Martin Schiller Looks To Sustain Success

by Adam Johnson

After a breakout year for Salt Lake City, Schiller aims to keep riding high in upcoming season

Salt Lake City Stars head coach Martin Schiller is entering his third season leading the G League squad. Last season he brought the team to new heights, with a 27–23 record (the most wins in franchise history since 2008–09 when the team was known as the Idaho Stampede). Now Schiller and his staff face the challenge of sustaining that success heading into the upcoming season. For the head coach, the more experience under the belt, the better.

“I would say the biggest difference was like a combination of higher quality in personnel and players to be honest,” Schiller told 2 Ways & 10 Days. “Just knowing the mechanisms a little better, knowing the league a little better, getting to know the game a little better, it felt like we had a better team than the yer before.”

With the no. 1 pick in the 2018 G League Draft, the Stars took Willie Reed, who would appear in 21 games and averaged just over 20 points and 11 rebounds before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

But with the help of Naz Mitrou-Long and Tyler Cavanaugh, the Stars found success. This year? The Stars will look for Jarrell Brantley and Justin Wright-Foreman to find that success once more.

“Both are interesting projects,” Schiller said. “Brantley has the potential to be a stretch four. He has passing creativity, can shoot the ball and I hope he’ll be able to shoot the ball at a higher percentage as he gets used to the line. He can post up smaller guys. He’s an interesting project.

“Justin Wright-Foreman can really score the basketball,” he continued. “It’s going to be interesting to see where they kind of find their niche and where they can develop.”

With opportunities comes experience for Schiller, who spent time with the German National Team for the FIBA World Cup this past offseason. It was her fourth summer helping with the national team.

“It was interesting as always,” Schiller said. “The change of game, the change of faces, the change of scenery. I think it’s always good for everyone in every profession. That was cool.

“The perspective of being to play on the national team and play in the competition like the world championship is a much bigger deal.”

Though he didn’t coach Team USA, Schiller was quick to defend them from criticism for falling short from Gold at this year’s World Cup.

“That’s not correct,” Schiller said defending the team. “They went to work. They were the guys who showed up. They worked, they were coached well by the best coach in the world and it was a tough competition. It’s so difficult to play 40 minutes. It’s difficult to play through the physicality. It’s difficult to play through every possession.”

Now the focus shifts back to the G League season, where Schiller wants to develop players to perform at the next level.

“The expectation between the Jazz and Stars to get the guys better, potentially get them in a situation where they can play in an NBA game and play a role for some time in their career,” Schiller said. “The learning curve will be steep,” noting the rookie two-way players. “Steeper than past years before.

A new challenge for Schiller and Co. will be the the new free throw rule change. Players will only shoot a single free throw on all trips to the line regardless if it’s for one, two, or three points. Adjustments will certainly be made but Schiller is up to the challenge.

“I think you just have to practice one shot instead of two,” Schiller said. “We’ll have to get the rebounders ready after one shot. I guess every coach wants to get their guys wrapped around the fact that you have to box out after the first shot.

“Analytically it will be interesting if perhaps overall free throw percentages go down, because the first shot analytically the first shot is the worst. I’ll be intrigued to see if the numbers go down.”

A native of Germany, Schiller has found he and his family embracing the United States culture since coming stateside for the Stars position.

“What I really like about American culture is that value of sports,” Schiller said. “The importance of sports is fantastic. Like being a coach is actually a job compared to in Germany, soccer is just soccer like the sport. The economic volume of sports combined is such a huge thing here and it’s really cool.”

From the world stage to Salt Lake City, Schiller’s worldly experience will only prove to be an opportunity to boost and maintain the success from the Utah Jazz’s G League affiliate.