Brian Peabody wanted to feel the warmth from the proud moment when his Pima players drenched him with water sprayed from bottles in the locker room.
But he was cool to the thought of leaving the West Aztec Gym with a damp shirt in 40-degree temperatures after the 97-62 statement win over Chandler-Gilbert on Wednesday night.
Always thinking ahead, Peabody wants so much more than reaching the 200-win milestone as Pima’s coach that he achieved with the victory.
“Right now, it means nothing except that I’m old and I’ve been doing this forever,” Peabody said with a smile about his 200-125 record in 11 years at Pima. “Maybe one day it will sink in what we’ve accomplished, but right now, I’m just focusing on end of the season — we’ve got Central (Arizona) on Saturday and (at) Eastern (Arizona on Tuesday).
“I would trade all 200 wins for a trip to Danville (Ill.) and winning the (NJCAA Division II) tournament.”
BRIAN PEABODY COACHING CAREERRecord compiled by Pima College men's basketball coach Brian Peabody, who is in his 30th year as a head coach
|Green Fields HS||1990-1992||55-11|
|St. Gregory HS||1992-1993||26-3|
|Ironwood Ridge HS||2007-2013||122-52|
|At Pima CC||11 years||200-125|
Peabody, whose career as a head coach has spanned 30 years, is accustomed to coaching milestones after also winning his 644th game on Wednesday.
He captured his 200th win in his career while coaching Salpointe in the 1990s. He won more than 200 games alone with the Lancers (241-57 from 1993 to 2003).
Forgive him if he’s not as high on 200 wins as he once was 20 to 30 years ago, especially with Pima challenging for the No. 1 seed in the upcoming ACCAC Division II regional playoffs.
.@PimaMens_bball coach @PeabodyBrian understandably would trade in his 200 career wins now at Pima after tonight’s win for a national title at Danville, Ill., site of NJCAA D2 championship. Reflects on his mentor, the late, great Dick McConnell after achieving the milestone. pic.twitter.com/JRtYGYF0OK
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) February 23, 2023
The fans were not notified of the accomplishment in the gym after the game. The celebration was a private one with his players and coaching staff in the locker room.
“Everybody wet him up,” said a smiling Cesar Saenz, the former Sabino standout who led the Aztecs with 20 points.
In the locker room at halftime, Peabody built Saenz up.
Asked what Peabody is like as a coach, Saenz said, “He’s tough but genuine tough. He doesn’t do it to pick on you. He does it for you to be better, honestly.”
“He gave me a pep talk,” Saenz continued. “He gave me a pep talk right before the end of halftime about shooting and I came out and hit two 3’s in a row. It was great.”
.@PimaMens_bball guard @Saenz1010 scored 20 points to lead the Aztecs in their 97-62 win over Chandler-Gilbert. Saenz contributed to the dousing of Coach @PeabodyBrian in the locker room when they celebrated his 200th win with the program. pic.twitter.com/1LoJE1VG3K
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) February 23, 2023
Peabody’s mentor, the late Dick McConnell, the Sahuaro legend, had a career mark of 776-320 in 42 years of coaching. Peabody is at 644-248.
Peabody was a starting guard for McConnell at Sahuaro as a senior with the 1980-81 team, one of the best in Tucson history. The Cougars finished 25-2 after losing in the state semifinals. A year later, with David Haskin at the post and future NFL quarterback Rodney Peete a productive forward, Sahuaro finished 28-1 and won McConnell’s second state title at the school.
McConnell also won state championships with the Cougars in 1999-2000 and 2000-01.
Peabody, 60, coached seven years under McConnell at Sahuaro, from 1983-1990. He also coached against his mentor when he led Salpointe’s program.
He coached at Pima for only one season after his stint with the Lancers, in 2003-04, when the Aztecs were 7-23. He left to become an assistant at Western Carolina in 2004-05 because Pima’s administration at the time limited his recruiting scope to Southern Arizona players.
He returned to Pima in 2013-14 after coaching Ironwood Ridge to a state title with the school’s promise to open the recruiting budget.
“I think about Coach all the time,” Peabody said of McConnell. “I think about him before every game when they’re playing the national anthem. He was my mentor and no one did better than he did, especially at one school.
“It took me 11 schools to get where I’m at so if I get any were close (to McConnell’s 776 wins) it’s quite an accomplishment.”
Peabody was slightly exaggerating. He has served as the head coach at Green Fields, St. Gregory, Salpointe and Ironwood Ridge as well as Pima.
He has the most coaching victories by far in Pima’s history. The next is Norm Patton, the program’s first coach from 1973-80, with 112. Mike Lopez, who coached the Aztecs from 1990-98, had 109 wins. Randall Moore, who coached in two stints similar to Peabody, had 102 victories.
PIMA MEN’S BASKETBALL COACHES
Researched by Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com
1973-80, Norm Patton, 112-83
1980-81, Roger Brown, 8-17
1981-85, Dwight Rees, 45-66
1985-88, Mike Haddow, 43-43
1988-90, Randall Moore, 35-26
1990-98, Mike Lopez, 109-125
1998-2003, Randall Moore, 67-82
2003-04, Brian Peabody, 7-23
2004-08, Mario Ramirez, 32-73
2008-10, Karl Pieroway, 30-36
2010-11, Roderick Gary, 5-19
2011-13, Gabriel Van Guse, 10-49
2013-present, Brian Peabody, 193-102
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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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.