Basketball / BJ-League

Bryant out as Rizing Fukuoka coach

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Rizing Fukuoka on Thursday handed the coaching reins to Tomohiro Moriyama, who steered the Shimane Susanoo Magic to the playoffs after a disastrous start last season.

The 31-year-old Moriyama replaces veteran mentor Joe Bryant, the now-defunct Tokyo Apache’s original bench boss, on the Rizing sideline.

After playing their last regular-season game on April 26, Fukuoka management issued no public statements about Bryant’s status or the team’s coaching plans for the bj-league’s 11th and final season until the announcement that Moriyama will take over. (Bryant was a midseason replacement for the Rizing.)

The 31-year-old Moriyama inherits a team that plummeted from 26-26 in the 2013-14 season to 13-39 and missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. (The Rizing joined the bj-league for the 2007-08 campaign.)

“I feel a heavy responsibility to take (over) the leadership of the team at this time,” Moriyama said in a statement.

He added: “I will do my best in body and soul also for Fukuoka.”

In his first pro head coaching job, Moriyama made his mark in a difficult situation last season. Last November, the Susanoo Magic fired coach Reggie Hanson after a 1-11 start and promoted Moriyama, who started the season as the assistant, to fill Hanson’s spot.

Shimane regrouped and finished the season 22-30, good for sixth in the Western Conference, and advanced to the postseason.

Tyler tale continues: Former Apache big man Jeremy Tyler, who suited up for the Chinese Basketball Association’s Shanxi Zhongyu this past season, had a strong showing at the Las Vegas Summer League, which wrapped up last week.

The California native averaged 11.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 23.8 minutes in six games for the Dallas Mavericks. He shot 56.9 percent from the floor.

Against the Los Angeles Lakers on July 18, Tyler had 25 points on 11-for-15 shooting and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.

“Tyler . . . is fighting for his NBA future,” Bobby Karalla wrote in an article posted on Mavs.com. “It will be interesting to see if he’s invited to training camp by Dallas, or potentially, another team. Summer League is the time for NBA hopefuls to stand out, and Tyler has done his best to do so this year.”

Since playing in the Apache’s final game on March 10, 2011, at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2, Tyler, a second-round draft pick of the Charlotte Bobcats that June, has had stints in the NBA Development League and 80 NBA games for the Golden State Warriors, who acquired Tyler’s draft rights from Charlotte for cash, the Atlanta Hawks, and the New York Knicks.

After skipping college and bouncing around pro leagues, Tyler, now 24, is entering his prime.

Hoopshabit.com analyzed Tyler’s career moving forward and argued that the Mavericks should give him a shot. “Tyler is a player that has paid some dues and his (226-cm) wingspan is something to behold,” Christian Blood wrote. “Length and athleticism are a couple of qualities that can immediately translate to the NBA, while other skills may take some time, such as footwork, stamina and strength.

“Tyler may not be a starter for Dallas, or anyone else next season, but is it possible that he could be ready for the 201617 season? I would suggest that this could be the case, and the Mavericks should keep themselves in position to find out.”