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Gardener, Hargrow share offensive accolade for October

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

There were 56 bj-league games in October, the 2011-12 season’s opening month. And now it’s time to recognize some of the league’s top players for their overall excellence.

Leading the Akita Northern Happinets to a 5-1 start, point guard Michael Gardener averaged 19.5 points (No. 8 in scoring) and 5.7 assists (third-best total) before the calendar flipped to November.

Guard Maurice Hargrow of the expansion Chiba Jets has helped his team earn a share of first place in the 10-team Eastern Conference heading into this weekend’s series against the host Happinets. Hargrow is the league’s No. 2 scorer (22.0 points per game).

Gardener attended Southeastern Louisiana, while Hargrow is a University of Minnesota product.

In recognition of their strong play to date, Gardener and Hargrow are The Japan Times’ Offensive Players of the Month for October.

On defense, Jets forward Jamel Staten, who went to Minnesota State-Mankato, is No. 1 in steals (3.2 per game). Agile forward Lawrence Blackledge of the Osaka Evessa leads the 19-team circuit in blocked shots (4.0 per game).

Osaka (5-1) shares the best record in the Western Conference with the Shiga Lakestars, winners of five straight games.

Staten and Blackledge are The Japan Times’ Defensive Players of the Month.