Joe, after five years you’re now saying Goodbye to Wetzlar. You made friends, got married, and won a lot of titles. How has RSV not planning with you in the future affected you?
There were definitely mixed emotions. On the one hand, I obviously went to Wetzlar with the intention of playing there as long as possible, and I would have liked that to be more than five years. We have felt very comfortable in Hessen, with our friend circle there, and being so close to friends and family in Cologne, we even could have imagined staying after the end of my basketball career. On the other hand, it got more and more frustrating to be playing less and less minutes each season, most of all because I didn’t understand why. The lack of minutes also had a negative influence on my international career, which is why we had already been thinking about leaving RSV ourselves. So, it didn’t come as a total surprise for us. When we came here in 2012, we couldn’t have had a better start. We made awesome and true friends here, and we will miss all of them a lot, but we have to accept that this is how it can go in professional sports. Wherever we end up, we will always keep our friends.
Not only did you have to find yourself a new club, you also didn’t get selected for the Europeans. How did you cope with that?
I was very disappointed of course, but my National Coach made it pretty clear that my lack of minutes in the club made it hard for him to select me. I knew that, but I still chose the club, and took the possibility into account that the selections might go this way. I fought for more minutes on the court, but sadly it didn’t work out. In Hannover I now have the opportunity to play more, and with that I hope to increase my chances for the Worlds.
You are a fighter. What gives you the strength and self-confidence to attack again and again, for example in the British National Team?
My training gives me self-confidence. I know how hard I work every day and to get better than I was the day before. I also think that I performed well the majority of the time when I was given the opportunity. I’m also lucky that I have my wife, my friends, and my family supporting me one hundred per cent, and they understand that currently Basketball is a priority.
In Hannover United you have found a club that believes in their young players. How do you see your new role in that team?
I think it’s great that Hannover set their focus on the development of their young players. I hope that I’ll be able to support their work, and maybe my experience can help with that. It will also be really good for myself to be working alongside these motivated and hungry players. It will help me to also stay focused and motivated.
With Martin Kluck Hannover has a very ambitious Head Coach guiding the team. How did he convince you to join? And what do you want to learn from him?
After Hannover have contacted me I did some research, and I only got positive feedback. And after our first meeting with Martin Kluck and Udo Schulz I was instantly excited about their concept. They work professionally, the club has fantastic facilities, and with their player development they’re definitely going in the right direction. As I said before, I have heard great things about Martin and his coaching, for example his eye for detail and his video analysis, and I will try to take as much as I can from that. I also hope to be able to be working with him on my leadership and communication skills.
What do you expect from the RBBL this upcoming season? Will it be even stronger with Brian Bell in Wetzlar and Matt Scott on Elxleben?
I think it’s hard to tell still, as the top teams didn’t only gain strong players but also lost other players. Both teams will also be playing a different game than they have in past years, as they have different players with different strengths. Nevertheless, the German league will continue to be the best league in Europe, if not the world.
And finally, will you tell us if you will be staying in Wetzlar and commute to Hannover or if you and your wife will move to a new place?
My wife and I will be moving from Giessen to Hannover in August. It will be a very sad goodbye, but we are also looking forward to a new chapter. We really like Hannover, and Udo is working almost daily at making our start there as smooth as possible. He found us a lovely place in a great area, and we can’t wait to unpack and settle in.
Interview: Martin Schenk | Special thanks & translation: Dana Bestwick