The plot thickens as DODDS-Europe hoop teams begin play
Stars and Stripes December 3, 2004
Here is a basketball season’s worth of storylines as the DODDS-Europe high school teams start play:
Streaks at apogee?
Heidelberg’s streak of five straight European Division I boys crowns is mostly in the hands of newcomers with the departure of the three first-team All-Europeans who fueled last season’s unbeaten romp.
“We will not be the team we were last year,” Heidelberg coach Brad Shahan said. “We have one starter back, Lewis Allen, along with two other varsity players, Tyreke Wesley and Brandon Grant.”
Don’t count out the Lions just yet.
“We hope to improve throughout the season.” Shahan said, “and play well at tourney time.”
The Bitburg girls are in the same boat.
The Lady Barons have won the past four European D-II crowns, but new coach David Turner has just one returning starter, Erica Winters.
Turner’s not intimidated, however.
“If we play hard and pay attention,” he said, “we might win another.”
Heidelberg’s rebuilding might leave the door open for the Kaiserslautern boys, who return five varsity players, led by 6-foot-9 junior Aaron Ellis.
Also back for coach Clinton Robinson’s squad are Jamal Anene, Julian Smalls, Brian Hill and Lamont Robinson.
Ramstein’s Len Tarnowski, whose team came four points short of toppling Heidelberg in last season’s title game, has varsity experience in Brennon Relaford, Eric Murray and Allen Weaver.
In D-II the Hanau girls, European runners-up last season, return a pair of key players in 6-0 All-Europe forward Katisha Fauntleroy, who averaged 14 points per game, and point guard Kyri Bye-Nagel.
Coach Michael Hunt says his Lady Panthers are rebuilding, but that’s a nice pair of cornerstones.
Also in the D-II mix are Aviano, led by sophomore star Cheri McNeely and three seniors; and Naples, which will go as far as two-time All-Europe guard Michelle Aguila and junior Renna Damon can take them.
The D-III boys race could go in any direction, according to Alan Campbell of London Central, whose seven returning lettermen include “Foxy” Thomas.
“I think you have to keep an eye on Rota,” Campbell said. “They return everyone, plus Ben Anderson does an excellent job of preparing his team.”
Campbell also cited the experience of Iceland and Brussels, along with Alconbury, whose young team grew with plenty of playing time last season, as contenders.
Ted Marr’s Ansbach Cougars can’t be dismissed, either, given that All-European Russell Bailey returns to a team that lost only to Naples and Aviano in last year’s D-III tournament.
Stuck at the top?
Tim Smith’s D-II Hanau boys champs return 6-5 All-Europe forward Marcus Fontanez, along with Malcolm Lane, Jeremy Marshall and Daniel Sugui to face the challenges from the two Italy powers Aviano and Naples.
Mick Plummer’s D-III girls champion Ansbach Cougars bring back 60 percent of last season’s squad — All-Europe second-teamers Brittney Britton and Keke Johnson and starting forward Alison Hazen. All three are fresh from Ansbach’s D-III volleyball championship team.
Kathy Clemmons has three starters back from last year’s Hohenfels team, led by 6-4 III-South all-tourney center Pat Busby, 20-point scorer Carlos Jones and outside shooter Jason Parks.
Four starters — Joe Puttman, Quentin Fowler, Kael Richardson and Anthony Colin — and a point guard, Nikolas Kryzinas, who’s been honing his skills in a Belgian league make an optimist of SHAPE coach Mike Vargas.
While Bitburg’s Lin Hairstone will build his club around rapidly developing 6-6 sophomore center Nick Brown and senior shooting guard Trey Wilson. Vilseck’s Ron Rotter has a solid post man in 6-5 senior Kevin Pollock and backcourt in senior Aaron Vernon and sophomore Jamaal Johnson.
Work in progress?
At Wiesbaden, Carl Johnson, takes over from Jim Campbell. He returns just one starter from last season, Robert Edwards.
New Wiesbaden girls’ coach Althea Walker suits up just one senior, 5-10 pivot Caitlyn Watson.
Lakenheath’s D-I champion girls have just two starters, Ebony Morris and Mimi Smith, back for coach Dave Phelps’ second season. However, that’s better than new Lakenheath boys coach J.B. Morrow, who has no starters back and no film of last year’s games.
Small is beautiful?
Menwith Hill’s boys, under new coach William Bailey, have taken their Division IV status to heart, starting five athletic guards. Tallest of them is 6-0 Le’Shawn Adams.
Individuals who can be expected to shine again: