Parrish: "Very Reasonable Case" Bennett Is Best

Is Tony Bennett the best coach in college basketball? Perhaps – and it's a fairly easy argument to make, Gary Parrish says

Reiter Than You
April 10, 2019 - 8:41 am
Tony Bennett Cutting Down Nets

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Tony Bennett entered the NCAA Tournament with a reputation as a great regular-season coach whose success didn’t translate to the postseason.

What a difference six games make. 

Bennett reached his first Final Four – and led Virginia to the first national championship in program history – and the sense of relief was palpable.

“I think the relief came when they got to the Final Four,” Gary Parrish said on Reiter Than You. “If they would have come up short again, then it really does start to be their legacy. When you saw him cut that net after the Elite Eight win and put both hands in the air and close his eyes and scream, I really did think that was equal parts joy and relief – and probably more relief.”

Still, the Cavaliers were in danger of losing to a lower seed for the fifth time in six years. They did not. They survived Auburn and held off Texas Tech in an overtime thriller.

“I felt like there was less pressure on them once they got there,” Parrish said. “They were able to finish strong. I didn’t sense relief; I just sensed real enthusiasm, joy, excitement, happiness.”  

Bennett, 49, now enjoys a new reputation: he is perhaps the best coach in college basketball.

“If you want to call him the best, you can make a reasonable case,” Parrish said. “He coaches in a league with three Naismith Memorial Hall of Famers: Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim. And before that, it was four with Rick Pitino. My point is this: Tony Bennett coached in that league with those guys, and he’s been the one dominating the league.”

Indeed, Virginia has won four of the last six ACC regular-season championships.

“When you combine that with the fact that he’s not doing it the way Duke is winning – with Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones: four top-50 players in their high school class,” Parrish said. “Let’s not pretend that De’Andre Hunter was anything other than a lottery pick, but De’Andre Hunter wasn’t supposed to be that when he came out of high school.”

Same with Ty Jerome.

“Ty Jerome was just a dude that came out of high school,” Parrish said. “(His) parents were blown away that Tony Bennett even knew who their kid was when they got the first phone call because he was not being recruited by ACC schools. It was basically Atlantic-10 schools, maybe an IVY league school – but it wasn’t ACC schools. So either Tony Bennett saw something in him that nobody else saw, or he’s done something with him that nobody else could do – because now Ty Jerome looks like he could be a first-round draft pick. Simply put, Tony Bennett, you could make a very reasonable case he is the best college basketball coach working right now.”

Click below to listen to Parrish’s interview in its entirety.