Cavaliers Prepare to Battle ACC Foe Maryland
January 6, 1999
Virginia vs. Maryland
January 7, 19998:00 p.m.University HallCharlottesville, Va.
The Series vs. the Terrapins
Maryland leads the series with Virginia 89-60 in a rivalry that dates back to the 1912-13 season. After winning five consecutive meetings between 1992-1994, the Cavaliers have lost seven of the last 10 contests against the Terrapins.
UVa has won five of the last seven games between the two teams at University Hall and nine of the last 13. Virginia is 37-34 all-time on its home court against Maryland, including a 20-13 record at University Hall.
The Cavaliers’ last two wins over the Terrapins (1995, ’97) have occurred at University Hall.
This is the 52nd consecutive season the Cavaliers and Terrapins have met (every season since 1947-48), Virginia’s second-oldest opponent in terms of consecutive seasons met. They have played 111 games in that span. (Virginia’s oldest opponent in terms of consecutive seasons played is Virginia Tech–65 straight seasons).
Field Goal Shooting Improves this Season
Virginia has not been known recently for its field goal shooting proclivity, but so far this season the Cavaliers are shooting 46.7 percent from the field. This is a marked improvement from last season’s mark of 43.9 percent.
Virginia has shot better than 43 percent from the field 10 times already this season after doing so only 17 times all last season. The Cavaliers have also shot at least 50 percent four times this season, compared to six times last year.
The Cavaliers have only two sub-40 percent games this season after compiling five last year.
The Cavaliers’ field goal shooting percentage this season is their best since shooting 49.6 percent in 1986-87.
Cavaliers Feature Two of ACC’s Three Leading Scorers
Virginia is averaging 80.7 points per game this season, an improvement of 15.0 points per game over last season.
Leading the way for the Cavaliers this season is freshman Chris Williams. He leads the ACC in scoring, averaging 18.9 ppg.
Point guard Donald Hand, who has seen his scoring soar this season, is third in the conference with a 17.2-ppg average.
Rookie Adam Hall is third on the team in scoring, averaging 12.3 ppg, while guard Chezley Watson is UVa’s fourth double-digit scorer, averaging 10.1 ppg.
Virginia had just two players average more than eight points per game last season–Norman Nolan (21.0 ppg) and Curtis Staples (18.1 ppg).
Hare Suffers Broken Fibula
Sophomore walk-on guard Josh Hare suffered a fractured fibula in his left ankle midway through the first half of Virginia’s 72-64 victory over Delaware 11 days ago.
Hare suffered the injury at the 11:52 mark of the first half when he stole the ball from Delaware’s Mike Pegues.
Hare, a 6-2, 197-pound walk-on, averaged 4.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 22.9 minutes per game prior to the injury. He played only one minute against the Blue Hens, recording one rebound and one steal. The Cavaliers are already without junior center Colin Ducharme who is sidelined with a broken left ankle. Ducharme broke his ankle on Nov. 15.
“It is a tremendous loss to our team because Josh did a great job coming off the bench with great defensive play and moving the ball around on offense,” said Virginia head coach Pete Gillen. “He got hurt hustling, and that kind of thing just happens. It’s unfortunate for Josh. He helped us win some ball games and we’ll miss him. Hopefully we can get him back.”
Lack of Depth Presents Problems
One area of concern for head coach Pete Gillen is the lack of depth of his Cavalier squad. The roster features just seven scholarship players (of whom only six are currently healthy) and seven walk-ons (of whom only six are currently healthy).
Virginia managed to build a double-digit lead in each of the first nine games of the season, but lost three games in the closing moments with fatigue caused by lack of depth a factor.
The problem was particularly evident at the Top of the World Classic in Alaska. In the first round game against Arkansas, Virginia built an early 10-point lead and maintained a lead until midway through the second half. The Razorbacks’ depth proved to be too much as the Cavaliers ultimately lost 85-83.
The following afternoon against Wisconsin, Virginia was really in a bind. Three starters became ill prior to the game (Willie Dersch, Kris Hunter, Chris Williams). Hunter missed the game entirely, while Dersch and Williams weren’t at full strength. Nonetheless, Virginia built a 10-point lead early in the second half before the Badgers’ superior size and depth prevailed down the stretch. The Cavaliers made only five field goals in the second half and lost 66-56.
The final game in Alaska against Washington State also proved to be a nailbiter. The Cavaliers held an 18-point lead seven minutes into the second half (50-32) before going scoreless for 11:02. Washington State used the UVa drought to go on a 15-point run to cut the lead to 50-47. Donald Hand canned a huge three-pointer with 2:26 left to cut the Cougars’ momentum as UVa held on to win 62-53.
Virginia held a 14-point lead with just over seven minutes remaining against Florida State in its ACC opener, but lost 72-69 when the Seminoles rallied down the stretch.
“Fun N Gun” Off and Running
New head coach Pete Gillen’s coaching philosophy is to employ an up-tempo style of play. He favors a running and pressing tempo that enables his teams to have fun and lets the players use their creative talents. Gillen’s philosophy is in contrast with the style of play of the last 25 years or so in Charlottesville.
Gillen’s “fun and gun” style is off to a flying start so far this season. The Cavaliers are averaging 80.7 points per game, while forcing 18.3 turnovers per game.
Virginia is also shooting 46.7 percent from the field and is getting a lot of shots in transition (such as lay-ups and easy buckets underneath).
UVa topped the century mark with 116 points vs. Hampton and followed that with 106 points against Elon, marking the first time since the 1989 NCAA Tournament that UVa has had back-to-back 100-point games.
The Cavaliers have topped 80 points in eight games this season, the most they have done that since doing so 13 times in 1994-95.
The last few months have certainly been character builders for head coach Pete Gillen, his staff and the Cavaliers. Perhaps that’s what you can expect when you open the season on Friday the 13th.
First, Gillen had a roster that included just seven scholarship players for this season and two of the players were incoming freshmen. A tryout was held in October to add enough players to fill out the roster.
Then in mid-August, University Hall was closed for approximately two months for structural repairs. The repairs forced the team to begin its preseason practice at an on-Grounds recreation center.
Two days after the season opener, starting center Colin Ducharme slipped on some wet steps and broke his ankle. He has since had surgery and a definite date for his return has not been established.
The trip to Alaska for the Top of the World Classic presented additional bad news. Three Cavaliers, Willie Dersch, Kris Hunter and Chris Williams, became ill shortly after UVa’s first round loss to Arkansas and had to be hospitalized. Hunter missed the game against Wisconsin the next day, while Dersch and Williams played but were not at full strength. All told, Virginia played three games in 41 hours in Alaska.
The bad luck continued on December 1 against Florida State as Chezley Watson sprained his right ankle midway in the first half and missed the rest of the game, reducing UVa’s number of available scholarship players to five. Watson missed two games and returned to action against St. John’s.
It might be true what people say about things happening in threes. Key reserve Josh Hare became the third Cavalier to injure an ankle. He broke his left ankle against Delaware 11 days ago and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
Bomb Squad Finds the Mark
Due mainly to the presence of NCAA three-point record-holder Curtis Staples, Virginia has been known recently as a team that shoots a lot of three-pointers. This season the Cavaliers are averaging 7.5 three-pointers per game.
At their current rate, the Cavaliers would set a school record for most three-pointers per game. The 1994-95 squad holds the current record with 6.8 triples per game.
The UVa bomb squad tied the school record by making 15 threes in 29 attempts in the win over Hampton on Nov. 25. That tied the 15 three-pointers Virginia made in 32 attempts against North Carolina on Feb. 14, 1990.
Rookie Adam Hall was perfect from behind the line, hitting all five attempts. His performance tied two other players for the best perfect game in school history.
Willie Dersch made a run at Hall’s record against Elon. Dersch connected on his first six three-pointers, but missed his last three to finish six of nine against the Fightin’ Christians. The Cavaliers tossed in 13 three-pointers (in 27 attempts) in the game.
Virginia made 11 of 22 three-point attempts against New Hampshire, with Hall leading the way again. The rookie was true on all three of his attempts.
UVa’s long range shooters connected on 13 threes (26 attempts) against Loyola, marking the fifth time this season the Cavaliers made at least 10 threes in a game.
The five games with at least 10 three-pointers this season is a rather curious school record. Virginia had four games of 10+ threes in 1995, ’96, and ’97.
Hunter 12th in Nation in Blocks
Center Kris Hunter joins Donald Hand and Chezley Watson as Cavaliers who seem to have taken to Pete Gillen’s up-tempo style of play.
Hunter was used sparingly as a freshman two years ago, averaging 1.4 points and 1.6 rebounds per game in 15 appearances.
Last season the lanky junior from Tallahassee, Fla., improved to 2.0 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, while seeing his average minutes per game almost triple (to 12.3 per game).
With the Virginia roster featuring just seven scholarship players and only one other player (the currently injured Colin Ducharme) taller than 6-8, it figured that Hunter would be asked to play a bigger role this season.
So far he has shown flashes of excellence, particularly in blocking shots.
Hunter is 12th in the nation in blocked shots, averaging 3.2 per game with 42 blocks in 13 games. His 42 blocked shots is already tied for seventh on Virginia’s list for blocked shots in a season.
He has blocked five shots in five different games, including rejecting a career-high six shots vs. Hampton.
One of the fastest shot blockers in the ACC, Hunter has turned away 42 shots in just 330 minutes this season. That’s one every 7.9 minutes.
Hunter is second on the team in rebounding (5.9 rpg) and averages 7.0 ppg.
Rookie Williams Makes Impression
Chris Williams’ collegiate career consists of just 14 games, but so far he’s made quite an impression.
In his collegiate debut he did something only one other UVa freshman has ever done–record a double-double in his debut. Williams scored 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as Virginia defeated Virginia Commonwealth. (Scott Johnson in 1995-96 is the other UVa rookie to achieve a double-double in his debut.)
The player his teammates call “Big Smooth” added to his accomplishments by erasing Ralph Sampson’s name from the record book in one area recently. Williams tossed in a career-high 34 points against Liberty, breaking the previous UVa rookie record of 32 points by Sampson.
Williams pulled down 15 rebounds vs. VMI, the most by a UVa freshman in more than 18 years (since the days of Sampson).
The Birmingham, Ala., native has led the Cavaliers in scoring in four of the last six contests and in rebounding in six of the last seven.
He has been named ACC Rookie of the Week twice so far this season.
Williams leads the team in a variety of categories –scoring (18.9 ppg), rebounding (7.9 rpg), steals (2.1 spg) and field goal shooting (53.9 percent). Additionally, he is second in both blocked shots (14) and assists (35).
He has scored at least 20 points six times and owns all three of UVa’s double-doubles.
Hand Sees Scoring Zoom
Sophomore point guard Donald Hand was not much of a scoring threat last season. With Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples leading the way last winter, Hand wasn’t called on to score much and averaged just 4.7 ppg.
This season is a different story. With new head coach Pete Gillen’s up-tempo style, Hand is now asked to score and distribute the ball.
With the added responsibility, Hand has seen a dramatic rise in his scoring. He is second on the team in scoring, averaging 17.2 ppg.
So far Hand’s increased scoring (12.5 ppg) this season is the second-greatest scoring increase in school history.
A listing of the top improvements in UVa history are below. (This list doesn’t include players who missed significant parts of a season due to injury, i.e. Cory Alexander.)
Player +PPG1. Bill Gerry 13.2 1968-69 4.5 1969-70 17.72. Donald Hand 12.5 1997-98 4.7 1998-99 17.23. John Gidding 10.6 1967-68 3.9 1968-69 14.54. Richard Morgan 10.3 1987-88 10.1 1988-89 20.4
Rookies Providing Scoring Punch
Two of Virginia’s top three scorers this season are freshmen–Chris Williams and Adam Hall.
Williams leads the team with an 18.9-ppg average, while Hall is third at 12.3 ppg.
There have been several occasions this season where the rookies have ranked 1-2 or 1-3 in scoring for Virginia.
The duo led the way against Hampton on November 25. Hall poured in a career-high 27 points, while Williams added 21 points.
Their performance marked only the second time since 1972-73 (when freshman eligibility was restored) that two Cavalier rookies scored 20+ points in a game. Cory Alexander scored 24 and Junior Burrough 22 against North Carolina on February 19, 1992.
Add walk-on freshman Cade Lemcke’s three points and UVa’s rookies scored 51 points vs. Hampton. That is the UVa record for combined freshmen scoring in a game. The previous record was the combined 46 points by Alexander and Burrough in that 1992 game against North Carolina.
Rebounding a Challenge for Small Line-Up
With only seven scholarship players on the roster, the Cavaliers suffer from a sheer lack of numbers. The roster includes seven walk-on players, including five selected in October following a tryout from among the student body.
The Cavaliers feature only two players taller than 6-8, but only Kris Hunter is available for action. (Colin Ducharme is out with a broken ankle.)
As a result, Virginia is last in the ACC in rebounding margin (-3.3 rpg).
In UVa’s five losses, the Cavaliers have been out-rebounded by 78 boards (15.6/g) and have been out-rebounded by at least 10 rebounds on three occasions.
St. John’s out-rebounded the Cavaliers by 31 (58-27). The Red Storm retrieved 31 of its own misses, four more rebounds than Virginia grabbed on both ends of the floor. The rebound difference of 31 is tied for the 10th-biggest rebound margin against the Cavaliers in school history.
Wake Forest used its superior inside size and strength to hold a 20-rebound advantage in UVa’s last game.
By comparison, UVa has out-rebounded the opposition by 31 (3.4 rpg) in its nine wins.
Dawn of a New Era
The Pete Gillen Era is in its early stages at the University of Virginia. Gillen was named the ninth head coach in school history on March 28, 1998, replacing Jeff Jones, who resigned following last season. Gillen brings impressive coaching credentials to Charlottesville.
The Cavaliers are 9-5 this season and are playing an up-tempo brand of basketball, the likes of which have not been characteristic of Virginia hoops.
His career record in 14 seasons as a head coach is 283-133 (.680). Prior to coming to UVa, he coached at Providence where he guided the Big East Conference school to a four-year record of 72-53. Two years ago he led the Friars to the NCAA’s “Elite Eight” where they lost in overtime to eventual national champion Arizona in the finals of the Southeast Regional. Under his direction, Providence competed in the NIT in 1995 and 1996.
Gillen’s success at Providence came on the heels of a remarkable nine-year stint as head coach at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. While there, he became the winningest coach in the school’s history with an overall record of 202-75.
Gillen led the small Catholic institution to unprecedented national success. The Musketeers participated in the NCAA Tournament seven times and reached the Midwest Regional semifinals in 1990. Gillen led Xavier to six regular season conference championships and five conference tournament championships.
Walk-on Tryouts Held
With a roster that featured just eight scholarship players (only seven can play) and two walk-ons, the Virginia coaching staff conducted tryouts among the UVa student body to round out the roster for the upcoming season. Approximately 40 candidates showed up for the open tryouts on October 20.
Five members of the student body survived a round of drills and interviews to make the team.
The quintet chosen following the tryout joined sophomore Greg Lyons and freshman Cade Lemcke to give head coach Pete Gillen and his staff a total of seven walk-on players to use in game preparation.
Gillen readily concedes that playing time for these players may be limited. Josh Hare saw the most playing time, until he suffered a broken ankle on December 27 that is expected to keep him out of action for six to eight weeks. He had played in every game until his injury (started vs. Wisconsin and Elon). He averaged 21.0 minutes, 3.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game in the first 12 games of the season.
Raleigh Harbour, a fifth-year student, was pressed into action due to Kris Hunter’s illness and started against Wisconsin. He played 14 minutes, but did not score. He scored his first collegiate points against Liberty.
Jason Dowling (eight games) and Brandon Lloyd (five games) have each tossed in one field goal. Dowling scored a three-pointer vs. Wisconsin, while Lloyd put the Cavaliers over the century mark against Elon.
Local product Marcus Martin, a high school star at Western Albemarle, was slowed by an injury, but got the first bucket of his college career against New Hampshire.
The five successful walk-on candidates are listed below.
# Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown 5 Brandon Lloyd G/F 6-4 184 Fr. Springfield, Va.21 Jason Dowling G/F 6-2 191 Fr. Brooklyn, N.Y.22 Josh Hare G 6-2 197 So. Vernon, Conn.25 Marcus Martin F 6-5 218 Fr. Charlottesville, Va.55 Raleigh Harbour F 6-8 217 Sr. Hinsdale, Ill.