2008 Olympic Basketball Preview: Germany

This is the tenth in a series of team previews for the 2008 Olympics done by the SBNation sites Green Bandwagon and At the Hive. Already profiled: Greece, China, Russia, Argentina, Australia, Iran, Lithuania, Angola, and Croatia.You can refer to the right-hand sidebar either here or at Green Bandwagon for quick access to the profiles.

Population: 82,401,000

Size in Comparison to a US State: About half the size of Alaska

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Interesting Fact: MP3's are a German invention.

Fun! Fact: The German word for 'poison' is gift.

Recommended Reading:
Mein Kampf. A must read for anybody that has any sort of interest in history.

World Rank (Courtesy of FIBA): 9 (tied with Australia)

Qualified: July Athens Qualification Tournament

Dream Match Up in Beijing: United States, Russia, heck even Canada or Australia... take your pick.

Dream Match Up That Did Not Qualify: England

Recent News: Dirk and Co. are getting the Olympic rings cut into their hair. Apparently Kaman did the cut for Dirk and botched it.

German Roster

Tim Ohlbrecht - This 6'10" forward/center has been watched by American teams since he was 17. Now 19, Ohlbrecht plays for the Brose Baskets in the German League. He's noted for his tremendous athleticism for his height as well as a long wingspan. However, Tim has drawn criticism for trying to be the "next Dirk." Instead of using his talents to bang inside and score easy buckets, Ohlbrecht has preferred to hang around the three point line and hoist long range shots instead. As noted in his DraftExpress profile, "It might be that he wants to be a power forward, or it might be that he’s just soft, but Ohlbrecht made extremely inefficient use of his skills. Stubbornly planted on the three-point line, the German settled for way too many perimeter shots with very poor accuracy. You can bet he’s not the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki; his mechanics don’t go beyond the “decent” category. Considering his great limitations when it comes to putting the ball on the floor, the only positive outcome playing so open was his ball distribution from the very high post."

Jan Jagla - Like Dirk, he's a 7 footer with shooting guard skills. Jagla attended Penn State University from 2001 to 2004 before going undrafted in 2005.  He did make the L.A. Clippers' training camp roster but failed to make the roster outright. He's played in the Turkish league as well as in Spain since then.  The 27 year old doesn't offer much bulk with his 7 foot frame at only 230 pounds.

Philip Zwiener -  At 6'7", Zwiener is tall for a shooting guard, but he possesses the necessary skill to man the position. He's dominated at each of the youth national team levels before being called up to Germany's Official National Team. The 23 year old is known for tenacious defense as well. His team- ALBA Berlin- lists his 3P% at 38.5% and 45.5% the last two years respectively. But like Jagla and Ohlbrecht, Zwiener is also pretty thin (205 pounds) for his frame.

Dirk Nowitzki - It's hard to call an MVP award winner underrated, but I contend that's exactly what Dirk is, heading into the 2008 season. A bona-fide top 10 NBA talent, Dirk's skills mesh well with the international rules and game. Dirk joined the National team at age 21 and quickly took over as its leader and primary scorer. Even though he couldn't lead Germany to Olympic qualification in 2000, he managed to finish second in the MVP race in 2001 FIBA European Championships to Peja Stojakovic. In the 2002 World Championships he led his team to Bronze and a stunning victory over Pau Gasol's Spain. A foot injury in 2004 prevented Germany from qualifying for the Olympics again, but Dirk finally broke through this year. Reports indicate that he'll have the honor of bearing his country's flag as well.

Sven Schultze - Schultze started his professional career in the mold of a Dirk Notwizki- a tall, thin forward/center with a feathery three point touch. But as his career progressed, Schultze began to bulk up in the weight room. He enters the 2008 Olympics with a 250 pound, 6'10" frame, making him one of Germany's primary options to bang down low. He's maintained his three point touch along the way, connecting on higher than 40% of his trifectas in each of his last three professional seasons.

Patrick Femerling - Femerling is a 7'1", 260 pound center. You can check out this highlight reel of the big man, via YouTube. Femerling has competed professionally in Spain (FC Barcelona), Greece (Olympiacos, Panathinaikos), and Germany (ALBA Berlin). He actually attended college at Washington (Pac-10) where he averaged 5.7 ppg and 6.1 rpg and made one Sweet Sixteen. Interestingly, his pro career has been littered with championships- 1999, 2000, and 2008 in Germany, 2003 and 2004 in Spain, 2003 European Champion, and 2005 and 2006 in Greece. By my count, that's 8 titles... Robert Horry's got nothing on Patrick Femerling.

Robert Garrett - Finally we come to one of the German guards. Unfortunately not much is known about Garrett other than that he's 6'3", 215 pounds, and can throw down. The 31 year old competed in the Los Angeles Pro-AM Summer League in 2000 as part of the Dallas Mavericks' roster. According to Eurobasket's profile: " Strong body, scores a lot, penetrates well, very explosive first step, defense: so-so, needs to improve his shot from outside."

Konrad Wysocki - A 6'8", 230 pound small forward. He attended and played basketball for Princeton University from 2000 to 2004, leaving under contentious circumstances brought about by "confrontations and conflicts." Although he didn't contribute much (6.9 points per game, 1.7 assists per game), Wysocki put up an impressive 59.7% effective field goal percentage during his senior season. He currently plays for the Deutsche Bank Skyliners in Germany.

Steffen Hamann - First check out this crazy play where Hamann ball-fakes Dwight Howard out of his shoes, takes the hit from Kirk Hinrich, and then miraculously scoops the ball in. I'm pretty sure that's from 2006 when Germany ousted the U.S. in a stunner. The 6'5", 200 pound Hamann first played for the German National Team in 2003 and has been with them since. He played professionally in Italy before moving over to Germany's ALBA Berlin in 2008. Even at 6'5", Hamann's primary position is the point. Hamann is known mostly for his hard nosed defense and has struggled with his outside shot throughout his career. His quickness makes him a good driver, but his role will probably be defensive specialist at the Olympics.

Demond Greene - I'll begin this one with a highlight as well- Greene rejecting a dunk attempt from Dwyane Wade. Yeah. He's athletic. (By the way, I'm 99% sure that's Chris Paul who misses the three before the block). A Fort Hood, Texas native, Greene has citizenship in both the U.S. and Germany. A 6'1" shooting guard, Greene is known to have a terrific off court rapport with Dirk Nowitzki. On court, Greene excels at the midrange jumper and outside shot, but makes his living as a great defensive stopper.

Chris Kaman - A familiar name. The Clippers center has been the subject of various jokes since he was born and raised in Michigan. He joined the German team after becoming a citizen; his great-grandparents had German ancestry. Kaman really stepped up in the 2007-2008 season in the absence of Marcus Camby Elton Brand (thanks, DennardC), elevating his level of play to that of a fringe All-Star. At 7'0", 260 pounds, Kaman provides Team Germany with some much needed bulk and a defensive presence down low. He played for Germany for the first time this year (June) in the qualification tournament in Athens.

Pascal Roller - A 5'11", 180 pound point guard from the Deutsche Bank Skyliners. FIBA's profile:

Pascal Roller is a solid playmaker and crafty guard who likes to use excellent ball handling skills to get into the lane and hit floating jump shots. A German champion in 2004 with Frankfurt, Roller will make teams pay if they leave him open as he is an above-average shooter from three-point range. Roller had a prominent role in Germany’s EuroBasket 2005 silver medal success, but his defensive struggles have limited his playing time in the National Team since.

Overall - Germany is absolutely loaded with tall forwards that can light it up from downtown. Given the short three point line, Germany could quite seriously give any team a run for its money if Nowitzki et al. are hot from downtown. And it's not just height; Germany also has the bulk down low, if not the depth- to match up with the Gasol brothers of Spain and similar twin towers. But the Germans also have some serious problems. The most obvious is the lack of point guards on the roster- one defensive minded, and one tiny point guard simply won't cut it against the Jose Calderons of the world. The only shooting guard on the roster is 6'1" and known more for his defense than his offense. This German team can pack a punch on the defensive side of the ball, but it has one of the most one-dimensional offenses of any participating team.

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