Basketball / B. League | B. LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Cumulative stats tell big part of story

by Ed Odeven

There are 12 categories of traditional team statistics that the B. League religiously charts and distributes to the media.

Naturally, it begins with wins and losses.

Points per game, opponent’s ppg, field-goal shooting percentage, opponent’s field-goal percentage, as well as 3-pointers, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and turnovers per game are also recorded and updated on a handy one-page chart.

There are, of course, additional stats that are jotted down by teams and their foes, such as points in the paint and points by backups.

But as a starting point, what’s listed above helps paint a picture of who’s succeeding at various aspects of the game. Accumulative stats don’t tell the full picture of a team’s success or struggles, but they help evaluate a team’s overall performance.

For instance, in addition to leading the league in wins (16) and fewest defeats (1), the SeaHorses Mikawa is first in scoring (86.3 ppg), field-goal percentage (51.7) and assists (20.8). So yes, they take and make a lot of good shots, and stellar passing makes that happen.

Taking a look at other stat leaders, the Sunrockers Shibuya (11-6) have the stingiest defense. They are No. 1 in opponent’s scoring output (66.5 ppg) and tops in rebounds (40.6).

The Levanga Hokkaido (9-8) top the chart in steals (9.0 per game). The Nagoya Diamond Dolphins are making a league-high 8.6 3-pointers a game.

The Ryukyu Golden Kings are best so far in limiting foes’ success from long distance, holding them to 39.3 percent on 3s, aided by a pair of dominant shot blockers inside in newcomers Hassan Martin and Hilton Armstrong, both of whom are tied for No. 7 with 1.18 per game. Thus, the West-leading Kings (12-5) put pressure on the opposition to make outside shots, but keep the pressure alive with tight defense around the 3-point arc, too. The high-paced Golden Kings are also first in turnovers (19.2).

The Shiga Lakestars(8-9) are first in team blocks (4.7), providing the most consistency to date as rim protectors.

In addition, scanning the expanded standings delivers the facts about which teams are picking up wins at home and on the road, or failing to do so.

The Shimane Susanoo Magic (4-13 overall) have dropped 10 of 11 road games, the most in the circuit. The Yokohama B-Corsairs (identical record) have the second-most road defeats, losing eight of nine.

Team in turmoil

After a banner 46-14 campaign under then-coach Kenichi Sako in 2016-17 and nearly earning promotion to B1, the second-division Hiroshima Dragonflies are scrambling to salvage their season.

The reason? Two first-year coaches are gone with less than 20 games in the books. (And Sako is now a Japan national team assistant coach.)

Head coach Jamie Andrisevic, an American who brought NBA Development League (now called the NBA G League) coaching experience to Japan, was relieved of his duties on Nov. 18. His assistant, Tanner Massey, filed in at the helm for the team’s Nov. 18 and 19 games against the Aomori Wat’s. Hiroshima split that series, winning the rematch and improving to 8-9.

But Massey turned down management’s offer to step in as Andrisevic’s replacement, according to basketball insiders.

Massey has left the team.

On Thursday, 36-year-old veteran swingman and team captain Shogo Asayama, who’s averaging 10.3 points (in 17 games), was named the new head coach. Center Daiji Yamada, also 36, was appointed as Asayama’s assistant. He’s played in 14 games (11 starts), posting averages of 5.9 points and 2.6 rebounds.

Massey, who hails from South Carolina, brought D-League experience to Hiroshima, having spent the past three seasons on the Erie Bayhawks coaching staff.

But major roster changes and injuries have taken their toll on the Dragonflies. The Dragonflies, meanwhile, won two of their six November games.

“I appreciate my time working with the Hiroshima Dragonflies organization, the players and Coach Andrisevic,” Massey told The Japan Times on Wednesday. “It was an honor to be associated with the team.

“I appreciate Coach Andrisevic allowing me to grow as a coach; I learned a ton from him and believed in how we coached the team. I also appreciate the players, who sacrificed and worked hard during my time here. It is always about the players and they are a great group of guys. I learned more from them than they learned from me.

“I wish them, and the Hiroshima Dragonflies organization, the best throughout the season and into the future.”

The Dragonflies face the host Shinshu Brave Warriors (8-9) this weekend.

Will Asayama and Yamada see any or extended playing time? Stay tuned.

National team leader

Mikawa veteran guard Makoto Hiejima was Japan’s scoring leader (18.5 ppg) for its first pair of 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers.

Hiejima had 20 points against the visiting Philippines in Japan’s 77-71 defeat last Friday. On Monday, he scored 17 points in an 82-58 loss to host Australia in Adelaide.

Weekend slate

After a bye week, the B. League regular season resumes on Friday as three series openers tip off. Kawasaki plays host to Shibuya, Osaka entertains Nishinomiya and Shimane faces Hokkaido. On Saturday, it’s Mikawa vs. Tokyo, Nagoya vs. Kyoto, Tochigi vs. San-en, Niigata vs. Chiba, Yokohama vs. Ryukyu and Toyama vs. Shiga.

Roster moves

The Chiba Jets Funabashi announced the signing of veteran forward Leo Lyons on Wednesday.

The 206-cm Lyons, a University of Missouri alum, fills a roster spot vacated by forward Tony Gaffney, whose departure was announced on Monday.

Lyons, 30, suited up for the Akita Northern Happinets for the final few months last season. In 20 games, he scored 15.2 ppg.

“I’d just liked to say I’m blessed to return to Japan and continue playing for such a great organization,” Lyons said in a statement. “I admire the fans’ support for their team and the city. I can’t wait to come battle and fight to bring a championship to Chiba for the team and fans. . .”

Gaffney, a University of Massachusetts product, has moved on to Hapoel Tel Aviv, returning to Israel where he had previous success with Hapoel Jerusalem. The 33-year-old was named the Israeli Super League Sixth Man of the Year in 2015.

Gaffney contributed 5.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 steals in 17 games for the Jets.

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