By Ryan Schneider
Arizona Daily Wildcat
He sat alone atop the bleachers at the Rec Center, presiding over three basketball courts like a chief justice.
Weekend warriors sat one or two benches below him, gazing up at this icon and hanging on his every word. The man is, after all, the player described by opponents and his teammates on the Arizona basketball team as one of the best defensive artists in the country.
But I did not travel any great distance to seek his advice or to merely talk basketball.
I came to challenge Reggie Geary to a game of one-on-one, first to 11 points wins.
Geary was expecting me. When I arrived and our eyes met, he nodded in acknowledgment and respect. He had to know I'd be tough when I donned my Michigan basketball shorts, complete with black hightops and matching socks.
Geary was sporting his UA practice shorts, a subtle reminder of just who I was dealing with and what I was getting myself into. I was immediately caught off guard when he said, "We're next."
In our first pickup game, Geary looked quite beatable. Most of his shots bounced harmlessly off the front of the rim, except when he decided to school five defenders at once with behind-the-back layups starting from the free-throw line. I tried not to pay much attention to those. Deep down I was smiling; I sensed victory.
He is nearly a foot taller, can leap small children in a single bound, dunked a basketball for the first time in the seventh grade and helped guide his team to an appearance in the Final Four less than one month ago, but I had the force of the Little Man behind me. The men that height forgot would be with me in my moment of triumph.
Geary wanted to play one more game before taking me on. He asked if I wanted to play again, but I sensed what he was up to and declined his offer. My play had baffled him, and he wanted to scout me some more.
Finally, I nudged him on his sweat-drenched shoulder and whispered, "Let's rock." We went to a secluded court and claimed it for ourselves, kicking a foursome off in the middle of their two-on-two game. We had more important things to take care of.
Geary launched a three-pointer to determine who would start off with the ball. His attempt drew nothing but backboard, and Geary shrugged it off. I didn't. Critics often point to Geary's lack of a consistent outside shot as his biggest weakness, and I intended to exploit that alleged flaw as my game plan.
I should've known I was in trouble when Geary told me he was going to "bust my ass." That may be a good thing to hear when you're visiting a proctologist, but when Reggie Geary tells you he's ready to bust your butt.
For the next 20 minutes, I didn't really touch the ball much. Geary put the rumor about his jump shot to rest with a quartet of three-pointers Ä each greeted by the bottom of the net and nothing else.
"I'm concentrating now," said a grinning Geary, evidently reading my mind.
I found myself down by a mere three points after one of my three high-arching Hail Marys found its mark. Geary must have remembered his height advantage at this point in our duel. He dunked five different ways on five straight possessions, saving his best move for last.
It was a move similar to the turbo-boost cyberslams from the arcade game, "NBA Jams." My humiliation was near complete now. My knees began to quiver when Geary kindly asked me which side I wanted to be burned on. Knowing he was right-handed, I told him to go to his left. "Wrong!," he shouted as he flew past me in the opposite direction. Geary dribbled once - long enough for me to position myself under the basket - and took off in the air from the baseline like a Harrier jump jet. He pumped once, saw me under the basket and threw the ball through the hoop so hard it bounced off my face and rocketed out-of-bounds toward the far right corner of the gymnasium.
BOOMSHAKALAKA! Game, set and match Geary, 11-3.
My nose stung and my pride was badly sprained, but I survived. I faced the pain and the man sometimes known as "Reg-gie," and lived to tell about it. So it is with confidence and a great deal of urgency that I summon the vertically challenged to flock at once to basketball courts wherever an undisturbed bucket beckons. There isn't much time, and practice is of the essence. Your jump shot must be fired with diligence and without fear. Your crossover dribble must be quicker than Reggie The Kid's sneaky swipe.
While you're at it, learn how to duck quickly. Especially when you see the underside of Geary's Nike shoes floating over your head and his laser eyes lock onto your nose. Otherwise, you might not survive.
You May Survive is a weekly column where a Wildcat reporter attempts to conquer the unknown or in this case, inconceivable. Read Next Article