Japanese NT 2018

  • Against weaker team (like PUR) Tashiro can put out a more diverse play, setting the balls to MBs like Okumura and Araki, but when they face stronger teams it's like she's scared to put it to the MBs and opts for a safer approach - in her perspective - that is to the balls for the OHs - those she thinks have higher chance to score.

    I think you've spotted her weakness. Doesn't make sense to me--MBs always have a higher kill percentage--but that's how it seems to have played out against Serbia. Maybe it was the lack of better Shinnabe passes.

  • Thank you Koga/Shinnabe Squad for the bittersweet ... whatever.

    I think it was right to start Kurogo (Nakada is going to be banking on her for 2020, so give her as much of a taste of the big time as she can afford).

    I also think Yuki and Miyu are better off the bench. I think it changes their mentality for the better--especially when they come in to clean things up, or stabilize. Yuki was so great in Round Two.

    Japan isn't built with world class players, except maybe the liberos, they need to find a chemistry that makes a team better than the sum of its parts. The Koga/Shinnabe Squad is the best I've seen toward that goal since Nakada took over. Gonna be scary when Araki retires, though.

  • There was discussion of her here in the Japan NT 2017 thread. She went to the states to study, play college ball, I think

    Thanks for the link. I wonder if after all these years Miyabe has gotten any better. Would be interesting if they call her back.

    It is gonna be a tough 3rd round for Japan. Italy and Serbia are just way out of their league. I hope they at least get a set or two from those teams. They might have a better chance if they were to face USA and NED. Egonu is just ... idk ... a beast lol. But who knows, they performed really well again Brazil, and the defense was superb, something I haven't seen from Japan in a long time. Still don't know why Nakada would let them finish it cleanly in 3-4 sets. Ishii was superb in that game (the latter half of set 1 and set 2).

    Do you guys think Nakada will stay on and coach them til 2020? I just don't have much faith in her anymore. Risa/Ishii is 26/27 if I'm not mistaken, so 2020 might be their last Olympics, that is if they are in their good shape, physically and mentally. Risa receive (the best of the team) and defense (might be as good as other teams' liberos) are world class. Erika might not stick around til then, the lady is 34yrs old and yet we do not have any reliable MB to take her place. And she has nasty serves. She got 1-2 aces almost every game in Round 1/2 I think. Im gonna miss her so much. Okumura is performing better this tournament with her blocking. Nana I don't know why Nakada wastes a spot in the NT for her (?). Looking her jumping all over the place does provide comic relief though.

    I just hope they have some upcoming rising talents. And they need to be tall lol.

  • When Ferhat announced he was the new Coach of Japan:what: he said it was to take the team to the OG, but I'm not sure how to take that. but I think both Nakada and Ferhat are signed through 2020.

    I don't mind Nana as much as other folks do. Weird to me that she looks quicker and more agile in the back row than at the net.

    I did see a young MB at the Asian Club Championship and the AVC Cup, who I'm happy to say plays for NEC (except she probably won't play much, but should get some good training). Nichika Yamada. Do you follow the club games?

    Tall is not going to come. I think someone here posted that Japan's population is actually shrinking in height.:lol:

  • Ai Kurogo is a delicate young player. I watched almost every game she has played for the last year (including Toray). I don't think she has improved much from a technical standpoint, but something happened to her in this summer's VNL. Coach Nakada threw her in the pool and she started swimming. She was given confidence so she gained confidence.

    She may have lost a little bit of it not getting the start against Serbia tonight. She may have lost a little bit more with that service error to give Serbia match point in a set that Japan had control of (for the most part). I'm concerned for how she will sleep tonight.

    Yuki Ishii is not delicate. If she makes a bad play she has forgotten about it before it's over.

    Miyu Nagaoka has a big Euro-swing.

    Risa Shinnabe is indescribable.

    I don't know what will happen if Coach Nakada reverts to the Koga/Shinnabe Squad tomorrow against Italy. But I would recommend it--even if Love, After Dark only makes it halfway through the first set. Yuki will be better for it and Miyu will be twice the beast if/when she gets the call.

  • I don't mind Nana as much as other folks do. Weird to me that she looks quicker and more agile in the back row than at the net.

    I did see a young MB at the Asian Club Championship and the AVC Cup, who I'm happy to say plays for NEC (except she probably won't play much, but should get some good training). Nichika Yamada. Do you follow the club games?

    Tall is not going to come. I think someone here posted that Japan's population is actually shrinking in height.:lol:

    Nana did single-handedly block Tandara in the game against Brazil lol she def has her moments but I think she's better stay on the sideline haha Okumura and Araki are doing a good job.

    After this tournament I think I'm gonna start watching the club games. Is there a channel that I can follow that livestream the matches? And when does it start ?

  • The game against Serbia was awful to watch. Serbia is strong but I think the team was having a bad day, almost everyone underperformed. However, the game against Italy is arguably their best game of the whole tournament. Everyone was playing 200%. Araki and Risa are the stars of the game. Araki was the highest scorer (17pts if I remember correctly) and Risa went beast mode with her receiving. Like, how did she do it lol? No matter who served or what kind of serve it was, she set it up right where Tashiro was. If only she was 10cm taller she would have been the 2nd Saori. Their defense was great, something I have missed for quite awhile. Now I'm excited to see them play against USA. If they continue to perform like this then I have high hope.

    Oh, and somehow Yuki performed better when she was called off the bench rather than in the starting lineup haha.

  • JPN v ITL:

    Player Points Kills Swings
    Erika Araki 17 14 23
    Sarina Koga 16 15 45
    Risa Shinnabe 15 13 26
    Yuki Ishii 15 12 25
    Mai Okumura 6 5 12

    That is the most beautiful table I've ever made <3 (the number of Koga swings notwithstanding):rose:

    Would I have started Yuki? No. Would I have slipped Miyu into the game a little more? Maybe, but probably not.

    Update to add: a great big shout out to Kanami Tashiro for making that wonderful table happen. I thought Tominaga (who seems like a personal friend of Coach Nakada) had the setter position locked.

  • Is there a channel that I can follow that livestream the matches? And when does it start ?

    The streams are pretty bad quality. If you don't already know who is who it's hard to tell who is who. The season starts Friday night Nov 2 (USA, west coast) or Saturday Nov 3 if you live in Japan.

    This Ukrainian site pretty much always streams them in VHS dub of a dub of a dub quality, and this youtube site (or here) was pretty reliable last year (I think they just stream the Ukrainian feeds). The advantage of the youtube site is that it doesn't require Flash.


  • The Koga/Shinnabe Squad :rose:has these two middle blockers:

    No sleight to Erika Araki (who had 56 spikes to Okumura's 39), but, other numbers:

    Player Stuff Blocks
    Faults Rebounds Total Attempts
    Ave. per set
    Mai Okumura 20
    35 55 110 0.48
    Erika Araki 15 32 50 97 0.36

    Source: FIVB WCh 2018

    Mai Okumura lives under the radar, or something. She's fun to watch in isolation, patrolling the floor like a libero when she's not at the net, not to mention she tried to dig an Egonu spike with her face!

    I thought I remembered her successfully digging one with her face. I can hear that announcer in my head "With her Face!" ... maybe it was another game :/

    ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    Edited once, last by sitenoise: fixed video queue and switched to English commentary stream. ().

  • More fun with Statistics: Source

    The Koga/Shinnabe Squad, including the Middle Blockers, plus Yuki and Miyu had, in total:

    731 Digs and ZERO faults

    By contrast, the three best Liberos, Popovic, Robinson, and De Gennaro had, in total:

    602 Digs and 31 faults

    Even the Japan subs (Uchiseto, Iwasaka, Shimamura, and Tominaga) registered ZERO faults. lol

    I don't know how they decide if something is a fault or not :?: but this is just another way FIVB cheats for Japan, (just not tally their faults--for what reason, I dunno) but anybody who actually watched Japan would know this isn't too far fetched.

    Mako Kobata crushed the competition in serve reception, Sarina Koga finished 4th. Odd strategy for opponents to keep serving to Kobata who clearly wasn't going to crack. With such little ground to cover they had to specifically aim at her.

  • My not so pithy World Championship Postmortem:

    By far the best volleyball Japan has played since Nakada took over as Coach. The lineup got honed down and focused. I guess this is normal operating procedure--give the loose ends a chance to grow and prove themselves leading up to the prestigious WCh. On the other hand, this was by far the least entertaining tournament. Politics and shenanigans, yes, but I also want to see Japan play Russia, China, Thailand. I still think China, USA, and at this point Thailand are Japan's most difficult opponents. China for blood rage, or whatever, and USA and Thailand because they play fast. Russia, the Dutch, Serbia, Brazil, and Italy are of course tough as well, but they don't scare me as much. Japan's ranking is about where it belongs ... around 7th, give or take. They can beat the top teams, but it seems difficult to beat them all in the same tournament.

    The players

    The liberos. Mako Kobata and Kotoe Inoue. World class. I don't know the advantage/disadvantage of the tag team approach but it worked well. If they stay healthy they will be fine for 2020. Can't ask for more. FIVB's clerical error notwithstanding, they do everything well. Kobata's reception was absurdly good. They're not quite De Gennaro quality in passing but they are both very good. They dig with the best. The VNL libero experiments were a disaster. Still think Yumi Nakagawa should be next in line but haven't seen her play in a big time tournament.

    The setters. I hope Miya Sato is gone for good. I was surprised Nakada went exclusively with Kaname Tashiro over Tominaga, although it's in line with a focused lineup. Tashiro's been around for a long time, came and went, and then has come back spectacularly. If she consistently distributes the ball team-wide, she'll make the team win. The game against Italy was perfection. It wasn't Japan fighting hard to stay in against an elite team, it was good volleyball that Italy could have lost by two points just as easily. Tashiro has upped her defense. I'd like to think that's why Nakada went with her but I don't think Nakada cares much about defense. Tashiro will be fine going into 2020 with Tominaga as a sub. If Haruka Miyashita returns, glory days may be ahead.

    The middle blockers. If Erika Araki retires ... Oh No! I like to think Mai Okumura is under rated but she's also undersized. There's only so much you can do as a 177cm middle blocker, but she's remarkable off the ball--which ups Japan's overall defensive game. I don't see anyone in the pipeline, and while I don't dislike Nana Iwasaka as much as many others do, she looks pretty bad compared to Araki. Shimamura can be effective but she's looking distant these days. This is the most troubling element for Japan running up to 2020.

    The Opposites. I'd like to see a game where Risa Shinnabe gets 50+ swings. She doesn't score as much as Miyu Nagaoka but she also never gets the ball as much. She's a much smarter hitter than Miyu, and way better at everything else. I wonder how this is going to play out. I don't see Nagaoka existing as an occasional sub. Unless Shinnabe withers away she deserves the bulk of playing time. Nagaoka should be used more than she was in this tournament (and probably will be). She needs to come in as an assassin--at those points in a match where Japan is in control and needs to step on the other team's neck. She needs to be the one who prevents the other team from coming back after the set reaches 20 something. A major Japan weakness. Miyu looks fabulous with her new hair style! Not sure if Mari Horikawa will sneak in and play a role in 2020, but Japan is in pretty good shape at this position.

    The outside hitters. Ai Kurogo needs to mature and stabilize mentally if she wants to be the difference maker she looks destined to be. And she needs to up her defense (which is sadly, unlikely). She didn't receive (much) in this tournament but she's working on it. In last season's club play she received a lot--maybe a couple hundred more balls than runners up Yuki Ishii and Kobata. If she can reach the level of expected reliability for Japan in receiving she might fulfill her calling as the new Saori. She's an intelligent hitter. She might even knock Koga out of the lineup. What's up with Sarina Koga? One minute she seems untouchable, everyone else coming and going around her. The next minute she disappears. Her defense has diminished a bit over the last year or two, which is troubling. I'm still her biggest fan (with all the love/hate that entails) but she needs to up her game somehow. I wish I knew where.

    Yuki is Yuki. I hope she's okay and happy coming off the bench. She's much better that way. If she doesn't get much playing time it's because Kurogo is playing well. A little sad, maybe, but it seems like that's how it's going to be. Yuki is not going to, and should not, take Koga's place in the lineup.

    That leaves Mami Uchiseto. Poor Mami. She's a skilled player but she's short and lacks any personality. If this last OH slot is reserved for someone to help stabilize reception or toss off a decent serve she's okay, enough. She's a more reliable receptionist than Yuri Nabeya, but Yuri can come in and change a game. Uchiseto can't.

    I guess it's too late in the OG cycle to nurture any more youngsters beyond Kurogo. If Nakada was going to do that she should have been doing it already. I applaud her belief in Kurogo. It surprised the heck out of me. Next year's VNL could be fun. I haven't experienced a World Cup yet but word on the street is it's meaningless and unimportant and has recently been downgraded from that. lol

    I'm super happy with the way Japan played in this WCh. Nakada has found the core. I'd like to see her stick with the lineup, hardcore, throughout next year to give them lots of playing time together and develop their chemistry. I don't see much use in experimenting around at this point.

    The big question marks for 2020:

    • Will Araki retire?
    • Will Kurogo grow up?
    • Will Miyashita return?
  • Nagaoka got injured with Imoco, but with the article on Volleyball.it, it said that she was returning to Japan and getting a review by Hisamitsu's doctors. So anytime that you see a player going overseas from Japan, more often than not, the team will loan the player out and not be a free agent move.

    I don't know how health insurance works in Japan but if she, or any player, went as a free agent and got injured they'd have to stay in the foreign country for medical treatment--assuming the team they signed with covered them. That would be a real drag in the case of a serious season, or career, ending injury.

  • For some reason I didn't catch this when I read it the first time but it's Miyu's left knee, the one she injured before.

    Either knee would be bad but this suggests she may have a bit of an Achilles Heel there, making it more difficult to get completely past it. :(