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Boettcher named Shiga’s new coach

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Chris Boettcher, a longtime women’s college basketball assistant coach, has been hired as the Shiga Lakestars’ new bench boss, the bj-league team announced on Friday.

Boettcher, 44, replaces Al Westover, who guided the Lakestars to back-to-back playoff appearances in his two seasons at the helm.

“It is an honor for me to accept the head coaching position of the Lakestars,” said Boettcher, who was on the BYU women’s team staff from 2009-13 after working for Utah Valley State for eight years. “I am very excited to start working with the team and building towards a championship.”

Boettcher’s coaching career also includes three seasons (1994-97) as an assistant for the Metro State (Colorado) men’s team. A native of Weiser, Idaho, Boettcher lived in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, from 1997-2000 while serving a Mormon mission and teaching hoops to players ranging in age from elementary school to junior college.

As reported in March 2007 article in The Japan Times, Boettcher returned to Japan to help conduct summer basketball clinics for a number of years, starting in 2002, he said.

While at Utah Valley State, Boettcher worked with guard Asumi Nakayama, a Saitama native, who now works as a TV announcer covering pro basketball in Japan.

Boettcher’s experiences working in Takayama and the aforementioned clinics gave him a well-rounded perspective on the sport in Japan, he said in a 2007 interview.

“I gained a high level of respect for the Japanese athletes and coaches,” Boettcher, who is fluent in Japanese, told The Japan Times. “Upon returning to the U.S., I made a goal to try and get a Japanese player to come play college basketball there. I really felt that if it were a point guard or shooting guard, male or female, they would be able to compete at this level…”

Boettcher now embarks on a new challenge: his first head coaching position.

He takes over a Shiga team that went 32-20 in 2012-13, and has had four straight winning seasons.

Since the Lakestars entered the league in 2008, Bob Pierce, Takatoshi Ishibashi and Westover have been season-opening head coaches. (Hirokazu Nema finished out the 2010-11 season on the bench after Ishibashi was relieved of his duties.)

In the paint: Rizing Fukuoka veteran stars Julius Ashby and Josh Peppers have become free agents. The team is not expected to re-sign either player after not retaining their rights.

The Rizing advanced to the championship game for the first time in May, falling to the Yokohama B-Corsairs at Ariake Colosseum.

Peppers averaged 16.3 points and Ashby contributed 14.0 last season.

The Kyushu-based club has a coaching vacancy. Atsushi Kanazawa left the team after one-plus seasons to coach the TGI D-Rise, an NBDL (renamed JBL2) squad.

Meanwhile, power forward Reggie Warren will return to the Rizing, a league insider told this newspaper recently. Warren was the league’s No.3 rebounder (12.6 per game) and poured in 16.9 ppg in the regular season.