bj-league notebook

by Ed Odeven

Here’s a quick rundown on news and notes from around the bj-league:

In a recent phone interview, Osaka Evessa power forward Lynn Washington says the bj-league did an excellent job last season promoting itself.

“(There was) exciting stuff for fans to see before, during and after games,” Washington told The Japan Times. “I think that’s going to boost the league up and how the fans perceive this league.”

In the same conversation, Washington was asked to name the best Japanese players at each position.

He offered this quick perspective: point guard Yuki Suzuki of the Oita HeatDevils, shooting guard Joho Masashi of the Osaka Evessa, small forward/power forward Kazuya Hatano of the Osaka Evessa and center Takatoshi Ishibashi of the Toyama Grouses.

Ishibashi turned 38 in September, but still has the physical skills to be an impact-maker. Or as Washington observed: “He still moves pretty well.”

LAST YEAR’S HONOREES

The 2005-06 Best Five consisted of Nick Davis of the Niigata Albirex, Matt Lottich of the Osaka Evessa, Michael Jackson of the Sendai 89ers, Yukinori Suzuki of the Oita HeatDevils and William Pippen of the Tokyo Apache.

The league’s inaugural MVP award went to Osaka power forward Lynn Washington.

Tim Greene, who hails from the United States, was named the Referee of the Season.

Kensaku Tennichi of the Osaka Evessa received Coach of the Season accolades.

Saitama Broncos fans garnered bragging rights with their Booster of the Season honors.

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Scoring: Tokyo Apache’s John “Helicopter” Humphrey (23.2 per game).

Field goal percentage: Niigata Albirex’s Nick Davis (62.7).

Free-throw percentage: Tokyo Apache’s Kohei Aoki (86.4).

Three-point shooting percentage: Oita HeatDevils’ Yukinori Suzuki (43.7).

Dunks: Sendai 89ers’ Andre Larry and Osaka Evessa’s Jeff Newton (1.6 per game).

Assists: Osaka Evessa’s Matt Lottich (4.4 per game).

Rebounds: Niigata Albirex’s Nick Davis (15.5 per game).

Blocked shots: Osaka Evessa’s Jeff Newton (2.7 per game). Steals: Oita HeatDevils’ Jack Hartman (2.028 per game).

LEAGUE EXPANSION

A ninth bj-league team will begin play next season in Okinawa. The new franchise has not decided on a team nickname yet.

A 10th team is also expected to join the league in 2007-08. A bj-league official said the league hopes to make an announcement by the end of November.

PLAYERS

In addition to Japanese players, the bj-league is also comprised of players from the United States, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Senegal.

WEB SITE

All bj-league games this season can be seen this season — but without announcers — on the league’s official Web site, www.bj-league.com.

Niigata Albirex games, however, will have a radio simulcast in Japanese linked to the video feed.

Sign-up costs are posted on the league’s Web site.