heinnews’s David Hein this week went down to Munich to check out the Bayern Munich basketball project with its “Mission Promotion” while talking to Bayern head coach and German national team boss Dirk Bauermann. They discussed Bayern’s 96-68 blasting of Osnabrück; Bauermann’s return to the club coaching bench; all the hoopla about his situation for next season; Dirk Nowitzki and the German national team; Brose Baskets Bamberg’s push in the German BBL; and 17-year-old Bogdan Radosavljevic.
heinnews: Hello coach Bauermann, this showdown was pretty clear from the beginning. Talk a bit about the comfortable victory over Osnabrück.
Bauermann: These kinds of games are statement games. Obviously you want to win them. You almost have to win them, you are at home. You have to win that game. But if you can you want to dominate and you want to send a strong message to the league that winning this ProA championship is very important to you. That you have the determination, the quality the talent to get it done. And that you go very professionally about your business.
heinnews: What does the return of Steffen Hamann mean to the team?
Bauermann: First of all he just gives us a presence second to none. He has so much experience and is such a complete player. Defensively he’s great. Offensively he’s a facilitator but he can also score when necessary. He makes Jonathan Wallace’s job a heck of a lot easier. There’s not as much pressure on Jon Wallace to run the team, to score, to do everything. And obviously having a player of his status on our team does something to our opponent. They were already in first place and then they get this guy back. So it helps us in many ways.
heinnews: So, it’s been a long time since we talked. What does it feel like to be back on the sidelines at the club level?
Bauermann: It’s fun. It’s good to be back and work with a really good group of guys on a daily basis to teach a system. They’re all buying into it. There’s no doubt. The young guys are getting better. It’s fun. I missed it dearly, working with them on a daily basis and at least coach one game a week. I would much rather coach two. But, yeah, it’s wonderful. I’m enjoying myself.
heinnews: What’s been the biggest surprise thus far?
Bauermann: I think the biggest surprise is how well it’s being received by the fans, the people in Munich and the region and the own club and the media for that matter too. To me, that’s the biggest surprise. How much people want to see us be successful, that they’re supporting us, the fans are coming out, every home game has been sold out. Today we had to extend and enlarge the capacity. To me, that’s wonderful. It makes it worth our while no doubt, all our hard work is being rewarded. That’s great
heinnews: With all the talk going on about what will happen next year with you and the BBL and the German national team, how hard is it to avoid thinking about next year?
Bauermann: It’s very hard. It’s a very unique situation. If as a coach you don’t achieve a goal you have the year after. Sometimes you get fired but for the most part you get another shot at it. Same thing with the players. You can’t win a championship every year, it’s impossible. So then the next year, maybe you tweak it here or there, maybe bring in a player here and there and you try again. Here, this year there is such a sense of urgency because we have to be successful this year. So what we do here is we only talk about the present, the precious present. We don’t talk about next year. And we talk about the things that we have complete control of. And that’s how hard we play, if we play as a team, how hard we practice. That’s what we focus in on. And not what happens next year and the year after because it’s just not in our control.
heinnews: Let’s move to your function as German national team coach. Dirk Nowitzki is playing great as usual, but give us an update on the state of the team if you would.
Bauermann: Dirk’s Dirk. Again, he’s having a wonderful season. They have that long winning streak. He’s shooting over 50 percent which is really hard to do in the NBA. He’s averaging over 25 points. He is just unbelievable. And he does it with such an element of consistency, it’s just incredible to me how he does that.
(Chris) Kaman is again hurt, problems with the health. So I don’t know what that means if that means anything for the summer.
But all the other guys are playing pretty well.
Tibor (Pleiss) is getting better. Robin Benzing now works a lot harder on getting stronger than he did last year which is much needed and a good sign. But they’re all playing pretty well. I’m pretty pleased with their development as players.
heinnews: Speaking of Tibor, how much are you keeping up on what Brose Baskets Bamberg are doing in the BBL?
Bauermann: On a regular basis. They’re doing such a great job and had they had just a little more luck they would have been in the Top 16. That shot by (Roma’s Charles) Smith in the corner is just … They’re still undefeated in the league. They’re doing a great job and Tibor’s a big part of their success.
heinnews: One player I would also like to ask about is Bogdan Radosavljevic. How is the 17-year-old big man developing?
Bauermann: He’s developing really well. You can tell that his body has changed. He’s lost weight, he’s added muscle. He plays a lot harder. He’s starting to understand the game better. For a young guy like Bogdan it’s just great to go up against and play with guys like (Aleksander) Nadjfeji and (Darius) Hall. He just learns so much. He’s a hard worker. Obviously he still goes to school. So he lifts after practice and he wants to be a player. I mean the kid is only 17 years old. He’ll turn 18 in July. He’s a heck of a talent and I think he’ll be a great pro one day.