/ |

Washington wins Dec. award

by Ed Odeven

He takes a lot of shots and he consistently makes around 50 percent of them. And he had six 20-point games in December.

News photoPower forward Lynn Washington (44) is a standout player for the Osaka Evessa on both ends of the floor.
He is The Japan Times’ Offensive Player of the Month for December.
YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

Lynn Washington, Osaka Evessa’s starting power forward, is The Japan Times’ Offensive Player of the Month.

Washington, the MVP in the bj-league’s inaugural season of 2005-06, is third in the league in scoring (22.4 points per game) and is No. 3 in free-throw shooting accuracy (84.6 percent). The 200-cm Californian gets to the line with regularity, too. He drained 13 of 14 foul shots on Dec. 16. Two games later, he went to the charity stripe for 12 shots and dropped 11 through the bottom of the net.

Washington’s valuable to the team’s offense goes beyond his versatility as a scorer. When he’s in a passing mode, good things happen.

Case in point: He dished out a season-high eight assists on Dec. 10, a 108-84 victory over the Tokyo Apache. He had four in the next game and six more on Dec. 23, breaking the notion that power forwards are just big, strong brutes.

Indeed, Washington has a keen understanding of the Evessa offense and is a vital part of the team’s success.

Osaka, which went 7-1 in December, is 10-6 and tied for second in the league standings.

Toyama Grouses forward/center Jerod Ward, who is No. 2 in scoring at 25.3 ppg, and the league’s scoring leader, John “Helicopter” Humphrey of the Tokyo Apache, also earned consideration for the monthly award.

Ward started the month with back-to-back games of 30-plus points. He ended it with a 31-point outing on Dec. 24.

Humphrey, The Japan Times’ November winner, exhibited his scoring prowess time and again in December. He had consecutive 40-point outbursts to kick off the month and twice scored in the 30s.

Sparks top defender

Rasheed Sparks, the Takamatsu Five Arrows’ veteran point guard, is The Japan Times’ Defensive Player of the Month. Sparks, who played college ball at Morgan State (Md.) University, is No. 1 in the league in steals per game with a splendid 3.0 each time out.

As December rolled on, Sparks’ defensive awareness and timing was impeccable. He made four takeaways on Dec. 10. In Takamatsu’s next game, he had four more. For an encore, he had three straight six-steal games, a statistic that certainly put a smile on Five Arrows coach Motofumi Aoki’s face.

Sparks is also tops in the league in assists (5.0), helping the Five Arrows to a 5-3 record in December. He is a pesky presence on the boards, too. He had five or more defensive rebounds in all but one game in the past month.

Osaka big man Jeff Newton also was considered for the defensive accolade. The 205-cm performer is No. 3 in the league in rebounds (13.3 per game), third in steals (1.9) and first in blocks (2.4).

When the ball bounces off the backboard or rim, Newton, who can be aptly dubbed “The Evessa Enforcer,” is always in the mix for the loose ball.

On three occasions in December, he had 11 defensive boards, cleared 14 once and 15 in a 21-rebound game on Dec. 10.