Kramer evolves from defensive stopper to complete player
OLDENBURG (Basketball Champions League) - Chris Kramer, the ultimate defensive stopper in his college days at Purdue University, the man that was second to none when it came to putting the clamps on the opposition, has a different identity these days.
Anyone that has watched the EWE Baskets Oldenburg guard on a weekly basis in the Basketball Champions League will know that he's one of the most complete players in the competition.
The 28-year-old, logging the second most minutes per game (35.3mpg) behind Fraport Skyliner Quantez Robertson (35.5mpg) this season, is doing a little bit of everything to help EWE Baskets win games.
In doing so this week, he made history. Kramer became the first player to get a triple-double in the Basketball Champions League.
He poured in 16 points, handed out 13 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds in his team's 106-77 triumph over Muratbey Usak Sportif and was subsequently named as the competition's MVP of the Week.
The 1.91m Kramer still plays ferocious defense, yet he does so much more.
"As you become a professional, you evolve, start to do things differently," he said to the Basketball Champions League website. "I've transformed into my mind that I'm a point guard but play all the other positions.
"I call the plays and try to get people involved. When you put in the work, anything is possible and it helps when you play a lot of minutes and it gives you a chance to accomplish things and get a triple-double."
"To be able to get one (triple-double) is something I'll never forget. It's a huge accomplishment but I was just happy first of all that we won the game and everything else came second to that." - Kramer
With the Boilermakers, he scooped the honor as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in both 2008 and 2010. He's a different player now.
"What's crazy was my role in college was to play defense and facilitate and we won games," he said. "I got recognition for playing defense. We went to the NCAA Tournament, won Big Ten Championships so all was good. (But) As you become a professional, you evolve, start to do things differently."
In the first couple of rounds of the Basketball Champions League Regular Season, Kramer flirted with triple-doubles and on Tuesday, he at last reached the magical mark.
"It's definitely something I'll never forget," he said. "I've been close a couple of times, maybe a couple, three rebounds, one assist away. But to be able to get one is something I'll never forget. It's a huge accomplishment but I was just happy first of all that we won the game and everything else came second to that."
Thank you very much! Gotta give the credit to my teammates and coaches for making it possible. https://t.co/Fs6H3jJ63I— Chris Kramer (@C_K_3) January 10, 2017
Kramer admits the possibility of getting a triple-double did enter his thoughts late in the contest against Muratbey Usak.
"It got to the point where I knew I had to be close," he said. "I just didn't know how many rebounds I had."
He then laughed said, "So I was battling for every rebound but it was a great night, a great accomplishment. But basically, I raised the bar for myself and now I have to try and keep the bar at that level.
"Now I can't let that bar down and let my team down. I have to keep playing well, leading our team, trying to help us win basketball games no matter how that maybe."
EWE Baskets have won four of their last five games and are second in Group B with an 8-4 record. Only French outfit ASVEL, a side that swept EWE Baskets in a couple of close games, are better at 9-3 while Neptunas are also 8-4.
Kramer positively dazzled in a pivotal win at Neptunas on 4 January when he had 10 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
The winners of the five eight-team groups, and the three best second-place clubs, will get a bye and go straight to the second round of the Play-Offs. The other 16 outfits that clinch Play-Off spots will have to play in the first phase of the post-season.
"That win over Usak put us in a great position, trying to battle for second place with these last two games remaining and if something happens to ASVEL and they slip up and we can pick up these next two wins, I think we can be in first place," Kramer said. "We just have to take care of our business, forget about the last game and get ready for PAOK."
And might we see another triple-double from Kramer? After all, he doesn't want to lower the bar.
"As long as we win, I could really care less," he said. "I obviously want to play well individually, but as long as we win, all is good."