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Ishibashi won’t return for second season as Saitama coach

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Saitama Broncos will not renew head coach Takatoshi “Big Bashi” Ishibashi’s contract after a disastrous 5-47 season.

The bj-league team made the announcement on Tuesday.

Ishibashi had previously served as head coach for the Toyama Grouses, Shiga Lakestars and Shinshu Brave Warriors. He’d also been an assistant on the Toyama, Shiga and Shinshu coaching staffs.

The team was “unable to meet expectations,” Ishibashi said in a statement issued by Saitama. He also thanked fans for their support.

Saitama went 1-25 in road games, and failed to have a single winning streak all season. They lost 19 straight games between Oct. 20 and Jan. 3, and dropped 20 of 21 contests to close out the season.

Now, for the sixth consecutive offseason, the Broncos will be looking for a new sideline supervisor.

The revolving-door rundown:

* Tracy Williams led the team to a 15-37 record in 2012-13.

* Dean Murray and Natalie Nakase both served as head coaches during a 16-36 campaign in 2011-12, with Nakase taking over in November following Murray’s ouster.

* Bob Nash, the current Toyama Grouses coach, led the team to a 14-24 record during its shortened 2010-11 season.

* Masato Fukushima’s squad went 17-35 in his lone season in charge, 2009-10.

* Ex-NBA forward David Benoit, Saitama’s only head coach to last two seasons during the team’s bj-league tenure, had a 19-33 record in 2008-09 before taking over as the first coach in Kyoto Hannaryz history the next season. (Benoit replaced Kenji Yamane for the 2007-08 season after the latter’s team went 15-25 in 2006-07.)

The Broncos have failed to qualify for the playoffs in each of the league’s nine seasons. The franchise’s overall win-loss record: 129-293.

Saitama veteran John “Helicopter” Humphrey was the 21-team league leader in scoring (23.9 points) and steals (2.1) per game.

The Broncos became the second bj-league team with a coaching vacancy in as many days.

Bench boss Chris Boettcher’s departure, reported over the weekend by U.S. media outlets and The Japan Times, to take the Southern Utah women’s coaching position, was made official by the Shiga Lakestars on Monday.

In a statement issued by the Lakestars, Boettcher said, “It has been an incredible experience working for the Shiga Lakestars. I want to thank boosters, sponsors, team, the players, and staff who made this experience so great. I learned so much from being here and am sad to have to make my stay so short.

“My family is sad to leave Japan and will miss all the great people who have helped us enjoy this experience. We look forward to following the continued success of the organization and hope to continue to help in any way we can. Again thank you for a great year and all your support.”

In other coaching news, the Niigata Albirex BB have approved bench boss Fujitaka Hiraoka’s contract for the 2014-15 season. Niigata went 31-21 in the regular season and advanced to the playoffs in Hiraoka’s first season in charge.

The last word: “Now that I’ve had time to reflect… If I had to describe our games this past weekend I would say:

“We played with passion, drive, determination … We played hungry … We were mean … We played with poise on offense and chaotic on defense … But the most important description of our performances is that we played as one unit … We played as a team … We played like KINGS!

“So to my teammates and coaching staff … Front office and GM … Fans, boosters, and sponsors … And the Okinawa community all together … I wanna say what an honor it is to be a part of such a prolific organization and to represent the Okinawa community. Job well done CHAMPS!!” — Ryukyu Golden Kings star Anthony McHenry posted on his Facebook page.

Feedback: Got a story idea about the bj-league? Send an email to: edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp