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Exclusive: Reggie Geary Seeking a Return to B.League's Coaching Ranks

Reggie Geary has worked as a college hoops analyst for five years. He told us it "has been great in re-energizing my passion for the game."

Veteran coach Reggie Geary, who led the Yokohama B-Corsairs to a title in their second season of existence, in the now-disbanded bj-league in 2012-13, aims to return to Japan to relaunch his coaching career.

The former University of Arizona standout and NBA player shared his aspirations to get back into coaching in an April 3 interview with SportsLook.

"I'm looking to get back into coaching in Japan as my main priority," Geary, 50, said in the exclusive interview. "Japan is a country where my family and I loved living and I enjoyed working."

What's Geary mostly been up to since his tenure as coach of the B.League's Nagoya Diamond Dolphins ended in 2017?

"Over the last five years I have been working at the University of Arizona in their athletic department while also doing media covering our nationally ranked men's basketball team on the radio as the expert analyst," Geary noted. "This has been great in re-energizing my passion for the game."

As a player known for his dynamic defensive skills, Geary earned a spot on the 1995-96 All Pac-10 Conference First Team. And throughout his coaching career, Geary's teams have been known for their defensive acumen.

Geary discussed his career credentials in the interview while also highlighting what he believes makes him a strong head coaching candidate. He cited 23 years of experience after his college playing career, including nine as a player in the NBA and overseas pro leagues and 14 as a coach at the professional and collegiate levels.

In seeking a new coaching gig in the B.League, he had this to say: "I want to share my knowledge and work with young professionals to develop their game and bring more winning experiences to a team, organization and city."

Reggie Geary
Reggie Geary and other members of the Yokohama B-Corsairs organization visit Yokohama City Hall on October 4, 2011. Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi hands Geary a bouquet of flowers. (©SANKEI)

Reggie Geary Had a Remarkable Run with the Yokohama B-Corsairs

Geary guided the B-Corsairs to the bj-league's Final Four in the team's inaugural 2011-12 season. It's practically unheard of for a new organization to achieve that level of success in a pro league as big as the bj-league was at that time (19 teams).

The B-Corsairs had a 31-21 record in their first season, followed by a 35-17 mark in their title-winning campaign in 2012-13.

For Geary, it added up to a wildly successful stint with Yokohama ― a combined regular-season record of 66-38.

More than a decade ago, Geary established himself as a known entity as a coach in Japan by leading a brand-new team to back-to-back playoff appearances. He then coached the Chiba Jets (2013-15) and Mitsubishi/Nagoya Diamond Dolphins (2015-17) in the era bridging the end of the NBL (the successor to the Japan Basketball Association's old-school corporate league, the JBL) and the launch of the B.League in 2016.

In Geary's second seasons with Yokohama and Chiba, both teams had better records than in his first years at the helm. With the Diamond Dolphins, the team went 27-28 and 27-33 in back-to-back campaigns.

Overall, this has helped him in his quest to once again be on the coaching radar of teams in the B.League.

"I've had a lot of good feedback from teams, recently spoke with one about a future position, and soon should be talking with another team for next season," Geary said.

Reggie Geary
Reggie Geary was the first coach in Yokohama B-Corsairs history, leading the franchise from 2011-13. (PUBLIC DOMAIN)

Memories of Coaching the B-Corsairs

How special was it to establish a winning foundation in the first season (Final Four) and then collect the title the next year? 

"My first two years coaching in Japan were incredible," Geary recalled in the interview. "Yokohama was in its inaugural season, with local experienced pros [including talented guards Kenji Yamada and Masayuki Kabaya] and local amateur players making up the roster."

He continued: "We also had younger imports and myself as a new coach to Japan. The way the team responded to me and came together as a group, along with the fans and community getting behind us with great energy, made for a very special time for the B-Corsairs organization."

As Geary highlighted his two-year stint with the B-Corsairs, the memories flowed seamlessly from 2011-12 to 2012-13.

He described it this way: "It was a magical ride to go to the Final Four in year one, as well as being selected Coach of the Year, and then to come back in year two to be at or near the top of the standings during the regular season, winning some classic playoff games including the buzzer beater in the semifinals, and ultimately to win the championship."

Reggie Geary
Reggie Geary in a March 2017 file photo. (B.LEAGUE)

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Geary's Growth as a Coach

With the experience of coaching Yokohama, Chiba and Nagoya over a six-season period, Geary gained valuable knowledge about the overall landscape of Japanese pro basketball.

It also enabled him to put his stamp on three different franchises and grow as a coach at the same time.

Asked how he thinks he changed as a coach during that period, Geary provided a detailed, introspective response.

"Coaching three different professional basketball organizations in my six years in Japan taught me a lot about myself," he commented. "Every team I coached presented their own set of challenges, which forced me to grow, continuously learning and applying my philosophy on how the game should be played and communicating that, learning how to build stronger personal relationships with my players and management, and with appreciating me and my family's time in beautiful Japan."

Reggie Geary
Former Nagoya Diamond Dolphins head coach Reggie Geary (center) instructs his team during a March 2017 game. (B.LEAGUE)

Reflections on the Post-Merger Landscape of Japan Pro Hoops

Because he coached in the bj-league, the NBL and the B.League in a six-year period, Geary witnessed major changes within Japan's pro basketball structure.

Which is why this reporter was interested in finding out some of Geary's viewpoints on what the FIBA-forced merger meant for the sport here.

In short, what were the biggest changes that came about after the merger in 2016?

"The merger of the bj-league and NBL to form the B.League was a major step in my mind to basketball becoming one of the major sports leagues, like baseball, soccer and sumo in Japan," Geary stated.

He added, "The merger is very reminiscent of when the ABA, the fast-paced, entertaining basketball league, merged with the NBA, the traditional established league, in America in the 1970s.

Then he said, "The merger (bj-league and NBL) allowed for greater resources, marketing, and top-level domestic players to stay. And better international talent to come to Japan to make a professional league that has the basketball world's attention now."

Impressions of the B.League in the 2023-24 Season

Following the B.League from overseas while keeping in touch with people in Japan, Geary has plenty of observations about the current state of the league.

Such as?

"What I've been hearing most about the current B.League is that the quality of play, players, and in-arena entertainment has improved," Geary said. "[And] that the rise of national stars, like [Yokohama's] Yuki Kawamura, [Chiba's] Yuki Togashi and [Nagasaki Velca standout] Yudai Baba, has captured the imagination of fans and the next generation of hoopers, positioning the game for a bright future.

"What I am hearing from my contacts has me excited overall for basketball in Japan."

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

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