Editor’s note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports. Today’s list: The top 10 high school boys basketball coaches from Tucson.
If you’re putting together a list of Tucson’s 10 leading high school basketball coaches, George Genung is a wild card.
How many games did he win?
“I never kept track and I don’t think anyone else did,” he told me in 1997.
But Amphitheater High School thought enough of Genung to name its gymnasium after him 20 years earlier.
Genung was Amphi’s first basketball coach, hired for $2,700 a year in 1947. His team reached just one state championship game (1949) and the Panthers were never blessed to have a Sean Elliott or a Fat Lever grow up in the school district.
He coached more than 700 Amphi basketball games and a good estimate is that the Panthers won 400. The former captain of the UA’s baseball and basketball teams, who grew up in rural Southern Arizona near the Blue Bird mine near Aravaipa, was a bat boy for Pop McKale’s early 1930s Wildcat baseball teams.
About 20 years ago, Genung invited me to his home near Prince Road to chat about his coaching career. We got sidetracked. He led me to a back room where he talked about his days in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army, World War II.
The Arizona high school Hall of Fame basketball coach opened a trunk and removed a standard-issue Wehrmacht rifle, which he said he “relieved” from a German infantryman when Genung’s unit reached the Elbe River and introduced themselves to Russian soldiers in the spring of 1945. It had “GERMANY FOREVER” inscribed on the barrel.
He also had in his possession the uniform of a Nazi SS officer, with a hand-sewn “ADOLF HITLER” across both armbands.
“We were among the first to see the Nazi death camps,” Genung said.
After that we didn’t talk much about his basketball record.
Genung died in 2006; he was 84. Any list about high school basketball coaching in Tucson is incomplete without his name. Here are my rankings: