/ |

NBA lockout gives Greene a shot at big time


Considered a top official during the bj-league’s first four seasons, Tim Greene is now in uncharted territory.

Greene is one of the NBA’s replacement referees, No. 140 — for now.

He worked Wednesday’s Memphis Grizzlies-Atlanta Hawks game at FedEx Forum along with Lorenzo Bronson and Byron Jarrett. On Oct. 7, Greene worked his first preseason game — Detroit Pistons vs. Milwaukee Bucks — at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

After 20 years in the U.S. Navy, including eight in Japan, Greene told The Japan Times during the bj-league’s Final Four at Ariake Colosseum in May that he planned to take an early retirement. A native of Philadelphia, the 39-year-old wanted to begin a new career as a full-time referee in the United States, listing the Atlantic-10 Conference as one strong possibility.

As of Wednesday, however, Greene was not listed as an A-10 official for the coming season, a league official confirmed.

Greene was involved in NBA Summer League games in Las Vegas in 2007. It was a valuable experience for him.

“I’ve been officiating for four years,” Greene said in a November 2007 interview, “and to be able to reach that summit of officiating that fast is something that’s unbelievable for me.”

There are an estimated 65 NBA officials who have been locked out by the league during the union’s ongoing labor dispute with the NBA, New York Post columnist Peter Vecsey reported earlier this week. In the meantime, a number of officials with WNBA, NBA Development League and NCAA Division I game experience have stepped in to work preseason games.

It remains to be seen if Green’s NBA gig will be a temporary or a long-term assignment. But this much is certain: it’ll be a memorable experience.

Free-throw woes: The Oita HeatDevils are 1-1 after a pair of contests against the Rizing Fukuoka last weekend, including a 90-89 victory on Saturday. But for first-year coach Brian Rowsom, the team’s atrocious 16-for-45 performance at the free-throw line in the two games is the biggest point of concern before its next game Oct. 24 on the road against the Kyoto Hannaryz.

The good news?

Rowsom’s squad has plenty of time for Free Throws 101 over the next several days.

“We are going to watch a lot of film now that we have that to gauge our play,” Rowsom said. “With the free throws, I think it may be mental for some of our guys. It’s a fine line there because I don’t want to lose them mentally by putting too much pressure on them.

“We will shoot lots of them and I told them no talking while we are shooting them also (and) take them seriously because they win and lose games.”

The HeatDevils had a plus-26 rebounding margin in the two games, a positive sign for a team looking to establish a new identity.

Tough times: The 0-4 Takamatsu Five Arrows, who are trying to piece together a competitive team after a tumultuous offseason, have yet to use a foreign player. The team has signed center Antoine Broxsie and high-scoring guard Michael Gardener and is waiting for them to make their season debuts. To turn things around, Takamatsu needs immediate assistance on the interior, big bodies to clog the lane, contest shots and provide necessary muscle in the battle of the boards. Broxsie alone won’t be the answer.

Through the Five Arrows’ first four games, the numbers tell the story:

• Oct. 3: Sendai 103, Takamatsu 56 (the Five Arrows were outrebounded 68-36)

• Oct. 4: Sendai 87, Takamatsu 69 (outrebounded 62-32)

• Oct. 10: Shiga 120, Takamatsu 72 (outrebonded 65-24)

• Oct. 11: Shiga 92, Takamatsu 62 (outrebounded 66-34)

“To say we are small is an understatement,” Five Arrows coach John Neumann said. “What can I say other than we are playing and I am very proud of my Japanese players because they are playing very hard, but when you get out rebounded 30-40 rebounds a game things are difficult.”

Back to the drawing board: The Tokyo Apache committed a combined 45 turnovers against the Niigata Albirex BB on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Upcoming games: There are six Saturday-Sunday series, including the first games for the Toyama Grouses, against the visiting Apache, under new coach Charles Johnson. Also on the docket are: Niigata at Sendai, Saitama at Hamamatsu, Fukuoka at Osaka, Kyoto at Takamatsu and Shiga at Ryukyu.

Weekly accolade: Phoenix swingman Wendell White, who had 32-and 24-point games against the Apache in a season-opening sweep on Oct. 6-7, is the Circle K Sunkus Player of the Week. White is a former UNLV player.