YOKOHAMA – Reggie Geary brings a big smile, lots of energy, a well-rounded basketball background and a desire to build a winner as he steps into the spotlight as the first coach in Yokohama B-Corsairs history.
He informed the media as much during his first formal opportunity to do so on Wednesday.
“I’m very excited for this opportunity to be working with a new expansion team here in the bj-league,” Geary told reporters. “I think it’s an exciting time and I’m just looking forward to hopefully a very successful season.”
The former NBA guard spoke at length about the work that lies ahead in a group interview that also included B-Corsairs president Kazuo Hirota, general manager Naoki Ogawa and team captain Masayuki Kabaya, all of whom provided insight on team-related matters.
The B-Corsairs held an afternoon practice on Wednesday, their seventh since preseason camp began on Sept. 2.
The expansion team expects its already-acquired foreign players — center Chas McFarland (Wake Forest product), swingman Marcus Simmons (Southern California) and forward Justin Burrell (St. John’s) — to arrive in Japan within two weeks. Another import player signing is also in the works, Geary said.
Among the team’s others players under contract are longtime bj-league forward Taketo Aoki, ex-Tokyo Apache guard Minoru Kimura, guard Kenji Yamada, small forward Takeshi Hotta and Senegalese-born forward Pape Mour Faye, who graduated from Kanto Gakuin University in the spring.
In the meantime, there’s plenty of work to do before Yokohama’s season opener on Oct. 8.
“One of the things that we need to work on every day is just, I think, a better understanding of my philosophies,” Geary said, “and just coming together as a team.”
Asked to give a few more details about his approach to coaching, Geary summed it up this way: “My philosophy is that just for a team to be very fundamentally sound — being my own background, I’m a believer in defense; defense wins basketball games — and teams that are fundamentally sound on the defensive end can create a lot of opportunities offensively for themselves and make an exciting style of play.”
Geary said the key to building this team from scratch will involve “introducing all facets of the game — offense, defense, special situations, press breaks — at a pace that everyone can understand.”
Now 38, the former backcourt standout benefited from the coaching expertise of Lute Olson during his collegiate days at the University of Arizona and the wisdom of Gregg Popovich when he played for the San Antonio Spurs.
Now, Geary must juggle two roles: practice-time teacher and game-day tactician.
“I like to think of myself as more of a teacher,” Geary said.
“I try to explain how to do something and why we are doing it in a particular way,” he continued. “Can I be a disciplinarian? Yes. But being that I’m a former player, I probably would lean on more so being a player’s coach.
“I definitely have expectations. I definitely have discipline, but at the same time, I want to create an atmosphere where players can feel relaxed and perform but at the same time perform at a level of execution that I would like to see.”
To be competitive, the B-Corsairs will need solid contributions from the 215-cm McFarland, who played for the NBA Development League’s Springfield Armor last season, and rookies Burrell and Simmons. All three men come from premier collegiate conferences, the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East and the Pac-10 (Now the Pac-12), respectively, and bring that competitive experience to Yokohama.
“They obviously bring height and a degree of physicality to our team that’s going to be necessary for us to be successful,” Geary said.
? Geary on Simmons: “You want to get players that reflect your personality. Marcus Simmons is a hard-nosed, tough defender like myself — a person who’s made a name on defense, but by all accounts offensively is someone who I think is going to blossom given more freedom.”
? Geary on Burrell: “Big East, physical (player), NBA athleticism, but still has to develop other areas. But another person who has a great upside and already has the physical tools to be successful.”
? Geary on McFarland: “Known in the ACC as kind of a tough-nosed competitor, had a very big last year in the D-League, and speaking with people that coached him last year thought that he would be a nice back-to-the-basket player for us.”
Around the league: Veteran forward O’Neal Mims has joined the Sendai 89ers, the Eastern Conference squad announced Wednesday.
The 208-cm forward played in Saudi Arabia and France last season.
Mims’ career has also included stops in Mexico, as well as the IBL and PBL minor circuits.
He suited up for the NBA Development League’s Bakersfield Jam for 12 games in 2007-08, and played for the ABA’s wonderfully named Texas Tycoons the previous season, averaging 11.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.4 blocks in 30 games.
Mims, 28, attended Angelo (Texas) State after playing ball for two junior colleges.
89ers coach Bob Pierce believes Mims’ overall skills will help his club.
“O’Neal Mims is a versatile (208-cm) player who can play both forward positions, with a bit of a point guard’s flair,” Pierce said. …
Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix center Atsuya Ota was named to the Japan national team’s roster for the FIBA Asia Championship later this month in China.
Ota and teammates were assigned to Group C, which also includes Syria, Indonesia and Jordan. Japan’s group games are slated for Sept. 15, 16 and 17, with possible further competition if it qualifies for the next round.
Ota, 27, is the lone current bj-league player on the national team. Former Shimane Susanoo Magic guard Takumi Ishizaki, who’ll play in Germany this season, also was named to the squad, which doesn’t include guards Takehiko Orimo or Yuta Tabuse. …
Mikey Marshall, a top-level player for the Oita HeatDevils, Osaka Evessa and, most recently Shiga Lakestars, plans to play in Europe this season, The Japan Times has learned. He’s currently playing for a team in Ecuador.
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