Monday, February 17, 2014

Chit chat with VCU's Robyn Parks

Robyn and big bro, Rob.
Wanted to check in for a quick chat with VCU's Robyn Parks, the Atlantic 10's leader in scoring (22.3 ppg) and rebounding (9.2 rpg). Think Coach Marlene Stolling isn't happy that Robyn's big bro Rob went to VCU? (That's among the main reasons Robyn cited when signing with the school.)

Robyn and Rob are like glue -- talking or texting daily." He's my best friend," she says. "He comes to all the games."

And always has a text waiting, win or lose that says, "I'm proud of you, Sis!"

It's been a fascinating career so far for Parks, who averaged 3 ppg her freshman year and 6.6 as a sophomore and then….a league-best 18.7 as a junior? For more perspective, consider she scored 309 points in her first 63 games and 1,118 in her last 55. Explanation, please?

"When I came in here as a freshman and a sophomore, I didn't have good seasons, so my confidence was shot," she admits. And a nagging foot injury didn't help.

Conversations with Stollings and assistant Niki Dawkins set her mind straight, and Parks has flourished in Fury, the uptempo offense that doesn't give its opponents a breather.

Speaking of breathers, Parks gets one these days thanks to the talent around her, including a crop of freshman who were instrumental in VCU's wins this season over defending A-10 champ St. Joseph's and Duquesne.

Says Stollings, "There's not as much a burden on her to do so much on her own. I think we've been able to open her up, having more scoring around her so they can't key on her as much. Last year they could double team her, sometimes triple team her, and we have a lot of outlets for that. Also, giving her a rest more in games allows her to play fresher and stay sharper."

And she's added a weapon to the package -- the 3 ball. Parks has drained 17 of 'em this season.

"I'm excited about that," Stollings said. "We told her in the offseason she would have the green light as long as she put in the work. She's getting more and more comfortable shooting it, particularly in transition."

As for who's the person behind the scoring and rebounding, that would be a military brat; dad Robert is retired from the Air Force after a 22-year career. That meant living in Turkey -- which Robyn doesn't remember -- and Guam -- which she does. "It was beautiful. We used to go to the beach every weekend. Every summer we'd go to Hawaii."

Dad was the coach of the women's Air Force team and Robyn was a tagalong when he played pickup at the gym. "It's always been about basketball," says Parks, whose faves to watch are Kevin Durant and Seimone Augustus.

On Durant: "He's my all-time favorite player. Plus he's from Maryland."

On Augustus: "Everything she does is finesse. So smooth."

Parks is a CSI buff majoring in criminal justice ("Criminal Minds" and "Law & Order SVU" are also on her must-see-TV list.) "I want to be a crime scene investigator," she says.

She wants to play overseas or in the WNBA if the opportunity presents. She says in touch with former Ram Andrea Barbour, now playing in Finland.

And the just-for fun-question we wind this up with? What wouldn't folks know about Robyn Parks.

"I love to dance," she says. Especially if Gucci Mane is playing….

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