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Friday, Aug. 6, 2010

BJ-LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Murry, Takeno give Fukuoka firepower


Staff writer

Since joining the Rizing Fukuoka during their first season, Michael Parker has been one of the league's premier players.

Truth be told, the reigning two-time scoring champion gives the Kyushu club a potent weapon on offense.

Parker, who attended tiny Evergreen State (Wash.) College, is the franchise's cornerstone player. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for another bona fide star in the same lineup.

Next season, Nile Murry, an elite-level point guard will direct the Rizing offense. Murry joined Fukuoka after two distinguished seasons as the Osaka Evessa point guard.

Fukuoka made the announcement earlier this week.

Murry, a Texas Christian University product, averaged 14.5 points and 4.8 assists for the Evessa last season, playing in all 52 regular-season games. He also grabbed 5.8 rebounds per game and had ample energy to harass opposing ball handlers (81 steals).

Murry is one of the best all-around athletes in bj-league history.

In his two previous two seasons in the bj-league, Murry averaged 20.0 points (2008-09 for Osaka) and 19.3 points (2006-07 for the expansion Toyama Grouses). And he's capable of leading the Rizing to the Western Conference championship game next spring.

Fellow point guard Akitomo Takeno, a promising talent who has shown flashes of brilliance in the previous two seasons with the Niigata Albirex BB, is also in the mix in the backcourt for his second tour of duty with the Rizing.

Changes in Saitama: New Broncos coach Bob Nash will have his hands full in trying to transform the club into a legitimate playoff contender.

Forward Gordon Klaiber, a 206-cm Fairleigh Dickinson (N.J.) University product and Bruce Brown, a 213-cm center from Hampton University in Virginia, could make a big difference, though. The team announced their signings on Thursday.

On the same day, the team said former University of Hawaii shooting guard Bobby Nash, who played for the Shiga Lakestars from 2008 until last spring, has also joined the team, which is now coached by his father.

Last season, Klaiber suited up for the IBL's Albany Legends. He averaged 19.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg in 20 games, earning first-team all-league honors. The 26-year-old's pro career also includes stops in Venezuela, Argentina and Hungary.

Brown has collected paychecks from teams in Bulgaria and Lebanon. This past season his 16.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and league-high 1.4 blocks per game helped him earn Eurobasket.com's All-Bulgarian League Defensive Player of the Year and All-Bulgarian First Team honors.

Summer activity: Before returning to Japan for his second season in the bj-league, Kyoto Hannaryz guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf has returned to his old stomping grounds in Mississippi.

The NBA veteran served as a guest speaker at the third annual Dale Brown Basketball Camp in Ocean Springs, Miss., The Mississippi Press reported.

Abdul-Rauf, 41, now resides with his family in Atlanta during the offseason.

The July camp was organized by Brown, a former SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Kentucky Wildcat, who first played at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and earned Junior College All-America recognition, not to be confused with the longtime Louisiana State coach with the same name who oversaw the college careers of Abdul-Rauf (then known as Chris Jackson) and Shaquille O'Neal.

"Abdul-Rauf spoke to campers . . . and stressed a combination of basketball and education as a way to make it in life," The Mississippi Press reported.

New Hannaryz player: The Kyoto Hannaryz have signed guard Darryl Hudson.

A former Howard University player, the Detroit native turns 25 on Aug. 25 and gives the team added depth in the backcourt.

Hudson's scoring production increased over each of his four collegiate seasons, from 5.4 in 2003-04, to 9.3 as a sophomore to 12.1 the next season to 14.4 as a senior in 2006-07.

Hudson spent last season playing in New Zealand. He also played in Finland and Germany.

In an interview with MEAC/SWAC Sports Main Street, an online blog dedicated to several collegiate conferences, Hudson dismissed the notion that he plays a bit like Ray Allen, the Boston Celtics star.

"I would say I'm a smooth player, but I'm not Ray Allen," Hudson was quoted as saying. "I like players like Ray Allen, Joe Johnson, the smooth guys, Penny Hardaway, those type of players. I'll try my hardest to be him, but . . ."

Apache news: All-Star center Julius Ashby is not part of the Tokyo Apache's plans for the coming season.

The team withdrew its tentative retention rights to him on Thursday, citing its inability to reach an agreement on a new contract.

Ashby, a former Takamatsu Five Arrows standout, averaged 19.9 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for Tokyo last season. He played college ball at Colorado University.

Making an impact: The expansion Akita Northern Happinets, working hard to prepare for their inaugural season, introduced veteran bench boss Bob Pierce as the team's new head coach on Monday. Pierce, several new players and strength and conditioning coach Masa Kawamura stood together for a team photo, with all of the men doing their best "guts" pose.

The Happinets also conducted a basketball clinic on Sunday in Daisen City, Akita Prefecture, which was attended by 230 mini-basketball players. It's smart use of the Happinets' time, as the team works to build a presence in the community and gives youngsters more than just a local hoops team to root for. It gives them local role models, too.

Catching up with . . . Marcus Toney-El: The former Saitama Broncos forward was hired as an assistant coach at Division I Fairleigh Dickinson this week, The Associated Press reporter.

Toney-El was a captain when he played at Seton Hall University and was named a Big East Academic All-Star in 2002.

He spent two seasons with the Broncos (2005-07) after beginning his pro career in the Dominican Republic. He also spent a season in Australia.

"Marcus is a great addition to the staff," Knights head coach Greg Vetrone said in a statement. "He has a phenomenal ability to teach fundamentals to post and wing players, making him a huge asset in working with the players.

"After playing at both Seton Hall Prep and Seton Hall University, he has a great knowledge of the area and will be a big help when recruiting. He was a great player at Seton Hall and overseas and all of that will translate to make him a great assistant coach for this program."

Toney-El has previously worked at Community Education Center in Newark, N.J., as a counselor.

Mark your calendar: The 2010 bj-league-KBL Championship Games will be held Sept. 23 and 25.

The Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix will play host to Ulsan Mobis Phoebus.

The opener will tip off at 6 p.m. in Toyohashi City, Aichi Prefecture, and the rematch is set to start at 2:10 at Hamamatsu Arena two days later.

This will be the fifth straight season that the Korean Basketball League and bj-league defending champions square off in a two-game preseason series. In previous years, however, the teams played a home-and-home series.

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Do you have a story idea about the bj-league? Send an e-mail to edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp



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