Blackwell returns to U.S. as Evessa tenure ends


Staff Writer

For Ryan Blackwell, nothing’s changed. His status — as the former Osaka Evessa head coach — is the same as it was last Friday, when it was first reported in this newspaper that his tenure had ended.

Blackwell won’t be back on the Evessa sideline next season. He won’t be given a shot to guide the bj-league team to its eight consecutive playoff appearance in as many seasons.

The 35-year-old returned to the United States on Tuesday, and is now officially unemployed. His search for a new coaching gig is under way.

Despite players’ desire for Blackwell to return to Osaka for a third season at the helm, team executives did not offer the ex-Syracuse University forward a new contact for the 2012-13 season.

After The Japan Times’ article was published about the team’s plans to part ways with Blackwell due to his close friendship with former Evessa star and two-time league MVP Lynn Washington (who was exonerated of all charges in a drug case in Osaka, while his wife, Dana, pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes; she was released from police custody last Friday), players voiced displeasure with the team’s decision.

Blackwell, a former Evessa and Sendai 89ers player, reiterated on Wednesday what he said in an exclusive interview last week. “Ownership wanted to make a change,” Blackwell told The Japan Times.

Osaka went 67-35 in two seasons under Blackwell. The Evessa went to the Final Four in 2010-11, and fell to the Kyoto Hannaryz in the mini-tiebreaker game on May 13, when Lee Cummard’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer propelled Kyoto to its first trip to the Final Four.