The Japan Times features periodic interviews with players in the bj-league. Brandon Fields of the Shiga Lakestars is the subject of this week’s profile.
Position: Guard; Age: 25
Ht: 193 cm; Wt: 86 kg
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
Noteworthy: UConn outplayed Kentucky for the NCAA title in Fields’ childhood stomping grounds on Monday. Nevada advanced to the second round of the 2007 NCAA tournament in Fields’ freshman year, beating Creighton in OT before falling to Memphis.
His ex-Wolf Pack teammate Nick Fazekas, who stars for the Toshiba Brave Thunders, leads the rival NBL in scoring (26.4 ppg). . . . This season, Fields is averaging 15.0 points (second on the Lakestars) through 48 games while shooting 51.4 percent from 2-point range. He leads Shiga in free-throw attempts (248) and makes (179). He’s No. 1 on the team in assists (171). Shiga has a 25-23 record and first-year head coach Chris Boettcher’s team sits in fifth place in the 10-team West.
As a key member of the Lakestars, how would you assess your overall performance this season?
I feel like I’ve had a good season as a key player of the Lakestars, my teammates respect me and they all help to put me in positions to be able to produce like I have.
Do you consider yourself more of a scoring guard or a pass-first floor general?
In college, I was a scoring guard, so almost every time I got the ball my coaches told me to be aggressive. It was different when I became a pro. I’ve had to transition into both floor general and scoring guard, and I think I’m getting better every year in balancing both.
What do you feel are Coach Boettcher’s strongest qualities as a bench boss? And what skills that he has are keys in leading the team’s success so far?
Coach Boettcher is more of a laid-back coach compared to the other coaches in this world. He doesn’t have to yell every time to get his point across, and he is always very positive. As a player, it gives me confidence knowing that my coach is always thinking of positive ways to look at the game even in negative situations.
Does Boettcher’s personality remind you of any famous NBA or NCAA coaches that most people know?
I would say that his personality reminds me a lot of Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, always at an even keel.
In the bj-league, which opposing players have provided the best challenge for you at both ends of the floor?
There’s a couple players that I’ve had great competition with, but it would be hard to choose which one was the most challenging. But it’s a lot of good competition.
Which Japanese teammates and opponents have especially impressed you with their skill set, talent and passion for the game?
(Masashi) Joho from Toyoma and (All-Star Game MVP Yuki) Togashi from Akita were the most impressive Japanese players to me. I didn’t know how good Japanese players were until I came out here and saw them. I like their games.
Having previously played in pro leagues in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Morocco, and now adding Japan to that list, how would you rank the overall quality of competition in each of these leagues? And which league is most comparable to the bj-league in terms of talent?
Japan and the Czech Republic are the same talent-wise to me, and Morocco was the league with (less) competition, and the other countries were about the same talent-wise.
Which current and/or former NBA players do you feel your game is most similar to?
I feel like my game is modeled after former NBA guard Steve Francis.
What are some keys for the Lakestars to make a deep run in the playoffs in May?
I think when we play good defense, then we are the best team in the league. That’s the only way we are going to make it deep into the playoffs.
What are your most exciting (or special) memories as a basketball player in high school and college? What about as a pro player?
In high school, it was making 5A Texas offensive player of the year. In college, it was making the second round of the NCAA tourney and being No. 9 in the nation.
As a pro player, winning the championship and cup in Morocco (in 2010).
If you were sitting courtside as a TV analyst, how would you describe Brandon Fields the basketball player? What are some words that come to mind?
Relentless player that’s going to give his all on both ends of the court.
Who’s your favorite NBA player of all time? Why?
Kobe Bryant is my all-time favorite player. He is relentless to the game and by watching him made me model my attitude after his.
How important has the leadership of veterans such as Jumpei Nakama, who has played in the bj-league since 2005, and Dionisio Gomez, a third-year Lakestars standout, been to push the younger players and set the tone for games and practice?
It’s good having the veterans on the team, because they are always the ones who knows what’s best most of the time.
If you weren’t a pro basketball player, what career or job do you think you’d have right now?
I would be a coach if I didn’t play basketball, because I love the game.
Thinking back to your youth, at what point did you recognize you had the talent or desire to pursue a career in basketball or in sports?
When I knew about the NBA, that’s when I knew I wanted to play professionally — around 5 or 6 years old.
Away from basketball, what have you enjoyed most about your time in Japan this season?
I love Korean BBQ, I love to eat, so I fell in love with the Korean BBQ restaurants.
Lastly, if you had a magic wand, and could make one change in the bj-league, what would be at the top of your list?
I would change how many Americans could play on the court to five — that five Americans can play in any quarter for each team.
Editor’s note: Archived stories in this long-running interview series can be found here: www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/column/one-on-one-with/