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January 13, 1999

Virginia at N.C. State

January 14, 19998:00 p.m.Reynolds ColiseumRaleigh, N.C.

The Series vs. the Wolfpack
N.C. State leads the overall series with Virginia 66-46, but the Cavaliers have won 12 of the last 14 contests in the last seven seasons.

The teams split the series last season-Virginia claimed a 59-56 win in Charlottesville, while the Wolfpack gained a 74-55 win at home.

State’s win in Raleigh a year ago ended Virginia’s seven-game winning streak in the series. N.C. State hasn’t won two consecutive games against Virginia in over a decade when the Wolfpack swept the season series during the 1987-88 season.

Overall, UVa has won five of the last seven games in Raleigh and is 15-29 all-time vs. the Wolfpack at Reynolds Coliseum (including games in the ACC Tournament).

More on the Series vs. N.C. State
The Cavaliers have not found their trips to N.C. State very hospitable over the years, as they have won only 16 of 49 games all-time against the Wolfpack in Raleigh. Virginia is 15-29 all-time in Reynolds Coliseum against the Wolfpack.

The first 13 ACC Tournaments (1954-66) were held at Reynolds Coliseum and UVa was 2-13 in those games, including an 0-3 mark against State.

The Cavaliers have had better luck against the Wolfpack in recent years, particularly in the last 20 years. Since the end of the 1970s, the Cavaliers are 30-14 in all games against the Wolfpack. In games in Raleigh since 1978-79, UVa is 11-9.

Cavaliers and Wolfpack Battle to the Wire
The history of the series between these two schools since the late 1970s has been one marked by many closely contested games. Since 1978, 33 of the 46 games have been decided by less than 10 points. UVa is 23-10 (.697) in those games.

Virginia’s last five wins (going back three years) over the Wolfpack have been by a combined 24 points (4.8/g).

Since 1978, four games have been decided by one point, five by two points, four by three points, three by four points and three by five points.

It’s curious to note in the long history of the series going back to the first meeting 86 years ago that only two games have gone to overtime. Virginia won the first overtime game 81-73 in 1977-78 and the most recent 84-82 in double overtime three years ago.

During one stretch (1985-1988) nine consecutive games were decided by nine points or less.

In a bit of an aberration, State’s last two wins in the series have been by double digits-67-54 in 1994 and 74-55 last season.

Shutting Down the Pack Offense Leads to Wins

Virginia has been known as one of the best defensive teams in the nation for the last quarter of a century. The Cavaliers’ defensive prowess has been particularly evident this decade as they have won 14 of 18 meetings with N.C. State this decade. The Wolfpack is shooting just 40.5 percent from the field, while averaging 66.2 points per game, during the 1990s.

State has not made better than 50 percent of its shots against the Cavaliers since shooting 53.2 percent (33 of 62) from the floor in an 84-58 win in Raleigh on January 31, 1990. The Wolfpack did shoot an even 50 percent in winning last season’s meeting in Raleigh.

A look at N.C. State’s field goal shooting and points scored against Virginia this decade is below.

Year       Site   FGM   FGA     Pct.  Pts.1989-90    NCSU    33    62    53.2    84           UVa     26    69    37.7    711990-91    UVa     27    59    45.8    72           NCSU    28    58    48.3    831991-92    NCSU    24    66    36.4    69           UVa     26    62    41.9    681992-93    NCSU    19    64    29.7    56           UVa     28    62    45.2    661993-94    UVa     21    68    30.9    58           NCSU    25    53    47.2    671994-95    NCSU    24    65    36.9    65           UVa     24    62    38.7    551995-96    UVa     25    77    32.5    69           NCSU    26    61    42.6    821996-97    UVa     20    44    45.5    50           NCSU    15    39    38.5    461997-98    UVa     17    49    34.7    56           NCSU    25    50    50.0    74

UVa Wins since 89-90 38.0 63.1UVa Losses since 89-90 49.8 77.0overall this decade 40.5 66.2

UVa Features Two of ACC’s Leading Scorers
Last season’s Virginia squad was led in the scoring column by Norman Nolan (21.0 ppg) and Curtis Staples (18.1 ppg), the only Cavaliers in double figures.

This season UVa sports four double-digit scorers for the first time in two years.

Freshman Chris Williams is tied for the league lead with an average of 18.4 ppg. If his pace holds up it would be the highest scoring average ever by a Virginia freshman.

Not far behind Williams is Donald Hand, the leading scoring point guard in the ACC. Hand, who averaged 4.7 ppg last season, is fourth in the conference with a 17.3-ppg average.

Overall, Virginia is averaging 79.1 points per game this season, an improvement of 13.4 points per game over last season.

Rookie Adam Hall is Virginia’s third-leading scorer, averaging 11.8 ppg, while Willie Dersch is UVa’s fourth double-digit scorer, averaging 10.2 ppg.

Cavaliers Go Small at Times
With only one scholarship player taller than 6-6 available for action, it’s not unusual to see the Cavaliers go very small at times during a game.

When head coach Pete Gillen decides to go small, Virginia features an unusual quintet of Willie Dersch (6-6), Adam Hall (6-5), Donald Hand (5-11), Chezley Watson (6-2) and Chris Williams (6-6). This line-up features an average height of approximately 6-4. (This is the line-up that started against Duke last Sunday.)

When UVa plays this line-up, Hall or Williams is typically the player guarding the opposing center on the defensive end.

Even when the team’s tallest player, 6-11 Kris Hunter, is on the floor, Virginia could still be considered a small team that doesn’t feature a true power forward, but does feature a hybrid line-up of combination point guards/wing players/small forwards.

Roster Devoid of Scholarship Seniors
Not only does Virginia feature what certainly is one of the nation’s smallest line-ups, the Cavaliers have to rate as one of the country’s youngest teams as well. The roster doesn’t list any scholarship seniors. Walk-on Raleigh Harbour is the team’s lone senior and he joined the team in October following a student body tryout.

The oldest scholarship players-Willie Dersch, the injured Colin Ducharme, and Kris Hunter-are the only juniors listed on the roster.

With Ducharme currently sidelined, Virginia never puts a line-up with more than two juniors on the court at one time.

Among others who see significant court time are sophomores Donald Hand, Chezley Watson and walk-on Josh Hare (currently out with an injury) and freshmen Adam Hall and Chris Williams.

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 (-4.7 rpg).

In UVa’s seven losses, the Cavaliers have been out-rebounded by 105 boards (15.0/g) and have been out-rebounded by at least 10 rebounds on four 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 and Duke have both used their superior inside size and strength to hold a 20-rebound advantage against the Cavaliers.

By comparison, UVa has out-rebounded the opposition by 31 (3.4 rpg) in its nine wins.

Williams Tops ACC Rookies
Chris Williams’ collegiate career consists of just 16 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 (an ACC high this season), 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 recent contests and in rebounding in six of the last nine.

He has been named ACC Rookie of the Week twice so far this season and joins Wake Forest’s Darius Songaila as the only players to win the award more than once this season.

Williams leads the team in a variety of categories -scoring (18.4 ppg, tied for first in the ACC), rebounding (7.6 rpg), steals (1.9 spg) and field goal shooting (54.2 percent). Additionally, he is second in both blocked shots (15) and assists (38).

He has scored at least 20 points six times and owns all three of UVa’s double-doubles.

His place among ACC and UVa rookies in various statistical categories is below.

                '98-99    All-TimeCategory          Avg.    ACC Rookies       UVa RookiesPoints            294         1                10PPG              18.4         1 (T1 overall)    1Rebounds          121         1                14RPG               7.6         1 (5 overall)     3Scoring High       34         1 (1 overall)     1Rebounding High    15         1                T8FG%              54.2         1 (5 overall)     4Blocked shots      15         1                T8'Double-Doubles'    3        T1                T5Off. Rebs.         52         1                 5OReb/G            3.3         1 (3 overall)     2FTA                92         1                 9FTM                68         1 (4 overall)     7FGM               103         1                12FGA               190         1                17Steals             31         2 (5 overall)     6Min./G           33.3         2                 3Assists            38        T2               T163FGM               20         6                 6

Please note that all rankings are through games ofJan. 12 and do not reflect Wednesday’s play.

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.

Rookies Providing Scoring Punch
Two of Virginia’s top three scorers this season are freshmen-Chris Williams and Adam Hall.Williams leads the team (and ACC) with an 18.4-ppg average, while Hall is third at 11.8 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.

Defensive Pressure Creates Steals
One of head coach Pete Gillen’s philosophies is to employ a pressing defense to create steals and lead to easy baskets.

So far this season the ability to create steals is evident as the Cavaliers average 9.5 steals per game, third in the ACC. This has also enabled Virginia to rank second in the ACC in turnover margin, forcing 3.5 more turnovers per game than it commits.

Virginia has 152 steals this season, 18 more than they had all of last season, and is well on the way to setting a school record for steals.

The 1981-82 squad holds the school record for most steals (254) and highest average (7.5 spg).

Field Goal Shooting Hits Snag in ACC Play
While the Cavaliers are shooting the ball better this season as compared to last (45.1 percent vs. 43.9 percent), things have gotten a little dicey for them once the heart of the ACC schedule got underway.

After shooting a near season-high 55.8 percent from the floor in a win over Loyola (Md.) late last month, UVa was shooting 47.6 percent from the floor.

But the Cavaliers have not topped 37 percent in the last three ACC contests. The Cavaliers shot a combined 35.5 percent against three of the league’s top defensive clubs (Wake Forest, Maryland and Duke).

In four ACC games this season, Virginia is shooting 37.4 percent from the field. The Cavaliers shot 43.3 percent in a home loss to Florida State in early December, their ACC high this season.

Hand Gets to the Line
As Virginia’s floor leader, one of the duties of point guard Donald Hand is to penetrate the lane and either find an open teammate to pass to or draw a foul.

So far this season, Hand seems to be succeeding on both counts. He leads the team with 65 assists and has gotten to the free throw line an amazing 105 times already.

His ability to get to the free throw line is reminiscent of Harold Deane, who is among the leading free throw shooters in both makes and attempts by a guard in ACC history.

Hand leads all ACC players in free throws made (90) and attempted (105).

In fact, Hand has made more free throws than all but six ACC players have even attempted this season.

Hand has connected on 85.7 percent of his attempts and is second in the league in free throw percentage.

Hand has gotten to the line at least 10 times on four occasions this season. He made a run at the school record for accuracy against VMI last month. He made his first 13 attempts before missing and finished 15 of 16 from the line.

He has made his last 12 free throw attempts going back to the second half of the Maryland game. He made 17 consecutive attempts earlier this season, the best streak of his career.

Williams Already Among Top Rookie Scorers
Freshman Chris Williams leads the ACC in scoring this season, averaging 18.4 ppg. If he can maintain that pace (or even average more than 17.3 ppg), he would set a UVa record for highest scoring average by a freshman. Jeff Lamp holds the current school record by averaging 17.3 ppg as a rookie in 1977-78.

Williams has scored 294 points this season, the 10th-highest output by a freshman in school history. At his current pace, he should continue to move up Virginia’s all-time freshman scoring chart in virtually every game this season.

A look at the leading freshman scorers in Virginia history is below. This list also includes every double-digit rookie in school history.

Player, year                 Points    Avg. 1. Bryant Stith (88-89)       513    15.5 2. Ralph Sampson (79-80)      508    14.9 3. Jeff Lamp (77-78)          485    17.3 4. Junior Burrough (91-92)    437    13.2 5. Curtis Staples (94-95)     404    11.9 6. Harold Deane (93-94)       381    12.3 7. Courtney Alexander (95-96) 375    13.9 8. Cory Alexander (91-92)     370    11.2 9. Wally Walker (72-73)       316    13.710. Chris Williams (98-99)     294    18.411. Lee Raker (77-78)          286    10.612. Marc Iavaroni (74-75)      271    10.8

Bomb Squad Finding 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 second in the ACC in three-pointers, averaging 7.3 threes 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.

‘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 79.1 points per game, while forcing 18.3 turnovers per game.

Virginia is also shooting 45.1 percent from the field and has gotten 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.

Character Builders
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 in late December and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

Hunter 11th in Nation in Blocks
Junior 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, averaging 1.4 points and 1.6 rebounds per game in 15 appearances.

Last season the lanky Tallahassee, Fla., native 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 11th in the nation in blocked shots (and second in the ACC), averaging 3.1 per game with 46 blocks in 15 games. His 46 blocked shots is already seventh on Virginia’s list for blocked shots in a season.

He is sixth on UVa’s career list with 84 blocked shots.

Hunter 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 the 46 shots in just 374 minutes this season. That’s one every 8.1 minutes.

Hunter is second on the team in rebounding (5.7 rpg) and averages 6.8 ppg.

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 17.3 ppg.

So far Hand’s increased scoring (12.6 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        12.6    1997-98             4.7    1998-99            17.33.  John Gidding       10.6    1967-68             3.9    1968-69            14.54.  Richard Morgan     10.3    1987-88            10.1    1988-89            20.4
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