All-Europe Boys: Regional play gave best players chance to show off all their skills
Talent alone wasn’t quite enough to make the 2008 All-Europe boys’ high school basketball team.
“We asked what this kid did to help his team win, to make his team better,” Ramstein coach Len Tarnowski said about how the panel picked the All-Europe teams.
“Did he make the rebound, did he pass the ball to the open man, did he guard the other team’s best player?”
That kind of assessment fleshes out a player’s season from a dry statistical summary to a subjective but authoritative judgment by expert witnesses. And luckily for those having to determine the best 20 players in Europe, this season’s divisional-mixing regional schedule helped the process.
“This season it was easier,” Tarnowski said.
“Everybody played teams they hadn’t played before. We could make comparisons. We could see it clearer.”
No one got to see what the top players could do better than Ron Merriwether of Heidelberg. Merriwether, who coached Giessen to consecutive European titles in 2005-2006, moved to Heidelberg when Giessen closed last June. He coached the Lions’ boys junior varsity team in 2008 and was therefore free to see any game he wanted at this year’s Europeans.
Merriwether, who worked with former European-champion coach Allen Archie, said the scouting he and Archie provided made the tournament situation more similar to the way things are at home.
“In the States, all the games are scouted, and the players don’t even know the scouts are there. Everyone gets an even chance. What I hope the athletes realize is that it doesn’t matter how big his school is, it’s how you measure up at the right time and place.”
Few teams measured up better in 2007-2008 than D-I runner-up Ramstein (18-1), which didn’t lose until a 49-45 defeat by Heidelberg in the European D-I championship game, and unbeaten D-II champion SHAPE. Each of those teams placed two players on the All-Europe first team — senior Scott Sublousky and junior Brent Schuck from Ramstein and senior Mike Konidaris and junior Kelsey Bardell from SHAPE. No other team had more than one performer in the top 10.
Josh Robinson represented D-III champ Bamberg on the first team, but D-IV champion Hanau, 12-2 in the regular season as the only D-IV school in its region, was shut out of the top 10. Hanau’s Emmanuel Moore and Spencer Miller made the second team.
Four seniors and six juniors made the first team, led by 2007 holdovers Sublousky (18.5 points/game), and Chris Frazier of Heidelberg, MVP of the European D-I tournament and a 40 percent three-point shooter. Junior Andre’ Dean of Aviano (20.5 points/game), moved up to the first team this season after making the second 10 in 2007.
Like the girls’ panel, holdover status and position played cut no ice with the boys’ panel.
“We never do that,” Tarnowski said when asked by whether the panel set quotas for positions. “There’s a lot of back and forth. Everything’s weighed. We just try to identify the best players.”