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LVR Grad Sean Denison still shining on European courts
It’s been a long time since Sean Denison skateboarded down the hallways of Trafalgar Junior and L.V. Rogers High Schools.
The year was 1999 when Denison, 25, led a young, wet-behind-the-ears group of hoopsters to the B.C. Juvenile Basketball Championship in Richmond.
Coach Lorne Wuori & Company made it look easy, throttling W.J. Mouat of Abbotsford by a wide 20-plus point margin.
That’s right a team from the Kootenay schooling those Lower Mainlanders for the provincial title.
In 2000 Denison, Phelan, Red, Pepp, Blair and Marty, under the guidance of skipper Blair D’Andrea did the unthinkable, going 38-0 . . . that’s right undefeated to win the B.C. Junior Boy’s High School Basketball Championship.
Once again the victory in the final was by a wide margin.
After high school, where LVR Bombers enjoyed its best finish at the AAA boy’s basketball tournament — a fourth-place showing — the son of Joy Butula and John Denison earned a full-ride scholarship to Santa Clara when he spent four solid seasons playing NCAA Division One Men’s Basketball with the Broncos.
And there was also a few stops playing internationally with Canadian National Junior Men’s Teams.
Now, after a few seasons playing professional basketball in Turkey, Denison, wife Trisha and son Wyatt are now in Germany chowing down a few bratwurst playing in the Bundesliga with the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven basketball team.
Eisbaeren Bremerhaven is located in Bremer, a city of more than 540,000 people located 330 kilometers north of Frankfurt and 94 km south of Hamburg.
The 6’11”, 245-pound power forward is averaging eight points and four rebounds in 30 games for the 17-14 squad, now seventh in Bundesliga standings after four straight wins — one of those wins coming against Bayreuth where Denison checked in with a season-high 21 points and five rebounds.
Recently The Nelson Daily Sports Editor Bruce Fuhr had a chance to check in with the LVR Bomber grad to see what life is like playing in Germany.
The Nelson Daily: What's it like playing in Germany (talk about individual play, points, playing time, any injuries . . . is German League a higher level than Turkey) in comparison to you two previous seasons in Turkey?
Sean Denison: The German League is much different than the Turkish league.
I was having a tough time early in the season because they let you play a lot more physical in the Turkish league, especially in the post. Lots of the tricks I learned to keep players off balance or out of the key I can’t do as aggressively as I could in Turkey and as a result I was getting into foul trouble early in games which was affecting my playing time.
I think overall, the German league has better teams across the board (as a result of having 6+ Americans on each team) but Turkey has better top teams (much bigger budgets).
TND: How's the season going in Bremerhaven?
S.D.: The season has been very up and down but we have been steadying and playing more consistently now that we have finally stopped trading players.
This year our team has been plagued with injuries, especially on the point guard position.
I think including preseason players we had on tryout, we have gone through seven point guards. It's hard to play and gel as a team when the key player for keeping the team organized during the game is always changing and it showed throughout the season.
Every season every team has one or two games where they say, “Oh man, we should have won that game” and typically those games come back to bite you.
This season we've had quite a few and it's been frustrating since now we're fighting for sixth, seventh or eighth seed play off spot. I think if we had this current roster from preseason until now we would be in a much stronger position going into the home stretch of the season.
We're finally starting to gel and acquire a play style of our own and thankfully with these new players it's oriented around fast break, which I love to play.
TND: How's the food? Do you like it? Had any Bratwurst lately?
S.D.: I like the food here a lot. There's more fried food than Turkey but the food is definitely closer to home in taste and flavors.
The wurst is best over here. I especially like the Weisswurst, a Bavarian breakfast sausage they serve with sweet mustard. There are also lots of good cheeses over here that we're going to miss when we return home.
TND: You had a tryout with the San Antonio Spurs during the summer in Vegas. How did the tryout go? Will you give it another go this summer or are you resigned to keep playing across the big pond?
S.D.: The tryout with the Spurs was a great experience and it's something I'd definitely do again given the chance. Playing in the summer league was a good way to gauge how well I compare with the up and coming athletes in the NBA and made me realize what I need to work on to get to that level.
The Spurs' program fits well with my play style as well as our team was focused on defence, fast break and team basketball and it was something we really bought in to and it showed as I think we won every game by a considerable margin. Simply put it was just good basketball played at a high level and it was something I thoroughly enjoyed.
TND: Eisbaeren Bremerhaven is in the middle of the pack. Is the team ready for one last push for playoffs?
S.D.: The top eight teams play off (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7 etc) and we're making a push for the sixth spot.
Right now we're in seventh and if we play well in these last few games I think we have a good chance of making sixth. We're two games behind the sixth place team, a derby team in a nearby city and we play them at their place so it will be a really big game, I'm excited for it.
TND: This is the 10-year anniversary of the LVR Jr's going 38-0 to win the B.C. Jr. Boys title in Nanaimo. Do you have any memories from that season?
S.D.: I think of that season all the time. When I'm swapping stories with other players about previous teams or coaches I always tell them about that season. I tell them that my favorite coach of all time . . . who got us every game ready to run through walls for him.
He was, and still is, a very motivational person and that team had such a high level of confidence we knew we were going to win every game we played.
To me, the most important thing in basketball (or any sport) is confidence and he inspired us to play together and for each other and we were ready to leave it all on the court every time we played.
Combined with the fact we had a great group of talented players who played together any chance we got outside of practice and very supportive parents who did all they could to make sure we were successful, that year was definitely special.