After three-and-a-half years away from the sidelines, Stefan Koch returned to a head coaching post as he took over the reigns at Artland Dragons, who have not made the German BBL playoffs in the past two seasons.

“Stefan Koch is an experienced coach and without a doubt a basketball expert,” said Dragons manager Marko Beens on the team’s website.

“He knows the German league and has various contacts inside the country and abroad.”

Koch, 46, takes over from the sacked Thorsten Leibenath and hopes to bring the Dragons back to their successful past under Chris Fleming. The current Brose Baskets Bamberg coach brought Artland to the German league and German Cup finals in 2007 before winning the German Cup in 2008 and guiding the team to the ULEB Cup Last 16.

But Artland finished ninth place just on the outside of the playoffs in both 2009 and 2010, resulting in the sacking of Leibenath.

Koch arrives on a one-year contract with an option after coaching the Giessen 46ers from 2004 to December 2006. Since then, he has covered the German league for various television stations as analyst.

“I always said that I would only return to the Bundesliga if the conditions were right. And the Dragons fulfill my expectations, Koch said on the team’s website.

Koch admitted he was surprised that the Artland position was still open.

“I was totally surprised because I thought the Dragons had long had a new coach but did not announce it publicly. I did not think that someone would come to me at this point in time. Early on, I was just surprised,” he told the Giessener Anzeiger.

The short term goal for Koch, who before Giessen coached at Karlsruhe, Frankfurt and Oberelchingen, is to bring Artland Dragons back into the playoffs.

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