readiness and a remarkable quickness of his feet. He's an intelligent player, so he can help the teammates in many different ways. He's a substantial 3-point shooter but he's also a great cutter and a capable rebounder with good physicality: many times he knows before anyone else where the ball will drop and on defense he's able in going to pre-rotation for a double-team, too. Every time I saw him this season's beginning, I appreciated his effort on both sides of the floor: he has been the most solid element as yet. Now let's focus on two players that haven't offered so far what everybody expected: Peyton Siva (183-PG-90, college: Louisville) and Dominique Johnson (192-SG-87, college: Azusa Pacific, agency: Higher Vision Sports). Peyton is as creative as conditioning for the way he plays and the role he covers; Dominique needs to play a particular kind of basketball made up of high pace and enough possessions to be productive. I think Siva and Johnson are both humoral and instinctive players, so when you decide to acquire them you must be aware of their features, first as person - being integral part of the team is fundamental for the both of them - and secondly as player. Doubtless, they prefer an up-tempo system with many fast-breaks, in short a game based on quick offensive transitions; but playing so unavoidably implies a large number of turn-overs and questionable choices. Probably, Caki would prefer a more controlled game with more prudent choices, especially in crucial parts of the matches; in truth, different choices at the end of the quarters - or in other important moments of the game, too - are truly questionable but I also believe that the most appropriate attitude towards them is being patient and willing to "forgive" and tolerate their mistakes, because mistakes are integral part of their style of play. Punishing is not the solution to problems, in my opinion. Certainly live ball turn-overs guarantee easy points to the opponents and can change the inertia, but if you are not prepared to accept their instinct - with positive/negative effects - you mustn't acquire them. Their defense is rather the real problem. I think Johnson's defensive performances are well below his possibilities; I note he's a good on-ball defender, when he's engaged with the right attitude and concentration. Last year he played a good defense with Banvit, but now it looks like he has not a great desire to apply in this part of the game. Off the ball, his opponent often creates separation with him, so a wide open shot can be produced; on the ball he does not takes the proper aggressiveness in pick and roll's situations so he's forced to slide behind the screen and he's often out of the best defensive position, doing bad slips without using his chest, too. And yet he's a better defender! Engin Atsur (190-G-84, college: N.Carolina St., agency: BeoBasket) is completely different compared to Siva; he prefers a half-court game and his best weapon has been the 3-point shot so far. He's a great shooter especially in catch-and-shoot's situations but he can also scores directly from the dribble. Differently than Siva, certainly he does not have great quickness and great ability to create an advantage from the dribble, but he's a solid player, able to be an important "balancer" for his team. On defense, he's showing teammates' same issues: separated from his opponent off the ball, little intensity on the ball, where he does not possess great physicality. An other guy that alternates good and bad defenses is Dragan Milosavljevic (198-G/F-89). I believe sometimes he's too much soft, in particulary on the opposing screens, on and off the ball too. Not always focused and ready on the switches so far, in my opinion one of Dragan's defensive problems is slowless in doing lateral slips, so it happens that even when he makes a good defense, he's often off balance when the opponent makes a sudden and quick spin or decides to change direction. On the other hand, his offensive qualities are indisputable. I think he's doing a great job off the ball: he never stays stationary and he never gives a reference point to the opponent who's guarding him, so he's very good at making back-door cuts and at coming off the screens to do what he prefers: dribble-jump stop-shot. He's a capable shooter behind the arc, especially in catch-and-shoot and he's also fine at finishing at the rim due to his good physicality. I noted recently his head coach decided to entrust him more possessions concerning pick and roll: Dragan has an important IQ and he's also a good passer, able to read what defense puts forward; winning choice by Caki because against Giessen, Dragan offered a substantial performance with 8 dishes. ALBA's back-court has many excellent players at passing the ball coming off the pick and roll with great timing, like Siva, Johnson, Atsur and Milosavljevic.
Coming at the front-court, for sure Elmedin Kikanovic (211-C-88, agency: BeoBasket) has been the most positive note of his team until now. On offense, his offensive luggage has only one word to be described: completeness. He is known for his abilities in post-up where he can score with many different moves: static situations where he takes advantage of his strenght and finishes with a drop-step in the middle of the paint or with a baby-hook shot. Despite not possessing a massive body, he has very quick feet that allow him to make snap and unpredictable moves making sudden spins with an exceptional tip and taking the baseline, too. Because of his feet's quickness, he runs the floor very well and he's also able to attack front of the rim, dribbling with good ability and excellent coordination and adding an important mid-range shot, a very important weapon to make him more dangerous. He produces a lot of points making the most of his ability to allow fouls. On defense, though this choice hasn't been too much lucky so far, Ahmet Caki pretends his centers make aggressive "shows" on the perimeter. Not always Elmedin feels comfortable in this situation, so it happens that he sometimes is good at stretching defense's perimeter, sometimes takes a bad position, not bent with his legs, so wide spaces grow for the opponents. I think he have to become more continuous on the switches and he have to improve at rebounding and helping: as mentioned before, he's not massive and too much powerful, but I don't think this is the only problem. He's often out of the proper position to grab a rebound and he doesn't makes the box-out correctly and in my opinion he's not ready to struggle so much. About Tony Gaffney (206-PF-84, college: Massachusetts, agency: Octagon Europe), we can say he's showing off an extraordinary commitment on the defensive side: he brings to this team a lot of energy, he never gives up and he's always ready to throw on a loose-ball and to fight for a rebound. Important team player, doubtless he's more efficient than Kikanovic and Bogdan Radosavljevic (213-C-93) at making defensive choices his head coach requests because of his good feet's speed and catching energy and aggressiveness. Bogdan Radosavljevic has a good offensive potential; like Kikanovic, he's able to cut after the screen so he feels comfortable with a lot of good passers in ball screen's situations. He have to improve at posting-up, but he's also demonstrating an acceptable mid-range shot. On defense, there are concentration's issues: he is not always focused. Last Sunday he committed 5 fouls in 10 minutes, showing a very bad attitude on the floor: always off balance and never bent on the legs with an excessive use of his hands to contain opponents' penetrations. Few words about Paul Carter (205-F-87, college: Ill.-Chicago) and Malcolm Miller (200-F-93, college: Holy Cross): Carter arrived to replace injured Miller and showed a poor comprehension of the game. Besides issues concerning his bodily structure - his weight is not enough to contain opponents with a higher size and weight, as happened against Bayreuth's DeMon Brooks - , he has proved many limits about defensive principles: he's behind schedule about defensive helps and rotations and he have to be more aggressive and resolute when he's on the court. It's too early to judge Miller, but he can add verticality to the front-court, despite not having great weight to offer. It seems he's decided and ready with great determination.
Finally: defense is the sore note, not the offense. It is true that there aren't many good defensive players and it is true that several of them have structural problems on this side. But it is also undeniable that these issues could be relieved with intelligence and collaboration and in particulary with the desire to struggle every single possession. Without desire, everything gets more complicated.
Banco di Sardegna Sassari (Serie A) tabbed experienced 35-year old American point guard David Bell (188-90kg-81, agency: Three Eye Sports). He already started the season at Phoenix Hagen in German BBL league. Bell has played there for the last five years. In 10 BBL games he had very impressive stats: 18.3ppg, 3.2rpg and 6.1apg this season. The last season he played also at Phoenix Hagen (also in BBL) where in 34 games he was third best scorer with remarkable 15.3ppg and averaged 2.9rpg an... [read more]
Banco di Sardegna Sassari (Serie A) tabbed experienced 35-year old American point guard David Bell (188-90kg-81, agency: Three Eye Sports). He already started the season at Phoenix Hagen in German BBL league. Bell has played there for the last five years. In 10 BBL games he had very impressive stats: 18.3ppg, 3.2rpg and 6.1apg this season. The last season he played also at Phoenix Hagen (also in BBL) where in 34 games he was third best scorer with remarkable 15.3ppg and averaged 2.9rpg and 5.7apg (top 5). Quite impressive season as he was named to Eurobasket.com All-German Bundesliga 2nd Team. Bell's team made it to the Dutch Eredivisie Semifinals in 2012. He is quite experienced player. Bell has played also professionally in Finland (Kouvot), France (Chalons-Reims), Switzerland (Neuchatel), Holland (Groningen), D-League (Santa Cruz Warriors), USBL (Dodge City L.) and CBA (Butte D.). It's very possible he may end his playing career at Banco di Srd. Bell could be described:
A 1/2 guard who simply assaults any game he plays. David is an outstanding 3 pt. shooter, can penetrate and dish with the best. Offensively can carry a team, also is a top defender.
It really doesn't matter what basketball player you ask in Germany that isn't playing in the easyCredit BBL, they will answer that their ultimate goal of reaching it one day and the chance of that happening isn't so off the rocker. What is funny the lower you go league wise, the more confident the player will get of their abilities while players in the Pro A are just as confident of their abilities, but seem to know that they are so close and will keep a more controlled mouth work as they... [read more]
It really doesn't matter what basketball player you ask in Germany that isn't playing in the easyCredit BBL, they will answer that their ultimate goal of reaching it one day and the chance of that happening isn't so off the rocker. What is funny the lower you go league wise, the more confident the player will get of their abilities while players in the Pro A are just as confident of their abilities, but seem to know that they are so close and will keep a more controlled mouth work as they know just having that one strong Pro A season plus having the right contact might be enough to be able to wear the jersey of that BBL club. The list of players that move up from league to league in Germany is as large as the beast magnitude that a guy like Demarcus Cousins displays each night and one of those guys that has experienced this move has been American Carlos Medlock (183-PG-87, college: E.Michigan) of the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig. The 29 year old 183cm point guard needed some grooming in the Pro A, but so far this season the ex Eastern Michigan (NCAA) player has displayed that he can compete in one of the best leagues in Europe as in 11 games he is averaging 11,0ppg, 1,5rpg and 4,2apg while shooting 32% from downtown for the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig as he finally reached his goal even if it took a bit longer to reach.
After coming out of college, he had to start at the bottom and prove himself in the always improving English BBL league where he led the Guildford Heat to the British trophy while playing 17 games averaging 14.9ppg, 3.8rpg, Assists-4 (4.6apg), 1.7spg, FGP: 48.0%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 64.1%. He already showed as a rookie, that he could recover in a grand way from a set back as he came over the pond after making his first experience in the D-League with the Utah Flash. There he noticed quickly that the D-league wasn't his route as he played three games averaging 4.3ppg, 1.3rpg and instead of wasting a whole season there, he reacted quickly and came over to Europe to try his luck and in hindsight, it turned out to be the correct decision. After sitting out the season in 2011, he came back strong in 2012 and the next destination on his basketball map was Iceland a place that always turns into an adventure with the beautiful scenery, daylight issues and weather, but at least the road trips are short and it isn't worth it to switch on the lab top as you will have reached your next destination before the opening credits of Suicide Squad have even ended. In Iceland he wore the jersey of U.M.F. Skallagrimur Borganes (Iceland-Dominos League) and one could be cautious, but still say with pride that the rest is history. Like many players before him, he tore up a weak league, but for some reason many players that have achieved success here have moved on to bigger and better things. Just ask a Derrick Allen who balled with Medlock last season in Vechta as he won the cup in Iceland in 2004 and after moved to the German BBL and is currently playing his 12th season in that league and for a time belonged to the top three power forwards. In Iceland Medlock played 24 games and was second in scoring averaging 27.2ppg), 4.4rpg, 4.8apg, Steals-5 (2.3spg), FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 36.9%, FT: 78.9%.
After his break out season in Iceland, he made the next step in his professional career by moving to the higher league Pro A in Germany and hasn't turned his back on the country that gave the world real Beer and real cars as is currently playing his fourth season in Germany and first for the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig in the first division, but once again to have gotten there, he needed to prove himself again and again as he played the last three seasons in the Pro A for Crailsheim, Wurzburg and Vechta. His first season in Crailsheim paved the way for his further development as a player as not only did he keep consistent stats and was always among the top three point guards in the league, but he showed leadership qualities which belongs to the most vital attributes that a point guard has to have in order to be successful. He led Crailsheim to the Pro A final, but lost to BG Goettingen that was just a number to tough for them. 'I think if we could have capitalized on our chance to make a run like we did at home maybe it would've been different. But hats off to Goettingen they got the title', stressed Carlos Medlock. However the disappointment of not getting the chip drove him on to become better and he would prove in the next two seasons that his leadership would continue to rise. He played his first season with the Crailsheim Merlins (Germany-Pro A) playing 37 games and averaging 17.3ppg, 2.9rpg, 4.6apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 41.3%, FT: 82.2%. His stats weren't just good, but magnificent as he showed his scoring touch on numerous occasions, but also demonstrated that his playmaking is solid and that he could shoot the three at crucial moments. In his first season in the Pro A, he scored in double figures in 33 games and 20 points or more 13 times as one could of called him the scoring machine from Detroit. He had some massive games against Science City Jena with 39 points on eight three's or 32 points against Ehingen or 29 points against Heidelberg. One may have thought that one of these two games would have been his personal season best, but it was actually the game against Magdeburg where he poured in 20 points, dished out nine assists and stayed clean taking care of the ball. 'I hate having turnovers especially bad ones. The game against Jena I did go into a zone but I was just trying to do whatever I could to help my team win', stressed Carlos Medlock
In 2014, he moved on to Wurzburg who were in the second league and were looking to get back to the BBL. One may have wondered why he didn't stay in Crailsheim, in a place he was comfortable with and with the chance of making the next step to the BBL with the team in the second season, but as is so often the case with any player, a new challenge and taking that best new opportunity for himself and his family stood out. He also always had the BBL in the back of his mind just like any other American player walking on the soil in Germany. 'Just knowing Wurzburg was a good situation for me. I Feel the BBL will always be there and I know I can play in that league. When the best opportunity comes I will be playing in that league', warned Carlos Medlock. He came into a new situation and just did what a point guard has to by running the team like a point guard should, had potent stats and at the end of the season reached the Pro A final again. With Wurzburg he played 39 games averaging 13.5ppg, 2.9rpg, 4.5apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 41.1%, FT: 75.4%. His stats weren't as big as with Crailsheim, but then again he was surrounded by more talent and he didn't have to do as much himself. 'The reason I came to this team was to show that I'm not just a scoring point guard, but I can run a team also', stressed Carlos Medlock. He still found enough opportunities to score as he scored in double figures in 29 games and even put up the goose egg against Heidelberg in 30 minutes, but nobody remembered that performance 24 hours later as his team had won by 15 points and continued to rush through the season blowing most every opponent out of their way. The season ended in disappointment as they lost in Giessen 77-76 missing out on a second pro A title. His second blow came in the off season when he wasn't retained by Wurzburg for the upcoming BBL season. Medlock remained professional and knew that this was just part of the professional process and that his time would come eventually.
Last season Medlock laced up his sneakers with SC Rasta Vechta and once again led his team to the Pro A final and had his best season in the playmaking department as he played 36 games averaging 14.1ppg, 2.2rpg, Assists-3 (6.1apg), 1.4spg, FGP: 52.0%, 3PT: 29.9%, FT: 78.5%. Being known for being more than just a scoring point guard seems to have always been a factor, but he finally proved with Vechta that he could be that vicious playmaker that could consistently deposit dimes the way a Scott Machado is doing this season in the BBL. Already with Wurzburg, he had set his mind on doing that. 'One of my main goals was to improve on my assists', added Carlos Medlock. With SC Rasta Vechta, he probably had the most talent in his three years in the Pro A as he had teammates like Derrick Allen, Christian Standhardinger or Chase Griffin. It was his most complete season as once again his scoring was there as he scored in double figures in 29 games including some monster games against Nurnberg with 32 points and 25 points against Science City Jena. He was more of a playmaker having big assist games with 13 against Hanau and 12 against Essen. At the end of the season though, he couldn't finally say three was a charm, but moreover might have said one more loss next season in the Pro A and I can book a room together with legendary Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly in the hotel for final losers as the Hall of fame quarterback actually reached four Super Bowls and never came home with that much desired ring. He did lead Vechta to a home 92-77 win in the final, but Science City Jena had done all the damage in the first game winning 80-54 and thus moved back to the BBL on account of a better point difference as that is how the Pro A champ is determined.
One may have thought that the American couldn't suffer anymore hardship after a third consecutive Pro A final loss, but instead of being rewarded for leading the team to the final, just like with Wurzburg, Vechta didn't retain him, but instead decided to give the point guard reigns to ex NBA player Scott Machado. Once again, Medlock stayed positive and let his game and agent do the talking and finally after six long seasons as a professional made the jump to the easyCredit BBL signing with the Basketball Lowen Braunschweig. This season has been one to forget as his winning ways of the last three seasons have been drastically reduced in Braunschweig as currently the club is riding a 2-9 record and is sitting near the cellar in 16th place. He has some nice complimentary players around him like a Dyshawn Pierre, Geoffrey Groselle or Carlton Guyton as well as German BBL veterans Jannik Freese and Nicolai Simon, and a handful of unproven young Germans, but all in all not really enough to compete with more than half of the other BBL teams. Head coach Frank Menz put together a risky roster with little proven BBL players and the result currently is a place near the bottom. Medlock has been holding his own incorporating his leadership qualities as best as he can leading the teams to wins against ex team SC Rasta Vechta and the Telekom Baskets Bonn. He knows that just like when he arrived in the Pro A three years ago, the BBL is all a new learning experience. 'The speed of the game is different. Throughout my career my assists been pretty consistent it's a little less than last year. But do I wish to average more of course', stressed Carlos Medlock. Leadership is something that he has always done well and this season it's been tough, but something he is still doing to the best of his capabilities. 'It's not a problem I been one of the leaders on each team that I played for. But what I try to do most of is leading by example', added Carlos Medlock. Except for a close 77-75 loss against 2010 Eurochallenge winner BG Goettingen, most loses have been by more than 10 points and the club even suffered brutal massacres against Bavarian teams Bamberg and new BBL sensation 10 game winning streak team Bayreuth by 48 points. Despite the lack luster, start, he is upbeat that the season will turn around. 'Very confident things will change. The team is starting to play well together and it's a long season anything can happen when we playing to our potential', said Carlos Medlock. The season has been a valuable learning experience for the American as he continues to grow day by day in a league that he has been dreaming of reaching since years. Medlock had to prove his worth as a basketball players for six years and his motivation to stick with it and continue to show the critics that he has game finally did pay off. He also knows that proving the doubters hasn't ended in Braunschweig either. 'Yeah it's been that way for me my whole life. Wish it could've been easy like the so called big name players. But it just helps me appreciate the grind of basketball more. My motivation that keeps me pushing is my kids and keep proving people wrong', stressed Carlos Medlock. Now the American continues to want to prove doubters wrong that he isn't a one hit basketball wonder, but that he can not only survive the rigors of BBL life, but become a consistent solid player that will stick for good in the top German league like that stickum stuff did to for two time Super Bowl champion Oakland Raider Lester Hays back in the day. One for thing is for sure, this summer nobody will be able to tell Carlos Medlock that he came even with Jim Kelly with four lost finals.
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