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Barry Parkhill dishes on UVA hoops season, transfer rule, next year’s squad

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UVA basketball legend Barry Parkhill’s take on the Cavaliers’ 2020-2021 season: “We won the regular season ACC championship. That is enormous.”

“Yeah, there were some ups and downs,” said Parkhill, the 1972 ACC player of the year and 2001 Virginia Sports Hall of Fame inductee. “We went through that stretch where we lost three games, but we played Florida State, and I think they would have beaten anybody that night. Duke only gets better. They’ve got young kids, but they’ve got a year under their belt. They’ve got an incredibly talented team. N.C. State, they were playing well. So it’s not like, you know, we’re losing to teams that we were so much better than, but as always Tony (Bennett), you know, righted the ship, made adjustments, and got it done when we needed to.”

Parkhill, who joined us last week on “The Jerry Ratcliffe Show” with Chris Graham, has been the associate director of athletics for development at his alma mater since 1998.

Among other things, it was Parkhill who took a certain Paul Tudor Jones on a tour of University Hall that led later to Jones pledging $35 million toward the construction of a building that would eventually be named for his father, John Paul Jones.

And that’s #2 on the list of contributions that Parkhill made to Virginia hoops. His 12-footer with six seconds left that led the ‘Hoos to a 50-49 upset of #2 South Carolina in 1971, as the team went on to a 15-11 record that season, breaking a streak of 16 consecutive losing seasons.

The 1971-1972 team would finish 21-7 and play in the NIT, and the 1972-1973 team, though it finished 13-12, hey, that was three winning seasons in a row.

By 1976, the program was winning the ACC Tournament; within a decade, UVA was in a Final Four.

It’s not hard to figure that the Parkhill jumper, his 18.2 points per game, made Terry Holland possible, made Ralph Sampson possible, made JPJ possible – which made Tony Bennett and a national title in 2019 possible.

OK, that having been cleared up, for the fans and alums for whom the 1970s are ancient history, we can get back to Parkhill and his take on the most recent Virginia basketball season.

You’re a fan, and as a fan, you’re inclined to look at a season that ends with a first-round NCAA Tournament loss as a failure.

Parkhill sees it differently. As a former player and college coach, he points to the challenges of playing basketball in the middle of a pandemic.

“Every program went through basically the same thing. Less preparation, time, less practice time, whether it’s a veteran or a new kid coming into the program,” Parkhill said. “I’m guessing that every day, kids and coaches woke up hoping that all the tests are negative, and they can keep moving forward. I don’t know any program that didn’t have some issues along the way.

“At the end of the day, my hat’s off to Tony, his staff, Carla (Williams, the athletics director at UVA), everybody at the university who did all the things necessary to put in the proper protocols,” Parkhill said.

At the time of the interview for the podcast, the first of three players from the 2020-2021 roster, sophomore guard Casey Morsell, had announced his intention to enter the transfer portal.

Morsell has since been joined by freshman guard Jabri Abdur-Rahim and sophomore forward Justin McKoy in leaving.

Parkhill didn’t mince words when talking about the transfer bonanza – at this writing, 1,155 players have entered their names into the portal, more than a fifth of the players on D1 rosters in 2020-2021.

“I’m an old dog. The transfer rule, I don’t like it,” Parkhill said. “I don’t know, I think sometimes it’s worked out for kids where they say, well, I’m not getting the playing time here, I want to go somewhere where I want to I can play.

“You’ve got to be real careful where you choose to go. And a lot of depends on who wants you. But I think not just Tony, but probably every college coach out there, is just looking at like, we’re going to have to do some major reshuffling, some recruiting to fill roster spots.

“I don’t know how they do it, because it’s so much different now than it’s been, you know, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. I think sometimes kids aren’t willing to earn it. You know, you’ve got to work to get better, you’ve got to earn your playing time. Some kids are willing to stay with it and earn it. And I’ve seen kids leave different programs, not just Virginia, and they’ve made great decisions, it’s worked out well for them. Sometimes it doesn’t work out.

“That’s the way it is today. You have to deal with it. You’ve got to adjust to it. And hopefully you find the right kids, and Tony and his staff over the years obviously have found some really good pieces,” Parkhill said.

Quick hits

Parkhill on freshman guard Reece Beekman

“I think he’s going to be terrific. Quick feet, he shows he can guard at least two positions, point guard and two guard. I think at his age, it’s tough to really improve a lot as a shooter, but I think he will improve, probably to get more confidence, and maybe even that shot against Syracuse, it’s got to give that kid some confidence moving forward, where if you’re in a situation like that, you’ve made a shot, and it’s not to say you’re going to make every one, but you’ve been there, so you’re more confident in taking the shot at the end of the game.

“He takes it to the hole pretty well. He’s very athletic. I just think he’s a really good all-around player. And he’s, in my opinion, he’s the point guard of the future.”

On Trey Murphy

“He’s got a huge upside. Defensively, he’s good. I think he can be better because he’s long, he’s a pretty athletic kid. We’d like to see him with that strength maybe take the ball to the basket a little bit more and, and I’m sure Tony talked with him about that all year long. We saw him do that a little bit towards the end of the year, the Miami game sticks out, just got more aggressive. And the more aggressive you are as a scorer, he’s going to go to the foul line. He’s a great foul shooter. He’s a great three-point shooter, and that’s going to open up almost a mid-range game. Within the offense. You know, you’ve got to do everything within the confines in the context of our offense. But I just think he’s only going to get better.”

Story by Chris Graham


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