Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats top badass hoops players: No. 4 Reggie Geary


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By popular demand, after our publication of Arizona’s Top 10 Football Badasses, AllSportsTucson.com brings you the Wildcats’ Top 10 Basketball Badasses. The countdown will be featured in separate blogs.

Previously in the countdown:

No. 10: Jim “Guts” Rappis.

No. 9: Pete Williams

No. 8: John Edgar

No. 7: T.J. McConnell

No. 6: Joseph Blair

No. 5: Eugene Edgerson

Ask former Cal coach Todd Bozeman if Reggie Geary, one of the most fiercest competitors to wear the Arizona Wildcats uniform, deserves to be on this list of badass hoops players.

As a sophomore with the Arizona Wildcats, Geary was undaunted going against Jason Kidd and Cal in Berkeley, Calif., on Feb. 13, 1994. Geary’s brazen demeanor on the court was what Arizona Wildcats coach Lute Olson needed from a leader in the din of Harmon Gym against the 18th-ranked Golden Bears.

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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:
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All of Reggie Geary's players with the Chiba Jets have that look of confidence that Geary showed on the court with the Arizona Wildcats (Chiba Jets illustration)

All of Reggie Geary’s players with the Chiba Jets have that look of confidence that Geary showed on the court with the Arizona Wildcats (Chiba Jets illustration)

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Three Arizona Wildcats scored 20 points or more, led by Khalid Reeves’ 26 points, in their resounding 96-77 win over Bozeman’s Bears in a marquee Pac-10 matchup.

What did not show up in the box score — but had more to do with the outcome than anything — was Geary’s ability to win the mind game against Bozeman and his players. Geary, highly confident dating to his Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei High School days, did not back down from anybody, and he could tell you about that on the court.

“Geary got into a lot of people’s heads,” Kidd told the Associated Press after the game. “I think he got into Coach’s head.”

Geary was such a defensive presence that he guarded Kidd and off-guard Monty Buckley flawlessly for most of the game when he replaced Reeves and Damon Stoudamire in the lineup.

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When Arizona went on a 13-4 run to take a 74-65 lead and force Bozeman to call timeout, Geary got to Bozeman. Geary openly celebrated toward the Bears’ bench. Bozeman accused Geary of cursing at Buckley, which Geary denied. Bozeman grabbed official Charlie Range’s wrist, asking for a technical foul.

He got what he wanted, but Range called the technical on Bozeman, not Geary. The Wildcats pulled away to a 87-65 lead.

“That was the best psych job of my life,” Geary told the AP. “I know what the boundary is. I never crossed the boundary.”

Bozeman’s frustration reached a boiling point near the end of the game when he and Olson got into a heated exchange. With 1:38 left, Olson interrupted Bozeman’s complaints to officials by yelling, “What’s your problem?”

“What’s your problem?” Bozeman shot back.

“Oh, sit down!” Olson screamed.

“No, you sit down, you sit down!” Bozeman shouted.

If Geary was not openly smiling, he must have been grinning inside. His job was complete.

Since Geary’s freshman season with the Arizona Wildcats, Olson claimed the guard was the best defender he coached.

“He can go out and play in a guy’s face and still be in the right place when someone needs help,” Olson said in a 1993 interview with the Los Angeles Times.

“He’s just ornery enough to thrive on the pressure situations. You should have seen him when we played at Arizona State. He loves the added challenge of having all those people on his back. He’s feisty.”
— Lute Olson commenting about Reggie Geary in a 1993 Los Angeles Times article

In that same article, Olson said of Geary: “Reggie is the strongest team leader for a freshman as any player I’ve ever coached.”

“He’s just ornery enough to thrive on the pressure situations,” Olson continued. “You should have seen him when we played at Arizona State. He loves the added challenge of having all those people on his back. He’s feisty.”

Geary is now sharing those competitive instincts with his players in Japan as a successful head coach of the Chiba Jets. He has made Chiba a winning organization in only its second year in Japan’s top professional league. The Jets went 34-20 this season and qualified for the playoffs.

He coached Yokohoma to a title there three years ago.

When his Arizona career came to an end in 1996, Geary told the Arizona Daily Wildcat that he used his “verbal skills” on the court differently as he matured.

“I’ve just placed the focus in a different area,” Geary said. “I don’t talk as much to other players and refs, now it’s to the team, giving words of encouragement and instruction.”

That is working in Japan.

Wouldn’t it be something if an opposing player tried to get under Geary’s skin like he did with Bozeman 21 years ago?

Not a chance.

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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