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Friday, July 30, 2010

BJ-LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Generation gap big among 16 coaches


Staff writer

There will be a wide range of coaching backgrounds on display in the upcoming bj-league season.

The league's elder statesman, bench boss Kazuo Nakamura of the reigning champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, will turn 70 on Dec. 4.

The Miyazaki Shining Suns' first coach, Koto Toyama, is 27.

Welcome to the new-look bj-league, where three generations of coaches will run the show in 2010-11.

Toyama's 28th birthday will be nearly three months after the season tips off (Jan. 19). Toyama worked under Nakamura from 2005-10, so the energetic mentor's style will probably be seen from time to time as the young coach puts his own stamp on the expansion team.

The Takamatsu Five Arrows' new coach, Atsushi Kanazawa, 32, is one of several youthful sideline supervisors taking the helm of bj-league clubs this season. (L.J. Hepp, the Oita HeatDevils' new coach, turns 32 in September. New Osaka Evessa coach Ryan Blackwell is 33, and recently hired Toyama Grouses coach Kohei Eto turns 28 in December.)

Kanazawa's hiring was announced on Monday by the new-look Five Arrows, who are restructuring their front office and updating their blog at a rapid pace now after weeks of relative quiet.

Kanazawa worked under ex-Rizing Fukuoka coach John Neumann from 2007-09, when the former college scoring sensation and NBA player led the Kyushu-based club during its first two seasons. He then worked as Neumann's Five Arrows assistant last season during a tumultuous 13-39 campaign.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Shimane Susanoo Magic have brought in Croatian Zeljko Pavlicevic, a longtime coach in Europe and a former Japan national team boss, to be the team's first head coach.

The Tokyo Apache handed the reins to Bob Hill, a 61-year-old has led four NBA teams during a coaching career that dates back to the early 1970s.

And the Saitama Broncos hired Bob Nash, a former NBA player, who spent the past 26 seasons at the University of Hawaii including the past three as the head coach. Nash turns 60 in October.

Will decades of coaching experience lead to success in 2010-11?

That will be one of the more intriguing story lines as the season tips off in the fall.

Will fans lose interest if teams' youthful hires prove to be incapable of leading their teams to anything beyond mediocre levels?

That's also possible. But sometimes an injection of youthful enthusiasm can give a team a needed spark.

This general trend, however, indicates the league will have major cost-cutting measures in place for the foreseeable future.

Catching up with . . . Matt Garrison: The former Niigata Albirex BB and Takamatsu Five Arrows forward is now retired, but he remains active in the sport.

A year after his playing days ended, Garrison served as a boys varsity assistant coach at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. He also recently ran a foreign player tryout for the Albirex, working on behalf of Veritas Venture Group, a Denver-based sports agency.

Garrison, who began his college career at Montana but transferred to NAIA school Biola University following a major knee injury, won the bj-league's All-Star 3-Point Shootout during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.

According to Garrison's coaching biography, his playing days took him to 18 countries in 10 years. His coaching experiences have also included Kobe Bryant's Basketball Academy, Michael Jordan's Flight School and LeBron James' King James Academy.

New and improved Web site: The Apache have re-launched their Web site this week, featuring news and notes in Japanese and English. It's a positive step for the team, providing useful information about the upcoming season in both languages as it seeks to expand its fan base and help hoop fanatics, coaches, agents, reporters and others from around the world stay informed about the latest goings-on with the club.

Other teams should follow suit, it says here, and provide a basic core of information in English.

The Apache have begun announcing their player signings for the 2010-11 season, and the team has reached deals with guards Takanori Goya and Cohey Aoki and forwards Jumpei Nakama and Tomoya Nakamura.

Aoki and Nakama have played for the Apache since their inception in 2005.

Also Thursday, the Apache signed veteran point guard Darin Satoshi Maki, who played for the team from 2005-09 under Joe Bryant, and 211-cm forward Kendall Dartez, whose pro career includes stops in South Korea, France, Turkey and Jordan and time spent with two NBA Development League teams, the Florida Flame and Rio Valley Grande Vipers.

Film role: Nakamura has landed the role of a player named 'Jello' in the upcoming basketball movie "Playin' For Money." It's slated for release in November with a world premiere being planned for the Tokyo International Film Festival in late October, according to producer Shawn Brown, a former Toyama Grouses player.

Tokyo-based Japan Entertainment Group produced the motion picture. The film's Web site is www.playinformoney.com/



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