Brose Bamberg are undefeated atop the easyCredit BBL and look as strong as ever. And medi bayreuth have captured the hearts of the league with a nine-game winning streak. But right up there on Bamberg’s heels and ahead of Bayreuth are ratiopharm ulm – undefeated at 10-0.

Not only is Thorsten Leibenath’s Ulm team still unblemished in the BBL, they also 3-2 with just two losses against Valencia – who are apparently Ulm’s kryptonite.

So, what’s been the key to the early season success for Ulm?

Is the leading offense in the BBL? Or a strong group of additions to the team?

Ask Per Günther and the face of Ulm will say it is the courage of the club’s leaders to hand out a series of two-year contracts.

“Everything starts with the team giving out two-year deals before last season,” the Ulm playmaker starts.

“We signed (Augustine) Rubit – a kid from (WALTER Tigers) Tübingen who had a nice season, but you don’t really know how he’s going to handle the next level. That was a two-year deal. That’s the only reason we still have him.”

 

Günther continued: “Same thing with Raymar (Morgan). people had doubts about his knees and his health and all this stuff, and we went ahead and gave him a two-year deal. That’s the only reason they are still here.”

Also back for a second year this season in Ulm are Da’Sean Butler, Chris Babb and Taylor Braun.

These are guys who probably would have sought bigger clubs had they not had another year.

“They like it here and everything, but the way they played in the playoffs we could not afford them. We would have had the same situation (as in years past) if we gave everybody one-year contracts. Either he’s really good and you can’t pay him or he’s not that good and you don’t want him any more.”

Günter said the Ulm management team really needs to be praised for the construction of this team.

“Really the management was brave enough to take chances and trust their instincts. That’s the success we are having right now.”

The success Ulm fans are seeing right now isn’t actually as convincing as it seems, Günther warns.

“(The undefeated record) is kind of deceiving. We scored a lot which was fun, but we also got scored on a lot, which was not as much fun. But we still got Ws in games we didn’t play excellent basketball and I think that’s a credit that we kept the core together and we already had experience in winning,” he said.

“We know who to go at the end of games and we have a collective calm and an idea of what we want to achieve.”

Part of the reason for Ulm’s victories, Günther says, was the timing of when they faced their opponents – including winning a nail-biter 95-87 against medi bayreuth in Week 1. Bayreuth haven’t lost since.

“We’re not playing unbelievable basketball. It’s not like we’re out there dominating people. We have played a bunch of teams who are not where they want to be, especially Berlin and Oldenburg and Ludwigsburg, Günther said.

 

“If you were to ask them they would say they’re not playing the basketball that they want to play right now. They will be better. Half of it is we are already playing decent and half of it is a big chunk of the league hasn’t found their groove yet or are not at the level they will be at. We have to stay humble and keep working and not get full of ourselves after a nice start.”

Ulm have two more big games in the easyCredit before the end of the year as they host Brose Bamberg on December 11 and then play at Bayern Munich on December 26.

The goal for the team this season is clear.

“Our goal is home court advantage. That is our main goal. We have to manage our expectations,” Günther said.

Ulm look to have a good chance of getting home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a four-game lead over fifth placed Telekom Baskets Bonn.

Home court in the semi-finals is still wide open as Bayreuth are just one game back and Bayern Munich 1.5 games behind.

Let’s just call ratiopharm ulm’s start a good one – and chalk it up to some brave management decisions.

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