When the Lipscomb Bison face off against Stetson on January 16 there will be a familiar face in the stands at Allen Arena as the 2009-10 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Adnan Hodzic will be back in Nashville.
Hodzic is playing professionally for the German BBL club Walter Tigers Tübingen and was given a week off during the league’s All-Star Day break. And the former Bison couldn’t resist coming down to Lipscomb to catch a home game.
“I miss it. I’m not gonna lie. I miss it a lot,” Hodzic said prior to his departure from Germany on January 15.
“It will be fun to see the people who always gave me support. And the people that love me, my coaches, my teachers and people from the athletic office. I am very, very excited for it.”
Hodzic’s return from Germany comes at a time when he is finally really feeling comfortable with all the changes he is dealing with in his transition from collegiate to European basketball.
“Man, it’s a big adjustment. Much more for big men than for guards,” said the Sarajevo, Bosnia native.
“I’m having to do a lot of stuff I never did in college. It took me nearly half a season to really start picking up on things and I am starting to play a lot better now and starting to produce well. In the beginning I wasn’t producing how I could. My mind was all over the place. I wasn’t playing relaxed. But this stuff is starting to click now so I’m starting to play well.”
The European game is based so much on pick-and-roll with the power forwards and centers having to do a lot of the playmaking.
“I never really did that in college because I was so dominant in the low post. But now I’m starting to understand better how to play-make for other people,” explained the 23-year-old Hodzic.
“I’m setting picks and rolling and catching the ball while I’m rolling and I have to make decisions to get the guys the ball.”
Hodzic struggled in the early going, averaging just 6.6 points in the first 11 games with Tübingen while grabbing two or fewer rebounds in seven of those games.
During that time Hodzic really looked to his faith to help him get through the tough times.
“I learned this year to really lean on the Lord. He blessed me. I’m a firm believer in Christ. I see him working in my life. I give all the glory to him, man, because he’s helped me and without him I don’t know where I would be now going through all the struggles that I did at the beginning of the season,” said Hodzic.
Over the last six games until January 8, the 6-foot-8 big man has collected 9.0 points and 5.3 rebounds and committed a total of just seven turnovers in that span.
In total, Hodzic, who was Tübingen’s leading scorer in its first two games of 2012, is averaging 7.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 17 contests in which Tübingen is 6-11 and in 13th place of 18 teams.
“Now I’m starting to understand better how to play-make for other people. I’m still doing my job well on the block just like I did in college. So stuff is really starting to pick back up for me,” said Hodzic.
The German Bundesliga was actually a place of reunion for Hodzic twice thus far.
On November 6, Tübingen played at Eisbären Bremerhaven and Hodzic was on the court at the same time as 2011 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Mike Smith, with whom Adnan battled a number of times while Smith was at East Tennessee State.
And on November 25, Hodzic’s Tigers hosted New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig, which included center Nick Schneiders, who Bison fans will remember from his time with USC Upstate.
“It’s just exciting to see guys make it, because it’s not joke out here. That’s for sure. It’s not a game out here. It’s a business, man,” said Hodzic about seeing his fellow former Atlantic Sun stars also in Germany.
“We were a tough conference. I don’t think we got the recognition that we deserved. But it definitely shows that we have guys who are capable of being professional basketball players. That’s obvious.”
When asked about his plans for the future, Hodzic didn’t really want to offer any specific goals.
“My goal is to just keep following the path that God wants me to be on. I don’t really think much outside of that because when you start looking at that kind of stuff it can add stress to you. I need to play this much if I want to reach this or this. For me, I’m just looking at this season playing as hard as I can and then the offers will come next season,” said Hodzic.
“And where God takes me, he takes me. I figured that that way is the most stress-free, most enjoyable way to play the game instead of thinking, I gotta put on a performance. I gotta take my team to the playoffs so I can try to play in the Spanish ACB league or something. I try hard not to think about that. I have faith that the Lord Jesus will take me where he wants me.”
Hodzic did say that he is not really thinking about the NBA, that he is really enjoying his time in Europe.
“I like it in Europe for many reasons. You don’t play 82 games. You’re not on the road every single day. You play about 35 games in the regular season. You have down time. You’re in Europe where it’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of opportunity to have.
“And realistically, I’m not the type of guy who if I did go to the NBA where I would play a lot. I like to play the game of basketball. I’m not a big fan of playing five minutes a game or something like that. I really like it in Europe right now. But once again, you never know. So, we’ll see what happens.”