Pima’s Peabody enjoying his “best and deepest team” yet

Brian Peabody went to shake the opponent’s hands after an Aztecs’ 50-point blowout and saw the game ball sitting on their bench. He promptly picked it up and walked 50 feet to place it in Pima’s basketball bin.

Such is life of a college basketball coach in junior college.

“I do the snack bar (for other games). I sweep up the floor every day,” he said. “We are in charge of all our practice gear and we wash all the jerseys.”

Pima basketball coach Brian Peabody leading his team to yet another victory.

And he learned long ago, you do just about anything and everything to make the program a good one … and a winning one. And Peabody, well known in southern Arizona and beyond, has a winning one.

“I grew up with coach (Dick) McConnell so I don’t know any different,” Peabody said of being a hands-on coach.

With that background and mentor in McConnell, Peabody has found his place at Pima … again. He coached at Pima more than 15 years ago before taking a stab at the Div. I level as an assistant coach and a return back to local high schools.

Now in his fourth year, the 53-year-old has Pima playing well and in turn the Aztecs have helped him reach a milestone of more than 500 victories. He picked up 503 on Wednesday in a 108-83 win over Scottsdale. Pima is 11-3 overall, 5-1 in the ACCAC and ranked No. 15.

“This is the best team and the deepest team I’ve had,” Peabody said. “We can play nine, 10, 11 guys. I’ve never had the luxury. It’s a team that likes each other the most.”

Damon Dubots said the same.

“We have a lot of chemistry,” Dubots said. “We’re having a lot of fun. I can say that I love the team.”

Pima men’s basketball team celebrates Brian Peabody’s 500th victory as a coach. Photo courtesy Joseph Hickles/Joe Gutierrez

As for playing for Peabody, well, “sometimes it can be rough because he’s a yeller. But you have to realize that’s it’s nothing personal. You take it as criticism and go play.”

That, too, hasn’t changed for Peabody, an old-school style of coach who demands hard work and commitment. Again, that’s a McConnell thing he learned many moons ago.

“We joke about it all the time,” said Mike Morgan, who has been with Peabody 24 years, “that the same thing that this group of kids are going through the same thing that our first team went through. We do the same stuff or may have tweaked a thing or two but it’s the same system and philosophy. He’s just as hard on them as he was 24 years ago.

“He’s always squeezing that orange to get as much (juice) out of them.”

For his latest group, it’s been relatively easy. He said he has a group with “high character and a good team so that’s been nice.”

He lauded its good grade point average and their willingness to work and listen.

“I don’t think I’ve changed,” he said of being a tough-minded coach. “That’s what kids need and truthfully that’s what they want. Ten years later they come back and say that’s what they are thankful for. They liked it and appreciated it.”

So, he continues his labor of love, counting on the number of wins to grow to more than 503 from here. Not long ago, his wife asked whether it might be best to be a doctor or electrician or something other than a coach, maybe something that made more money.

“I love doing it; it’s in my blood,” he said. “When you coach, you are a coach or you do nothing else.”

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