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Monday, Nov. 21, 2011
Broncos whip Grouses; Murray's status unclear
By ED ODEVEN
With head coach Dean Murray serving a suspension for "a violation of team rules," according to a team source, acting head coach Natalie Nakase led the Saitama Broncos to a 93-74 win over the Toyama Grouses on Sunday.
Nakase became the first woman to serve as a head coach in the bj-league.
After the game, sources told The Japan Times the Broncos may be on the verge of making a permanent coaching change. But Saitama team spokesperson Hiroe Saito wouldn't confirm or deny that speculation.
Reached by telephone, Saito said the team hasn't decided whether Murray will be back on the bench for the team's next game on Dec. 3 against the host Shiga Lakestars or if Nakase or another bench boss would be named as Murray's replacement. Saito wouldn't say when the team plans to make an announcement.
An ex-Tokyo Apache assistant under longtime NBA sideline supervisor Bob Hill last season, Nakase led the Broncos to a win after a 96-70 defeat in the series opener on Saturday.
Nakase was a guard for the UCLA Bruins from 1999-2003 before embarking on a pro career. She also coached the Wolfenbuttel Wildcats, a pro team in the German women's league (2008-10).
Murray and Nakase declined to comment on Sunday.
One well-connected league source doesn't expect the Broncos to stick with Murray.
"If you read between the lines of some player comments, it seems like some of the players had lost respect for their coach's decisions, which may have led to their poor play in some games," the source said.
Saitama (5-7) led 26-13 after one quarter and 50-26 at halftime.
Broncos forward John "Helicopter" Humphrey scored a game-high 27 points and had six steals and John Flowers had 22 points. Yuki Kitamuki scored 11 and Daiki Terashita had 10, while Kenny Satterfield dished out 12 assists.
"Today was a whole new Broncos team," another league observer said. "The environment was upbeat and every player was playing for each other and for Natalie."
For Toyama (5-7), Devin Searcy scored 17 points and Brian Harper added 15.
Evessa 74, HeatDevils 66
In Bungo-ono, Oita Prefecture, Lynn Washington scored 14 points, Wayne Marshall had 13 and Osaka extended its winning streak to nine games.
The Evessa, who have a league-best 11-1 record, were 4-for-22 from 3-point range, but got a big game out of Lawrence Blackledge (14 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks) to hold off the hosts.
Cohey Aoki scored 11 points and Shota Konno and Daisuke Tamura had eight apiece for Osaka.
Washington said the team's success is not a stunning development this season.
"It's simple," he said on Sunday, "chemistry, talent and the will to win. We believe in (coach Ryan Blackwell's) system and each other."
For the HeatDevils (3-9), T. J. Cummings was the top scorer with 23 points.
Phoenix 91, Big Bulls 82
In Morioka, Jermaine Dixon paced Hamamatsu Hiagshimikawa with 21 points and Wayne Arnold scored 15 as the two-time defending champions completed a series sweep over Iwate.
Newcomer Herve Lamizana added 14 points and nine boards for the Phoenix (7-5).
Thomas Kennedy led Iwate (1-11) with 31 points.
Susanoo Magic 90, Rizing 78
In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Michael Parker scored 27 points against his former team and Reggie Golson had 16 as the Magic (7-5) bounced back from a Saturday loss.
Gary Hamilton finished with 19 points for Fukuoka (7-5).
Hannaryz 77, Five Arrows 67
In Takamatsu, Lance Allred's 18-point, 15-rebound effort and Jermaine Boyette's 17-point outing led Kyoto (7-5) past the hosts.
Takamatsu fell to 0-12.
Kings 82, Lakestars 73
In Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Dzaflo Larkai scored 26 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, Reggie Okosa had 21 points and Narito Namizato added 17 points and six assists for Ryukyu (9-3), which lost the opener.
Ray Nixon paced Shiga (7-5) with 24 points.
Happinets 105, Albirex BB 89
In Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture, Ricky Woods had 28 points and Michael Gardener poured in 20 and dished out nine assists as Akita (10-2) routed the hosts.
For Niigata (4-6), Nile Murry had a team-best 30 points.