A basketball coach who gets it

Few basketball coaches, at any level, have ever been as accessible to the media as Bob Pierce, who was fired by the Akita Northern Happinets on Monday.

Few coaches, at any level, have ever gone out of their way as often as Pierce to provide detailed, analytical — and good — responses to any and all questions, offering historical comparisons and current examples.

Of all the coaches, in any sport, I’ve dealt with in five years in Japan and in a reporting career that began in 1990 while covering high school football on radio, none have seen the big picture as clearly, consistently and distinctly as Pierce, pointing out the shortcomings and strengths of Japanese basketball.

His ability to offer precise scouting reports on all aspects of the game has improved dozens of articles since 2008, when the Shiga Lakestars hired him as their first coach.

And now he’s out of a job again.

Someone in Japan should be able to recognize that Pierce is a true asset for Japanese pro basketball.He’s the rare bilingual foreign coach here who has paid his dues, enjoys teaching the game, isn’t afraid to try new things and wants to see the sport succeed by using common sense (a rarity in the bj-league) and progress to make it happen. And he has proven that he can make players better, but putting them in positions to succeed.

Nine bj-league coaches, including Pierce, have worked for two times in the league’s first six seasons. That’s a lot of changes; and it also includes 11 coaches beginning this season with teams they were not bench bosses for in the fall of 2009.

Here’s hoping Pierce finds himself in the right situation with a change to make a true long-term impact on a franchise that will value his expertise and valuable role as a spokesperson for the sport in the community and to the press.

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