FanWatch: Galileo24 Sees Stars At UVa

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Brett Wood (Galileo24) became a Hoo fan back in the Barry Parkhill days.

From University Hall to the John Paul Jones Arena, Brett Wood, or Galileo24 to message board fans, has followed the Virginia basketball team. It started at just 11 years old when Wood was drawn to Barry Parkhill and the Hoos. Those UVa roots have extended for decades and grown well beyond the basketball court as Galileo24 cheers the Cavaliers year round.

Virginia has Parkhill to thank for that. G24 likens Parkhill’s on-court exploits of yesteryear to recent BYU standout Jimmer Fredette. Like Jimmer-mania, plenty of fans – men, women, and children alike – had Parkhill fever back in those days at UVa.

“Parkhill was fun to watch. I was 11 years old when I saw him play and I knew very little about the game of basketball, but he certainly captured my attention with his relentless effort on the court. Parkhill could shoot the ball from the outside but was also very good at attacking the basket,” Wood said in an email exchange. “He had excellent court vision and was an excellent passer. I think his game was a little like Jimmer Fredette but Parkhill didn’t force as many bad shots as Fredette does and was a better passer in my opinion.”

From those beginnings, Galileo24 has followed the Hoos through the years at U-Hall and now the John Paul Jones Arena. He witnessed the “amazing” comeback against Arizona in the JPJ’s opening on TV and still remembers a meeting with UNC in University Hall when “you couldn’t hold a conversation with the person next to you” and “when Yuri Barnes knocked the much bigger [Eric] Montross to the ground and then went chest to chest with him, or actually chest to tummy, you knew this UVa team wasn’t going to back down.”

And, of course, there was the 1976 ACC Tournament. That’s the year the Cavaliers pulled off the “Miracle in Landover” to win the championship. The Hoos defeated three nationally ranked teams in three days in Landover, Maryland’s Capital Centre; UVa topped No. 17 N.C. State 75-63, No. 9 Maryland 73-65, and No. 4 North Carolina 67-62.

Wood, who contributed as a freelance writer for The Sabre Newsletter, remembers being in shock as Virginia executed the three-game run to the title.

“The ’76 tourney was surreal. You watch the games and you wait for UVa to slip up and the vastly favored opponent, whether it was Maryland, N.C. State or North Carolina to take over the game. But, the kids never slipped. They played perfect basketball and every time they needed a tough bucket, Wally Walker delivered,” Wood said. “And other players kept stepping up with big plays. I’ll never forget that down a critical stretch in the Championship Game, Otis Fulton found himself with the basketball in the key with no one between him and the basket. He turned and took the ball down the lane for the lay-in and then I knew, this was our game. I would say I was more in ‘shock’ than going nuts.”

Tony Bennett’s program appears to be on the right track to success.

Like many Cavalier fans, Wood is also anxious for a return to those winning ways on the basketball floor. After two NCAA Tournament appearances since the turn of the century, Virginia fans are starved for a team that is regular threat to go dancing in March. Entering his third season at the helm, Tony Bennett’s program seems poised to take a significant step toward the olden days thanks to a blend of team basketball and an uptick in recruiting.

Galileo24 thinks it will all add up to basketball success.

“When Tony Bennett was announced as the new head coach, I was moderately skeptical. Tony has won me over,” Wood said. “I’ve seen a lot that has impressed me with his coaching, player development, and especially in recruiting. Tony is one piece away from a program that should consistently make the NCAA Tournament, and he may well find that piece in the coming month. Tony seems to bring the right mix of high character yet a determination to win to the program. You see it with the quality of the kids coming in to the program and with his willingness to continually upgrade the talent and require the players to compete for playing time. My prediction is that we’re on the cusp of a period of consistent high quality basketball. I don’t expect the program to reach the heights it did during Ralph’s second, third, and fourth years on the Grounds, but I believe the program will consistently compete for the top 4 seeds in the ACC conference and will become a regular participant in the NCAA Tournament. Let’s reach that point, then we’ll see where the ceiling is.”

Wood believes that Bennett’s football counterpart Mike London is on the right track too, though it may take time to complete that turn-around.

“People need to be patient. London is on the right track but he needs time. His first recruiting class won’t make its full impact known for three years, and more than one class will be needed to turn things around,” Wood said. “London is the right guy, in my opinion. The success will come.”

Of course, both of those guys have a lot of work to do to catch Galileo24’s current favorite Cavalier coach, who will be looking for a thumb ring next spring. Read more about that coach and more in “The FanWatch Fifteen.”

  • Name: Brett Wood
  • Sabre Username: Galileo24
  • Age: older than dirt
  • Residence: Gloucester, Virginia
  • Occupation: Supply Chain/Logistics Analyst
  • UVa Ties: Fan since 1971

The FanWatch Fifteen

1. What is your favorite Cavalier sport and why?

Basketball. As an 11-year-old boy I became a UVa fan watching Barry Parkhill play on TV. He was special.

Dom Starsia has earned quite a few fans over his UVa years.

2. Who is your favorite Cavalier athlete (past and/or present) and why?

My favorite past UVa athlete would be a tie between Parkhill and Shawn Moore. Those folks that are too young to have seen either of them really missed very special athletes. My favorite current athletes are Joe Harris , a real old fashioned guy who just does everything well, and Morgan Moses, you have to love a guy that was so excited about reaching a 3.0 average last semester. He’ll be blocking professional defensive ends in the league in a few years.

3. Who is your favorite Cavalier coach (past and/or present) and why?

Dom Starsia is my current favorite. The job he did in pulling the lax team together this season was amazing and he always has our lax team in contention for the championship. My favorite past coach was George Welsh. The old hat tosser did a miraculous job in building a winner at UVa. Let me add that I’m a big supporter and believer in Mike London. He needs the fans to be patient a few years, but he will get the job done.

4. What has been your most memorable Cavalier sports moment so far?

There have been more than one. The 1976 ACC championship was just magical. It was a case of a basketball team defeating three more talented teams on consecutive days by playing perfect basketball. The first defeat of Florida State on the gridiron was also a great night and a tremendous performance by a football team that had been snakebitten with close losses that year. The run to the Final Four by the 1983 basketball squad was similar in many ways to the 1976 ACC Championship win. And then the 1998 comeback against VPI led by Aaron Brooks.

5. What is your Cavalier sports fantasy?

Winning a men’s basketball national championship. I think it is doable, but very difficult.

6. What is your favorite thing about TheSabre.com? Or what is your best Sabre memory?

The Sabre was the first sports internet site I became involved with, oh back in 1997 I believe. It was unique in many ways and there were some terrific posters like Cavalier 91, UHoo, 111Balz, Skip Castro, Mikeysurf and more. I learned a lot just from interaction with those folks. I believe The Sabre’s strength is in the ability to have discussions with a wide variety of folks.

7. You’re the coach in this scenario: the Hoos just scored a touchdown to cut the lead to one (say 28-27) in the ACC Championship Game with less than one minute remaining in the game. Do you kick the extra point and overtime or do you go for two? Now, depending on your answer, picking from any Hoo in program history, who is your kicker or whose number are you calling to try to score the two points?

Jeff Lamp, the ball is coming to you out of this timeout. (Photo courtesy UVa Athletics Media Relations).

I go for two points and I give the ball to Thomas Jones. If Shawn Moore is my QB, I might be tempted to roll him out but Thomas Jones is the safest bet. I hate the college overtime rules so I want to avoid having to play overtime.

8. You’re the coach Part 2: the Hoos are in a tie game in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament with less than 10 seconds to go and you have the ball coming out of a timeout. Who, again picking from any Hoo in program history, are you going to for the last shot?

Wow, I can think of three names, Wally Walker, Jeff Lamp, and Bryant Stith. I’m going to say Lamp. He won a lot of games with late buckets despite everyone in the arena knowing he was going to take the shot. Of course, the other guys did the same.

9. The Mount Rushmore question: Which four Hoos have to make UVa’s Mount Rushmore in your opinion? You can include Thomas Jefferson as an honorary fifth member too so he can keep his mountain slot!

Hmmm. Ralph is a definite. I’d include Dawn Staley, she has all those Olympic Gold Medals to go with her terrific career at UVa. George Welsh of course. And I think Dom Starsia would be next. I will say though that Brian O’Conner is working his way into that company of folks.

10. A tailgating must have?

A nice comfortable chair and cold Coca Colas! Sorry, I’m very boring.

11. Along the tailgating line sort of, what was your first car and what do you remember about it?

My first car was a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle my father bought for $50. It had a small tree growing inside it when he found it. The last semester in college I had to push it to get it started. That was pretty amusing seeing me push my car out of a parking space and then down the parking lot to jump in and pop the clutch to get it started.

12. What are the most played songs or artists on your iPod/mp3 player right now?

Bob Seger. Against the Wind is my favorite song.

13. Another music question: What was the first concert you attended or what has been your favorite concert experience?

My first concert was ZZ Top but my favorite concert experience was Dan Fogelberg in William & Mary Hall.

14. What’s your favorite book or magazine and why?

My favorite book is Cosmos by Carl Sagan. I read that book back in my younger days and it kindled an interest in astronomy that is one of my favorite hobbies still today.

15. Last question: Is there anything you wish you knew when you were younger that might help the younger Hoos out there?

Yes. Life passes far faster than you would believe and the older you get, the faster time moves. If you have dreams, don’t wait for “one day.” Find a way to pursue them. Don’t get old and wish you had done something that you always wanted to do. Life truly is short.

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