UA basketball: Duquesne coach feels for Parrom

Everhart went through similar ordeal when 5 of his players were shot
2011-11-09T00:01:00Z 2014-07-24T10:20:24Z UA basketball: Duquesne coach feels for ParromBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 09, 2011 12:01 am  • 

Even if his signature full-court press is broken, or if the whistles don't go Ron Everhart's way, nothing might stir more emotion tonight in the Duquesne coach than the sight of Kevin Parrom sitting on the Arizona bench.

Like just about everyone else, Everhart says he can't imagine what the Wildcats forward is going through these days, recovering from two gunshot wounds and coping with the loss of his mother to cancer last month.

"Really a shame," Everhart says. "Your heart goes out to the kid."

If any college basketball coach in America can relate, it's Everhart. Five of his Duquesne basketball players were shot in September 2006, adding a nightmarish twist to his first season with the Dukes.

Like Parrom, all five Dukes were fortunate enough to escape death. But only one returned that season, and two later sued the Pittsburgh school for not preventing the shootings, after at least one armed suspect entered a school dance.

The circumstances may have had some parallels to Parrom's ordeal, too. Several Duquesne players told The Associated Press that the shooter was a non-student who became unhappy that a women he accompanied to the dance had talked with a player, then followed the players when they left the dance to walk to their dormitory.

"There was jealousy because girls were showing us attention," Dukes player Stephen Wood told the AP afterward.

Parrom was shot at his father's Bronx apartment, according to UA coach Sean Miller, while visiting with a longtime female friend after a day of visiting his mother in the hospital. Police said two men entered the apartment when the woman let them in and, after Parrom fled to a bedroom, broke open the door and shot him.

Between the shootings of the Duquesne players, and the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech - Everhart's alma mater - Everhart says today he is a changed man. He's more aware politically and maybe a bit mellower.

"I think it's made me a better coach," Everhart said. "It made me an even better father and that type of thing. You have to deal with that type of situation, and you appreciate having the job of coaching college basketball.

"People kind of accuse me of not getting excited (on the floor). But it's not as important" as life.

By necessity, the shootings also changed Everhart's coaching strategy. He had only one healthy scholarship player afterward, and only six scholarship players total.

So he went out and found four walk-ons, then divided up the 10 players, with five at a time going as hard as they could in full-court pressure. Everhart figured disrupting an opponent's offense was a better tactic than trying to perfect a half-staffed offense of its own.

"We kind of came upon it because we were so undermanned," Everhart said. "We tried to speed the game up. We had to."

The Dukes somehow managed to win 10 games during the 2006-07 season, seven more than they won a season earlier. Duquesne finished last in the Atlantic 10 with a 6-10 conference record that season, but they beat a Xavier team coached by none other than Sean Miller.

Duquesne won 17 the next season and, in 2008-09, managed to knock off Xavier again, this time when the Musketeers had won 11 straight games and were the nation's ninth-ranked team, prompting fans to storm the Palumbo Center floor.

With those memories in mind, it's no wonder Miller is wary of tonight's matchup.

"It's never fun to play Duquesne," Miller said. "When we were at Xavier, we had some great teams, some teams who could have gone to the Final Four, and Duquesne always played us tough. … (Everhart) is a really good coach. He makes the game chaotic."

Duquesne finished the 2008-09 season in the NIT and earned bids to the College Basketball Invitational in each of the past two seasons. The Dukes' success was so noticeable that Penn State took a long look at Everhart last spring before he withdrew from consideration.

The Penn State job may or may not have become a good one, but Everhart knew one thing: Duquesne was.

"I have been very happy at Duquesne. For me, I'm home," Everhart said. "My mother lives in Morgantown, W.Va., so I'm an hour away from here. I've been all over the country, so for me to come home, having 12-year-old twins, I don't know that it gets a lot better."

Especially now, for a coach whose perspective goes far beyond the lines of a basketball court.

Today

• Who: Duquesne at Arizona

• When: 7 p.m.

• TV: ESPN2

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

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