heinnews’s David Hein used the chance of the Bayern Munich-Würzburg ProA basketball highlight to have another chat with Bayern Munich and German national team head coach Dirk Bauermann. They looked back at his thoughts since the beginning of the Bayern Munich project; his up-coming decision about Bayern and the German national team; if he would do a LeBron-like “The Decision” show; Bayern Munich in a European division of the NBA; Tibor Pleiss’s development and future; his thoughts on young players going somewhere to play and not stay on the bench; the chances of Dirk Nowitzki playing at EuroBasket 2011; and Nowitzki playing in Europe.
heinnews: Coach, looking back at how all this with Bayern has developed, what do you think?
Bauermann: When I was weighing the pros and cons of doing this – coaching the second division team as the national team coach – most of my friends said don’t do it. There’s just too big of a risk involved for you personally. What if you guys fail? You’re gonna lose your reputation or you’re gonna hurt your reputation big time. Don’t do it. But at the end of the day I just felt that this project just has such unbelievable potential that is was worth the risk.
After (Steffen) Hamann and (Demond) Greene got hurt, I was like man, they might be right. What is it with the gods of basketball here? But you give a lot of credit to our team. They sucked it up and stuck together and other guys stepped it up and we were able to bring in two other quality guys in (Chad) Prewitt and (Robert) Garrett. So, so far so good.
heinnews: There’s a big issue that’s still there – looks like the gym will be resolved. Your future. Do you have a decision?
Bauermann: No, I don’t have a decision. All I know is that I have a contract until 2013 (with the German Basketball Federation). Bayern is only until the end of this season. And other than that I really can’t comment on the situation because it’s not in my hands. I love doing this but obviously I love being the national team coach as well. We have a young generation that I think needs my support and my experience. So I don’t know what’s gonna happen.
heinnews: So are we gonna see you dress up in a red-and-white stripped shirt and blue jeans and have a Dirk Bauermann – The Decision show like with LeBron James?
Bauermann: (Laughing) No, I’m not that important. I’m just a small piece of the puzzle. I hope that they’ll resolve the problem. Obviously, this has such great potential. And the president (Uli Hoeness) has always said he will only give basketball a second, third, fourth and fifth year if I’m at the helm. He’s said that many times. So I think that puts a lot of pressure on me. It puts a lot of pressure on everybody. Because this is such a great opportunity for basketball in Germany.
I mean come on, look at what happened here today. At the end of the game it was a good game but we’re talking about a second division game. In front of 12,000 people. Other than a few games in Berlin, that was the highest attendance in German basketball and maybe European basketball this season so far. So both nationally and internationally this has great potential and so I just hope a solution can be found.
heinnews: Can you play internationally next season – in the FIBA Europe competition?
Bauermann: Well I think that if the board decides that basketball will be played here at Munich at a high level that obviously we have to think Europe, no doubt. Because one, I think that Munich deserves that. Two, it’s very hard to attract the good players if you don’t play internationally. And I think it would also be good for European basketball. But again, that’s not my decision to make. I think we need to start looking in that direction once we’ve moved up to the BBL. But the BBL has a say there as well. But I think yes, we need to think along those terms.
heinnews: What do you think about Bayern Munich in the European Division of the NBA?
Bauermann: (Laughs) Don’t ask me those questions. I can’t comment on that. We’re still second division. (Laughs)
heinnews: How nice was is to see Bayern Munich’s football team so well represented at the game with Louis van Gaal, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm among others?
Bauermann: Well I tell you, they have some very difficult weeks ahead of them. They play at Milan on Wednesday and then they have Dortmund here. They practiced in the morning and then they came here to support us and watch the game. I think it’s great. I think it’s fantastic that they give us that kind of support. They’re the big brother and we’re just the one-year old sibling. But to feel that kind of support is very motivating.
heinnews: Hamann and Aleksandar Nadjfeji came up big tonight. Talk about them if you would.
Bauermann: At the end of the day, they just know how to take to that next level in the clutch. And Sash struggled some today over the course of the game. He had some turnovers. He missed a layup, stuff like that. He was key. Steff kind of took over when we were struggling to get a basket. He drove and got fouled or made his layups. So those two were huge. But give Bastian Doreth credit. He has never played in an environment like that. He had seven points in the first half. He always draws the toughest assignment on the defensive end. We made him guard Lee Jeka when he got really hot. We went to a box and one and he just had to chase the guy all over the court and he made a big free throw. I mean the guy is 21 years old and he has developed tremendously. I’m very proud of him.
heinnews: Let’s switch to the national team. Tibor Pleiss has really picked up his game with Bamberg. What are your thoughts about him?
Bauermann: Tibor has unlimited potential. And Chris (Fleming) has always given him a lot of confidence. Just like you said, he’s gotten better as the season went on. I’m very proud of him. He’s a good kid. He’ll be a very, very important player for the national team in the years to come.
heinnews: What about Lucca Staiger?
Bauermann: I think Lucca has great potential. He’s a great shooter. He’s a very hard-nosed defender. Obviously he plays a big role in our plans. He played in Turkey last year and Poland the year before. So, he’ll be an important player in the years to come.
heinnews: What about Lucca’s playing time with Alba and that of Heiko Schaffartzik?
Bauermann: You know, we talked about this a lot when he made the decision to stay there for one or two more years and weighed the pros and cons. At the end of the day, I think it’s hard for a player to get better when you don’t play. I mean practices are important but if you can’t apply what you’ve learned in a game situation it’s difficult. Guys don’t get better by just practicing. They have to play. What I told him was: ‘Look, when you play for Alba, they have three good players at every position. There’s a lot of pressure to win. And as a young player sometimes you just get lost in the shuffle. And that’s nobody’s fault. The club has to win, the coach has to go with who he thinks has the best chance of winning. And he was like No, I think I’m good enough. I think I’ll fight for my minutes and at the end of the day, I’ll play and work my way into the rotation. Well, then that’s your decision. And you gotta do it.
It’s a very difficult for a young player. Tibor went to Bamberg but he kind of knew that he would play. And Robin (Benzing) went to Ulm because he didn’t want to sit on the pine. He could have gone to Alba or another team but he wanted to play. And I think that that’s a good decision. When you’re say 20 to 24 you’re in a very developmental stage of your career. And if you don’t play it’s very difficult. You have to play and I think it’s better to play on a good team or an okay team as opposed to sitting on the bench for a great team. Do that when you’re 28. But don’t do that when you’re 20 or 21. You have to play.
heinnews: If Bayern and Würzburg both get promoted and Bayreuth stay in the BBL, there would be four Bavarian teams with Bamberg as well. Is Bavaria becoming the basketball hotbed of Germany?
Bauermann: Four teams in the first division. Obviously those will be very emotional games. Bavarian basketball is good. I think we have to invest more in our youth programs – everybody does. Bamberg does it. But in Bayern we have a long ways to go. Bayreuth and Wurzburg same thing. But these four programs definitely belong in the first division. and hopefully we’ll be there next year too.
heinnews: Do you think Tibor stays in Germany or Europe next year or will he be in the U.S.?
Bauermann: It’s a very difficult decision that he has to make. Obviously like anybody else he wants to be in the NBA, he wants to be an NBA player. But like I said, I think one step at a time. He needs to play. Just sitting on an NBA bench will do him a lot of good. And so maybe staying in Bamberg if they win a championship, which I think they will. Play another year in Bamberg in the Euroleague or go to Spain or something like that just for a year or two would be better. But it’s a decision he has to make.
heinnews: Moving on to Dirk Nowitzki, do you think he will play at EuroBasket 2011?
Bauermann: Our board – the president, vice president and general secretary– talked and visited with him in Dallas and they got very positive feedback. It remains to be seen with the injury situation. If he gets hurt then who knows? But I believe that he will play. And I hope that (Chris) Kaman will play too. With him, it’s a lot more difficult. He’s been out maybe 11 weeks now. I don’t know. I’m very pessimistic there. But if Dirk plays, then who knows.
heinnews: And what will Dirk do if there’s a lockout?
Bauermann: I don’t know. I think he’ll play. He just loves to play so much. What is he? 32? To maybe lose a season and not play basketball, that’s not in his plans. I think he’s still hopeful that there won’t be a lockout. But if there is a lockout, I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays for Madrid or Barcelona.
heinnews: So more in Euroleauge than the German BBL?
Bauermann: Yeah, I don’t think that any of the German teams has a real shot. I would be very surprised. But you never know. If he wants to play close to home, Wurzburg is only 60 kilometers from Bamberg. And if he wants to play in a super new NBA arena then he goes to Alba. O2 is one of the most beautiful arenas in Europe.
But I don’t know.
heinnews: I’ll let you go, as always, been a pleasure
Bauermann: Good talking to you.
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