heinnews’s David Hein this week caught up with German national team guard Robert Garrett of Brose Baskets Bamberg to discuss changes in the club with Chris Fleming replacing Dirk Bauermann as head coach, the German club’s goals for the basketball BBL league season, the 2008 Olympics, Dirk Nowitzki and the development of Tim Ohlbrecht.

heinnews: I know you don’t want to talk too much about this loss (69-39 in the Eurocup to PGE Turow), so maybe you can make a comment about the state of the team at this moment.

Garrett: We’re far away from clicking. It just takes some time. The preseason is over now, we came together late. But we had a nice run over the last couple weeks and I think we’re going in the right direction. But still, we’re not ready to play really consistent and be a good team right now. We have the potential to be awesome. But for that we have to buy into everything that coach wants us to play and how he wants us to play and become a team. That’s it really, become a team.

heinnews: Bamberg has been Dirk Bauermann country for so long now, what’s been the biggest change with Chris Fleming as new coach?

Garrett: That’s really not that big of a change. Maybe he wants to run a little harder. But he’s really keen on defense. Defense is priority number one still. And on offense, just hit the spots, move the ball and try to find the open guy and play as a team, which we are not doing right now. I would say there is not that much of a difference in the style we play. Maybe we have a little more freedom than we used to have in the system and the structure. But other than that, the game is still the same and the principles we have are still the same. So, it’s not that much of a change to be honest.

heinnews: Your team has a really big game in the domestic BBL coming up on Saturday against league leaders Alba Berlin, who have been playing really well with a loaded team. What do Bamberg need to do to beat them?

Garrett: I think we have to stay tough mentally. If things don’t go right we have to think about getting closer together as a group. We kind of fell apart today (against Turow). So that’s what we need when it’s time to come together and really focus and play hard. We can’t just let go and kind of give up. So basically, stay together as a team and execute.

heinnews: What is the goal for the season?

Garrett: Well, the goal for the season … is go as far as we can. We know we are one of the top teams in the league. We should make it to the finals at least.

heinnews: The national team is probably one of the last things on your mind right now but what do you think about Germany’s draw for the 2009 EuroBasket – Russia, Latvia and a qualifier which could be a team like France, Italy, Belgium or Portugal?

Garrett: I’m not really concerned actually because I don’t think I’ll be showing up there. So for me, it really doesn’t matter what comes up. It’s so far ahead. There is still a lot of time to go. But we’ll meet again for the national team and see who is willing to play for it. As far as the group, any team that makes the EuroBasket is a tough team. There is never easy going. You always have one or two top candidates for the title. But every team is tough.

heinnews: Looking back now, how was your summer, playing at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing?

Garrett: It was a great experience. I worked 10 hard years to get there. We failed two times and finally we made it. For most of the guys it was the highlight of their career and something we’re really proud of. It was a great, great time.

heinnews: What was it like for you being in the Olympic Village and the Opening Ceremonies?

Garrett: For me it was realizing that you are one of the top athletes to make it there. Not everybody has a chance to go there. Just walking into the stadium and so many people cheering for you – also millions on the TV – just made me realize that I’m part of the biggest event there is in sports. Being able to march into the stadium for me was the highlight of my career.

heinnews: The next big goal for Germany would be to return to the Olympics in 2012. Sounds like you definitely will not be part of that. But people are going to say if Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t play Germany doesn’t stand a chance to make it. You know him quite well. Do you think he will play at EuroBasket 2009 or will he take some time off?

Garrett: I see him taking a year off. But I also know it’s tough for him to hold his feet still. So, I don’t he’ll take that much off. He needs to play, he wants to play. He’s a basketball player 24-7. I can’t see him taking that much time off.

heinnews: What do you mean – “not that much time off”? Do you see him playing next summer?

Garrett: I’m not sure. I think it’s 50-50. He said he might not play. But I know him, and he’s a guy who wants to play every time. He also takes it as practice and wants to get better. Honestly, I’m not sure. He might show up.

heinnews: And what do you think about Chris Kaman coming into the national team?

Garrett: He’s a huge help. He helped us get there. He’s a top NBA player and somebody we can go to in the crunch. And he’s also a nice character, a nice addition to the team. Although he’s a big star in the NBA, he shared the room with us. He had no attitude. From day one, he was just one of the guys like he would have been there forever.

heinnews: Do you see him staying part of the team if Dirk isn’t?

Garrett: I think Dirk is a big deal for him. If Dirk shows up he’ll show up. I’m not so sure he’ll show up if Dirk’s not going to be there. He said he wants to play, that’s why they did it. He’s a tough competitor and he wants to play and if he wants to play European Championships it’s up to him.

heinnews: How much contact do you have with Dirk Bauermann still and how anxious do you think he is not being able to sit on the sidelines at a Euroleague or Eurocup game?

Garrett: He loves the European competitions so he’s going to watch a lot. But he calls most of the guys every so often just to see what’s up. He’s bringing the guys in after Christmas, especially the young guys, just to have a feedback and see where they are. For him, he’s just watching a lot of basketball and travelling a lot. And hopefully having a good time.

heinnews: Last question, Some people may think that Tim Ohlbrecht is not coming along as quick as his potential shows he could. But he has a lot of pressure too. What do you think about Tim and his development and everything going on around him?

Garrett: It’s tough for him. In the newspaper you read he’s the next Dirk Nowitzki. But to be honest, I don’t know if there is going to be another Dirk Nowitzki anywhere. There is a lot of expectation but he’s only 20 years old. He came back from a major injury too. So that is a lot of pressure. I think he is doing fine. When his confidence is up he plays great. If people expect a Dirk, obviously he’s not there. But I think he’s just going to get better from day to day. We push him a lot. We know his potential is really, really huge. I hope he can be as good as he wants to be.

heinnews: Alright, thanks again for your time. We’ll see each in the playoffs.

Garrett: Probably.

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