FORMER ARIZONA HOOP PLAYERS AS CURRENT HEAD COACHES[table “” not found /]
Former Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski will soon join the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins, a pro team in Japan coached by Arizona Wildcats great Reggie Geary.
Bachynksi, a 7’2″ center, already is a sound defender, owning the Pac-12 career record for blocked shots with 314. Geary, the best on-the-ball defender to wear the Arizona uniform, has coached Nagoya to a 5-1 start preaching defense while also instilling an effective transition offense.
Arizona and ASU players have joined professional teams together many times. It is rare for a player-coach relationship involving the arch-rivals, although former ASU player Lionel Hollins coached Rondae Hollis-Jefferson last season in Brooklyn before he was fired 37 games into the season.
Geary told me during the summer that Bachynski was on Nagoya’s radar after Geary scouted him in the NBA Summer League. “It would be a great asset to our team to have a post player with a presence like Bachynski,” he said.
Bachynski, who signed with Nagoya in August, will be in his third professional season. He played in 2014-15 in Turkey and last season in the NBA’s D-League with the Knicks’ affiliate.
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The start of the basketball season means 11 former Arizona Wildcats will be a head coach from the high school level to the pro ranks. Geary is one of four coaching professionally. He has coached in Japan since 2011.
Geary is already making headlines with Nagoya six games into the season. The Japan Times today published a report with the story titled: “Geary has Nagoya thriving with defense”.
Geary, in his second season with Nagoya, has coached the Diamond Dolphins to four straight victories. They share the league lead for the best record (5-1) through Sunday. Defense has spurred Nagoya to the solid start.
“One of my characteristics and one of my signatures since I’ve been here in Japan and in general has always been defensive-first teams,” Geary said during a Wednesday phone interview with The Japan Times.
“We take great pride (in defense),” he added, noting that veteran post player Justin Burrell (formerly of St. John’s) is the team’s defensive anchor “of what we want to do here.”
The Japan Times story was written by Ed Odeven, a former Arizona Daily Star reporter.
“Early in the season, even though our points-per-game average is up higher than usual,” said Geary, who coached the Yokohama B-Corsairs to the 2012-13 bj-league title, “we’ve found stretches of time where we’ve (also) really played a high level of defense.”
The Diamond Dolphins’ defense has held opponents to less than 80 points in five of six game. Geary, a former NBA guard most notably with the Spurs, is also encouraged by his team’s offensive execution.
“We feel we can get stops, we feel we can get rebounds . . . and can get high-percentage opportunities before the defense can get set up,” Geary told Odeven.
In addition to Burrell, who’s in his second season with the Diamond Dolphins, newcomer Jerome Tillman, a University of Ohio product who spent the past three seasons with the Levanga Hokkaido, has contributed to the team’s promising start averaging 16.5 points a game.
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.