Wiesbaden turns showdown with Ktown into rout
By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 1, 2013
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Nothing went quite right for the Kaiserslautern boys basketball team Friday.
And with fellow Division I contender Wiesbaden in town for a crucial late-season game, the timing couldn’t have been worse.
Close-range shots rolled around and out. Loose balls caromed away from home-team hands. The chaos created by the Raiders’ full-court press produced more Warrior fast breaks than turnovers.
The result: a discouraging 74-49 loss to a dominant Warriors team and a wound to its burgeoning hopes of a run at a DODDS-Europe title.
“We had everything go wrong tonight. And Wiesbaden was phenomenal tonight,” Kaiserslautern head coach Brant Tryon said. “They came at us at full speed, they hit us with everything they had. They got everything that was out there to get.”
For all his praise of the Warriors, Tryon had an equal and opposite assessment of his own stunned squad.
“We just didn’t bring it tonight. We weren’t hitting shots we normally make. We weren’t organized offensively, we were scrambling defensively,” Tryon said. “It was a complete recipe for failure tonight.”
The game, anticipated as a compelling matchup of two Division I frontrunners, was all but settled some 10 minutes into the game. A five-point Raiders second quarter let the Warriors’ cruising offense build an insurmountable lead that ballooned to 20 just after halftime and never deflated.
Though its 6-3 record is healthy enough, Kaiserslautern’s body of work now includes blowout losses to Patch and Wiesbaden alongside a recent split with rival Ramstein. Tryon has seen better from his team, and expects to see it again before season’s end.
“I think we can match up,” Tryon said. “If we play to our potential, I think it’s a closer game.”
The 8-1 Warriors, meanwhile, enjoy a boost of confidence just a few weeks removed from a central role in the DODDS-Europe playoffs. The Warriors host the European tournament Feb. 20-23, and look capable of being its champion as well.
That’s not a topic the Warriors were prepared to broach on this night, however.
“When we came into it, we were talking about how this game was not going to make us or break us. We wanted to learn from this game and move on,” Warriors head coach Carl Johnson said. “It was a good step for us.”
Wiesbaden center Tyler Cordoni cemented his status as one of DODDS-Europe’s most disruptive defensive big men, blocking five shots while altering and dissuading considerably more.
“We just played good help defense,” the 6-foot-7 junior said. “We’re focusing on defense right now. Scoring came second.”
Despite that defensive mindset, Cordoni also made his presence felt on the Wiesbaden side of the scoreboard. He led all scorers with 17 points, while teammate Kesley Thomas added 16.
Lorenzo Williams and Andy Stern had 10 points apiece for the Raiders as Wiesbaden kept the dangerous Kaiserslautern scorers off-balance for a solid 32 minutes.
“We were able to basically play some defense on their shooters. They’re a great team,” Johnson said. “When you press, you always give up something, but you hope you don’t give up too much.
“They’re a great team. They just didn’t have a great shooting night.”
Both teams are off Saturday and take a break from the Division I grind next weekend with home games against lower-division schools. Division II Bitburg comes to Kaiserslautern, while Wiesbaden welcomes Division III Baumholder.
The Red Raiders and Warriors meet again Feb. 12 at Wiesbaden.