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Struggling Fitzgerald released by Happinets

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Akita Northern Happinets have terminated forward Dan Fitzgerald’s contract, the bj-league club announced on Friday.

The Marquette University product struggled to knock down shots since joining the team in December. Fitzgerald, who drained 146 3-pointers and shot 34.6 percent from beyond the arc for the Sendai 89ers last season, was 20-for-107 (18.7 percent) on 3s in 16 games for the Happinets.

The 28-year-old Fitzgerald also shot 13-for-39 from inside the arc for Akita (17-13), which plays host to Sendai (11-19) this weekend.

In Fitzgerald’s debut for Akita on Dec. 8, he was 1-for-10 on 3s and missed both of his short-range shots. Over the next three games, he was 2-for-13, 3-for-14 and 4-for-13 on 3s and never appeared comfortable in sideline supervisor Kazuo Nakamura’s offensive system.
The 206-cm Fitzgerald averaged 7.3 points per game for the Happinets. In his final game for Akita, he had zero points in 4 minutes in a loss to the Gunma Crane Thunders last Sunday.

Last season, he was Sendai’s leading scorer (18.9 ppg) in 50 games, helping the 89ers reach the playoffs.

Fitzgerald played for Obras Sanitarias, an Argentine League club, to begin the 2012-13 season. According to statistics posted on Asia-basket.com, he appeared in eight games for Obras and averaged 6.4 points, shooting 40.7 percent from long range.

To replace Fitzgerald, Akita has acquired 201-cm American forward Mike Anderson.

The Virginia Commonwealth University alum played in the NBA Development League for the Dakota Wizards in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 campaigns, and suited up for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this season. All told, the 26-year-old has appeared in 114 D-League contests (49 starts), averaging 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.1 blocks.

A league source said Friday evening that Fitzgerald may be signed by another bj-league team in the coming days.

In the community: Osaka Evessa head coach Bill Cartwright visited Sakuranomiya Senior High School in Osaka on Thursday and spoke to the boys basketball team, whose captain had committed suicide in December after being physically battered by his then-head coach.

Evessa players also attended the event.

Cartwright, longtime NBA player and former Chicago Bulls head coach, briefly summed up his thoughts on the experience via Twitter.

“The high school kids were great,” Cartwright tweeted.

“My message to the kids was no kid should ever be touched and the most important thing that happens today is that they have FUN.”

The former Sakuranomiya head coach, 47-year-old Hajime Komura, was fired on Wednesday.