Following the most successful Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season ever by a German club, Brose Bamberg chose to make strategic additions to the roster. Bamberg targeted backcourt experience in Fabien Causeur, a double-digit scorer last season who has started the large majority of his 93 career EuroLeague games. In the frontcourt, the EuroCup's career rebounding leader, Vladimir Veremeenko, arrives to work again with head coach Andrea Trinchieri after they coincided at Unics Kazan. The other newcomers are rookies Maodo Lo at guard and Leon Kratzer at center, and anything they can add to an ensemble that just missed the playoffs last season will be a plus.
Veteran leader Nikos Zisis and the highly-efficient Janis Strelnieks, the EuroLeague's third-best free throw shooter, are back, giving Bamberg safe hands in which to put the ball. They have a kindred spirit in Causeur, and among the three of them can help Lo and Aleksej Nikolic learn the ropes, while veteran Lucca Staiger keeps defenses honest with his long-range shooting. Small forward Darius Miller is back as the big perimeter threat, and Patrick Heckmann will be more dangerous in his second season, too. Bamberg's perimeter challenge will be on-the-ball defense, especially against quicker guards, but Causeur never lets up when he's on court and that attitude will help the cause.
Bamberg's frontcourt boasts strength in numbers and the unique services of point forward Nicolo Melli, the EuroLeague's fifth-best rebounder and the top assist-maker among non-guards last season. Melli is just entering his prime, too, as are athletic bigs Daniel Theis and Elias Harris, Bamberg's best per-minute scorers last season. They will be that much more knowledgeable and confident in their second go-round in the competition. Last season's late pickup, energetic Leon Radosevic, is also in his prime and will serve as a rebounding bookend for veteran Veremeenko. Another veteran, Yassin Idbihi, provides experience in a limited role, while Kratzer could supply strong inside defense in special situations.
PLAYER TO WATCH
As a game-changer at several key stages of last season, center Daniel Theis had more impact than most young rookies coming off the bench at his position, and his second EuroLeague campaign could be even more eye-catching. Theis combined spectacular rim-rocking with the fourth-most three-pointers made by a center and more-than-decent free throw shooting. His big drawback was staying on the floor more than 19 minutes per game due to his league-high 3.3 fouls on average. But in that short time he was good for 9.2 points and 4.4 rebounds with relatively few turnovers. Most important, his energetic presence off the bench boosted Bamberg again and again, thanks to him being looked for often by the guards for alley-oop dunks. If he does as much this year, Bamberg will be alive in just as many games; and if Theis takes it up a notch, watch out.
Bamberg's true team game, based on a passing game in which every player participated, made for an attractive, winning product last season. The team went 10-2 at home, an advantage that might be just as necessary again if Bamberg can't improve on its 1-4 record in road games decided by 6 or fewer points. To do so, EuroLeague rookies last year - especially Miller, Theis, Heckmann and Harris - need to take the next step, especially on defense, while Bamberg's veterans must instill a mentality that makes this team more decisive in close games beyond the friendly confines of Freak City.