In his second season with BG Göttingen, WVU guard Alex Ruoff is playing very well, and has his team in a playoff spot after winning the Division 2 championship last season and being promoted to Division 1.
“Usually when teams move up from the second division to the first division, they usually struggle for the first year,” Ruoff said in a recent interview with WVUPros. “But actually my team is in eighth place right now, a playoff spot, so we’re doing a lot better than we’re supposed to.”
The Mountaineer sharpshooter is contributing in all areas of the game, averaging 13.2 points per game, 4.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds. He’s shooting 40 percent from the field and from beyond the arc, while connecting on 84.4 percent of his free throws.
The 6-foot-6 guard credits his numbers, which rank him third on the team in points per game and second in assists, to the system that the Violets run, which allows him to be a main facilitator in the offense.
“I have the ball in my hands a lot this year. Me and our point guard Khalid El-Amin, he went to UCONN, we’re the main creators on the team. We have the ball in our hands a lot, we get a lot of ball screens, so it helps.”
Ruoff and El-Amin, both Americans, are two of the maximum of six foreigners allowed by rule on Göttingen.
“It’s not just Americans, it’s foreigners they’re considered,” Ruoff explained. “You’re allowed to have six, up to six, and then you have to have four Germans on the roster. Some teams with big money will have seven or eight Americans, and then just choose which ones to play that night of the game.”
Other Americans on the roster include , David Godbold who played for Oklahoma; Harper Kamp who played for Cal; Raymar Morgan from Michigan State; and Jamal Boykin who played for Duke and then transferred to Cal.
While there are a number of players with NCAA experience on Göttingen and across the league, Ruoff described how the style of play and game are completely different.
“It’s nowhere near like college; 24-second shot clock, you’re looking at just ball screens really,” he explained. “Some teams play up-beat tempo, but most teams don’t. Kind of half-court offense – just a lot of ball screens to be honest. Depends on who you have to create.”
Ruoff went on to explain how the system plays a role in the different style of play, but the players abilities play just as large of a role.
“European bigs, their skill level is through the roof. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “But then again you’ll sometimes come across big guys who can’t post up. They’re so skillful on the perimeter that they have trouble posting up, it’s kind of give and take.
“But a lot of times in Europe, the four man is not a power forward position like we would think. They’re just a bigger wing version that can handle the post. It’s very common overseas.”
After suffering a knee injury and bouncing around to several different teams and leagues, the Germany League has provided Ruoff with an environment that he enjoys and is thriving in.
“I like it a lot. This is a really good league,” he said. “I played a couple of years in Belgium, I played a couple of years in the NBA Developmental League and now I’m in Germany. Comparing the leagues, Germany’s the top league.
“I suffered an ACL injury after my third season in Belgium, and the following year I had no choice but to sign in the D-League. So I spent a year in the D-League which kind of proved that I was over my ACL injury and then I was able to return to Europe.”
In comparing the NBA D-League to European basketball, Ruoff described his preference to the higher level of competition he faces overseas.
“The league I’m in in Germany for sure is higher,” he said in comparison to his professional experience in America.” The D-League is funny, because some nights you can just play a bunch of D-League players, and some nights you’ll have call downs and play against four NBA players. It’s a little bit unbalanced. There’s some nights where you can play really high level and some nights where it’s not so high.”
The Mountaineer enjoys playing at a high level for a winning team in an excellent professional league, and hopes to lead his team to a second consecutive title.