Determined and fearless on the court, Yuichiro Morishita exhibits a work ethic that basketball coaches want every player to possess. And yet it’s his nickname, “Samurai,” that’s made him a household name far, far away from his hometown of Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture.
When he plays, Samurai wears a towel on his head. So he’s easy to spot.
It’s become his trademark.
Some guys love to shoot 3-pointers, others wake up in the morning with a desire to dunk every trip down the floor, while some are skilled practitioners of the blocked shot.
Morishita can fill a writer’s notebook with dozens of adjectives, all of which are related to defense. After all, the 30-year-old AND1 streetball player has made defensive tenacity his other trademark.
It is what brings him the most pride whenever he laces shows up on the court for a game.
“My special skill is defense,” Morishita said.
Defense — and the mentality that anchors it — has been his meal ticket to a career in the United States and an eclectic mix of other projects in Japan.
Morishita revealed that he studies opposing players before games to get accustomed to the way they move and what their tendencies are once they get the ball in their hands.
He brings his energy and passion for the game to Japan for the AND1 Mixtape Tour 2007 in Japan, which makes stops at Makuhari Messe on Monday at 5:30 p.m. and at 7 p.m. on Friday at Osaka Chuo Gym. A bj-league All-Star team will compete against the AND1 squad, which also includes acrobatic Tokyo Apache standout John “Helicopter” Humphrey, for the first time on this tour.
During this two-game stop, Japanese fans will see Morishita, a multi-tattooed hustler, give a clinic in what he calls “offensive defense.”
“I can make you miss,” he said confidently a month before the fourth AND1 tour in Japan. “I can control it. I don’t want to gamble.”
Being in the right place at the right time, he said, is a key to playing defense, summing up that principle with this creed: “Put a guy where he doesn’t want to go.”