Visiting Japanese Team Learns One More Lesson From Shimizu

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Kennedy basketball Coach Yutaka Shimizu faced an interesting predicament in the first round of the Palisades tournament at Pepperdine. When Monday’s game became one-sided, he wasn’t sure which team to root for.

He wanted Kennedy to win, of course, but he felt sympathy for Yasuda High of Japan because he had previously instructed Japanese teams in basketball technique.

“It was an interesting experience,” said Shimizu, who is of Japanese extraction. “I didn’t know what to expect.”

The Golden Cougars beat Yasuda, 77-60, to raise their record to 7-0.


“I was hoping they would be more competitive because it would indicate basketball is on the uprise in Japan,” Shimizu said.

Shimizu, who was born in Los Angeles, twice went to Japan as a coach to help teach basketball fundamentals. The Japanese have improved their perimeter shooting since he last made the trip in 1986.

“They put a lot of time into their perimeter shooting,” he said. “One guy made six three-pointers.”

Still, the Japanese are new to the game.


“They don’t have any blacktop-type basketball players because they don’t have any playgrounds in Japan,” Shimizu said. “They don’t get a chance to learn from other players. They either learn from textbooks or from films.

“They run the fast break well, but their defense is weak. They don’t have the foot quickness. It’s a different technique.”

Not dogging it: When Russ Keith left Burbank after last season to coach at Fallbrook High in San Diego County, many reasoned that his timing was right. Burbank had only two returning varsity players from last season’s Foothill League co-championship team.

The Bulldogs’ gymnasium welcomes visitors with a sign that reads, “Welcome to the Doghouse.” With the team lacking experienced players, however, some expected dog days.


Doghouse? More like pup tent.

Instead, first-year Coach John Downum’s team is 7-4 and along with Hart and Schurr has established itself as a league contender.

Downum, who coached the Burbank junior varsity last season, dismissed the negative preseason outlook.

“That’s fine, because I knew we’d be a good team,” he said. “I just knew it would take a lot of time and a lot of work.”


Burbank has banked on balance despite 6-3 forward Mark Nielsen’s statistics. He averaged 19.8 points and 6.3 rebounds through the season’s first nine games and leads the team in both categories. Forward Mike Nash (6-4) averages 12.7 points, but no other Bulldog is scoring in double figures.

“Mark will get his points because he’s such a good athlete, but we don’t highlight him and run plays for him,” Downum said.

Burbank’s 39-35 win in the Chaminade tournament on Saturday against another surprise team, Chatsworth, was a typical Bulldog win. Nielsen was limited to four minutes of playing time because of illness and was replaced by Danny Fairman.

Fairman stepped in and held Chatsworth point guard Rick Garrick--who had been averaging 26 points a game--to 14 points, including four in the second half.


Yet the victory proved Burbank still has room for improvement--the Bulldogs committed 22 turnovers.

“We have a ways to go go, especially in the mental aspects,” Downum said. “When we’re not there mentally, we’re an average team, in fact, very average. But when we play with intensity and use our intelligence, we play well. So far, though, it’s only been a quarter at a time.”

Honor roll: Granada Hills quarterback Jeremy Leach was named City Section 4-A Division player of the year and, for the second consecutive season, Reseda linebacker-tight end David Wilson was named the 2-A Division’s best player.

Leach, a senior, led Granada Hills (9-3) to a 27-14 upset of then-undefeated Carson in the 4-A final and passed for 2,666 yards and 35 touchdowns while completing 60.8% of his passes with only 9 interceptions. Leach, who was an All-City selection as a junior, was named the Valley 4-A League MVP last week.


Wilson, also a senior, led Reseda to the 2-A championship game for the second season in a row. Wilson finished with 131 solo tackles and nine sacks for the Regents (10-1), who lost in the final to Westchester, 21-13. Wilson was also named the Pac-8 League MVP.

Silent but deadly: Cleveland forward Lucious Harris, a 6-4 junior, is not the type of player to talk a big game. Give him the ball, however, and he’ll make it sing.

Harris scored a career-high 25 points as the Cavaliers defeated Jordan, 93-65, in the first round of the Chaminade tournament.

Harris played on the junior varsity last season but became a cog for the Cavaliers in the L. A. Games over the summer, Coach Bob Braswell said.


“His game really picked up then,” Braswell said. “He started coming into his own.”

Braswell always was cognizant of Harris, but the slightly built player never grabbed the spotlight.

“He’s one of those silent types who doesn’t demand a lot of attention,” Braswell said. “He just does his job and leaves it at that.”

Get well soon: Nancy Robinson, a 5-7 senior guard at Louisville and an All-San Fernando Valley League selection last season, is expected back from a knee injury after the holiday break.


Robinson, MVP of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo camp last summer, was averaging 19 points a game and had a season-high 27 points against Santa Barbara before she was injured six games ago.

Louisville is 2-4 in that stretch.

Staff writers Jim Carr, Steve Elling, Vince Kowalick and Sean Waters contributed to this notebook.