Terry Holland. Courtesy of the University of Virginia.
Terry Holland. Courtesy of the University of Virginia.

Veteran sportswriter Doug Doughty writes a weekly column for Cardinal News. Keep up with that and other news from Southwest and Southside by signing up our free daily email newsletter.

For all the milestones that Terry Holland established during his coaching career at Davidson College and then at the University of Virginia, just as impressive was a list of his assistant coaches, many of whom became head coaches.

They included the likes of Dave Odom, a three-time ACC coach of the year, when he was at Wake Forest, and Jim Larranaga, a two-time honoree at Miami whose current team is bidding for the regular-season ACC crown. 

Another Holland protege was Seth Greenberg, twice the ACC coach of the year at Virginia Tech, where he became a UVa foe.

“The first time I met Coach Holland was when he was recruiting Marc [Iavaroni],” Greenberg said. The connection grew as Greenberg worked at the Five-Star Camp, where Odom was one of the main coaches. By 1984, he was an assistant for the Cavaliers when they played in the Final Four in Seattle.

They corresponded over the years, “and Coach Holland was at my daughter’s wedding,” Greenberg said.

“I tell people all the time [that] from ’83 to almost today, I never made a major decision without consulting Coach Holland.”

Holland died this week at age 80.

Richard Morgan. Courtesy of Bluefield University.
Richard Morgan. Courtesy of Bluefield University.

Several of Holland’s former players became coaches, including Richard Morgan, one of the top players to come out of Southwest Virginia. Contacted at Bluefield University, where he has been the head basketball coach since 2009, he had plenty to say about his former UVa coach.

Morgan signed with the Cavaliers out of Salem High School, where he ranked as one of the top players ever to come out of the Roanoke Valley.

“It was great,” said Morgan, whose recruiting was led by Odom, “but Coach Holland came in when he had to. When he got us on campus, it was a wrap. 

“He talked about life and how they could fit me in. I was just a little boy from Salem, Virginia, who didn’t have a clue about a lot of that stuff. He painted the picture. He told you what he could do. He never promised you playing time. He told everyone that, other than probably Ralph.”

He was referring to the Cavaliers’ 7-foot center and national player of the year, Ralph Sampson.

“The funniest story I can think of was, one night [Coach Holland] called me over with that long finger of his, to come over to the sideline,” Morgan said. “I walked over there and was thinking, ‘Ah, man, I’m in big trouble.’ 

“He had a way of just calling you over. It was a different call-over. The thing he always said to me was, ‘If you’re not the first man back on defense to set the defense, you’re not playing any more.’ He only had to tell me that one time and I understood what he said.”

Morgan, who had played for two different head coaches in high school, played a full four years for Holland at UVa.

“That was my first experience with somebody for the full four years,” Morgan said, “and it was just wonderful, man. The lessons he taught us and all the things he asked us to do, you were committed to it.”

Morgan said the Cavaliers ran 3 miles each day when it was possible and that Holland, who was always fitness conscious, would join them.

“That wasn’t a problem for me. That was one thing I could do. I could just run long distance and the only person to give me a problem was John Crotty. I definitely wasn’t going to let my coach beat me.”

“That was one of the things I treasured, that coach would work out with you. I couldn’t run three miles with my guys right now. It wasn’t a hoot, man; it wasn’t easy.”

Morgan said he talked to Holland before Alzheimer’s took its toll and that he would call Ann Holland out of the blue.

“They were like my mom and dad, man,” Morgan said. “That’s just the way it was. Once I left Salem and my mom and dad, the Hollands basically took care of me, spiritually as well as anything else. Mrs. Holland loves us like a mom and we could always go to her.”

Morgan, a first-team All-ACC player in 1987 and a 1,540-point scorer in his UVa career. corresponded with Holland as long as it was possible.

“It’s tough now,” he said. “Over time, I would call him and say, ‘Hey, should I try to look for another job or this is the situation and he’d just say, ‘Yeah, I think you should look it over and see what’s happening.’ “

Holland had the record for victories by a UVa men’s basketball coach before Tony Bennett broke the record in February.

“I’ll always remember that, on the same day, I became the winningest coach here at Bluefield University. It was so fitting that Terry would be involved and I’m involved and Virginia’s involved and it was just great to have that on the same day.

“I’ll always remember that and cherish that and it was so special for what he did for the program and how he always handled himself. That’s the main thing I remember about Coach Holland. He was all about business, but, at the same time, he loved you as a person.”

Doug Doughty has been writing for more than 50 years starting as a high school student in Washington,...