Basketball / BJ-League | BJ-LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Sendai, Shiga capitalize on strong road records

by Ed Odeven

Due to the format that has been in place since the league’s inception in 2005 — back-to-back games on consecutive days against the same foe, and almost always at the same venue — an atrocious road record spells trouble for any team.

After two-plus months of games, there’s a big enough sample to see some patterns emerging about road performances.

Only five of 24 teams have played 12 road games through Sunday. Every team, though, is scheduled to play 26 before the league’s 11th and final season concludes.

Due to the early portion of their schedules having a lot of away games, the East-leading Sendai 89ers (15-5 overall, 10-2 road) and Shiga Lakestars (13- 5, 10-2) are the first teams to chalk up 10 victories on the road.

On the other hand, the Kanazawa Samuraiz (10-10, 6-6), Rizing Fukuoka (7-13, 3-9) and Saitama Broncos (1-17, 1-11) have not been as strong in opponents’ gyms. The Tokyo Cinq Reves (1-19, 0-10) and Hiroshima Lightning (1-17, 0-8) are both seeking success on the road.

The Akita Northern Happinets (12-6, 7-3) are second among East teams in road wins to date.

The Kyoto Hannaryz (15-3, 8-2) and Ryukyu Golden Kings (13-5, 8-2), fierce West rivals, have had exceptional success on the road, too. The same can be said for the reigning champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix (15-3, 7-1).

Palmer reaction: After Kyoto forward David Palmer’s retirement announcement became official earlier this week, The Japan Times reached out to several of his former teammates, coaches and opponents, including ex-Osaka star guard Matt Lottich.

Lottich is now in his third season as a Valparaiso University men’s assistant coach. He said Palmer’s retirement was a big surprise.

“My biggest memories of David extend beyond the basketball court,” Lottich, a Stanford University alum, told The Japan Times. “First and foremost, David was and is a very good friend. In an industry where selfishness abounds David always thought of others first.

“I think that translates to the way he played. He definitely is a team guy that cared more about winning than anything.

“That being said, David was a killer on the court. If you needed him to he could carry you for weeks or months offensively. In our second championship at Osaka (in 2007, against Takamatsu), David had 33 points in the final. If he didn’t show up like that, we don’t win that second year.”

Looking ahead to the future, Lottich said he’s certain that Palmer will be a success story in his post-playing days.

“I’m excited for David and his (next) endeavor,” Lottich wrote in an email. “I know that he will be successful because he approaches everything the right way. And if he wanted to he could have great success as a coach. The industry needs more people like him.”

D-League update: Santa Cruz Warriors guard Verdell Jones III, who played last season for the Fukushima Firebonds, has appeared in nine games for the NBA Development League squad. The Indiana University product is averaging 23.6 minutes, 11.6 points, 2.8 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals a game.

Jones scored a season-high 26 points last Saturday against the Texas Legends.

The Warriors are 5-4 through Sunday.

Upcoming games: The weekend schedule features 12 Saturday-Sunday series pairing teams in opposite conferences against one another for the second straight week: Aomori vs. Shimane, Akita vs. Takamatsu, Sendai vs. Hamamatsu, Saitama vs. Hiroshima, Kyoto vs. Shinshu, Shiga vs. Niigata, Kyoto vs. Gunma, Osaka vs. Iwate, Nara vs. Yokohama, Fukuoka vs. Tokyo, Ryukyu vs. Toyama and Oita vs. Fukushima.