From the land of Dirk – Nowitzki and Bauermann, that is – David Hein reports on a few happenings in Germany’s top division of basketball. Read on to find out about Bayern Munich considering shrinks; an ever more cluttered playoff picture; the completion of the Top Four German Cup field; and Bremerhaven watching more and more teams pass them.
Hey Doc, We have a problem!
Despite times call for desperate measures, and the bosses at Bayern Munich are considering sending their players to a shrink to figure out how to win on the road. Bayern lost 68-49 to Fraport Skyliners on Saturday, dropping their ninth straight road game in the league (1-10 on the road in the BBL this season) and 13th overall away from home.
With his team owning a 11-1 record at home in the Audi Dome for a 12-11 overall mark, Bayern coach Dirk Bauermann sees the problem clearing in his players’ heads and admitted after the loss in Frankfurt that he has toyed with the thought of bringing in a psychologist for some time.
Bauermann told the Munich daily tz, “You have to consider moving forward and working with a sports psychologist. I have thought about this for a couple weeks and I believe we have to do it. But it cannot be just an impulsive action. You need the highest level of seriousness and I am looking for that. I don’t want to say any more and magnify the issue.”
The Munich media – accustomed to blowing things out of proportion in all things Bayern Munich football – are doing a good job of that already as the city’s media outlets battle for readers by way of running interviews with sports psychologists.
The Munich Abendzeitung interviewed Dr. Jürgen Beckmann even before Bayern’s loss to Frankfurt, with Beckmann stating that “…The Bayern players first have to deal with the unfamiliar stimuli. And because of that they do not have the capacity in their brain to concentrate on their performance.”
Beckmann added that the name Bayern Munich is so big that players need even more time to get accustomed to the usual pressure of playing on the road. “The FC Bayern team is in a special situation, almost an extreme situation. One season is not enough to get used to it. FC Bayern polarizes people. And everyone only wants one thing: to beat big Bayern.”
The rivaling TZ countered with an interview with Dr. Manfred Wegner from the University of Kiel, who talked psychological training, development of the personality and stabilizing the players’ performance.
“I like to talk about the tools that a player needs,” said Wegner. “Those are the techniques that a player uses to help find solutions, a Plan B in difficult situations; better dealing with failure; and blocking out exterior disturbances.”
Wegner said the psychologist would work with players on different levels including individual discussions, teamwork and not focusing on the problem but the solution and a player’s or team’s strength: “Psychological training is a systematically planned procedure. It’s not like a sports psychologist just comes around and everything is okay. The athlete must get to know their body and psyche anew and trust themselves. Something like that takes time and needs to be developed.”
Too bad Bayern don’t have time for that…
Too close for comfort – or let the party begin
A big reason Bayern Munich don’t have much time is the amazingly dense playoff picture in the BBL. While Brose Baskets Bamberg (20-2) appear all but certain to grab home court advantage throughout the playoffs, Ratiopharm ulm (18-5), Artland Dragons (17-6) and Alba Berlin (16-6) will be fighting it out for the next three spots. Fifth-placed s.Oliver Baskets Würzburg (14-9) gained a huge victory over the weekend over New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig to open a bit of space in the race for the final three spots.
Eisbären Bremerhaven are 12-10 (with a game in hand) in sixth place while Telekom Baskets Bonn and Bayern Munich are in the final two playoff spots, with both at 12-11. But lingering at 11-11 are both Braunschweig and EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Walter Tigers Tübingen at 10-12 have also played one game fewer than Bonn and Munich and can get themselves into the playoff picture. But Frankfurt at 10-13 would need a serious – and nearly shocking – push to reach the top eight.
The German Cup field is set
A week after Bamberg and Ulm booked spots in the Beko BBL Top Four German Cup, Braunschweig surprised Alba Berlin at home in the German capital, 93-89 in overtime, to join host team Bonn in the final four. After failing to produce in their last two overtime games in the league, Braunschweig stepped up their game to make nine of 10 free throws in the final 26 seconds of the extra session and ice the victory.
“It was not easy for our morale but we showed our character,” said Phantoms coach Sebastian Machowski, whose team will face Bonn in the semifinals on March 24 in the Telekom Dome.
Two-time reigning cup champions Bamberg and Ulm will battle in the other semifinal and Ulm will be out for revenge after Brose drained 18 three-pointers in winning at Ulm two weekends ago.
Wait for me!
Eisbären Bremerhaven have reached the playoffs in five of the past six seasons. But with more money in the league for all teams, Bremerhaven is seeing more and more teams pass them by. And the northern German club is struggling to keep up.
“There is more money than ever before in the league and that makes it more difficult than ever before,” Bremerhaven general manager Jan Rathjen told the Nordee Zeitung daily.
Rathjen said teams like the promoted s.Oliver Baskets Würzburg and Ratiopharm ulm have already passed them thanks to bigger budgets. And the club needs to generate more money than their estimated Є2.7 million budget.
“We cannot just maintain our budget,” said Rathjen, who adds that a 5% annual increase is necessary to keep up.
Where that money will come from is still unclear: Bremerhaven are looking for more sponsors and partnerships while trying to generate higher attendance figures. But Rathjen realizes that higher ticket prices might be necessary as well.
Germany-based David Hein is often (justifiably, we think) dubbed by BiE as “the hardest-working man in European sportswriting.” Aside from contributing to BallinEurope, FIBA’s official website and the Bundesliga Basketball League official website, he also writes for numerous German- and English-language outlets on sports from soccer and basketball on down. Check out far-ranging samples of his work at heinnews.com.