Not much has changed for ratiopharm Ulm, which relies on the core of players that made the team so competitive last season when it reached the 7DAYS EuroCup Last 32 and the German League finals. Only three players were added to the squad - experienced combo guard Karsten Tadda, sharpshooter Braydon Hobbs and big man Tim Ohlbrecht, who returns to the team after a season with Enisey Krasnoyarsk. Dominique Sutton, who reached the EuroCup semifinals with Dolomiti Energia Trento last season, signed a two-month deal to replace injured swingman Augustine Rubit.
Head coach Thorsten Liebenath has led the team since 2011, so everyone knows what to expect - high-tempo basketball, great intensity and a highly-competitive atmosphere. Per Guenther is expected to start at point guard; his pass-first game and high basketball IQ is appreciated by everyone at the team. Tadda, a defensive stopper, and Hobbs, a good scorer, will help Guenther at point guard. Chris Babb, Taylor Braun and Da'Sean Butler will allow Ulm to play at a high rhythm at all times. Butler is a force of nature at small forward, where he uses his size and power to score in many ways. Braun is a great scorer who should feel more comfortable in his second season with the team, while Babb is the ultimate team player, a very smart swingman able to contribute in many ways.
With Rubit sidelined short-term, Ulm will have a shorter rotation around the baskets, with a chance for youngsters Joschka Ferner and Bjoern Rohwer to see extended playing time. Raymar Morgan will see most of the playing time at power forward while Rubit is out; he provides post skills, strength and athleticism and the ability to fight against taller opponents. Ohlbrecht returns to be the team's starting center. A good rebounder and a very effective scorer, with three-point range, Ohlbrecht has all it takes to be one of the best players in the competition. At age 24, Philipp Neumann is a young veteran who can provide size, post skills and the occasional mid-range jumper.
Having so many players back from last season gives Ulm an advantage early in the EuroCup season, especially since Ohlbrecht already played for Coach Liebenath and Tadda has played against his team new dozens of times. Every bit of experience and team chemistry will matter in a group with three former EuroCup champions - Valencia Basket, Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar - and two very competitive squads in Montakit Fuenlabrada and Union Olimpija Ljubljana. Ulm will play three of its opening four games on the road, so being ready to compete right away is definitely critical for the German powerhouse.
PLAYER TO WATCH
A lot of Ulm's success rests on Ohlbrecht's shoulders, as he aims to have a career-best season. Since his last EuroCup appearance with Frankfurt in December 2011, Ohlbrecht has played in the United States, Russia and also for his current team, Ulm, in the 2014-15 season. Ohlbrecht returns to the team more experienced, stronger and as a high-percentage finisher (65% two-point shooting over the last two seasons). His great mobility for a player his size and position, deep shooting range and pick-and-roll skills make him a very dangerous player. Ulm needs him to be one of its leaders and at age 28, the timing is perfect for him to shine in the 2016-17 EuroCup.